A recent 2012 study by the Washington State University states that a compound from garlic is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics used in the treatment of intestinal infections caused by the bacterium species Campylobacter bacterium. Many other scientific research projects suggest that raw garlic has incredible healing properties.
Garlic, also called “the stinking rose’, has been used for many centuries as a food and medicine, it is most often used as an antiseptic – applied to wounds to prevent infection. In the beginning of the 18th century, in France, gravediggers supposedly drank wine mixed with crushed garlic to protect them from the plague. It was also given to soldiers – in both world wars – to prevent gangrene caused by bacterial infection. The healing properties of this spice ranges from anti-infective to antioxidant.
How does garlic destroy ‘unfriendly’ bacteria?
A recent study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy revealed that the compound called diallyl sulphide effectively penetrated the protective bio-layer formed by colonies of bacteria (campylobacter bacterium). Garlic’s active ingredient dissolves this layer and eventually destroys the bacteria.
Researchers of the study noted that campylobacter is 1000 times more resistant to antibiotics – due to the presence of its protective bio-film. They were also fascinated by the fact that garlic compounds was able to destroy the bacteria in just a fraction of the time taken by antibiotics like, erythormycin and ciprofloxacin.
Garlic contains a wide range of thiosulphinates such as allicin that are responsible for the antibacterial activity. The nutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in garlic make this condiment a remarkable natural remedy.
Garlic is a good source of minerals like, selenium, calcium and phosphorus plus a very good source of vitamin C, B6 and manganese. It also contains different kinds of natural sugars, including fructose, glucose and inulin.
And, let’s not forget, garlic is known for its high selenium content – higher than any other plant source.
What is the best way to prepare and eat garlic?
The way you prepare garlic influences the amount of beneficial compounds you receive from it. Heating, microwaving and even drying is found to substantially decrease the allicin and alliin content in garlic. When consumed raw these compounds are at high concentration.
According to many studies – crushed raw garlic that is allowed to sit in room temperature for 10 minutes has the highest amount of alliinase enzymes. This maximizes garlic’s ability to activate its germicidal effect. It’s really powerful!
There are many different ways garlic can be incorporated into your everyday menu. A good way to relish is to make a warm soup of tomato, basil and garlic to fight off a nagging cold or a simple juice of garlic with tomatoes and lemon for a quick tonic to boost immune system.
If you are not a big fan of the raw garlic taste – toss the chopped garlic, at the end of cooking time, to help retain its nutritive value. If you do need to expose garlic to heat – limit the cooking time of garlic as much as possible. (no more than 5-10 minutes)
Tips on storing and choosing the best garlic
Choose garlic that is plump and looks free of blemishes. It is best to store garlic in cool, dark place away from heat – in an open basket. This will prevent sprouting of garlic and maximum freshness.
Garlic has a strong sulfurous smell and is not attractive to pests, so it is more likely to be pesticide-free. Although garlic supplements are available in the market, not all of them have the same amount of active ingredients.
When choosing garlic supplements – look for freeze-dried, dried or aged garlic extracts. If you are planning to buy supplements read the label thoroughly for their ingredients, it is better to choose supplements with standardized ingredients to be sure you are receiving enough of the active compounds in the pills.
While synthetic antibiotics are losing their effect against ‘superbugs’ – garlic is certainly a safe and an effective alternative to fight off infection without damaging the digestive tract. If you take blood-thinning drugs like warfarin or aspirin – be sure to talk to your doctor before consuming garlic supplements. Naturally, if your doctor is not well-educated on natural therapies – find another doctor.