Garlic (Allium sativum)

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Other common names: Poor man’s treacle, camphor of the poor, stinking rose, ajo, lasuna, rason

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Family: Amaryllidaceae (subfamily Allioideae – formerly Alliaceae)

Note: Some classifications put it in the Liliaceae family

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Actions:

Antimicrobial/antifungal, circulatory stimulant/tonic, rubefacient, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, lowers cholesterol & blood pressure, immune booster, anticoagulant (blood thinner), anticarcinogenic (preventative), antitumorigenic, detoxifier (binds to heavy metals), aphrodisiac.

Harvest:

Garlic may be harvested in early spring (scallions, primarily for culinary use), early summer (scapes), and the main medicinal bulb harvest should take place in early fall. The scapes (round stalks) contain garlic oil and may be used for treating the same conditions as the bulbs – harvest them as soon as they curl in order to encourage bulb growth and make the most use out of the scapes. For the medicinal bulb harvest, wait until the bottom few leaves have turned brown and the top leaves are still green.

Part used: Bulb, scapes

Garlic scapes. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Garlic scape. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Constituents: 

Allicin, ajoene, diallyl polysulfides, enzymes, proteins, allistatin I and allistatin II, Sallylcysteine, vinyldithiins, minerals, other volatile oils, saponins, flavonoids, allixin, B vitamins and others.

Indications:

Cold and flu symptoms, fevers, fungal/viral/bacterial infections (including staph and E.coli), abscesses, low immune function, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, general heart health, candida, high blood pressure, tumours, asthma, cough, respiratory conditions, cancer prevention, diabetes support (with a doctor’s guidance), thiamine deficiency (improves thiamine absorption), benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement), heavy metal toxicity, weight management, ear infections.

Medicinal preparations:

Diagram courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Diagram courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Internal

Garlic can be consumed in food, prepared in oxymels and syrups, or dried/powdered and put in capsules.

External

Garlic may be used as an external poultice ingredient, to draw toxins or infections from the body. If applying it directly to tissues, you should use a barrier cream in order to prevent irritation.

Contraindications:

While generally safe in culinary amounts, medicinal dosages of garlic are contraindicated in pregnancy, and may interact with medications – particularly blood thinners, AIDS/HIV drugs, cyclosporine, birth control pills, medications altered by the liver, Isoniazid (Nydrazid, INH), Saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase), calcium channel blockersquinolone family of antibioticshypoglycemic drugs, heart medications and blood pressure medications. Those with an allergy to plants in the allium genus may react to garlic. Do not take garlic two weeks prior to a scheduled surgery. Its blood-thinning properties can cause excessive bleeding during surgery, or during a childbirth, and may affect blood test results. Topical use of garlic may cause skin irritation and burns. Do not apply topically to young children, or to sensitive skin. Can reduce milk flow and affect the taste of milk when nursing, which may make infants reluctant to breastfeed. May cause gastrointestinal discomfort and menstrual irregularity. Ask your doctor before taking medicinal dosages of garlic if you are taking medications or have any underlying condition. Do not give to pets.

I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns.

Energetic/traditional use:

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Garlic has a vast amount of folklore behind it that can only be touched on here. Some cultures abstain from using it prior to religious ceremonies, while others use it to protect a space or person from evil influences. Eastern cultures have used it as an aphrodisiac to promote virility and fertility. Some see this in a positive light as a booster to libido, while others consider it a negative element that will tempt and interfere with celibacy. Ancient Egyptians used garlic to prepare for some rites of passage. It was used to buy slaves, and also fed to them in order to give them additional stamina. All over the world, it has been known throughout history to repel, detoxify, antidote poisonings, and remedy illnesses.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.

 

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