Posted by Oze Parrot on 28th September 2006
Garlic is a perennial plant of the genus Allium and is closely related to the onion, shallot, and leek. Also called the “stinking rose”, Garlic has been noted since the dawning of time for both it’s culinary uses and medicinal purposes.
Generally, the form of Garlic that is mostly consumed by the public is “allium sativum”, which put simply means, cultivated Garlic. There are two varieties of this type of Garlic, softneck and hardneck Garlic.
Softneck Garlic is easier to cultivate than the hardneck variety and can also be stored for longer periods. Softnecks can be readily identified by the white papery skin covering the bulb and the number of cloves that make up the bulb. Young shoots of the Garlic plant can be marinated or added to sauces and served as an appetizer.
Garlic has a very hot, pungent flavor when crushed and eaten raw, however the potency of the herb, is diminished by cooking. No matter how you prepare a Garlic dish though, the distinctive taste will be quite apparent and it’s follow on effects for those who eat it will also be present. These days however, diners will accept the odor of garlic because it enhances the taste of most dishes and because of the fact that it is considered to be beneficial to one’s health.
Garlic has long been referred to as the “Bushman’s Remedy” and is widely used by farmers and stockmen as protection against winter colds and ‘flu. Their belief in the defensive qualities of the herb is backed up by Louis Pasteur’s studies, from the nineteenth century, which demonstrated that Garlic killed bacteria under laboratory conditions. Modern studies have confirmed that Garlic definitely has antibiotic properties that effectively combat infections.
The human body does not build up any resistance to garlic, as it does with antibiotics, this makes Garlic a much more effective weapon against many infections.
Australian Bushmen are also aware that Garlic is effective in protecting them from mosquitos bites. A number of commercial garlic sprays have appeared on the market that once sprayed on the body form a protection for mosquito bites.
By eating Garlic, the compound allicin is released into one’s body and this eventually seeps out through the skin’s pores. Consequently, any mosquitoes that do come along will be confounded by one’s body odor and pass by in order to seek a more succulent morsel.
Garlic has had a long reputation for reducing an individual’s blood pressure and it does appear that there is evidence that garlic does reduce blood pressure. Garlic sulphides may be responsible for this or, it could be, that Garlic helps to control one’s cholesterol level.
Then again, Garlic is used as a seasoning and therefore reduces one’s salt intake.
Allicin is the medicinal compound that is derived from Garlic and it is quite a complex compound. Allicin is not present in natural Garlic but is released when a Garlic clove is chopped or crushed. Allicin breaks down very quickly when released and deteriorates rapidly when heated.
Because of Garlic’s adverse social qualities, many people find that it is easier to take garlic supplements in order to gain the benefits of a sustained Garlic intake. Garlic supplements are many and varied, you must read the contents label to ascertain the amount of released allicin.
Figures that state that the product is “equivalent to x number of cloves” are not relevant. The amount of allicin that is released in the supplement is the most important factor. Some Garlic supplements identify the amount of alliin that they contain, this is of little value.
Some capsules that do not contain allicin could still be of value to certain people because of the sulphides that they contain.
If you need garlic supplements, then you should determine the allicin level of the product.
Technorati Tag: Garlic and Allicin