Not many foods are more versatile than this bulbous herb, Allium sativum, a pungent member of the lily family used for cooking and cures since ancient times.
There are a lot of jokes made about what garlic is good for, from repelling vampires to generating the bad breath that nobody wants on dates. But as old as those jokes are, its reputation as a cure-all plant is even older.
Garlic has been part of traditional cures around the world, and for good reason. Few foods have as many healing properties and are as easy to add to the modern diet.
Garlic has been around since the dawn of language, from Biblical times to the Greek and Roman empires to Ancient China. And since those ancient days, it’s been believed to have benefits in treating cardiovascular and infectious diseases.
Different cultures consume it in different ways, but that doesn’t seem to have had an effect on how effective it is at improving health. In fact, that versatility is part of what makes it so easy to use.
One of the biggest attributes of garlic is that it is rich in antioxidants. That means that it can help combat the influence of free radicals that damage cell membranes and perhaps accelerate the aging process.
Studies have indicated it may be effective at fighting everything from cancer to heart disease, and with more medical studies ongoing, medical science continues to attempt to determine why this traditional remedy may work as well as it does.
In addition, garlic may be effective at combating diabetes, one of the scourges of modern medicine. Although its effects on this condition are still being tested, some early results are promising.
Garlic has been said to be an effective treatment for other conditions as well, like the common cold. Many have found that adding some garlic to their diet can help those seasonal sniffles go away
The so-called “stinking rose” can also lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and even boost the testosterone level in lab rats when accompanied by a high protein diet.
Other uses may not be as necessary in the modern day. Garlic was used as an antiseptic in World War I and World War II, but there are better options for that purpose today.
Garlic can be used to reduce the amount of germs in the mouth, but considering that many don’t find “garlic breath” to be very attractive, that’s probably a non-starter for most as well.
But that might be one of the few strikes against this incredible herb. Versatile, inexpensive, easy to use … it’s no wonder that garlic was in the medicine cabinets (or their equivalent) of our caveman ancestors as well as our own.
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