Since moving to a tropical climate, I’ve noticed something interesting: I’ve developed an appetite for raw garlic. I’ve always enjoyed garlic in my raw food dishes and have used it medicinally to cure an ear infection. But living in Bali I find myself eating a few cloves of raw garlic at least twice a week.
I was curious why I developed this unexpected craving so I did some research and discovered that raw garlic has powerful medicinal properties with some great health benefits.
Garlic (Allium sativum L.) is part of the lily family and it’s medicinal use dates back to 4000 BCE. It grows well in nearly every climate, so it is known throughout the world. Hippocrates, the founder of western medicine, used garlic in some cancer treatments. In ancient Egypt garlic was valued as a general health tonic and sometimes even used as currency. Later in the middle ages, garlic was used in treating victims of the plaque. Even as late as WW II, garlic was used as an effective replacement for antibiotics.
The Medicinal Properties of Garlic
Garlic is high in sulfur, which accounts for some of it’s medicinal potency. The stronger the taste of the garlic, the higher the sulfur content and the better it is for you. Two other medicinally potent compounds in garlic are Diallyl Sulphides, which increase blood circulation, and Allicin, an anti-biotic, and anti-fungal compound.
In general terms raw garlic is:
A broad spectrum anti-biotic
High in antioxidants
And the major health benefits of garlic are:
1. Increases blood circulation and thins the blood – this can lower blood pressure, reduce the likelihood of blood clots and lower the risk of heart attack and stroke
2. Suppresses the growth of tumors
3. Decreases levels of LDL or “bad cholesterol”
4. Stimulates the immune system by increasing blood cell count
5. Supports recovery from cancer
6. Kills some intestinal parasites – this may be related to its potency as a cancer treatment, as some naturopaths consider intestinal parasites to be directly linked to cancer
7. Repels insects – some sulphur in raw garlic passes into the blood and is carried to the skin where it is excreted. This helps to make the skin unattractive to insects
8. Soothes coughs and colds – this is due to garlic’s anti-biotic properties
9. Kills fungi such as athletes foot and warts
It’s important to note that these health benefits only apply to the use of raw garlic. The active compounds in garlic are destroyed by cooking. They are also lost over time. Crushing or chopping raw garlic releases its medicinally potent compounds, which are sensitive to oxidation. It is best to consume the raw fresh garlic shortly after crushing or chopping to get the highest benefit.
How To Use Raw Garlic
Internally – take 1 to 2 cloves or crushed raw garlic every other day. I sometimes just pop a clove in my mouth with some olive oil or avocado and chew it up (to keep it from burning). I also blend it in raw soups, use it in guacamole or sprinkle it over my salad. You can eat raw parsley afterwards to sweeten your breath.
Topically – make a poultice with raw garlic to use on skin infections like athletes foot or warts. Be careful not to irritate the skin by using too much.
As A Tincture – you can use garlic oil drops in the nose, as a gargle or in the ears to fight infection. Make garlic oil drops by mixing one clove crushed garlic with 10ml (4 oz.) pure water.
Garlic is generally very safe, but in some people and at higher doses, it can cause irritation to the stomach and skin. Also people who are on any kind of blood thinning medication not take garlic medicinally without first talking to their doctor. Garlic should be used very sparingly with small children.
A Few Facts About Garlic
Garlic is probably descended from the species Allium longicuspis, which grows wild in south-western Asia
There are now over 300 varieties of garlic
China produces 10.5 billion kilos/year – about 75% of worldwide production
In Northeastern India, it is believed that garlic mixed with water spread around the home will keep snakes from entering
Garlic plants are very hardy and not attacked by pests
A Christian myth considers that after Satan left the Garden of Eden, garlic arose in his left footprint, and onion in the right
Garlic cloves cooked whole have very little medicinal value
Central European folk beliefs considered garlic a powerful ward against demons, werewolves, and vampires
Garlic and onions were invoked as deities by ancient Egyptians at some religious ceremonies