The stinking rose
Researchers are exploring the medicinal possibilities of garlic, especially its main constituent, allicin. Research suggests that garlic may have health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, protecting the heart and arteries, boosting immunity, increasing anti-allergy effects, and helping in cancer prevention and therapy.
The leaves have fallen off the trees, and bright orange pumpkins decorate the fields. Kids are getting their costumes ready for the once-a-year Halloween candy grab. It’s the time of year when horror-themed movies appear on TV, spreading myths about the protective qualities of silver bullets, wooden stakes–and garlic.
According to popular traditional stories and folklore, these three objects have mysterious protective powers. However, of the three, garlic is the only one that surpasses myth and has been recognized to possess significant health benefits.
About the Rose
Garlic, also called the stinking rose, is one of the earliest known and most widespread elements of the human diet. Except for traditional English cuisine, garlic has a long history throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa.
In addition to dietary consumption, garlic was used as medicine. Traditionally, it was used as a diuretic, an expectorant, a stimulant, and a diaphoretic. Due to its antiseptic qualities, garlic juice was applied to wounds. Garlic syrup was used to treat asthma, hoarseness, coughs, difficulty breathing, and bronchitis.
Today, researchers are exploring the medicinal possibilities of garlic, especially its main constituent, allicin. Research suggests that garlic may have health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, protecting the heart and arteries, boosting immunity, increasing anti-allergy effects, and helping in cancer prevention and therapy.
Phytochemicals such as genistein, allicin, lycopene, and capsaicin, have been identified as the major contributors to the cancer-fighting and cancer-preventing aspects of garlic. They activate apoptosis (cell death) and inhibit cell growth.
It’s All in the Allicin
Clusters of garlic bulbs, known as heads, grow underground. Each bulb within the cluster contains the two ingredients for allicin–alliin and allinase. When the bulb is broken, through chopping, slicing, or chewing, these two ingredients mix to create allicin, a powerful antioxidant. Recent studies of allicin, an organosulphur compound, describe its high antitumour activity. Most of these studies focus on allicin’s ability to induce cancer cell death.
Although most people are prepared to consume fruits and vegetables with cancer-fighting qualities, many individuals shy away from eating raw garlic because of its strong taste and residual odour. One way to avoid the odour is to cook the garlic, but the cancer-fighting benefits are lost when garlic is cooked.
We can enjoy the health benefits of garlic while avoiding the side-effect of odour by consuming aged garlic extract (AGE). The extract is aged at room temperature for about 20 months, a process which increases antioxidant levels while removing the strong odour. In recent studies, AGE has been effective in disabling free-radicals, in blocking carcinogens binding to DNA, and in increasing the disposal of carcinogens. AGE is available at health food stores in capsule, tablet, or liquid form.
So instead of hanging it around your neck, eat a little garlic to cure what ails you.