Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic is one of the most potent and most powerful members of the onion family (Allium). Most of the health benefits derive from the more than 100 sulfur compounds it contains, especially allicin, which is responsible for garlic's characteristic scent and flavor. Allicin is formed when the garlic bulbs are crushed, chopped, or chewed.
Among the promising health benefits of garlic are that it may protect against stomach and colon cancer, slow the build-up of artery-clogging plaque, prevent the formation of blood clots, help lower blood pressure, reduce the chances of infection, improve nasal congestion and sinusitis.
The health benefits of the allium compounds contained in garlic and other vegetables in the onion family have been widely publicized. Garlic is currently under study for its ability to reduce cancer risk, but there is insufficient evidence to support a specific role for this vegetable in cancer prevention.It also has the potential to interfere with anesthesia. Garlic is promoted for use as a preventive measure against the formation of cancer. Although several compounds in garlic may have anti-cancer properties, the allyl sulfur compounds are said to play a major role. These compounds are reported to prevent cancer by decreasing the activation of carcinogens within the body, reducing the production of carcinogens, and increasing the body's ability to repair damaged DNA. There have been claims that garlic has certain immune boosting properties that may help the body fight off diseases, such as colds or the flu, as well as reduce cancer cell growth.
Garlic is considered to be Nature's very own antibiotic. Unlike most antibiotics, Garlic will not deplete the body of flora, and is considered to be the cure-all herb because of its effectiveness on the entire body. Popularly used as a digestive aid , Garlic increases bile production while enhancing digestion and reducing stomach gases. Garlic’s strong odor is due mostly to a sulfide called allicin. For those who like to steer clear from Garlic's odor, an encapsulated form a standardized "odorless" Garlic can eliminate any unpleasant odor and taste. Garlic is a source of selenium, which must be present in the body for proper immune response, and which acts as an antioxidant in combination with vitamin E. Rich in potassium, zinc, selenium, and Vitamins A & C, Garlic is commonly used to fight infection, increase circulation and help prevent cardiovascular disease. Garlic has been known to detoxify the body by cleansing the kidneys and increasing urine flow. Furthermore, Garlic's healing properties make it an ideal agent for fighting colds and flu, bacteria, and fungi. Garlic has also been used for lowering cholesterol, reducing high blood pressure, and treating respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma.