Garlic,a microbe killer

  There's no doubt that garlic destroys bacteria. The compound in garlic that acts as an antibiotic is allicin, which is formed when garlic is crushed.

If the aroma - hence allicin - is destroyed, as in cooking, garlic is no longer a microbe killer, although the health benefits of garlic don't stop there, it can perform other therapeutic functions.

Tests even have found raw garlic more powerful than penicillin and tetracycline.

Literally hundreds of studies confirm garlic broad-spectrum antibiotic activity against a long list of microbes, including botulism, tuberculosis, diarrhea, Candida infections, staph, dysentery and typhoid.

According to one count, seventy-two separate infectious agents are defeated by garlic.

A researcher said: "Garlic has the broadest spectrum of any antimicrobial substances we know of. It's antibacterial, antifungal, antiphrastic, antiprotozoan and antiviral."

Garlic Boosts Immunity

Dr Abdullah and his colleagues at the Akbar Clinic and Research Center in Panama City, Florida, found that both raw garlic and a garlic extract called Kyolic dramatically increased the powers of the immune system's natural killer cells - the first line of defence against infectious disease and perhaps cancer.

The killer cells derived from the blood of those eating garlic or taking the garlic extract were mixed with cancer cells and were able to destroyed from 140 to 160 percent more cancer cells than did killer cells from non-garlic eaters.

Dr Abdullah believes that the health benefits of garlic extend beyond treating infections and cancer, but can also affect AIDS, in which immune function fails. Garlic, he says, might rev up immune defenses in AIDS patients; it also may directly combat the many fungal-type infections AIDS patients fall prey to.

Heart Food

Garlic is one of the best foods you can have for heart disease.

It lowers blood cholesterol and creates other blood changes protective against heart disease - such as thinning the blood and preventing embolism (internal blood clots).

In one study, the blood clot-dissolving system (fibrinolytic activity) persistently rose in healthy people by 130% and in heart patients by 83% during a three months' period. It became sluggish after the garlic treatment ended.

The health benefits of garlic go beyond lowering 'bad' LDL cholesterol, it also lowers triglycerides (another type of fat in the blood) and raises 'good' HDL cholesterol.

Perhaps garlic's better well known accomplishment is its ability to lower high blood pressure. It's been used in China for centuries for that purpose and the Japanese government officially recognizes garlic as a blood-pressure depressor.

Garlic and the Lungs

Dr Irwin Ziment, a pulmonary specialist at the University od California, Los Angeles, regularly prescribes garlic as a decongestant and expectorant for common colds and as a 'mucus regualator' for chronic bronchitis.

How does garlic work as an expectorant? The pungent property of garlic irritates the stomach, which then signals the brain through the vagus nerve to stimulate bronchial glands to release a flood of watery fluid.

The same reflex turns on glands that also cause the nose and eyes to water and in the lungs they release fluids that then thin the mucus, enabling the ordinary lung mechanisms to expel it.

Regular doses of garlic, as well as other pungent spices - such as hot peppers, black pepper, ginger, mustard, turmeric - help keep susceptible persons from developing debilitating chronic bronchitis, can treat clods, sinusitis and asthma, and keeps mucus moving normally through the lungs.


Garlic and Cancer

Garlic is one of the stars in cancer research circles.

The health benefits of garlic in treating cancer have been studied for many years.

For example, as long ago as 1952, Russian scientists successfully used garlic extracts against human tumors.

Evidence that people who eat garlic are more likely to escape cancer comes from a comparison of garlic eating in two Chinese counties in Shandong province.

Gangshan County residents eat about 20 g.of garlic a day (about seven cloves) and have a gastric cancer death rate of 3.45 per 100,000 population.

In nearby Quixia County, the residents care little for garlic and eat it rarely; they die of gastric cancer at the rate of 40 per 100,000.

The non-garlic eaters have an almost twelve times greater risk of deadly gastric cancer.

Japanese scientists found that garlic extracts acted as powerful antioxidants against so-called 'lipid peroxidation' that can insert inappropriate oxygen molecules into cells, causing their destruction.

Other investigators testing sulfur compounds from garlic (and onions) find that the substances saved mice from colon cancer by blocking the conversion of chemicals to powerful carcinogens.

Studies have shown that as few as two or more servings of garlic a week may help protect against colon cancer.

Substances found in garlic, such as allicin, have been shown not only to protect colon cells from the toxic effects of cancer-causing chemicals but also to stop the growth of cancer cells once they develop.

Garlic and Bad Breath

Unless everybody around you eats garlic, if you are the only one eating it, you can be easily identified by your breath and no doubt this is what puts many people off eating garlic and enjoying its many health benefits.

Many suggestions have been put forward: strong coffee, honey, yoghurt or a glass of milk. The French call red wine an effective deodorizer. Cloves are also supposed to do it.

The most commonly recommended is chewing parsley - the herb chlorophyll is supposed to douse the garlic smell. Try different ones and see which one is best for you.

Don't let the smell stop you from enjoying the health benefits of garlic, especially if you suffer with elevated cholesterol levels, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, Candida infections, asthma, respiratory tract infections and gastrointestinal complaints.

The best thing you could do is to enjoy it with your family and friends, so nobody will notice the smell!

Compiled by: Raghda Sawas