by Megan Blumenstein, Integrative Herbalist at HAALo
Owner of Blüm & Brü Broths and Blüm Botanicals
Behind the counter when recommending herbs to people at HAALo I often recommend the use of garlic for many ailments and health concerns. I LOVE garlic and find that it is very effective in the treatment of many issues. Throughout this past winter and spring we saw many cases of very persistent sore throats, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, fevers and rashes. Some of these cases were bacterial and some were viral, or both. In many or all cases, garlic would have been a great option for resolving these ailments. Garlic can be ingested in raw form or in a pill form. My personal favorite pill form of garlic is made by the company “Allimax.” We carry this amazing product at HAALo! I was introduced to this product years ago when I could not get over a chronic sinus infection. I took Allimax and it was resolved.
Allium sativum is native to central and southwest Asia, with a history of human use for over 7,000 years. It has been a staple in the Mediterranean region, Europe, Asia and Africa for food and medicine. In North America the native species are Allium vineale (known as “wild garlic” or “crow garlic”) and Allium canadense, known as “meadow garlic” or “wild garlic” and “wild onion,” are common in fields. All species of Allium contain the active medicinal compound Allicin, but it is said that Allium sativum has the highest content. This is the species that we commonly find in grocery stores and that supplements are made from.
Allicin is the main biological active compound found in garlic that is responsible for garlic’s health benefits. When fresh garlic is cut or crushed, a sulphur compound, Alliin (alli-een) combines with an enzyme, Allinase and a chemical reaction starts.The first compound that is formed is allicin. Unfortunately Allicin generated from fresh garlic is very unstable and when processed, quickly changes into a series of other sulphur-containing compounds, known as Thiosulphinates.
The company that makes Allimax uses a process to extract the allicin and effectively stabilizes the compound. The Allicin is captured in a liquid from and then quickly and carefully dried. It is claimed that other garlic or allicin supplements don’t have the same technique and much of the allicin is lost in the processing. You can increase the health benefits you receive from garlic by letting it sit after you’ve chopped it or crushed it. If you give your chopped/crushed garlic time to sit it will give the alliinase enzymes in garlic an opportunity to work on behalf of your health. Much of the allicin is lost in cooking. I recommend adding chopped raw garlic to your food at the end of cooking. Plus it is very tasty!
So how exactly does garlic benefit us? Here are some amazing facts to consider:
- Research has revealed that as allicin digests in your body, it produces sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts with dangerous free radicals faster than any other known compound.
- Garlic is effective in killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Scientists at the University of East London have shown that aqueous extracts of allicin are able to kill vast swathes of the so called “superbug” MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus).
- Garlic may help improve your iron metabolism. That’s because the diallyl sulfides in garlic can help increase production of a protein called ferroportin. (Ferroportin is a protein that runs across the cell membrane, and it forms a passageway that allows stored iron to leave the cells and become available where it is needed.)
- Garlic is a great source of selenium. Selenium is a trace mineral that is important to human health. It is an antioxidant and is important in the production of active thyroid hormone. It is needed for the proper functioning of the immune system. Selenium deficiency has been linked with adverse mood states and increase in cancer risk. Garlic is considered a “seleniferous” plant, meaning that is can uptake selenium from the soil.
- Garlic has been found to reduce risk for heart disease including heart attack and stroke.
- Garlic helps normalize your cholesterol and blood pressure. It significantly lowers LDL cholesterol levels by blocking the liver from making too much LDL cholesterol. It lowers blood pressure by dilating and expanding blood vessels. It also prevents blood clots.
- It protects against many cancers including brain, lung and prostate cancer
- Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces risk of osteoarthritis. It reduces pain and other symptoms in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
- One of the oldest uses of garlic, however, is as an antibiotic. Garlic kills a range of microbes, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, and can be effective against such conditions as athlete’s foot, thrush (a fungal infection of the mouth), viral diarrhea, and the ulcer-causing bacteria Helicobacter pylori. Only fresh garlic or supplements that mimic it have these effects.
As you can see, garlic is such an amazing plant! It has so many health benefits. Allimax, the garlic product in our store, can be taken regularly for preventative benefits. One capsule a day will do the trick. For more acute conditions, the dosage is higher. Here is the dosage for some of the more common ailments.
- For a sore throat, you can actually dissolve the capsules and gargle in addition to taking 3 capsules per day.
- For ear infections take 4 capsules per day for one week.
- For athlete’s foot, take 2-3 capsules per day as well as rub the powder between the toes.
- For candida, take at least 3-6 capsules per day for 2-4 weeks.
- And for colds and flu, take 1-2 capsules per day.
- At first sign of infection, take 4-6 capsules for a period of one week. Relief should be felt within first 24 hours.
The list goes on. Use Allimax (or your own raw chopped garlic) for animal bites, parasites, cold sores, thrush, etc. You can dissolve the capsules into a carrier such as aloe vera gel or an oil to apply externally. It is a really excellent product to take traveling with you to prevent or treat traveler’s tummy.
This product is very safe for adults and children. Tests show that one can take hundreds of capsules without any detrimental effects. Dogs however don’t digest the high levels of sulphur in garlic, so it should not be used for your doggy friends.
So come on in to HAALo and get some! I find garlic to be one of my most used plant allies in my household. It is been continually effective in resolving many of my family’s health issues. From tooth infections to strep. I encourage you all to give it a try!
Megan Blumenstein has a BA in Agroecology and is a certified herbalist. She has studied western herbalism and has completed her training in Integrative Herbalism, combining the traditions of Ayurvedic, Chinese and Western Herbalism.