Search Term: " Prevenaives "
June 25, 2005 09:58 AM
For thousands of years amazing magical and medicinal powers have been attributed to garlic. Prized as a legendary protectant against vampires in Transylvania, it has also been used to enhance sexual prowess and fight off infections. Referred to as “the stinking rose,” it is mentioned in Bible, the Talmud, and in the Odyssey by Homer as well. The Egyptians looked to garlic as a tonic which boosted physical strength and consumed it while building the pyramids. The Greeks utilized its laxative properties, and the Chinese prescribed it for high blood pressure. Vikings and Phoenicians alike extolled the virtues of garlic and used it both for flavoring foods and treating disease.
Garlic is a hardy, perennial bulb which is native to the Mediterranean regions of Africa and Europe. Along with onions, leeks, chives and shallots, garlic is a member of the lily family. The botanical name for garlic, allium sativum may have been derived from the celtic word all which refers to “pungent.” The edible portion of the garlic plant grows underground and consists of a cloved bulb.
Hippocrates believed that garlic could treat uterine cancer and Native Americans used it for stomach cancer. During the Bubonic Plague years in Europe, garlic was used to boost immunity against the infectious organism responsible for so many deaths. Several accounts relate that survivors of the plague were frequently those who had routinely ingested large amounts of garlic. A sixteenth- century herbalist writes, referring to garlic, “The virtue of this herb is thus. It will unbind all wicked winds within a man’s body.”1
During the eighteenth century, Russians utilized garlic to treat influenza. Eventually, garlic would become known as “Russian penicillin.” American colonists regarded garlic for its ability to kill parasites.
In the nineteenth century, Louis Pasteur finally proved scientifically that garlic contains antibiotic properties. His discovery led to the initiation of hundreds of studies which have substantiated his findings. What was thought to be nothing more than a culinary ingredient has medicinal value. Garlic can effectively kill bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites. In the late nineteenth century, garlic was routinely used by physicians as an effective treatment for typhus, cholera and whooping cough. It was highly recommended by medical practitioners and considered as staple treatment for infection. Albert Schweitzer used garlic for treating amebic dysentery in Africa. Early in this century, tuberculosis was treated with garlic and it was also used as an antibiotic/antiseptic for wounds during World War II. American and European doctors alike noted a remarkable high cure rate in tuberculosis patients treated with garlic.
2 Septic poisoning and gangrene, which can so quickly develop in battlefield wounds were prevented to a significant degree by using garlic. During the 1950’s Chinese scientists used garlic to successfully treat influenza. Subsequently, western studies found that garlic was an effective treatment for the common cold. Today the widespread use of antibiotics have relegated garlic to the back burner of medicinal therapies for infection. The discovery of penicillin resulted in classifying garlic as nothing more than a folk remedy. Unfortunately, for several decades its medicinal potential was no longer taken seriously by scientists. Over the last decade, scientific interest in garlic has dramatically escalated. In 1990, the First World Congress on the Health Significance of garlic and Garlic Constituents was held in Washington D.C. Herbalists have always considered garlic as an effective treatment and preventative agent against colds, flu and other infectious diseases. The present focus on garlic as a medicinal agent promises to support the notion that garlic should be utilized by medical practitioners much more than it currently is.
Recently, medical research has focused on garlic’s potential value in treating cardiovascular disorders and as an anti-cancer agent. This renewed interest in garlic has contributed to the development of the “Designer Foods Program” which is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.3 This agency investigates foods that may be effective cancer preventatives. Garlic is one of those foods which may have profound cancer prevention potential.