Garlic, a medicinal seasoning

In the Netherlands we are also starting to use garlic more and more in food. Although this seasoning does not directly match the usual Dutch fare, the garlic is extremely healthy. This has been known for centuries and research has proven it time and time again. More about this white gold or the stinking rose as garlic is also called.


Garlic is native to Central Asia but is now grown in most climates. Via the Middle East, garlic eventually ended up in Southern and Central Europe due to crusades. Garlic is a bulbous plant and, like onions, leeks and chives, belongs to the lily family. Today, cultivation mainly takes place around the Mediterranean Sea.

Garlic in the past

All kinds of special properties have been attributed to garlic since ancient times. Garlic has been cultivated for over 5,000 years. Inscriptions and images of garlic in the pyramids of ancient Egypt prove that garlic was not only an important food, but also had ceremonial significance. Garlic cloves were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. The Codex Ebers, an Egyptian medical papyrus text from about 1550 BC, accurately describes a number of medical recipes. Egyptian slaves were given garlic to increase their endurance during forced labor.
Both the Greeks and Romans attributed magical qualities to garlic. Warriors and gladiators ate it to gain extra strength before they went into battle, garlic was said to strengthen the muscles. Babies were also given garlic cloves around their necks to ward off the evil eye, so the story that vampires can be chased away with garlic clearly has roots in the distant past. The Greeks and Romans also used garlic as medicine.
In the Middle Ages, garlic was considered to keep the devil and witches away. Archaeologists have discovered butter barrels in Ireland that smelled strongly of garlic and were at least 200 or 300 years old. The doctors in the Middle Ages at the time of the plague protected themselves against any infectious disease by wearing a leather mask with a long nose that was soaked in a mixture based on garlic and aromatic herbs.
Garlic was the medicine for the poor. The Russians call it Russian penicillin. There is also a story that during the plague epidemic in France, prisoners were used to clean up the bodies of those affected by the plague. The strange thing was that many of these prisoners survived, which was ultimately attributed to the liberal use of garlic in the prisons of the time.
However, the current popularity of garlic is not due to its medicinal properties discovered over the centuries, but to the rise of Italian, Spanish and oriental cuisine in our country.

The main substances in garlic are:

  • Various (33) sulfur compounds, including allicin. This substance causes the odor but also has an antibiotic effect. One of the other sulfur compounds is, for example, allyl thiocyanate, which is believed to have blood pressure lowering properties.
  • Vitamins A, B1, B2 and C.
  • Minerals and trace elements: potassium, sulphur, iodine, selenium, germanium, silicon, iron, copper, zinc, pottassium, magnesium and 17 amino acids including all essential ones.
  • Carbohydrates (especially fructosans), saponins and a little pro-vitamin A.
  • Numerous enzymes, including alliinase, myrosinase, peroxidase (a group of enzymes that promote oxygen transfer are called peroxidases).

Chemical analysis of garlic shows that it consists of 60% water, 6.4% protein, 33% carbohydrates and 0.5% minerals and contains 149 Kcal per 100 grams.

Overview of the medicinal uses of garlic

If the garlic is eaten, it works against the following conditions

  • Lungs and airways, promotes coughing up of mucus, is an antiseptic for the lungs and is even used in developing countries to combat tuberculosis. It is also said to be beneficial for asthma, bronchitis, (whooping) cough, flu, sore throat, tonsillitis and sinus infections. The explanation for this would be that garlic provides a blood supply to mucous membranes, allowing them to heal better.
  • Bacterial infections, pus-causing bacteria, inflammations, (urinary tract) infections and wound infections. According to the French biologist Louis Pasteur, garlic even tackles bacteria that antibiotics have no control over.
  • It has a fungicidal effect
  • Garlic has an antispasmodic effect
  • It lowers blood pressure, promotes blood circulation and keeps blood vessels clean
  • Reduction of blood sugar and cholesterol levels
  • Promotes blood circulation and reduces circulatory disorders such as thrombosis, embolism, ischemia, accelerated heart function, vascular spasm and varicose veins.
  • Works preventively against colds, flu and other viral infections.
  • Relieves the symptoms of sinus infections and hay fever.
  • Would help with eczema, toothache and snakebites
  • Garlic can also have a beneficial effect on a weak stomach, nausea, vomiting and it is said to have a preventive effect on stomach cancer
  • Helps with intestinal infections such as dysentery, intestinal mucosal inflammation and inflammation of the colon, but also kills worms in the intestines.


Garlic can be used externally against the following conditions

  • Garlic oil for ear and nose infections (drops).
  • Oil as breast ointment for children with a cold.
  • On pessaries for vaginal infections.
  • On warts, corns and fungal infections, including dewworm.
  • As a compress for abscesses and infected wounds and boils. As early as the Second World War, soldiers’ wounds were dressed with bandages soaked in garlic juice. In addition, garlic is said to promote wound healing
  • Head lice also seem to hate the smell of garlic


Garlic in the fight against cancer, AIDS and ME

Garlic increases the combativeness of the immune system. It could particularly help fight certain types of cancer such as breast, stomach, colon and skin cancer. Indications for this were found in the fact that garlic-eating peoples such as the Egyptians and Arabs have less cancer. An Israeli researcher has copied the active ingredient allicin from garlic. This substance is said to be responsible for garlic’s cancer protection and cholesterol-lowering effect. Scientists suspect that this positive effect could be related to a stimulation of the activity of a liver enzyme, which would detoxify the body. Today, scientists are even investigating garlic as a remedy for AIDS, ME and other diseases of the immune system.

Side effects

Given the foregoing, you could say that everyone benefits from eating enough garlic. However, there are some disadvantages to using garlic. First of all, this is of course the smell that the garlic produces. This is released when the toe is pressed or cut. The unwanted odor can be reduced by eating parsley or anise seed in addition to the garlic. Swallowing the toes whole will not help with the odor because the substance that spreads the odor will move through your blood to the lungs and skin. A pleasant side effect of this is that mosquitoes also abhor this smell.
If more than 3 cloves of garlic are eaten per meal, stomach complaints may occur. This then results in an overdose that can also damage red blood cells, damage the intestinal flora, reduce the absorption of nutrients and liver function.
People who easily suffer from anemia should also moderate their use of garlic. The healing of anemia is inhibited by eating garlic.

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