When : Always April 19th
National Garlic Day promotes the many uses of Garlic. And, there certainly are many uses. It’s a vegetable. Its’ a herb. It is used in recipes around the world. Garlic has been used medicinally for thousands of years. And, Garlic is believed to ward off evil spirits. About the only negative thing you can say about it, is that it can negatively affect an otherwise romantic evening.
Garlic is one of the more heralded vegetables in your garden. Plant garlic cloves in the fall and you will harvest garlic bulbs in late spring. Did you miss the fall planting? That’s okay. Plant them as early in the spring, as the garden can be worked. Home grown, freshly harvested garlic bulbs, are much stronger than those found in stores. It can be cooked and eaten by itself as a delicious food.
Garlic is simple and easy to grow. Anybody, make that everybody, can learn how to grow garlic. Plant it in just about any slightly rich soil, in a partly to mostly sunny location and it will thrive. And, best of all, it takes little space. It can even be grown amidst your flower garden if you are short on space.
It is most commonly used as a spice or herb. It is used in recipes around the world. Perhaps it is best known for its use in Italian, Chinese, and Oriental cooking. It’s roots can be traced to Central Asia.
Garlic does not stake its claim to fame on cooking alone. It is also widely used in organic gardening. Its strong odor is a natural repellent to many insect pests. In addition, garlic was believed to have the power to ward off demons and vampires.
This ‘Miracle Food’ Protects You Against Heart Disease, Cancer and Infections
by Jack Challem, The Nutrition Reporter
If garlic had been created in the laboratory instead of by nature, it would probably be a high-priced prescription drug.
That’s just how good it really is.
Medical studies have shown that garlic – the aromatic seasoning people either love or hate – can lower cholesterol, prevent dangerous blood clots, reduce blood pressure, prevent cancer, and protect against bacterial and fungal infections.
Just what makes garlic so good? Known scientifically as Allium sativum, garlic contains more than 100 biologically useful chemicals, including substances with such strange names as alliin, alliinase, allicin, S-allylcysteine, diallyl sulfide, allyl methyl trisulfide.
In fact, garlic has been used medicinally for at least 3,000 years, but until relatively recently its benefits were considered little more than folklore. According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Nov. 28, 1990;264:2614), the therapeutic roles of garlic have been described in more than 1,000 scientific studies.
Garlic Benefits the Cardiovascular System
Adesh K. Jain, M.D., of the Clinical Research Center and Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, reported last year that garlic can lower blood levels of “total” cholesterol and, particularly, of the dangerous low-density lipoprotein (LDL) form. Jain gave 20 men and women 900 milligrams of garlic powder tablets daily and compared them to 22 people getting just a placebo.
By the end of the 12-week study, total blood cholesterol levels dropped by an average of 6 percent among those taking the garlic tablets, compared with only a 1 percent drop among those taking a placebo. The garlic takers also benefited from an 11 percent decrease in the LDL form of cholesterol, compared with a 3 percent reduction in the placebo group.
“Garlic powder, given in the form of tablets in our study, was well tolerated and only one subject reported increased belching and a garlic odor,” explained Jain in the American Journal of Medicine (June 1994;94:632-5).
Garlic is also an anticoagulant – a natural blood thinner. H. Kieswetter, M.D., of the University of Saarlandes, Hamburg, Germany, recently found that garlic could help patients suffering from peripheral arterial occlusive disease, characterized by blood clots in the legs.
Typically, patients with the condition are asked to walk, because increased blood flow reduces the number of clots. However, they are easily discouraged because peripheral arterial occlusive disease causes extreme pain after walking only a short distance.
Kieswetter gave 32 patients 800 milligrams of garlic powder tablets daily for 12 weeks, while another 32 patients received a placebo. He then measured their “pain-free walking distance.” For the first several weeks, both groups of patients progressed about as they would in a typical walking program. As time went on however, patients taking garlic were able to walk about one-third farther without pain, according to Kieswetter’s report in Clinical Investigator (May 1993;71:383-6). The researcher also noted that garlic’s benefits, which included decreased blood pressure, could be detected after patients took a single garlic powder capsule.
Why does garlic lower blood pressure? Blood pressure increases in response to the body’s production of angiotensen I-converting enzyme (ACE). Some prescription blood pressure drugs work as “ACE inhibitors,” blocking formation of the chemical. Garlic contains gamma-glutamylcysteine, a natural ACE inhibitor, according to an article in Planta Medica (Sendl, A. Feb. 1992;58:1-7).
Garlic Protects Against Cancer
Garlic also protects against cancer. Benjamin Lau, M.D., Ph.D., noted in Molecular Biotherapy (June 1991;3:103-7), that garlic “is one of the most ancient of plants reputed to have an anticancer effect. As recorded around 1550 B.C., in the Ebers Papyrus, garlic was used externally for the treatment of tumors by ancient Egyptians and internally by Hippocrates and Indian physicians.”
Lau, a researcher at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, has identified three ways garlic protects against cancer: by directly inhibiting tumor cell metabolism, by preventing the initiation and reproduction of cancer cells, and by boosting a person’s immune system to more efficiently fight cancer cells.
John Milner, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University, University Park, recently studied how aged garlic powder might protect against nitrosamine-induced cancers in laboratory mice. Nitrosamines are formed when processed meats, such as bacon and bologna are eaten.
Milner found that a diet consisting of 2 to 4 percent garlic delayed the growth of breast cancer and reduced the number of tumors. “The total tumor number was reduced by 56% in rats fed the 2% garlic-powder diet throughout the 20 weeks feeding period compared to control-fed rats,” he explained in Carcinogenesis (Oct. 1992;13:1847-51).
Another benefit was that levels of glutathione-S-transferase were 42 percent higher among the animals eating high-garlic diets. Glutathione-S-transferase is an enzyme that helps the liver detoxify carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals.
In a separate study, Milner found that garlic could dramatically reduce the number of “adducts” in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Adducts are chemicals that attach nitrosamines to DNA, setting the stage for cancerous changes.
Milner exposed a group of laboratory rats to nitrosamines, but some of the animals were also given large amounts of aged garlic powder – again, 2 to 4 percent of the diet. Depending on the amount of garlic they ate, the rats had a 40 to 80 percent reduction in the adducts in the liver. In addition, garlic-eating rats benefited from 55 to 69 percent fewer mammary gland adducts, according to Milner’s article in Carcinogenesis (Feb. 1994;15:349-52).
Several studies have also shown that garlic reduces the risk of stomach cancer. One study, conducted in China, found that garlic consumption was inversely related to the incidence of stomach cancer, according to a report in Preventive Medicine (Han, J., Sept. 1993;22:712-22). Other experiments, such as the one described in Cancer Letters (Nagabhushan, M., Oct. 21, 1992;66:207-16), noted that diallyl sulfide significantly reduced stomach tumors in hamsters.
In still another experiment, Professor M. M. El-Mofty of Alexandria University, Egypt, fed Egyptian toads either freshly minced garlic, garlic oil, or corn oil (placebo) for four months, then exposed them to aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), a food contaminant that can cause liver cancer.
Only 3 percent of the toads fed fresh garlic and only 9 percent of the 65 animals fed garlic oil developed tumors. In contrast, 19 percent of those fed corn oil developed liver and kidney tumors.
“Our results show that feeding toads minced garlic or garlic oil resulted in a marked reduction in the incidence of tumors induced by AFB1,” El-Mofty wrote in Nutrition and Cancer, 1994;21:95-100). “The fresh garlic showed a greater inhibitory effect…This suggests that there are additional highly active components in fresh garlic.”
Fights Microbial and Fungal Infections
Scientific research has also confirmed garlic’s role as a natural antibiotic. Back in 1983, Lau noted in Medical Hypotheses (12:227-37) that “garlic extract has broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against many genera of bacteria and fungi…Because many of the microorganisms susceptible to garlic extract are medically significant, garlic holds a promising position as a broad-spectrum therapeutic agent.”
One way garlic works is by promoting phagocytosis, the ability of white blood cells to fight infections. Another is by stimulating other immune cells, such as macrophages and T-cells to fight bacterial and viral infections and to scavenge for cancer cells. One report, in Deutsche Zeitschrift für Onkologie (April 1989;21:52-3), described how garlic enhanced the body’s “killer cell” activity against the AIDS virus.
Lau has also noted that garlic can combat Candida infections. In one study, he injected an aged garlic extract into mice with Candida infections. After a day, the Candida colonies numbered 400, compared with 3,500 among the mice given only a salt-water solution. After two days, the garlic-treated mice were free of Candida.
In one of the great ironies of nature, raw garlic has very little biological activity. But when you “damage” garlic cloves – by slicing, cooking, or chewing – the enzyme alliinase immediately converts alliin into allicin, which gives garlic its characteristic odor.
Allicin was once thought to be garlic’s principal active ingredient. However, researchers now know that allicin is rapidly oxidized. More than 100 biologically active sulfur-containing compounds, proteins, and saponins are created as a result of this oxidation. While allicin may still serve as a general marker of garlic’s potency, research increasingly points to S-allylcysteine and other compounds as the most therapeutically active ingredients in garlic.
So how should you take garlic? Most scientific studies have, for consistency, used a standardized garlic extract in capsule or liquid form. However, just about any form offers some benefits. If you enjoy the taste of garlic, use it liberally in your food. If the taste and odor turn you off, opt for deodorized garlic capsules. Either way, garlic is good for your health.
This article originally appeared in Let’s Live magazine. The information provided by Jack Challem and The Nutrition Reporter newsletter is strictly educational and not intended as medical advice. For diagnosis and treatment, consult your physician.
How to Grow Garlic:Insects and Pests:Disease:Harvest and Storage:
The Garlic “root” forms a bulb, comprising several segments, called cloves. Separate the cloves, and plant them in the fall for a spring crop. They will begin to grow and take root until snow covers the ground. In the spring they will start growing again, and will be harvestable in late spring to early summer.
· If you missed planting garlic in the Fall, plant them in the spring, as soon as the ground can be worked. You will still get a good crop, just not as big as those planted in the fall.
· Keep the patch weeded.
· Garlic will not tell you when it is thirsty. Make sure to water regularly, as dry weather arrives. Add a little general purpose fertilizer in the fall, and a couple of times in the spring.
Insects and Pests
· Garlic is resistant to most pests. It’s odor wards off many insects. However, on occasion, maggots will be a problem.
· Try garlic near your roses to ward off aphids and Japanese Beetles.
· Garlic is resistant to most forms of disease.
Harvest and Storage:
· You can begin to harvest garlic for cooking, as soon as a bulb starts to form..
· Harvest the entire garlic crop, after the tops have fallen over and dried. Rinse them off, and leave them to dry in the sun for a day or two.
· Note: Some people say not to clean them off with water. There is no harm to this, as as the plant is used to being outside in the rain. Just don’t leave them in standing in a bucket of water.
· You can weave the stalks into a braid and hang them for future use. Or, you can cut the stalk off and store them in a cool, dry place. Properly stored, it will keep over the winter months. With a little luck, you will run out of garlic just as the next crop arrives.
Some Fun Facts About Garlic:
· Garlic is believed to ward off heart disease, cancer, colds, and flu. The consumption of garlic lowers blood
cholesterol levels. and reduces the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
· It was even once used to treat acne, warts, and toothaches.
· The psychological term for fear of garlic is alliumphobia.
· The origin of National Garlic Day is unknown and it is not recorded in congressional or presidential
· Garlic is said to fight off evil spirits and keep vampires away.
· If your garlic has sprouted, it is still usable although it has lost some of its flavor and health benefits.
· The smell of garlic can be removed by running your hands under cold water while rubbing a stainless steel object.
· Garlic is a member of the onion family which also includes leeks and shallots.
· Its pungent flavor is due to a chemical reaction that occurs when the garlic cells are broken. The flavor is most
intense just after mincing.
· The majority of garlic (90%) grown in the United States comes from California.
· If your rose garden is being attacked by plant lice (aphids), an excellent home remedy to get rid of them is to
spritz the leaves and blooms with a mixture of crushed garlic and water.
· When picking out garlic at the grocery store, choose firm, tight, heavy dry bulbs.
· Garlic has been used to infuse vodka and as an ingredient to make cocktails.
· Roman marriages the brides carried bouquets of garlic and other herbs instead of flowers.
It was largely consumed by the ancient Greeks and Romans, as we may read in Virgil’s Eclogues. Horace, however, records his detestation of Garlic, the smell of which, even in his days (as much later in Shakespeare’s time), was accounted a sign of vulgarity. He calls it ‘more poisonous than hemlock,’ and relates how he was made ill by eating it at the table of Maecenas. Among the ancient Greeks, persons who partook of it were not allowed to enter the temples of Cybele. Homer, however, tells us that it was to the virtues of the ‘Yellow Garlic’ that Ulysses owed his escape from being changed by Circe into a pig, like each of his companions.
Homer also makes Garlic part of the entertainment which Nestor served up to his guest Machaon.
There is a Mohammedan legend that:
‘When Satan stepped out from the Garden of Eden after the fall of man, Garlick sprang up from the spot where he placed his left foot, and Onion from that where his right foot touched.’
There is a curious superstition in some parts of Europe, that if a morsel of the bulb be chewed by a man running a race it will prevent his competitors from getting ahead of him, and Hungarian jockeys will sometimes fasten a clove of Garlic to the bits of their horses in the belief that any other racers running close to those thus baited, will fall back the instant they smell the offensive odor.
Many of the old writers praise Garlic as a medicine, though others, including Gerard, are skeptical as to its powers. Pliny gives an exceedingly long list of complaints, in which it was considered beneficial, and Galen eulogizes it as the rustics’ Theriac, or Heal-All. One of its older popular names in this country was ‘Poor Man’s Treacle,’ meaning theriac, in which sense we find it in Chaucer and many old writers.
A writer in the twelfth century – Alexander Neckam – recommends it as a palliative for the heat of the sun in field labor, and in a book of travel, written by Mountstuart Elphinstone about 100 years ago, he says that-
‘the people in places where the Simoon is frequent eat Garlic and rub their lips and noses with it when they go out in the heat of the summer to prevent their suffering from the Simoon.’
Garlic is mentioned in several Old English vocabularies of plants from the tenth to the fifteenth centuries, and is described by the herbalists of the sixteenth century from Turner (1548) onwards. It is stated to have been grown in England before the year 1540. In Cole’s Art of Simpling we are told that cocks which have been fed on Garlic are ‘most stout to fight, and 50 are Horses’: and that if a garden is infested with moles, Garlic or leeks will make them ‘leap out of the ground presently.’
The name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, being derived from gar (a spear) and lac (a plant), in reference to the shape of its leaves.
Garlic’s Medical Remedies
Diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant. Many marvelous effects and healing powers have been ascribed to Garlic. It possesses stimulant and stomachic properties in addition to its other virtues.
As an antiseptic, its use has long been recognized. In the late war it was widely employed in the control of suppuration in wounds. The raw juice is expressed, diluted with water, and put on swabs of sterilized Sphagnum moss, which are applied to the wound. Where this treatment has been given, it has been proved that there have been no septic results, and the lives of thousands of men have been saved by its use.
It is sometimes externally applied in ointments and lotions, and as an antiseptic, to disperse hard swellings, also pounded and employed as a poultice for scrofulous sores. It is said to prevent anthrax in cattle, being largely used for the purpose.
In olden days, Garlic was employed as a specific for leprosy. It was also believed that it had most beneficial results in cases of smallpox, if cut small and applied to the soles of the feet in a linen cloth, renewed daily.
It formed the principal ingredient in the ‘Four Thieves’ Vinegar,’ which was adapted so successfully at Marseilles for protection against the plague when it prevailed there in 1722. This originated, it is said, with four thieves who confessed, that whilst protected by the liberal use of aromatic vinegar during the plague, they plundered the dead bodies of its victims with complete security.
It is stated that during an outbreak of infectious fever in certain poor quarters of London, early last century, the French priests who constantly used Garlic in all their dishes, visited the worst cases with impunity, whilst the English clergy caught the infection, and in many instances fell victims to the disease.
Syrup of Garlic is an invaluable medicine for asthma, hoarseness, coughs, difficulty of breathing, and most other disorders of the lungs, being of particular virtue in chronic bronchitis, on account of its powers of promoting expectoration. It is made by pouring a quart of water, boiled hot, upon a pound of the fresh root, cut into slices, and allowed to stand in a closed vessel for twelve hours, sugar then being added to make it of the consistency of syrup. Vinegar and honey greatly improve this syrup as a medicine. A little caraway and sweet fennel seed bruised and boiled for a short time in the vinegar before it is added to the Garlic, will cover the pungent smell of the latter.
A remedy for asthma, that was formerly most popular, is a syrup of Garlic, made by boiling the bulbs till soft and adding an equal quantity of vinegar to the water in which they have been boiled, and then sugared and boiled down to a syrup. The syrup is then poured over the boiled bulbs, which have been allowed to dry meanwhile, and kept in a jar. Each morning a bulb or two is to be taken, with a spoonful of the syrup.
Syrup made by melting 1 1/2 OZ. of lump sugar in 1 OZ. of the raw expressed juice may be given to children in cases of coughs without inflammation.
The successful treatment of tubercular consumption by Garlic has been recorded, the freshly expressed juice, diluted with equal quantities of water, or dilute spirit of wine, being inhaled antiseptically.
Bruised and mixed with lard, it has been proved to relieve whooping-cough if rubbed on the chest and between the shoulder-blades.
An infusion of the bruised bulbs, given before and after every meal, has been considered of good effect in epilepsy.
A clove or two of Garlic, pounded with honey and taken two or three nights successively, is good in rheumatism.
Garlic has also been employed with advantage in dropsy, removing the water which may already have collected and preventing its future accumulation. It is stated that some dropsies have been cured by it alone.
If sniffed into the nostrils, it will revive a hysterical sufferer. Amongst physiological results, it is reported that Garlic makes the eye retina more sensitive and less able to bear strong light.
The juice of Garlic, and milk of Garlic made by boiling the bruised bulbs in milk is used as a vermifuge.
Juice, 10 to 30 drops. Syrup, 1 drachm. Tincture, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Wine of Garlic – made by macerating three or four bulbs in a quart of proof spirit is a good stimulant lotion for baldness of the head.
Used in cookery it is a great aid to digestion, and keeps the coats of the stomach healthy. For this reason, essential oil is made from it and is used in the form of pills.
If a very small piece is chopped fine and put into chicken’s food daily, it is a sure preventative of the gapes. Pullets will lay finer eggs by having garlic in their food before they start laying, but when they commence to lay it must be stopped, otherwise it will flavor the eggs.
Mrs. Beeton (in an old edition of her Household Management, 1866) gives the following recipe for making ‘Bengal MangoChutney,’ which she states was given by a native to an English lady who had long been a resident in India, and who since her return to England had become quite celebrated amongst her friends for the excellence of this Eastern relish.
1 1/2 lb. moist sugar, 3/4 lb. salt, 1/4 lb. Garlic, 1/4 lb. onions, 3/4 lb. powdered ginger, 1/4 lb. dried chilies, 3/4 lb. dried mustard-seed, 3/4 lb. stoned raisins, 2 bottles of best vinegar, 30 large, unripe, sour apples.
Mode. The sugar must be made into syrup; the Garlic, onions and ginger be finely pounded in a mortar; the mustard-seed be washed in cold vinegar and dried in the sun; the apples be peeled, cored and sliced, and boiled in a bottle and a half of the vinegar. When all this is done, and the apples are quite cold, put them into a large pan and gradually mix the whole of the rest of the ingredients, including the remaining half-bottle of vinegar. It must be well stirred until the whole is thoroughly blended, and then put into bottles for use. Tie a piece of wet bladder over the mouths of the bottles, after which they are well corked. This chutney is very superior to any which can be bought, and one trial will prove it to be delicious.
Garlic Butter Recipe
Garlic butter may be best known for making Garlic Bread. But, you’ll find plenty of other uses for garlic butter. Try it on steaks, chicken, pork and even seafood. You will want to double the size of this recipe.
1 cup butter or margarine
8 cloves of garlic. Use more, if you like it strong.
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley (dried or fresh)
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- Put butter or margarine directly into a container.
- Mince or crush 8 cloves of garlic. Use more, if you like it strong.
- Add garlic to butter, and mix well.
- Add chopped parsley and mix together.
- Mix in grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- Cover container with a lid, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Garlic is among the hardiest of plants. It is resistant to cold. It goes dormant over the winter like winter wheat or lawns, but does not die. Once spring arrives, it begins to grow with the first warm days of late winter or early spring. It is not harmed by frost, freezes or even snow.
The North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival is organized by a fully volunteer committee of friends and neighbors, and the non-profit Seeds of Solidarity Education Center. Supporters include the Forster/Stewart family, local businesses, and over 200 community volunteers the festival weekend. Festival proceeds keep the event sustainable and affordable, and support the festival’s new community grant program for regional arts, agriculture, health and energy projects.