Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and rakkyo. Dating back over 6,000 years, garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent seasoning in Asia, Africa, and Europe. It was known to Ancient Egyptians, and has been used throughout its history for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
The ancestry of cultivated garlic is not definitively established. According to Zohary and Hopf, “A difficulty in the identification of its wild progenitor is the sterility of the cultivars”, though it is thought to be descendent from the species Allium longicuspis, which grows wild in central and southwestern Asia. Allium sativum grows in the wild in areas where it has become naturalised. The “wild garlic”, “crow garlic”, and “field garlic” of Britain are members of the species Allium ursinum, Allium vineale, and Allium oleraceum, respectively. In North America, Allium vineale (known as “wild garlic” or “crow garlic”) and Allium canadense, known as “meadow garlic” or “wild garlic” and “wild onion”, are common weeds in fields. One of the best-known “garlics”, the so-called elephant garlic, is actually a wild leek (Allium ampeloprasum), and not a true garlic. Single clove garlic (also called pearl or solo garlic) originated in the Yunnan province of China.
While botanists classify garlic under the umbrella of the species, Allium sativum, there are also two main subspecies. Ophioscorodon, or hard necked garlic, includes porcelain garlics, rocambole garlic, and purple stripe garlics. Sativum, or soft necked garlic, includes artichoke garlic, silverskin garlic, and creole garlic.
Bulb garlic is available in many forms, including fresh, frozen, dried, fermented (black garlic) and shelf stable products (in tubes or jars). In addition, see Culinary uses for other edible parts of the garlic plant.
PIZZA CRUST: – your choice
1 c Tomato paste
1 tb Thyme (fresh)
3 c Sharp Cheddar (>20 months)
- or other sharp cheese
400 g Lobster meat – sliced
2 ts Berbere (Ethiopian spice)
3 tb Savory (fresh) – chopped
12 md Garlic cloves – pressed
1 c Parmesan – grated
5-6 green chilies (finely chopped)
2 green onion tops (finely chopped), if available
Use a pizza dough of your choice to form a crust 30 x 40 cm. Spread on it. 1 cup of tomato paste. Sprinkle the thyme over the tomato paste. Add half of the grated sharp cheddar (it must be at least 20 months old, a good alternative is Swedish Vaesterbotten cheese). Take the meat from a freshly boiled lobster of 1 kg (400 g meat) and slice. Put the lobster slices on the pizza and sprinkle fresh savory over. Add berbere (a hot Ethiopian spice mix) and press the garlic over the lobster slices. Cover with the remaining Cheddar and freshly grated Parmesan. Bake in 225 C for 10 minutes.
- Garlic is a bulb of a plant and used for cooking and also it has many medicinal properties.
- It is an anti viral and anti bacterial agent with a high sulphur content.
- Raw garlic helps to reduce the nasal congestion and as well as to help to relieve other symptoms of cold. Many of the volatile compounds are lost through cooking.
- They are also good for high blood pressure and to lower the cholesterol levels.
- Garlic is used for treating cramps and muscular spasm.
- It can be taken directly or mixed with milk.
- It has some draw backs like bad breath, may induce migraine and can cause contact dermatitis.
In vitro studies, garlic has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity. However, these actions are less clear in vivo. Garlic is also claimed to help prevent heart disease (including atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure) and cancer. Garlic is used to prevent certain types of cancer, including stomach and colon cancers. In fact, countries where garlic is consumed in higher amounts, because of traditional cuisine, have been found to have a lower prevalence of cancer. Animal studies, and some early research studies in humans, have suggested possible cardiovascular benefits of garlic. A Czech study found garlic supplementation reduced accumulation of cholesterol on the vascular walls of animals. Another study had similar results, with garlic supplementation significantly reducing aortic plaque deposits of cholesterol-fed rabbits. Another study showed supplementation with garlic extract inhibited vascular calcification in human patients with high blood cholesterol. The known vasodilative effect of garlic is possibly caused by catabolism of garlic-derived polysulfides to hydrogen sulfide in red blood cells (RBCs), a reaction that is dependent on reduced thiols in or on the RBC membrane. Hydrogen sulfide is an endogenous cardioprotective vascular cell-signaling molecule.
A randomized clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2007 found the consumption of garlic in any form did not reduce blood cholesterol levels in patients with moderately high baseline cholesterol levels. According to Heart.org, “despite decades of research suggesting that garlic can improve cholesterol profiles, a new NIH-funded trial found absolutely no effects of raw garlic or garlic supplements on LDL, HDL, or triglycerides. The findings underscore the hazards of meta-analyses made up of small, flawed studies and the value of rigorously studying popular herbal remedies”. In an editorial regarding the initial report’s findings, two physicians from Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, pointed out that there may “be effects of garlic on atherosclerosis specifically that were not picked up in the study”.
Allium sativum has been found to reduce platelet aggregation and hyperlipidemia.
In 2007, the BBC reported Allium sativum may have other beneficial properties, such as preventing and fighting the common cold. This assertion has the backing of long tradition in herbal medicine, which has used garlic for hoarseness and coughs. The Cherokee also used it as an expectorant for coughs and croup.
Garlic is also alleged to help regulate blood sugar levels. Regular and prolonged use of therapeutic amounts of aged garlic extracts lower blood homocysteine levels and has been shown to prevent some complications of diabetes mellitus. People taking insulin should not consume medicinal amounts of garlic without consulting a physician.
In 1858, Louis Pasteur observed garlic’s antibacterial activity, and it was used as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene during World War I and World War II. More recently, it has been found from a clinical trial that a mouthwash containing 2.5% fresh garlic shows good antimicrobial activity, although the majority of the participants reported an unpleasant taste and halitosis.
Garlic cloves are used as a remedy for infections (especially chest problems), digestive disorders, and fungal infections such as thrush. Garlic can be used as a disinfectant because of its bacteriostatic and bacteriocidal properties.
Garlic has been found to enhance thiamin absorption, and therefore reduces the likelihood for developing the thiamin deficiency beriberi.
In 1924, it was found to be an effective way to prevent scurvy, because of its high vitamin C content. Garlic has been used reasonably successfully in AIDS patients to treat Cryptosporidium in an uncontrolled study in China. It has also been used by at least one AIDS patient to treat toxoplasmosis, another protozoal disease.
Garlic supplementation has been shown to boost testosterone levels in rats fed a high protein diet. A 2010 double-blind, parallel, randomised, placebo-controlled trial, involving 50 patients whose routine clinical records in general practice documented treated but uncontrolled hypertension, concluded, “Our trial suggests that aged garlic extract is superior to placebo in lowering systolic blood pressure similarly to current first line medications in patients with treated but uncontrolled hypertension.”