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Garlic is most often used as a seasoning or a condiment, and is believed by some to have some medicinal value , notably against hypertension. When crushed or finely chopped it yields allicin, a powerful antibiotic and anti-fungal compound. It also contains alliin, ajoene, enzymes, vitamin B, minerals, and flavonoids.
Allicin has been determined to be the agent behind the spiciness of raw garlic. This chemical opens thermoTRP (transient receptor potential) channels which are responsible for the sense of noxious heat in foods. The process of cooking garlic removes allicin, thus mellowing its spiciness. (Macpherson et al., 2005)
Garlic is claimed by some to have many significant medicinal benefits, but there has been no demonstration of the effects of garlic that meets commonly accepted scientific standards.
In modern naturopathy, garlic is used as a treatment for intestinal worms.
Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History, (N.H. xx. 23) gives an exceedingly long list of complaints in which it was considered beneficial. Dr. T. Sydenham valued it as an application in confluent smallpox, and, says Cullen (Mat. Med. ii. p. 174, 1789), found some dropsies cured by it alone. Early in the 20th century, it was sometimes used in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis or phthisis.
Garlic cloves continue to be used by aficionados as a remedy for infections (especially chest problems), digestive disorders, and fungal infections such as thrush. They are claimed to be an effective long-term remedy for cardiovascular problems reducing excessive blood cholesterol levels, atherosclerosis, the risk of thrombosis, and hypertension but these claims are disputed as there has been no clinical trial that has demonstrated any such benefits. Whole cloves used as suppositories are sometimes used as a home remedy for Bacterial Vaginosis. Garlic is also alleged to help regulate blood sugar levels, and so can be helpful in late-onset diabetes, though people taking insulin should not consume medicinal amounts of garlic without consulting a physician. In such applications, garlic is best used fresh.
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