Written by Maria Pistocchi — Wednesday, October 03rd, 2012

All about garlic

A constant presence in our kitchen, and in our anti-vampire kit as well.

The garlic is a green plant which grows in all continents and it is well known for culinary use. In Italy it can be found mainly in Campania, Sicily, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna. A special one is the Voghiera Garlic, near Ferrara, known for its specific genetic identity.


The garlic is 5000 years old

The etymology of the botanical name derives from the Celtic word all or burning, in allusion to the flavor and from the Latin sativus which means that can be sown. The garlic is present in historical documents and in popular beliefs, such as the supposed ability to ward off vampires. It has a long tradition of use, too: in Sanskrit documents we find the use of the garlic since 5000 years ago. Hippocrates, Aristotle and Pliny mentioned numerous therapeutic uses of garlic. It is also cited frequently in Egyptian, Chinese, the Ayurvedic medicine and there are clinical studies also in recent years.

The garlic, a.k.a. Allium Sativus

The technical name of the garlic is Allium sativus, from Liliaceae Family; the garlic is a perennial herbaceous of annual grown and its used parts are the cloves. They should be stored in a cool and breezy place, in crates or hung twisted in the typical reste.

In the chemical composition of garlic there are sulfur compounds such as the allicin. When the bulb is crushed, the allicin is responsible for the characteristic (and amazing!) smell. The allicin is inactivated by heat and this explains why the cooked garlic gives off less odor and it has minor pharmacological activities than the raw one.

The garlic as a medicine

The main pharmacological activities of Garlic can be summarized as follows:

  • reduces lipids and fats;
  • reduces the aggregation of the blood (anti-aggregant action);
  • relaxes your nerves;
  • fights bacteria and fungi;
  • reduces inflammation;
  • is a powerful antioxidant.

When or why should I eat garlic?

You should make use of garlic if you suffer from atherosclerosis, hypertension or high levels of cholesterol. This is certainly not a real curative action, but - if you like - garlic can still be helpful in your fight against the disease. There are no miracles from his use, nor think that it can replace conventional medication or be taken at high doses without prior medical consultation.

The down sides of the garlic

Just like everything else, the garlic can damage you if taken incorrectly. In fact it can cause vomiting, bloating, diarrhea and might causes changes in intestinal microbial flora, more severe in children. In large amounts, garlic is also contraindicated if you suffer from low blood pressure or gastric reflux, or yet during nursing because it gives to milk an unpleasant taste.




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