A superfood is a food rich in nutrients that is incredibly beneficial for our well-being and health. In many ways, garlic is a superfood. Garlic has always been considered a nutritious and delicious component in our food. It contains vital active components that have been proven to benefit our circulation, and prevent prostate enlargement and cancer.
How is garlic considered to be a superfood? Find out how garlic has been used throughout history for a wide array of purposes.
History and Ancient Use of Garlic
According to Petrovska and Cekovska (2010), garlic originated in Middle Asia, along the regions of West China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The ancient Sumerians were already using garlic for its healing properties. From there, it spread to Eastern China, East Asia and the new world.
Garlic was one of the most used medicinal plants in ancient China since 2700 BC. The Chinese have used it for its healing and stimulating effects. It was incorporated into their concept of yin and yang. It was mainly prescribed for people suffering from depression.
In ancient India, garlic was used as a remedy for lack of appetite, cough, weakness, rheumatism, skin disease and hemorrhoids. Its preparation was in the form of a tonic.
The ancient Egyptians were also familiar with this superfood. They used it for its medicinal and aromatic properties. Among other spicy foods, garlic was widely used and gained mercantile importance. The use of garlic in ancient Egypt is evidenced by clay sculptures of garlic bulbs that date from 3700 BC. Archaeologists even found some garlic bulbs in the pyramids.
Not Just The Egyptians…
Garlic was also used by the ancient Greeks. Archaeological excavations in the Knossos Palace on Crete reveal garlic bulbs that date from 1850-1400 BC. Hippocrates claimed that garlic could be used as a remedy against intestinal parasites, as well as a remedy against laxative and diuretic.
In the later years of the Roman Empire, garlic became widely used as both a remedy and spice. Pliny, a notable Roman doctor and scientist from the first century, claimed that garlic was a powerful plant with universal healing properties. It was used for curing indigestion, colic, consumption and fever. It was even used as an aphrodisiac.
Eventually, garlic was brought to the new world. It arrived in England in 1548. Westerners adapted the traditional use of garlic as an anthelminthic and skin treatment.
In addition, Europeans appreciated its unique taste and used it to their food recipes. Louis Pasteur, the “Father of Microbiology and Immunology”, claimed that garlic had antibiotic properties and killed many types of bacteria, including the one that caused peptic ulcers.
Continuous research is being done on the medicinal properties of garlic. Apart from its antibiotic properties, garlic is being studied for the treatment of cancers and other chronic diseases.
A critical review by Rahman and Lowe (2006) analyzed numerous studies since 1993 regarding the medical benefits of garlic to preventing cardiovascular diseases. They claim that increased garlic consumption reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Enzymes present in garlic have been shown to decrease lipids, platelet aggregation (associated with stroke and atherosclerosis), increase antioxidants, and inhibit the action of angiotensin-converting enzyme (related to hypertension).
There is also evidence supporting the anthelmintic properties of garlic. Ayaz et al (2008) evaluated the effects of garlic on intestinal parasitic nematodes in mice. They found that garlic was about 91% effective in treating the infected samples. Subsequently, they made recommendations for garlic to be used as an alternative anti-parasitic treatment for humans.
Garlic Helps Prevent Prostate Disease and Cancer
Apart from its ability to prevent various infections and cardiovascular diseases, there is also growing evidence supporting the anti-cancer properties of garlic and its ability to prevent prostate enlargement. According to Amagase et al (2001), garlic has a wide array of bioactive components.
It prevents the formation of free radicals which contribute to the development of cancer and BPH. Garlic was also found to support the body’s protective mechanisms to destroy free radicals.
Agarwal (1996) studied allicin, a component of garlic, and its anti-cancer potential. It was found that allicin actively combats sarcomas (cancer of connective tissues) in rats. Garlic extracts have the potential to stop cell division of cancer-causing cells in all phases of growth. Live studies have also shown that garlic has a component which prevents the development of cancer cells in patients with acute myeloid leukemia.
In another study, a compound in garlic known as diallyl disulfide was found to suppress the growth of prostate cancer cells. It also showed that the higher the dose of diallyl disulfide, the greater its effect on suppressing prostatic cancer growth.
So garlic, in the many ways mentioned, is truly a superfood. It’s good to know that we can readily have it, eat it and enjoy its many benefits. It’s also good to know that it can help treat many common chronic diseases, such as prostate enlargement, and promote a natural way of healing.
Agarwal, K., 1996. Therapeutic actions of garlic constituents. Med Res Rev. Jan;16(1):111-24.
Amagase, et al., 2001. Intake of garlic and its bioactive components. J Nutr. Mar;131(3s):955S-62S.
Arunkumar, et al., 2005. Growth-suppressing effect of garlic compound diallyl disulfide on prostate cancer cell line (PC-3) in vitro. Biol Pharm Bull. Apr;28(4), pp. 740-743.
Ayaz, et al., 2008. Evaluation of the anthelmintic activity of garlic (Allium sativum) in mice naturally infected with Aspiculuris tetraptera. Recent Pat Antiinfect Drug Discov. Jun;3(2).
Palaksha, et al., 2010. Antibacterial activity of garlic extract on streptomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli solely and in synergism with streptomycin. J Nat Sci Biol Med. Jul-Dec; 1(1), pp. 12–15.
Petrovska, B. and Cekovska, S., 2010. Extracts from the history and medical properties of garlic. Pharmacogn Rev. Jan-Jun; 4(7), pp. 106–110.
Rahman, K. and Lowe, G.M., 2006. Garlic and cardiovascular disease: a critical review. J Nutr. Mar;136(3 Suppl), 736S-740S.
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