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Garlic: The Wonder Herb

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“Garlic is a complete pharmacopeia in itself.”

Happy Garlic Day to all our esteemed readers.Did you know that those small bulbs of garlic conceal a host of highly healing and medicinal properties? Garlic is one of the most ancient medicine that has heralded the dawn of medicine, not only in India but all over the world. Let us probe further and get to the bottom of the matter:

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:

The Mesopotamians:

They ate garlic and drank it with wine as a tonic to ward off disease.

The Egyptians:

They  formulated ancient papyrus document called “Ebers Codex” written in 1550 BC which gives twenty two uses of garlic including treatment for heart problems, tumours, headaches, worms and bites.

Ancient Greek:

Here, garlic was given to athletes before Olympics, soldiers before battles as per Homers Odyssey published in 1000 bBC. Hippocrates, known as the “Father of Medicine” called it a wonder herb, recommending it for infections, wounds, cancer, leprosy and digestive problems. Dioscorides known as the “ Father of Pharmacy” ,prescribed it in Material Medica for snake bites, dog bites, toxic poisoning due to the sting of bees and scorpions. Roman gladiators chewed garlic before combats. Pling, the Elder called it as an antidote for any type of poisoning.

Chinese medicine:

It is the most developed herbal medicine in the world. It consists of classic formulas more than hundreds of thousands years old. Garlic called “da suan” in the Chinese jargon, has a special mention in “Collection of Commentaires on the Classic of Material Medica” published in 500 AD and “Vegetables as Medicine”. Here, it is prescribed for common cold, whooping cough, dysentery and boils.

Ayurveda:

According to this school of medicine, garlic effects each of the constitutional types, namely Pitta, Vata and Kalpha. It increases the fiery nature of Pitta, spacy, spasmodic  and airy nature of Vata,cleans mucous and opens up obstructed channels of Kalpha.

Unani Tibb:

It is the branch of medicine from the Muslim world. Hakim Ibn Sina is the father of this medicine and in Canon of Medicine published in 900 BC, garlic is recommended for intestinal problems, food poisoning, dysentery, asthma and whooping cough.

European Herbalism:

Garlic has been touted as the cradle of civilization and extensive research has been conducted on garlic in German Phytotherapy(Plant Medicine), spearheaded by Hildegard von Bingen. It is used in the preparation of “Four Thieves Vinegar” and “Galen’s wine” which are used as poultice for wounds and injuries during the medieval period.

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF GARLIC:

These can be elucidated as follows:

Anti asthmatic: Eases constricted breathing.

Anti inflammatory and blood thinning properties.

Anti epileptic: Reduces severity of convulsions.

Antiseptic: Fights infections in digestive and respiratory tracts.

Antispasmodic: Combats cramping and pains.

Anthelmintic: Kills germs and intestinal worms.

Carminative: Expels gas

Diaphoretic: Promotes sweating and circulation.

Diuretic: Promotes urination.

Emmenagogue: Promotes menstruation.

Expectorant: Promotes flow of mucus.

Rubefacient: Fight skin irritation.

Tonic: Boosts immunity and overall health.

SIDE EFFECTS:

The following are the side effects that might result if the usage is not within the limits of  discretion :

  1. Bloating and gas.
  2. Feelings of heat
  3. Digestive irritation
  4. Heaviness in head
  5. Aggravation of pain
  6. Increase in urine(diuretic)
  7. Dull eyesight
  8. Headache
  9. Nausea
  10. Flushed face
  11. Garlic breath and excessive sweating.

FORMS OF USAGE :

Capsules and tablets, oils(steam distilled and macerated), chest rub and plaster, compress(hot and cold), cooked garlic, raw garlic, decoction, douche, enema, poultice, infusion in wine and vinegar, juice, nose drops, poultices and tinctures.

We can thus conclude that the appeal of garlic is universal and its versatility needs no further attestation. It displays the broadest spectrum of medicinal properties and is like a medicine chest all by itself. So don’t wait, grab this ambrosia right away!

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