Scientific name: Allium sativum

Also called the “stinking rose”

Garlic is an incredible plant, being perfectly safe for use in the kitchen, while also providing many health benefits. It, along with a variety of other vegetables, is recognized by the National Cancer Institute for having “potential anticancer properties”. It’s great for staving off various bacterial and fungal infections especially in the nose, throat, and chest. It also aids in reducing cholesterol, high blood pressure, and blood-sugar levels (making it useful in the diet of someone with type 2 diabetes).

Nutrients

  • Selenium (higher content than other plants)
  • Sulfur
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamins A, B, C
  • Manganese
  • others in lesser quantities

Health Benefits

  • Long term remedy for cardiovascular problems
  • Antibacterial & Antifungal properties: eg. for colds, coughs, ear aches, eye infections, asthma
  • Antiseptic properties
  • Lowers blood pressure: the allisin present in garlic when exposed to pressure (such as hypertension) relaxes blood vessels
  • Reduces cholesterol: prevents LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, effectively creating a better balance between LDL and HDL (the “bad” cholesterol)
  • Thins blood to protect against blood clots
    • USE CAUTION when taking blood thinners (eg. aspirin, warfarin) or antihypertensive medications
  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Reduces risk of some cancers: colon, stomach, and esophageal

Personal experience with Allisin-C capsules and tablets: At the very early signs of illness such as a cold or flu-type bug, I have taken 3-6 capsules once per day for a few days, and compared to others around me with the same symptoms who were not doing this, my illness has consistently been less severe and I have always recovered quicker.

*Pro Tip: the best quality/potent brands will cause you to smell like garlic! These capsules contain the equivalent of many, many cloves, and garlic smell will be coming out of your pores the entire time it’s in your system. This isn’t bad, unless you’re going on a date! The brands that do not cause you to smell, are unfortunately nowhere near as effective.

Cooking Tips

Garlic can be ingested and used in a variety of forms. Of course the most common is in the kitchen with fresh cloves minced into your frying pan with some nice butter… maybe not the healthiest but sure is tasty!

  • Crush cloves and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. This allows it to form Allisin for the best antibacterial action
  • To retain nutritional value do not cook garlic for more than 5-10 minutes

Quick Remedies

(consult a doctor if experiencing any serious conditions)

  • Respiratory infection
    • Direct inhalation therapy: using 2-3 drops of garlic oil, rub your hands together to slightly warm the oil and bring hands to nose and mouth. Breathe deep 3-5x slowly. Breathe normal and relax for 2 minutes. Repeat. Wipe excess onto chest and throat
    • Other (more pleasant) respiratory supporting herbs: elderberry, echinacea, licorice root, goldenseal, chamomile, peppermint, ginseng
  • Some cases of diarrhea: 1/2 clove crushed with 1 tsp raw honey – take 4x per day until healed
    • garlic is helpful taken on a longer term basis with cases of dysentery and colitis also
  • Urinary tract infections: garlic or garlic oil (capsules preferred) – 3x per day until healed
  • For women – bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis: wrap 1 clove in gauze (leave enough for a tail to reach later), insert into vagina for up to 8 hours
  • Minor wounds: mash raw cloves with a sterile utensil, mix with water to form a paste, put directly onto wound wrapped with a sterile gauze, for 1 day. Wash with soapy water. Repeat as needed. (fun fact: this treatment was used regularly for soldiers in WWI)
  • Intestinal parasites: steep 3-4 cloves in water or milk overnight. Drink the next day.

How to Grow

Planting

Where do you live?

If you get a major frost, its best to plant 6-8 weeks before that frost date. You’ll be pleased to find an even nicer crop in the spring.

If you live in a warmer area, planting right when the ground is thawed will work just fine (or grow year-round for even warmer climates).

Hardneck garlic grows better in colder climates and softneck grows better closer to the equator.

Put em in the ground
  • Separate each clove from a bulb and keep the papery layer on.
    • Cloves from the grocery store may not grow well in your particular area. Also many of these store bought bulbs are treated to make a longer shelf life, so these may be difficult to grow. It’s best to find seeds or a place that sells the particular species that grows best in your area.
  • Well drained soil and sunny.
  • Plant clove pointy side up, 4 inches apart and 2 inches deep.
  • Better with soil with more organic material but can grow in a wide range of soil conditions and pH levels.

Care

  • Garlic is actually a natural pest repellent and thus will keep rabbits and moles away pretty well
  • Mulch with straw to prepare for the cold months (if you have any)
  • Remove mulch when the frost season is over
  • Cut off any flowers (they may decrease the bulb size)
  • Water every 3-5 days
  • Fertilize as needed – garlic needs good levels of nitrogen
    • If you see yellowing leaves it’s probably time for more
  • Garlic spouts (scapes): feel free to cut and eat these raw or cooked!

Research

The NCI has conducted population studies which have shown a correlation between increased garlic consumption and reduced risk of cancers like stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast.

EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) has an ongoing population study comparing people from 10 countries, and this has thus far seen that eating more onions and garlic could be associated with reduced risk of intestinal cancer.