For centuries garlic has been used in Europe, Egypt, Rome, Spain, India and many other parts of the world. In some countries it was worshipped, in some it was used to ward off demons and in some other countries it was used for culinary purposes. But most of us are unaware of the fact that in Ayurveda garlic has been called as Maha aushadham meaning it is one of the best medicines for many ailments. It has also been called Bhutaghan as it destroys pathogenic microorganisms due to its bacteriostatic, bactericidal, antiviral and antifungal properties. According to Ayurvedic beliefs Sweet, salt, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent are the six tastes. Garlic is an herb which has five tastes except sour and hence called Rason.
Garlic finds its major use as immunomodulator. It stimulates all systems and acts as rasayana. If Garlic is taken daily it works by boosting the immune power. The presence of selenium makes it an anti-oxidant and sulphur compound allicin which is an antibiotic and antifungal helps prevents bacterial, viral, fungal, yeast and worm infections. Fresh garlic helps to prevents food poisoning as it is a potent antibiotic for E.coli, Salmonella etc. It is an abundant source of vitamin B, vitamins C, B6 and minerals like calcium, selenium, copper, zinc and manganese which increases immunity and improves health in general.
- When we talk about curative uses garlic has a lot of uses, it lowers platelet aggregation, lowers serum triglyceride, reduces LDL (low density lipoprotein), and increases HDL (High density lipoprotein) it is quite useful in treatment of High blood pressure.
- It also helps in fibrinolysis and also stimulates and promotes the production of nitric oxide in the lining of blood vessel walls. It also prevents hardening of the arteries, hence prevents arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. So it reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke.
- The major credit for the beneficial effects of garlic can be attributed to its antioxidant property and scavenging of free radicals in the blood stream. So its overall effect is a healthy heart and healthy circulatory system.
Garlic has several therapeutic usages. Some of its major usages are listed below.
- Earache: Garlic can be used if you are suffering from earache by preparing its juice or oil which can be used as ear drops.
- Fever (visham javar): Garlic mixed with oil and taken before meal or Garlic taken with ghrit (Ghee) every morning is helpful in fever.
- Weakness or General debility (ksaya): In case of weakness or general debility, garlic is given with milk.
- Decreased Vision: Juice or extract of garlic when taken orally helps to improve vision.
- Swelling and pain: Garlic due to its vata shamak properties is very effective in swelling and pains. Local application of crushed garlic paste or as poultice can be used in swelling and pain.
- Wound: Sometimes we hurt ourselves either while working in kitchen, handling our vehicle, doing any common household job or at times by some insect bites like mosquito, bee etc. Garlic has tendency to deal with bacteria and infections. Therefore we can easily use it for the cure. Local application of paste on the wound is useful.
- Indigestion: Raw garlic can be used in the treatment of intestinal complaints, indigestion, stomach pain, bloating, lack of taste in food and constipation.
- Antibiotic properties: Since it is a rich source of sulphur and allicin it is considered as a natural antibiotic.
- Skin Infections, warts and corns: The cure of fungal skin infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot can be credited to garlic, a chemical ajoene found in garlic helps to treat fungal infections. Application of garlic paste to corns on the feet and warts on the hands helps improves these conditions because of fat dissolving garlic extracts.
- Anti-allergic properties: Garlic helps the body to fight against allergies. Garlic juice immediately stops the itching due to allergic rashes and bug bites. Garlic improves allergic airway inflammation (allergic rhinitis) as it has anti-inflammatory property.
- Upper respiratory tract infections: Daily use of garlic helps reduce the occurrence of cold and cough. Throat irritations can be cured using garlic due to its antibacterial properties. Garlic is very useful in upper respiratory tract infections and disorders of the lungs like asthma, difficulty of breathing, etc. Since garlic promotes expectoration it makes it an essential drug in chronic bronchitis.
- Aphrodisiac: Due to its good effects on improving circulation it is considered as natural aphrodisiac ( which increase sexual desire).
- Severe Cough and breathlessness: Garlic juice should be taken along with sugar and warm water.
- Excessive salivary secretions: Garlic should be chewed with ginger and salt.
- Gaseous distension and flatulence: Half teaspoon of garlic juice mixed with half teaspoon of ginger juice should be taken. If it is continued taken for a month, it can help in reducing weight too.
- Garlic should be avoided in pittaj prakriti as it increases hyperacidity. If at all it has to be consumed in Pitta vikar it should be given with brown sugar (sharkara) or coriander should be consumed after it as it is an antidote.
- Garlic should be avoided in Pregnancy (because of its tikshna/pungent and ushna guna/hot). In other words it decreases platelet aggregation, like aspirin as it contains disulphide (ajoene). Therefore bleeding tendency during pregnancy, childbirth and surgery is increased.
- When meat is roasted at very high temperatures its properties are deteriorated but when cooked in combination with garlic its properties are preserved. So it is ideal to use garlic with non-vegetarian food, alcohol and sour substances etc.
- Garlic should not be used after heavy exercise or after basking in the sun.
- Garlic should be avoided before a planned surgery as it has anti platelet aggregation and fibrinolytic effects which increase bleeding tendencies.
- In Kaphaj vikar it should be taken with honey (madhu).
- In Vata vikar it should be taken with Ghee (Ghrit).
- In Paitaj vikar it should be taken with brown sugar (sharkara).
- Since garlic is tikshan (pungent) and ushna (hot) it should be avoided in people with nasal bleeding and dizziness.
- It should be kept in mind that allicin present in garlic which is considered as an antibiotic is obtained by crushed or raw garlic. Overcooking destroys allicin.
- If paste of garlic is applied for a long period, it may irritate the skin.
- Parts Used: Bulbous part/Cloves (tuber), oil (seeds)
- Dose: Cloves-3 to 4, Bulb paste- 3 to 5 gms, oil- 1 to 2 drops
- Antidote: Coriander
- Sanskrit Name: Rason (रसोन) (It has five ras except amal ras)
- Hindi Name: Lasuna (लहसुन)
- Ras (रस): Katu (कटु)
- Guna (गुण): Guru (गुरू), snigdha (सिनग्ध), Tikshan (तीक्ष्ण), Sara (सर), Pichil (पिच्छिल)
- Virya (वीर्य): Ushan (उष्ण)
- Vipaka (विपाक): Katu (कटु)
- Doshkarm (pharmacological action): Garlic is kaphavatashamak, which means it cures vataj and kaphaj doshas. Garlic stimulates all systems, acts as rasayana
Modern scientific explanation
- Botanical Name: Allium sativum
- Family: Liliaceae
Chemical composition: Garlic has volatile oil containing Allyl disulphide and Diallyl disulphide. It also contains alliin, allicin, mucilage, albumin, manganese, B6, Vitamin C, vitamin B, calcium, selenium, copper. The presence of these compounds has explained many of its properties and medicinal uses which are as follows.
- The presence of diallyl sulphide and thiacremonone attributes to the anti-arthritic property of garlic.
- Garlic has also been known as anti-putrefying agent. In World War I & II garlic was given to soldiers as antiseptic to prevent gangrene. It was also used as local application on wounds. Sulphur containing compound allicin is antibiotic and antifungal.
- Garlic helps improves iron metabolism. This can be attributed to the presence of diallyl disulphide helps in increased production of ferroportin.
- Garlic has also been known to suppress angiotensin II (potent vasoconstrictor) activity due to the presence of allicin which it finds a potent use in hypertension.
- Garlic has antilipidemic properties due to which it is very useful in patient with Hyperlipidaemia.
- Being a rich source of selenium Garlic acts as antioxidant.
- Garlic along with cinnamon is used as fish and meat preservative.
- Garlic is also useful in cancer prevention. This property can be attributed to the presence of diallyl sulphide, quercetin, alliin and ajoene found in garlic inhibits the transformation of Heterocyclic amines into carcinogens.
- Intake of garlic helps improve iron metabolism. Garlic contains Diallyl sulphides which increase production of ferroportin protein which helps in iron absorption and release.
- Garlic helps in maintenance of weight. Allicin is the most potent compound in garlic which lowers triglycerides and Low density lipoproteins. It has also been proven to maintain weight.
- Garlic prevents from the following infections:
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa (bacteria) in burn patient
- Candida albicans (yeast)