Garlic (Allium sativum) is used everyday in most households, it is the base for many meals from all corners of the world such as a Mexican chilli con carne, an Indian curry and you can never go wrong with a classic garlic bread!
And although very good for you when cooked, its magic is unlocked when eaten fresh and raw as soon as possible from being chopped up as this is when its key constituent Alliin combines with an enzyme allinase when exposed to air which is then converted to Allicin. Sulphur-containing compound, Allicin is responsible for why garlic has been used for many, many years as a traditional medicine in warding off infections, building immunity strength and used in several heart conditions.
Unfortunately, Allicin is a very unstable compound and breaks down within minutes, so the amount found within cooked garlic or raw garlic left out for a long time (e.g. bottled in water or oil) is very little. Now a way around this to get the most Allicin out of fresh garlic is to eat several cloves raw, which as you are probably aware is not very pleasant to eat (and can be quite irritating on the stomach) and you’d be left with few friends wanting to come near you! There a lot of garlic supplements out there but I find if they’re labelled ‘odourless,’ they do not have as much of an effect as the Allicin cannot be contained. I’ve recently dicovered these ‘Allicin Max’ powder capsules which state the Allicin is stabilised through a process of ‘a special flood reaction system using only water’ making it able to produce large quantities of stabilised allicin, which the carefully dried and preserved under controlled consitions. Thus meaning garlic’s active component is preserved and higher doses can be consumed and taken for a medicinal purpose. (Would not recommend use for children under the age of 7 and please do speak to a GP or qualified herbalist before taking anything to double-check it doesn’t interfere with any other medicine or supplements you may be taking.)
I find if I feel a cold is coming on, by taking 1-2 capsules a day is enough to clear it away completely within a day or two but if you’re too late and the cold’s hot you; it is an excellent natural antibiotic and will help the body rid mild viruses and bacterial infections quicker and these capsules are safe enough to take up to 10 a day. Additionally, taking one capsule when you’re visiting an environment likely to full of bacterial, fungal or viral germs, such as an airport or a hospital is enough to boost your immunity. Clinical trials have found it may work by either stimulating the immune cells, killing pathogens directly and/or by detoxifying carcinogens. Garlic has also been tested in clinical trials numerous times and is credited for its use in heart problems such as arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure, as it is a natural anticoagulant and prolonged use has been found to decrease these.
Thank you for reading and let me know your favourite way to take garlic and if you reap the benefits!
My name is Helen Davison and I'm a NIMH registered practising Medical Herbalist based in Ramsbottom, Lancashire. I've had a keen interest in herbal remedies since my early teens and would experiment creating my own balms and bath bombs using natural ingredients, which prompted me in discovering and pursuing a career in Western Herbal Medicine.