cooked garlic, has long been placed among the
miracle-working foods everyone should include in their diet. As a plant
food, it's been embraced by vegetarians, vegans, and raw foodists, but
it remains popular among the general population as well.
What's so special about about garlic, and is it actually beneficial?
It's a hard, bulbous plant that's a member of the lily family, which
includes chives, shallots, onions, and leeks, each of which shares
For instance, a number of small animal-based studies initially seemed
to indicate that garlic could fight the build up of the arterial plaque
that's the source of atherosclerosis (1), but larger-scale human
studies have shown no improvement (2).
One area where garlic is proving quite effective is in its ability to
kill bacteria. Long concerned about the growing resistance
of bacteria to antibiotics, researchers have sought out other options,
and garlic shows significant ability to kill living cells of many types
Raw Garlic: That Wonderful Stench
The source of garlic's antibacterial properties is allicin, which is
also responsible for its pungent taste and odor. When someone complains
about your garlic breath, or the the nasty aroma exuded from your pores
following a garlic-rich meal, you can blame the allicin.
Allicin is produced by garlic to defend against pests
interested in a quick meal (4), IE, hungry humans. Much like
thorn-protected flowers, the idea is to cause as much damage as
possible to any possible predator in the hopes that the animal will
think twice before chowing down.
The substance is very effective in what it does. I've used garlic
to kill ticks that are attached to a dog. After about 30 minutes of
being washed with 10 drops of pure garlic extract, the tick is dead.
Organic gardeners have long known that many pests will think twice
before crossing a garlic plant, and I've effectively used rows of them
to protect my tomato plants, which are often the target of hungry bugs.
Humans are significantly larger than insects and it would take very
large quantities of allicin to kill us, if it's possible at all.
None the less, there's significant reason to believe that raw garlic
can harm us.
Raw Garlic: Drug-Like Side Effects
You've probably seen
the ridiculous drug commercials on television that promise to
get rid of the side effects of your disease, but then note the laundry
list of more side effects which people taking the medication may suffer
from. Often the medication sounds worse than the initial disease.
Raw garlic intake is notable because it has a similarly-long list of
side effects, and almost seems like it's a drug.
"Garlick maketh a man
wynke, drynke, and stynke."
- Thomas Nash, 16th Century poet
Although it's harder to say what's happening out of sight in the
body's interior, it's very obvious that garlic irritates the skin. As a
rubefacient, garlic oil quickly causes the skin to redden when applied
directly. Redness indicates that inflammation is occurring, the body's
attempt to isolate a harmful substance so that it does not enter the
blood stream and cause more problems.
In some cases, when people try to regularly apply garlic to the skin as
a acne treatment or for other purposes, serious burns have occurred
Raw Garlic: The Interior
If garlic can damage our comparatively strong skin, what will it do to
our delicate insides?
Several studies have pointed out intestinal cell damage possibly
resulting from garlic ingestion (6). It's also been known to cause
vomiting, and diarrhea (7).
Raw Garlic and The Blood
Garlic is a blood thinner (8), much like two popular
poisons (all drugs are technically poisons), alchohol and aspirin.
Blood thinners are promoted by medical professionals as way of cutting
your chance of a heart attacks and strokes if you have heart disease.
Unfortunatly, subseqently stopping this medication often causes strokes
(9), especially in the case of aspirin.
A far safer way to prevent heart attack and strokes is to get rid of
the underlying cause- the powerful blood-clotting substances that
people eat every day -meat, dairy, eggs, and processed oils and fats
When you avoid meat and other fatty foods your blood is "thinned"
naturally, which prevents hearts attacks and strokes with no side
effects or rebound effects. The big difference is that blood thinning
medication is a slap-dash fix that leaves you at risk when you stop,
but a low-fat diet heals the underlying disease, athersclerosis, by
removing the cause.
Garlic's blood-thinning properties causes other problems.
Because garlic inpairs the body's ability to clot blood and stop
bleeding, it's reccomended that patients take no garlic for seven days
prior to surgery to reduce the risk of heavy bleeding, and that women
should not take it prior to giving birth (12).
Think about that for a second - garlic actually impairs the body's
ability to heal.
Raw Garlic and Pregnant Women
You know a food is bad when it's believed to play a roll in accidental
abortions, but garlic has been placed in that category (13), and its
reccomended that pregant women stop taking it.
Allicin, which, you'll recall, is strong enough to drive off or kill
small bugs, enters the breast milk of pregnant women, altering the
smell of the milk and the suckling behavior of the infant (13).
It's a bit like topping off a baby's bottle with an insecticide. You
wouldn't want to drink it either.
Raw Garlic: Irritation You Can't Afford.
Sure, raw garlic works like
an antibiotic, killing bacteria. But is that a good thing?
Think about what we've learned above. Raw garlic causes irritation to
the skin, stops the coagulation of blood, induces nausea and other side
effects, and can even cause abortion in some cases.
food that destroys life on the small scale is too strong for us, even
on a limited scale.
Antibacterial agents kill bacteria, but why would we wish to do that?
Bacteria is an essential component of life, and bereft of them life
could not continue on this planet.
Bacteria plays a very important function in the body: decomposing dead
cells and eliminating them from the body. To destroy them
indiscriminately would be foolish.
Learn about a healthy
food diet that will set you on a path toward health without
harmful substances and drugs.
1) S. Eilat, Y.
Oestraicher, A. Rabinkov, D. Ohad, D. Mirelman, A. Battler, M. Eldar
and Z. Vered (1995). "Alteration of lipid profile in hyperlipidemic
rabbits by allicin, an active constituent of garlic". Coron. Artery
Dis. 6 (12): 985–990. PMID 8723021. 2) Gardner CD,
Lawson LD, Block E, et al (2007). "Effect of raw garlic vs commercial
garlic supplements on plasma lipid concentrations in adults with
moderate hypercholesterolemia: a randomized clinical trial". Arch.
Intern. Med. 167 (4): 346–53. doi:10.1001/archinte.167.4.346. PMID
17325296. 3) Ankri, S;
Mirelman D (1999). "Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic".
Microbes Infect 2 (2): 125–9. PMID 10594976. 4) What is Allicin?
http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/allicin.php 5) Baruchin AM,
Sagi A, Yoffe
B, Ronen M (November 2001). "Garlic burns". Burns 27 (7): 781–2.
doi:10.1016/S0305-4179(01)00039-0. PMID 11600262.
http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0305417901000390. 6) Lawson, LD;
Ransom, DK; Hughes, BG (1992). "Inhibition of whole blood
platelet-aggregation by compounds in garlic clove extracts and
commercial garlic products.". Thrombosis research 65 (2): 141–56.
doi:10.1016/0049-3848(92)90234-2. PMID 1579891. 7) Hogg, Jennifer
(2002-12-13). "Garlic Supplements" (PDF). Complementary Medicines
Summary. UK Medicines Information, National Health Service.
http://www.ukmi.nhs.uk/Med_info/documents/GarlicSuppsCMSFinal2.pdf. 8) "Garlic -
''Allium sativum'' [NCCAM Herbs at a Glance]". Nccam.nih.gov. 9) Maulaz AB,
Bezerra DC, Michel P, Bogousslavsky J. Effect of discontinuing
aspirin therapy on the risk of brain ischemic stroke. Arch
Neurol. 2005 Aug;62(8):1217-20. 10) de Moraes
Mizurini D, da Costa Maia I, Lucia de Carvalho Sardinha F, de Queiroz
Monteiro R, Ortiz-Costa S, das GraÁas Tavares do Carmo M. Venous
thrombosis risk: Effects of palm oil and hydrogenated fat diet in rats.
Nutrition. 2010 Apr 2. 11) Hornstra G.
Influence of dietary fat type on arterial thrombosis tendency. J Nutr
Health Aging. 2001;5(3):160-6. 12) Ang-Lee MK,
Moss J, Yuan C. Herbal Medicines and perioperative care. JAMA 2001;
286:208-216 13) Barnes J,
Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines. 2nd edition. London:
Pharmaceutical Press; 2002.
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