Dr. Stephen Fulder with Tina Silverman
IntroductionGarlic. The pungent, silky-smooth, creamy-white clove that adds abundant flavor and depth to the cuisines of the world is also one of the planet’s most extraordinary natural medicines. Chopped, crushed, in a capsule or tossed into a sauce just before serving, garlic works wonders for your health. One small blood-thinning clove a day can help prevent the major killer of modern man; heart disease and stroke.
Garlic can thin the blood, fight bacterial infections and help clear up the common cold. Especially exciting is that numerous studies provide strong evidence as to garlic’s ability to help prevent cancer. If garlic were ‘invented’ today in a chemical laboratory by a major drug manufacturer, this vegetable would be hailed as the miracle drug of the century. Imagine a medicine that can address so many health problems and has no dangerous side effects. A medicine that is cheap to buy and can even be grown in your own garden.
Actually, garlic has gained some celebrity status as a wonder remedy. Sales of garlic supplements in the United States alone have reached into the hundreds of millions of dollars every year. In Europe, where a centuries-old tradition of natural medicines remains strong, around 5 million people take garlic each day. For thousands of years, people all over the world have eaten and used garlic topically for dozens of ailments. What is particularly exciting is that, today, hundreds of studies are convincing doctors to take garlic seriously. Garlic’s vital importance as a health aid is at last becoming recognized. For example, the German Health Ministry determined that garlic is a medicine for ‘preventing age-related deterioration of the circulation’. In fact, every few months, research groups are confirming that garlic is one of the best preventive remedies of all time.
Sitting in your vegetable bin or under wraps in a garlic pot, is a wonderful all-round household cure for colds, chest and throat problems, mouth infections, candida and many other mild chronic infections. Used in small amounts, garlic is an excellent natural way to cleanse the body of harmful chemicals, waste and toxins. We can see that the beauty of this magical vegetable is that it works simultaneously on several levels. Garlic is a safe medicinal food consumed daily by a large number of people throughout the world. It has been eaten for thousands of years without harm, and with a good deal of benefit. What man-made drug has that kind of track record for safety and effectiveness?
This book will deal principally with the current research with has been carried out on garlic and how garlic can help in the current epidemic of heart disease. In addition to a detailed explanation on garlic and heart disease, this book is a practical guide to using garlic as a daily remedy. You’ll learn what garlic is used for, how and why garlic works and what you can do if you have specific health problems such as raised blood cholesterol.
The prevention of heart disease is garlic’s most important role as a health aide. We’ll examine in detail how garlic reduces the risk of this debilitating and life-threatening disease. A disease that strikes one in two Americans. In the following pages, you’ll learn how easy it is to incorporate garlic into your diet and health regimen. Many people hear about fresh garlic’s healing properties, but shy away from using it because of its sharp taste or the odorous breath it can cause. This guide will provide you with specific instructions on how to take fresh garlic without its social down side and/or how to buy the various garlic products currently available on the market. There is even a grower’s guide, so that you can easily enjoy the pleasures of cultivating this natural resource for better health by yourself. Lastly, garlic is more than just a medicine. We’ll discuss its fascinating place in history and it’s important place in the world’s cuisine and dietary habits. A well-known saying expresses it all:L’ail est sante. Mangez del’ail. “Garlic is health. Eat it.’Enjoy!
Garlic: The People’s Panacea
A Long and Healthy RelationshipThere is nothing new about garlic’s use as a medicine. It is one of the oldest remedies known to man; used without interruption for a wide variety of ailments until a century ago. Only since the early 1900’s, a comparatively short period of time in human history, has garlic disappeared from common use as a medicine in the modern world. Garlic, along with most herbs, was replaced by synthetic drugs in the drug stores. Now, however, garlic is being rediscovered. We are coming to realize that its benefits are highly relevant to some of the most widespread health problems of our time.
Mankind and garlic have had a long and passionate relationship. Just as cultivated garlic has needed man to ensure its propagation, man has needed garlic to guard his health, well-being and vigor. This herb is part of our culture and human heritage. Its wide range of medicinal use is backed by thousands of years of tradition. Because garlic can help in a wide range of common health problems, today it remains the number one household remedy for people all over the globe. Even in ancient times it was known as “The Peasant’s Panacea,” because simple country folk used the cheap and available garlic to cure themselves without having to rely on expensive and sophisticated medicines.Today, with hundreds of research studies to back it, garlic is taking on a newly respected place in our search for safe, reliable and natural alternative remedies. Scientific and medical journals, from Scientific American to The Lancet, have published high-quality research on garlic. Garlic is not only available as bulbs in the food stores. You can find sophisticated garlic products on the shelves of every health food store and pharmacy. Lately, it is given as much prominence in the media as any new drug, and a lot more than almost any other herbal remedy. Garlic has become one of the most popular and talked about natural remedies of all time. Let’s see why.
What is so special about garlic?Garlic wins the Triple Crown in the natural medicinal herb competition. It comes in first at the finish line to successfully address three major aspects of health: It is the key to a healthy heart; instrumental in cancer prevention, and a powerful way to treat a wide variety of common infections.
Let’s look at heart disease. Because heart disease is today’s leading cause of death, this simple herb could be a major component in saving lives. It has remarkable properties that prevent heart disease in several ways at once. Studies have proven that garlic lowers the levels of fat and cholesterol. The reduction of excess fat and cholesterol is critical in preventing heart disease. Even in small amounts, garlic has been proven to thin the blood and help prevent clots inside the blood vessels. Since these clots can cause heart attacks and strokes, garlic can play a central role in reducing the risks of these health catastrophes.
(PULLOUT: Blood Clots are plugs that the body makes to stop bleeding in the case of injury)
Cancer prevention, the second main use, is on everyone’s health wish list and garlic has an important role in fulfilling just that wish. According to tradition, garlic is known as a “heating” remedy, which purifies the body. Garlic makes us sweat and removes dangerous toxins from the body. It can stimulate our natural inner “house-cleaning” systems and clean out cancer-causing chemicals. As we will show in Chapter 5, there are substances in garlic that help protect us against cancer, particularly those caused by toxins in our environment.
Last, but by no means least, the third winning quality of garlic is its role in the prevention and treatment of infections. Garlic has been found effective in killing a number of harmful bacteria and fungi. Extensive laboratory tests have shown that, though it is milder and less potent than modern antibiotics, garlic has a broader range of action than any of them. And, of course, garlic is safer and can be used over and over again without any danger of becoming ineffective. All too often we read about the dangers of overusing commercial antibiotics. Over time, bacteria build up a resistance to the killing powers of antibiotics, rendering these drugs useless in fighting off disease. Garlic never looses its ability to kill bacteria and maintain a potent healing effect on your system. When treating such common chronic infections such as colds, coughs, bronchitis, sinusitis, laryngitis, we can rely on garlic in the self-treatment of these reoccurring ailments. Use garlic to fight off infections of the stomach, such as Montezuma's Revenge and gastroenteritis. Many infections of the skin, such as athlete’s foot or ringworm can be helped by applying garlic to the infected area. Chronic infections such as thrush and candida are a growing health problem and can be aided by garlic in combination with other methods of self-care.
(PULLOUT: Candida A yeast-like infection that can persist in the blood and the digestive system causing weakness, allergies and general poor health)
The famous “Cure-all”
It is no wonder that throughout the ages garlic has become famous as a “Cure-All”. Garlic offers a level of multiple protections to an extent that no single modern drug is able to provide. Yet it is a food that millions of people take in their diet daily throughout life without any ill effects. No wonder it has been praised for centuries as one of the main health aids known to mankind, a readily available and inexpensive preventive that should be in every household kitchen and medicine cabinet. Evidence of mankind's belief in garlic's curative powers was found in King Tutankhamen’s Tomb and Aristotle recommended garlic as a soothing tonic (see chapter 8 for a fascinating look at garlic in human history). No wonder that it is described in history as ‘The People’s Medicine.’
(PULLOUT: King Tutenkhamen A king of ancient Egypt whose tomb was discovered intact, containing beautiful gold jewellery and household items including garlic)
Garlic and a Healthy Heart
Since heart disease is now the major cause of death in developed nations, people have been searching for natural remedies, which will help the heart harmlessly. Doctors, too, have shown increasing interest. Regular medical drugs that are available to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood often have side effects, so doctors have been reluctant to prescribe them too widely. And regular drugs have to be taken continuously. Understandably, most doctors are reluctant to turn the majority of the population into patients.
The natural solution is garlic. The ancient knowledge of Indian and Eastern medicine tells us that garlic removes fats from the blood and protects the heart. Traditional herb books and professional herbalists and naturopaths always recommend garlic to those with circulatory problems who are at risk for heart attacks. They say that it opens the blood vessels and thins the blood, and a considerable body of modern, scientific research has confirmed the traditional picture.
Here’s how: An excess of fat and cholesterol is one of the major causes of the build-up of arterial blockages. Arterial blockage is the cause of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. As we mentioned earlier, garlic lowers the levels of fat and cholesterol in the blood, and it does this as well as, or even better than, the modern drugs now used for this purpose. Studies at some major research centers in the United States such as the United States Department of Agriculture Laboratories in Madison, Wisconsin, and in Beltsville, Maryland have confirmed that garlic does indeed thin the blood by reducing its tendency to clot inside the blood vessels. It does this at quite a low dose --less than a clove a day can make a difference that is clearly measurable in the laboratory. Since clots can suddenly block blood vessels, they too are one of the main immediate causes of heart attacks, angina, and strokes: garlic may be able to directly reduce the risks of these health catastrophes.
Doctors often call high blood pressure, or hypertension, the Silent Killer because this condition produces few noticeable symptoms and plenty of health risks. Elevated blood pressure is a health risk and can result in damage to the heart, eyes, kidney, or brain. It can ultimately lead to heart attack, kidney failure or stroke. Garlic can be instrumental in lowering blood pressure and decreasing the risk of these conditions.
(PULLOUT: High Blood Pressure Narrowing of blood vessels, stress, and inadequate diet can cause the pressure in the circulation to rise, and the heart to work harder)
Thus, garlic offers multiple heart protection to an extent that no single modern drug is able to provide. It is weaker than many modern heart drugs, although not all. When part of a self-care regimen for protecting the heart – involving diet, exercise, and a more relaxed approach to daily life – it can make a real and vital contribution to the prevention of heart disease.A Broad Range of Health Benefits Accepted Worldwide
When I was giving one of my talks on the radio, the anchorman announced that he had been to see a specialist at a major teaching hospital about this heart. He told the specialist that he was a non-smoker, reasonably fit, and a modest eater. He asked the specialist what else he could do to reduce the risk of a heart attack. The official advice was: relax and eat garlic.
This advice has certainly been taken to heart in Germany. After a thorough review of the evidence, the Herbal Drugs Commission of the German Health Ministry decided that garlic is a medicine “for assisting in the dietary treatment of raised blood fat level” and for “preventing age-related deterioration of the circulation.” Garlic became, in 1990-1991, the best-selling remedy in German pharmacies. Garlic is not used as much in the German diet as it is in other countries, and many people prefer to take it in the form of tablets and capsules. Its popularity there as a medicine is indeed astonishing. Nearly one million Germans now regularly take garlic products, mostly as prevention against heart disease.In Japan, too, garlic preparations are accepted by the Health Ministry as a means of reducing blood pressure. Garlic appears in the official drug guides of other countries, as well, including Spain and Switzerland. Similar developments are taking place in the United Kingdom. According to a national poll, 10% of the British population has used garlic or garlic products for medicinal purposes. The British medical authorities have not yet accepted that garlic is effective in circulatory problems. They have, however, acknowledged its other main popular use, that of combating infections. Infections of the stomach, throat, mouth, chest and urogenital area account for most of the sales of garlic products in the UK. Backed by scientific research, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Health allows the product manufacturers to claim that garlic is “an herbal remedy traditionally used for the treatment of the symptoms of common cold and cough” and “an herbal remedy traditionally used for temporary relief of symptoms of rhinitis and catarrh.” Theirs is a cautious approach. However, it does show that the United Kingdom’s leading drug experts, though extremely conservative by nature, do recognize garlic’s medicinal potential. It is clear that is a highly popular natural medicine, widely accepted through the world and steadily becoming acknowledged by the medical authorities.
Above all, garlic is safe. It is a food that millions of people include in their daily diet throughout life without any ill effects, and there is no evidence in the scientific literature of any adverse effects from taking garlic as a medicine in normal doses. No wonder it has been praised for thousands of years as one of the main health aids known to mankind, a readily available and inexpensive preventive that should be every household kitchen and medicine cabinet.Medicines can also be foods
The garlic plant that is used as a medicine is the same one that is used throughout the world as an essential food and flavoring. As a food, garlic adds richness, taste, aroma and nutrients to salads, meat, fish and vegetable dishes. In Asian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and European cuisine, garlic is often a central ingredient to thousands of delicious recipes. The rising popularity of garlic as a health supplement led to a cartoon in The New York Times showing a bemused consumer reading a “Prescription Only” sign posted over the vegetable aisle at the supermarket. To anyone who has lived within the rich cultural traditions of countries like India and China, there is little doubt about it: Foods can be medicines, and medicines can be foods.
There really is a pharmacy on your kitchen shelves and in your refrigerator. You may already know that fiber is great for digestive problems; oats, barley and green tea can help lower cholesterol, vegetables rich in beta-carotene can help prevent cancer, fish oil and olive oil to help prevent heart disease, cloves against pain, thyme for sore throats, cilantro to adjust blood sugar, artichoke for the liver and the list goes on. Not too long ago an article published in 2000 by Dr. Stephen Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in the medical journal Chest gave scientific evidence that validates what our grandmothers knew all along –when you have a cold, a rich hot bowl of chicken soup has remarkable healing and soothing powers.
(PULLOUT: Medicinal Foods Roods, spices and flavourings that prevent and treat health problems in additional to their nutritional properties)
In some societies the knowledge of foods medicinal power is vast. Handed down from one generation to another, it can take years to learn. In India, in traditional families, the mother often designs the daily menu to include those foods, vegetables and spices that are specific for the place, the season, the weather, so as to increase the health of the family. She will cook with ingredients that treat any special vulnerability or health problem within the family.
Spices are on the borderline between food and medicine. It may be hard to imagine those dry old powders in bottles at the back of the kitchen cupboards as actual medicines. However, consider for a moment the bombshell to the body locked up in a few grains of cayenne pepper. How about the anesthetic effect chewing cloves has for a sore tooth or the miraculous way a cup of strong sage tea will clear up a cold and thyme tea a sore throat. Let’s not forget how a bit of onion and honey will stop a cough or eating soy products can help reduce the intensity of “hot flashes” during menopause. If you have experienced how anise or fennel seeds can treat an upset stomach, and how a piece of ginger can get rid of morning sickness, you know something of the power of medicinal foods. We should not ignore them: if we know how to use foods as medicines, our kitchen can be our pharmacy. And pride of place will go to garlic.Herbs are Effective and Reliable RemediesGarlic and other culinary herbs such as garlic have some distinct advantages over modern drugs. First and foremost, they are extremely safe. Secondly, they are cheap and readily available, without a doctor’s prescription, all over the world. Thirdly, culinary herbs and spices can be effective in areas where modern drugs are too strong and unnecessary. You can skip the expense and the time in visiting your doctor when your kitchen holds the cure for many mild common health problems, from indigestion to headaches. Fourthly, medicinal foods can often be used to prevent disease. Apart from vaccines, most modern drugs only treat disease. Herbs can strengthen your resistance to disease.Last, but not least, herbs and spices do have some important nutritional benefits by providing extra vitamins and minerals to food. Best of all, they add great taste to your diet. Herbs and spices, especially garlic, contribute to the pleasure of eating. Why swallow capsules and tablets when you can add zest, flavor and health to your menu? Why be dependent on medical professionals when you can use a wide range of tasty herbs and spices as part of your self-care health regimen?