Garlic

Garlic

Garlic, Allium sativum, is a close relative of the onion, shallot, chives and leek. It’s been used as a seasoning worldwide. The Ancient Egyptians used it and it was found in King Tut’s tomb. It was a main ingredient in “Four Thieves Vinegar” which 4 thieves from Marseilles used to protect themselves while they robbed plague victim’s bodies.

FAMILY

Alliaceae (formerly Liliaceae)

OTHER NAMES

Allium

PARTS USED

Root

HABITAT

Native to Central Asia, garlic is cultivated throughout the world.

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION

Hardiness: USDA zone 8
Height: 30 cm (1 foot)
Width: 15 cm (6 inches)
Flowers: Small, green-white clustered in globes
Leaves: Thin and narrow, straight and pointed, green
Bulbs: Round to oval, flat at the base, with a central main bulb surrounded by closely connected secondary bulbs. 10 to 20 bulbs in total surrounded by a thin, paper like covering.
Blooms: June to July

CULTIVATION

Garlic is easy and very rewarding to cultivate. After it is harvested, it can be braided and hung on the wall as a practical and decorative way to store the bulbs.

Propagation: Bulb (each clove produces a new plant). Plant the cloves in September/October or March/April in well composted soil.
Germination: 1 to 3 weeks
Spacing: 20 to 25 cm (8 to 10 inches)
Soil: Rich
pH: 4.5 to 8.5
Exposure: Full sun
Pests: Nematodes, wood-decay fungus, leek rot, downy mildew
Garden Design: Garlic looks good in clusters in the herb garden, around roses, in front of tomatoes, in between strawberries
Companion planting: Garlic is a wonderful companion plant to roses, strawberries, tomatoes, fruit trees, carrots and onions. It intensifies the fragrance of roses and keeps aphids at bay. It increases the aroma of strawberries and inhibits fungal attack on strawberries. The garlic itself benefits from the strawberries’ organic fertilization.
Garlic’s strong scent also keeps birds, voles and the carrot fly away from plants.
It should not be planted next to any member of the bean and cabbage families (Fabaceae and Brassica) as it tends to slow down the development of these plants.

HARVEST

Garlic is ready for harvest when the leaves start to turn yellow, usually in July/August.

DRYING

Brush the earth off the bulb and let it dry in a well-ventilated area or directly in the sun. Washing the bulb promotes rot. Cut the garlic into 5 mm (1/5 inch) thick flakes and dry them immediately in a dehydrator at 60 degrees Celsius (140 F).

CONSTITUENTS
  1. Fresh garlic: 0.35-1.15 % of the sulfurous and odorless amino acid alliin; allinase. In aqueous solutions, allinase converts alliin into alicin, pyruvic acid and ammonia. Allicin is unstable and easily broken down into strong-smelling, volatile sulfur compounds that give garlic its distinctive, pungent odor. These compounds include diallyl, disulfides, trisulfides, E and Z-ajoene and vinyldithiins.

  2. Garlic powder: 0.5-2.5 % allicin, 0.3 % alliin, steroid saponins, triterpene saponins (aliospiroside, sativoside), lectins, flavonoids, polysaccharides, adenosine and selenium

Garlic also contain flavonoids, carbohydrates, saponins, vitamins A, C, E, Coenzym Q10, garlicin, calium, sodium, magnesium, iron, calcium, trace elements (phosphorus, manganese, iodine, zinc, aluminium, boron, copper, molybdenum, lithium, germanium, selenium).

PROPERTIES

Antibacterial, antimycotic, diaphoretic, hypocholesteremic, cholagogue, hypotensive, antioxidant, antispasmodic

ENERGETICS

Hot, dry

TASTE

Pungent, spicy, burning when chewed

SCENT

When uncut: weakly aromatic. When cut: characteristically alliaceous.

MEDICINAL USE OF GARLIC

Garlic also has medicinal properties. It lowers the fat (lipids) content in the blood preventing arteries from becoming clogged with fatty substances (atherosclerosis). It slows down the formation of clots (platelet aggregation), thus increasing the time it takes for clots to be formed. This is good for people with blood circulation problems.

It is also good to prevent early aging as it helps to prevent the thickening, hardening and loss of elasticity of the walls of arteries which typically occurs in old age.

A powerful antimicrobial, garlic inhibits the development of bacteria, viruses and fungus, especially Candida albicans. It is also helpful to inhibit the growth and development of Staphylococci and Salmonella as well as worms and maggots.

Garlic is known for improving the immune system and is often used to help fight colds and infections. It also improves the intestinal flora by hindering unnatural fermentation while encouraging the growth of naturally occurring E. Coli.

Because garlic is so vitamin rich, it has also been used to detox the body from poisoning caused by nicotine and heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury.

Used internally for:

  • Preventing atherosclerosis (clogging up of arteries with fat substances)
  • Lowering blood lipids
  • Inhibiting platelet aggregation
  • Increasing clotting time
  • Blood circulation
  • Arteriosclerosis (thickening, hardening and loss of elasticity of the walls of arteries)
  • Destroying microbes, worms and maggots
  • Stimulating the immune system
  • Improving intestinal flora
  • Nicotine and heavy metal poisoning

Recommended daily dosage: 4 g fresh garlic (German Commission E recommendation)

HOMEMADE PREPARATIONS

Infusion
Powder

CULINARY USE

Widely used in Mediterranean and many Asian cuisines, garlic can be added to butters, honey, vinegar, oil, salts, dried seasonings, salad dressings, soups and stews. Chew parsley to refresh garlic’s breath.

SIDE EFFECTS

Excessive consumption of garlic can lead to irritation of the intestinal mucosa, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and burning of the mouth. Therapeutic doses may interfere with medications such as aspirin. Since garlic thins the blood, caution is advised before and after a surgery.

CONTRA-INDICATIONS

None known

Garlic

References
Bühring, U. 2014. Alles über Heilpflanzen. 4th ed. Stuttgart: Haug.
Wichtl M. 2004. Herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals – A handbook for practice on a scientific basis. 3rd ed. Stuttgart: medpharm Scientific Publishers
Weinrich, C. 2015. Mischkultur im Hobbygarten. 4th ed. Sttuttgart: Ulmer
Keville, K. 1994. Herbs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. New York: Friedman/Fairfax Publishers
Hoffmann, D. 2003. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester: Healing Arts Press

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