Garlic (Allium sativum)
The garlic bulb is familiar to us mainly as an aromatic kitchen spice. However, garlic is also a versatile medicinal plant. The allium, which grows up to 70 cm high, originates from Central Asia and came to us via the Mediterranean region.
The value-determining ingredients are various sulphur-containing compounds and their degradation products. The odourless alliin, a sulphur-containing amino acid, contained in the fresh garlic bulb at around one percent, is converted to the odour-intensive allicin by a chemical reaction when the garlic cloves are crushed. Other valuable ingredients are vitamins, mucilage, flavonoids and saponins.
In medicine, preparations of garlic are mostly used fresh, dried as a powder, also in capsules, more rarely as an oil extract or distillate.
Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and cell-protective effects. In addition, it has a lowering effect on blood fat levels and blood pressure, improves vascular elasticity, thins the blood and has a preventive effect against arteriosclerosis. An effect against cancer cells has also been demonstrated in cell models.
In folk medicine, garlic has always been used to support alertness, prevent colds as well as stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and externally against warts.
New research points to immune-strengthening effects of garlic. It is currently being tested whether it is also effective against chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, parasite infections and allergic asthma.