Garlic, or Allium sativum, is most commonly thought of as a culinary accouterment. Indeed, fresh garlic is ubiquitous, cheap, and delicious.
Today, we will examine the who, what, when, where, why, and how of garlic.
Our focus will be on the medicinal benefits of garlic, more specifically, the concentrated form of garlic, which is garlic oil. Like its source, garlic oil is also relatively cheap. Garlic oil also has the added benefit of also being widely available, inexpensive, convenient, and, ahem, less pungent.
Before getting into the 11 proven health benefits of garlic, let’s quickly take a look at the fascinating medicinal history of the plant.
The History of Garlic and Garlic Oil: Hippocrates to Today
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates (c. 460 BCE – c. 375 BCE)
Garlic has an incredibly rich history, from Ancient Greece to the present day.
The “father of Western medicine,” Hippocrates, supposedly ‘prescribed’ garlic for a bunch of ailments, including digestion troubles, fatigue, parasitic infections, and respiratory issues. Hippocrates probably advocated the taking of garlic to the original Greek Olympians.
Shortly after being introduced to the Greeks, the promotion of garlic spread to Ancient Egypt, to the ‘Indus Valley’ (present-day Pakistan and Western India.) The people of ancient India made garlic an essential compound in ayurvedic medicine.
Those ancient Indian healers introduced garlic to Chinese medicine men. Today, China is responsible for 80 percent of the world’s garlic.
Sidenote: The Chinese government has recently come under fire from international health officials for “bleaching” its garlic to make it more appealing. Per the publication India Times, Chinese garlic is “loaded with pesticides” as well.
Garlic eventually made its way Westward to the New World after being introduced by adventurers and merchants from France, Portugal, and Spain.
11 Health Benefits of Garlic Oil
It’s nutritious and is low in calories
Pound-for-pound (clove-for-clove?), garlic is among the healthiest and most nutritious foods. Just one clove of garlic contains 2 percent of the daily value (DV) of manganese and vitamin B6. The same amount also contains 1 percent of selenium and vitamin C. Other minerals in respectable amounts include calcium, copper, iron, phosphorous, and potassium.
It may reduce lung cancer risk
Lung cancer accounts for 18 percent of total deaths globally, or 1.4 million people. Some scientists believe that the organosulfur compounds (OSCs) in garlic, excreted via the lungs, provide protective effects for lung cancer.
In a 7-year study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, scientists in China found that people who ate raw garlic at least twice weekly had a 44 to 72 percent lower chance of developing lung cancer. Nearly 6,000 people participated in the landmark study.