Garlic: Nature's Gift for Life

Call on this herbal superstar to cure most anything that ails you.

| August/September 2008

  • Garlic has been known as a healer since ancient times.

This article is part of our Guide to GarlicClick here for growing tips or click here for recipes and cooking tips.

The list of fruits and vegetables claiming "superfood" status seems to grow daily, as marketers rush to cash in on our quest for long-lasting health, happiness and youth. Many exotic (and often high-priced) foods seem to qualify, judging by their labels and ads.

But if we apply a stricter standard, the list of real superfoods shrinks considerably. Let’s say a superfood is a plant au naturel—a gift from nature, pure and simple—imbued with an array of health benefits. A true superfood also should be loaded with flavor (so you want to eat lots of it). And, it should be abundantly available, growing easily everywhere and costing little to buy.

Garlic—perhaps more than any other food—rates such superlatives. Garlic is not new, exotic or difficult to find. But, as many cultures throughout the world have known for thousands of years, this humble underground allium is a powerhouse of good flavor and good health.

Ethnobotanist James Duke, Ph.D., who has researched plant compounds for more than 35 years, considers garlic among the best all-around plant medicines. According to Duke’s Multiple Activities Menu ( and Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Plants of the Bible (CRC Press, 2007), garlic compounds have the potential to help more than 200 conditions, ranging from AIDS to yeast infections. Duke considers garlic the best all-around plant stimulant for the immune system; the best anti-clotting herb; one of the best antifungal herbs; and a potent ally for preventing heart disease and cancer.

Additional scientific reports find that garlic:

Fights infections
Garlic’s broad antibiotic properties—which are effective against food poisoning (including salmonella), tuberculosis, bladder and other infections—have been confirmed by dozens of studies. Garlic also has been shown effective against fungal infections, including yeast infections; and there is evidence that it could be effective against some viruses. In a 2001 study conducted with 146 volunteers, those who took one garlic capsule daily over 12 weeks had fewer colds and recovered faster than those who received a placebo.

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