Garlic is an herb, scientifically known as Allium sativum, that is a member of the Alliaceae family, alongside onions and shallots. Garlic is thought to be native to the mountains of Central Asia, but nowadays it’s found all over the world. Throughout the years, garlic has featured frequently in folklore and old wives’ tales to cure everything from the bubonic plague to ghosts, and while many of these have been disputed, garlic still holds a wide range of health benefits.
Garlic is referred to as ‘the stinking rose’ treatment in phytotherapy, and it contains essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants that provide a wide range of health benefits like reducing high cholesterol and blood pressure, treating tonsillitis and preventing cardiovascular disease including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries due to a build-up of plaque). Garlic is extremely rich in potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese and selenium, as well as vitamin C and flavonoids like beta-carotene and zeaxanthin.
Garlic can effectively treat rheumatoid arthritis thanks to the presence of anti-inflammatory compounds like diallyl disulfide, and antioxidants like alliin, allicin and allyldisulfide, which can all reduce inflammation and swelling in the joints by scavenging and inhibiting harmful free radicals. Garlic is also an anti-microbial, which can protect the body against infection. Using garlic to treat arthritis limits the risk of side effects that can be caused by arthritic medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which have been known to cause gastric damage.
Raw garlic is said to be more effective than cooked garlic, as cooking it can destroy the compounds that provide the health benefits. Simply eat one or two raw garlic cloves each day. If you don’t enjoy the taste, you can supplement with garlic capsules instead.