Garlic & Its Anti-Microbial Compounds – A Healthy Decision

For centuries, garlic has been cited as an effective agent to combat infectious diseases. In fact, if you trace back to ancient Greece, Hippocrates is associated with the notable saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Garlic has had its place in the renowned ancient civilizations of Rome, Greece, Egypt, Japan, China and India. It also played a significant role during the Middle Ages and Renaissance on the European continent, and in early America, Native Americans put garlic in a certain tea to combat flu symptoms. Herbalists would stock soups and other foods with garlic, and they would plant garlic compresses on people’s chests to treat cold symptoms and chest conditions. Now, current studies have shown the strong capabilities of garlic.

Why is Garlic so Great? It has Everything to Do with Allicin

Allicin, the effective anti-microbial properties in garlic, changes the capability of bacteria to thrive and halts the organisms from growing. A lot of studies have been conducted on the antibacterial and antimicrobial impacts of garlic, and the results have been positive.

In a study administered at the University of Ottawa, researchers conducted tests on some natural health products that contained garlic in them in addition to fresh garlic extracts. They pit the garlic products and the extracts against three types of ordinary bacteria:

  • E. faecalis – The cause of urinary tract infections
  • N. gonorrhoeae – The cause of the sexually-transmitted disease gonorrhea
  • Staphylococcus aureus – A strain responsible for many types of infections common in hospitals

The products that had higher volumes of allicin were the most successful at eradicating these various types of bacteria.

Another study that shows the strong influence of garlic’s antibacterial effects was done at the University of California, Irvine where garlic juice was tested. The juice was applied and tested in opposition to an array of pathogens, and this comprised strains of bacteria that were antibiotic-resistant. Not only were the outcomes effective in combating these pathogens, but the studies were still rewarding when the juice was diluted.

When garlic is consumed along with prescription medicine, it can enhance the drugs to work better. Rutgers University conducted a test with garlic and two common antibiotics to ward off Staphylococcus aureus (gram-positive) and E. coli (gram-negative), which are two antibiotic-resisting strains of bacteria. The bacteria were killed since the garlic was able to increase the antibiotics’ potency.

How to Use Garlic in Your Food to Obtain the Benefits

It’s important to note that cooking garlic destroys the allicin, so the most effective way to get the active compounds in garlic is to eat it raw. A good way to stop E. coli in your cooking is by using raw garlic as a rub for all meats- the powerful antibiotic agent in garlic will assist in killing those bacteria. The same practice can be done with vegetables- using raw garlic in salad dressings may save you from spoiled spinach or lettuce.

If you want to add it to your cooked food, you can crush it or cut it and leave it out for ten minutes. That way you can still use it along with your sauteed, baked and roasted food. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but a clove of raw garlic with a meal each day is much more rewarding. Always remind yourself to eat raw garlic with other food to prevent stomach problems and bad breath, and you can always eat some raw parsley afterward to remedy any breath problems.