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 attributed with the common saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Garlic was important in the ancient civilizations of Japan, India, China, Greece, Egypt and Rome. It also had a major function during the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Europe, and in the Americas, Native Americans put garlic in a certain tea to combat symptoms of flu. Herbalists would stock soups and other foods with garlic, and they would lay garlic compresses on people’s chests to cure cold symptoms and chest conditions. Now, recent research has shown the powerful capabilities of garlic.

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

Allicin, the effective anti-microbial properties in garlic, modifies the capability of bacteria to recreate and stops the organisms from growing. Many studies have been conducted on the anti-microbial effects of garlic, and the conclusions have been good.

In a study administered at the University of Ottawa, research analysts examined some natural health products that had garlic in them in addition to fresh garlic extracts. They put the garlic products and the extracts against three types of common bacteria:

  • Enterococcus faecalis – A culprit for septicemia, an infection that causes injury to its own tissues and organs
  • Gonococci – The cause for gonorrhea
  • S. aureus – Even though the strain isn’t always pathogenic, it can cause skin infections, respiratory infections and food poisoning

The products that included increased quantities of allicin were the most successful at getting rid of these various types of bacteria.

Another study that shows the impressive impact of garlic’s anti-microbial effects was done at the University of California, Irvine where the properties of garlic juice were the test subject. The juice was used and tested counter to a variety of microorganisms, and this included strains of bacteria that were resistant against antibiotics. Not only were the results of the tests effective in fighting these pathogens, but the studies were still favorable when the juice was diluted.

When garlic is paired alongside prescription medicine, it can boost the drugs’ effectiveness. Rutgers University conducted a test with garlic and two common antibiotics to ward off S. aureus (gram-positive) and Escherichia coli (gram-negative), which are two antibiotic-resisting strains of bacteria. The bacterium was killed since the garlic was able to increase the two antibiotic medications’ strength.

Applying Garlic in Your Food to Gain Its the Benefits

It’s worthwhile to note that cooking garlic destroys the allicin, so the most efficient way to get the active compounds in garlic is to eat it raw. One way to stop Escherichia coli in your cooking is to use raw garlic as a rub for all meats- the allicin in the garlic will assist in killing those bacteria. The same can be done with salads- putting raw garlic in salad dressings may save you from spoiled spinach or lettuce.

When you want to make it an addition to your cooked meals, you can crush it or cut it and leave it out for ten minutes. That way you can still consume it with your sauteed, baked and roasted meals. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, yet a clove of raw garlic with your food each day is much more rewarding. Always remind yourself to eat raw garlic with other food to avoid stomach problems and bad breath, and you can always eat some raw parsley afterward to remedy any breath problems.