Medicinal Uses of Garlic

Garlic is used all over world as a condiment and home medicine for centuries. Garlic offers innumerable health benefits as it is good for cardiovascular health, lowers cholesterol and blood sugar level, and is useful in several other ailments. Garlic has got its medicinal properties due to presence of at least thirty-three sulfur compounds, several enzymes, seventeen amino acids, and minerals. Sulfur compounds give garlic its pungent taste and specific odour. It is also very effective in hair loss. Oil prepared from Garlic has antiseptic, antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-parasitic activities. It can be safely applied to body areas affected with ring worm. This oil can be applied topically to skin diseases that are caused due to bacteria, fungal or yeast.

Garlic Ayurvedic uses
"Allium sativum. Restra de allos de Oroso- Galiza"by Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez (Lmbuga) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Botanical name: Allium sativum

Family: Alliaceae

Vernacular names

  • Sanskrit: Rasona, Yavaneshta
  • Trade names: Rasun, Lashun
  • Assamese: Maharu, Naharu
  • Bengali: Lasuna, Roshum
  • English: Garlic
  • Gujarati: Lasan, Lassun, Lashan
  • Hindi: Lahasun
  • Kannada: Bulluci
  • Malayalam: Vellulli, Nelluthulli, Belulli, Velluli
  • Oria: Rasuna
  • Marathi: Lasun, Lusoon, Lasun
  • Punjabi: Lassan
  • Tam.: Vellaipoondu
  • Telugu: Vellulli, Tellapya, Tellagadda
  • Kashmir: Ruhan
  • Urdu: Lahsan, Seer

French: Ail;Italian: Aglio;German: Knoblauch;Hebrew: Shoomin;Greek: Skordon;Russian: Chesnok;Persian: Seer

Part Used: Bulb and oil

Works on: all body tissues

Origin and Distribution: Believed to have originated in Central Asia;Used in ancient India, China, Egypt, Greece and Rome;Cultivated throughout India;also in Pakistan, Bangladesh and almost in all tropical countries.

Plant description

Hardy perennial bulbous scapigerous herb;stem flat, dry, lower portion of the plant forms bulb which consists of several smaller bulbs called cloves, surrounded by a thin white or pinkish sheath;leaves flat, narrow green;heads bear small white flowers and bulbils.

Flowering and fruiting: Winter

Soil required for cultivation: Rich, well-drained, moderately clayey loam, requires a cool, moist period during growth and a relatively dry period during maturing of the crop;4-5 months required to mature and harvesting during February to April.

Constituents Of Garlic

Volatile Oil containing Allyl Disulphide and Diallyl Disulphide. It also contains Allin, Allicin, Mucilage and Albumin.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action on body

Garlic is known as Rasona in Sanskrit which means the one which lacks only one taste.

Rasa (Taste): Katu (pungent), Madhura/Sweet

Guna (Characteristics): Guru/Heavy, picchila/oily, Snigdha/Unctuous, Tikshna/Sharp, Sara

Virya (Potency): Ushna/Hot

Vipaka (Post Digestive Effect): Katu/Pungent

Action on body: Improves strength, good for eyes, improves digestive strength, good for heart, reduces mucous, good for brain, reduces vata/wind, removes blood toxins, tonic

Effects on Tridoshas (Humor): Reduces vata/wind, kapha/mucous and increases pitta/bile

Important Ayurvedic Formulations - Lasunadi Vati, Lasunadi Ghrita And Vaca Lasunadi Taila

Therapeutic Uses - Jirna Jvara (chronic fever), Krimiroga (parasitic infestation), Gulma, Kushtha (skin disease), Arsa piles, Kasa cough, Svasa respiratory ailmesnt, Pinasa, Shula, Karnashula pain in ears, Vatavyadi diseases of joints eg gout, arthritis, Hikka hiccups, Medoroga obesity, Yoni Vyapata, Visucika dysentery, Pliha Vriddhi spleen enlargement, Kshaya, Vishama Jvara malarial, dengue fever, Apasmara Unmada, Sasa, shotha, Hridroga heart diseases, Vatasula, Trikas hula, Vrana Krimi

Dosage of garlic paste:3 grams

Medicinal uses Of Garlic/Lahsun/Rasona

Garlic is used both internally and externally. Oral intake of garlic has good effect on whole body. The clove of garlic has alterative (restores health), antibiotic, anti-fungal, aphrodisiac, carminative (prevents and expels gas), diaphoretic (sweat causing), diuretic (stimulating urine), expectorant, hypoglycemic (sugar lowering), hypotensive (blood pressure lowering) properties. Garlic cloves exhibits activity against many types of bacterial diseases. Its oral intake prevents blood platelet aggregation. It is beneficial to eat garlic in many diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arterosclerosis (deposition of fatty material on their inner walls), asthma, cold, cough, loose motions, diabetes and parasitic infestation.

Garlic is also used externally. It can be prepared as a bolus to treat yeast infection or an enema to treat dysentery. Uncut clove can be used as a suppository to treat haemorrhoids. Garlic cloves boiled in sesame oil are used as ear drops for treating ear pain. This medicated oil is also used as wash to treat gangrenous wounds and snakebite.

Garlic powder is prepared from dried cloves. The process is, cloves are dehydrated to remove the moisture and powdered. The powder has the same chemical composition and pharmacological activity except it does not have the allicin, the pungent principle.

Eating raw garlic causes garlic breath. In such case chewing some cardamom/ealichi or fennel/saunf is helpful. You may also try one drop of pure peppermint oil in a cup of water.

Garlic has good effect on cardiovascular health. Rasona ksheer pak or Lahsun Ksheer Pak is used traditionally for heart diseases.

Nowadays, garlic capsules are available that can be taken in dose of 2-3 capsules.

A powder prepared from garlic, hing, cumin/jeerak, rock salt, sendha salt, shunti, pippali, and maricha/black pepper in equal proportions, is given in doses of about twenty grains, every morning with a decoction of the root of the castor oil plant, in facial paralysis, hemiplegia, sciatica, paraplegia, and convulsive affections.

  • In Sandhivata or osteoarthritis, three gram paste of garlic twice a day should be taken with sesame oil.
  • Inn ear-ache and pus in ear, about three garlic cloves are boiled in three table spoons of til oil cooled and three drops are put in the ear.
  • In cold, cough, excess mucous three cloves are boiled in cup of water. This is taken twice a day. Simply chewing few garlic cloves is also helpful.
  • For asthma three cloves of garlic boiled in milk, can be used every night.
  • In weak digestion a paste of about five garlic cloves, 2 green chillies and little salt is fried in 3 teaspoon of til oil and is taken for seven days.
  • Crushed garlic cloves infused in water or milk is useful in all types of digestive disorders.
  • Use of garlic is beneficial in colitis, dysentery and many other intestinal upsets.
  • In mild diarrhoea and dysentery, one garlic capsule taken three times a day cures the condition.
  • In syphilitic skin diseases, garlic paste is rubbed externally.
  • In cold sore, skin diseases, chopped garlic cloves are put in vegetable oil/olive oil for few days. This is applied externally on sores for 2-3 times a day.
  • In wounds, abscesses, boils, infected wounds, externally use garlic paste.

Garlic is a rejuvenator. It removes toxins, revitalise the blood, stimulate blood circulation, improves digestion, removes mucous, and is good for whole body. It should be eaten daily. You may chop the cloves and mix them in food. You may also make a tasty chutney of garlic cloves with mint/coriander leaves or simply chop 3 cloves and take with water.

Side-effects, contraindication and interaction

When taken in excess amount, longer duration garlic may produce some side-effects. It can irritate stomach and kidneys. It may cause a burning sensation in the mouth or stomach, heartburn, gas, nausea, vomiting and body odour.

  • Garlic is a blood thinner and it slows blood clotting. Precaution should be taken while taking blood thinning medicines.
  • It should not be taken in large amounts during pregnancy and breastfeeding as it may cause digestive distress.
  • In some sensitive people, even small amount of garlic can cause allergic reaction or upset stomach.
  • Garlic can irritate the gastrointestinal tract. It should be used cautiously in stomach or digestion problems.
  • Garlic reduces blood pressure. So people with low blood pressure should use it cautiously.
  • Topical application on skin, might cause damage to the skin, similar to a burn.
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