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Garlic is called “Allium sativum” in the technical language and belongs to the leek family and to the genus of onion types. Whether fresh or in pill form, which type of intake is recommended and what are the advantages and / or disadvantages - you will learn this and a lot more in the following article.
Garlic is one of the oldest foods and medicines. Every meal was enriched with it during the construction of the pyramids in ancient Egypt. A papyrus roll from 1600 BC Chr. Tells of a strike that arose due to insufficient daily garlic rations. This tuber was so venerated in Egypt that Pharaoh Cheops had a clove of garlic walled into the highest pyramid.
In Greek medicine, Dioskurides used garlic as a diuretic, worm-inducing and pain reliever for toothache. In addition, it always played a major role in folk medicine, where it was used as a remedy for the rural people. So it was used for wounds, to stimulate labor and jaundice. According to stories, those who ate a lot of garlic were more likely to get away with life in times of the plague than their fellow men who consumed less of it.
Due to the strong smell of the tuber, it is said to have provided protection from ghosts and witches and averted mischief. Most people know stories about vampires in which they are driven away by garlic.
The garlic today
The main active ingredients in garlic are sulfur-containing compounds. The volatile sulfur compounds make up the typical smell of garlic, which is exhaled through the breath and skin. The sulfur compounds contained promote blood circulation, anti-arteriosclerotic, hypoglycemic and antimicrobial. Garlic also has an immunostimulating and deflating effect, stimulates the gastrointestinal tract and promotes the flow of bile. On top of that, it is said to have an anti-carcinogenic effect.
Fresh garlic contains an amino acid called alliin. When the clove of garlic is crushed or chopped, an enzyme called alliinase is released. Alliin and alliinase interact with each other, creating allicin.
Garlic is used, fresh or as a garlic pill, to promote blood circulation, for arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and as vascular protection. It also helps with respiratory infections and as a kind of "antibiotic", whereby the good bacteria are not destroyed. Especially in vacation areas, where you often eat unfamiliar food, an inflammation of the intestine can be counteracted by taking a large amount of garlic as a prophylactic measure.
You can lower your blood pressure and blood fat levels with garlic if you take it regularly. He is also said to repel mosquitoes, although one might assume that the nuisance, like some people, shrinks from the unpleasant smell.
An advantage for everyone is that the miracle bulb acts as an antioxidant and thus free radicals, which often form in the body, are intercepted and rendered harmless. Garlic also contains B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, manganese and selenium.
Fresh garlic or pills?
To do your body good, one clove of garlic should be eaten raw every day. Not everyone likes that. Firstly, garlic taste is not for everyone, secondly, after eating, a sharp aftertaste remains in the mouth and thirdly, the smell from the mouth and skin is added.
If you don't want to do without the positive effect of this tuber, but only like the fresh variant from time to time or rather not at all, you can resort to garlic pills. There are now many research results on their positive effects. Unfortunately, even in the form of pills, they do not always protect against the undesirable smell. If you absolutely want to avoid this, you should use preparations made from ripened or fermented garlic. These contain water-soluble ingredients, some of which are even stronger than those of raw garlic.
The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends the following daily doses:
- up to 5 g fresh garlic (depending on the size, this is one or two toes),
- up to 1.2 g of dried garlic powder, contained in garlic pills,
- Preparations, also in pill form, containing up to 12 mg alliin or 5 mg allicin,
- 1.2 mg S-allylcysteine (obtained from ripened or black garlic) as a garlic pill.
Both fresh garlic and garlic pills can trigger unwanted side effects such as nausea, heartburn, vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, there is the unpleasant taste and the bad breath and skin odor (not to be expected with the odorless variants).
Possible drug interactions must be discussed with the attending doctor. In any case, patients who are taking synthetic anticoagulants should not eat garlic, as this could thin the blood even more. This also applies to ripened and fermented garlic. Garlic pills are not suitable for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under 12 years of age.
Garlic as a pill
Alliin and allicin are mainly found in fresh garlic and also dried garlic powder. The odorless garlic pills mainly contain water-soluble sulfur derivatives, but they are just as effective.
Odorless garlic pills
Many people find the fat-soluble sulfur compounds that make up the smell unpleasant. That is why more and more odorless preparations have been brought onto the market. These include garlic pills that are made from the extract of fermented or ripened garlic. There are also food supplements on the market in which the alliinase is inactivated by cooking or chlorophyll is added to bind odors.
Prepared garlic preparations
To produce ripened garlic extract, it is crushed and incubated for 20 months in an aqueous alcohol solution and concentrated. This is called maturation. This creates water-soluble sulfur compounds such as S-allylcysteine, cycloalliin, S-methylcysteine and others. The garlic pills that are made from it are generally well tolerated.
Black garlic preparations
The black garlic is at first normal white garlic. This is fermented under lock and key and with defined heat and moisture. The components contained in the tuber, such as sugar and amino acids, are converted into dark, nitrogen-containing, organic compounds, which turns the garlic black. It becomes very soft, a little sticky and its taste has nothing to do with the original white product - it is sweet, similar to plum compote or liquorice.
This heat treatment changes the structure of 38 ingredients. The anti-inflammatory effect is very high. And the ability to bind free radicals is much higher than that of normal garlic.
The garlic pills made from black garlic have no aftertaste and are also odorless. Here too, as with the ripened garlic described above, the main active ingredient is S-allylcysteine, which does not irritate the gastric mucosa and is therefore more tolerable.
Garlic pills are known to cause side effects such as flatulence, constant regurgitation, reflux, foul odor and other unpleasant digestive problems. This is attributed to the active ingredient allicin. When using black or ripened garlic, no skin and mucous membrane irritation effects were found in experiments. So these garlic pills are the more tolerable.
However, caution is essential when taking antihypertensive drugs and anticoagulants.
Those who want to buy garlic pills are spoiled for choice. It is important to read the package insert carefully and pay attention to the ingredients. Products are often offered that contain additional health-promoting substances such as hawthorn (a heart-protecting plant) or vitamins such as vitamin B12 or the trace element molybdenum. This is not a reduction in quality, but can even support the effect of the garlic. (sw)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
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- Fintelmann, Volker; Weiss, Rudolf F .: Textbook Phytotherapy, Georg Thieme Verlag, 2009
- Hansel, Rudolf: Rational Phytotherapy: Guide for Medical Practice, Springer-Verlag, 2013
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