Garlic Packs a Punch for Immune Health
I had read studies regarding garlic and its immune building benefits, but I wasn’t exactly running out to consume it by the pound, as you can imagine. I was, at first, skeptical about the extent to which the garlic clove and its constituents could amp up my defenses. After all, garlic is the epitome of a culinary staple; the universal ingredient that transcends cultures and their cuisines. I had used this bulb in my signature dishes several times, and while I love the flavor it can add to my cooking, I didn’t exactly relish in the idea of taking it by the capsule (apply pinch to nose). Nonetheless, when cold season hit, I found myself in a compromising situation.
With a sore throat, aches and pains, and eyes I could scratch out, I was desperate. I would have tried anything to ward off my oncoming cold, and so I did. At the encouragement of my co-worker, Lissa (our resident herbalist), I took a few capsules (three throughout the day to be exact). The next morning, all symptoms were gone. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I thought it might be a coincidence, or that perhaps the symptoms were just in my head. So I tried it again the next time I felt a cold coming on, and you’ll be surprised (or maybe not) to learn that, once again, I woke up feeling great.
The health benefits of garlic are many. In addition to having powerful antioxidant properties, this member of the Allium genus is known for increasing circulation, helping to balance cholesterol levels and providing support for overall heart health. The immune benefits of garlic may get less hype, but are not to be underestimated.
Garlic contains allicin, an organic sulfur compound that has antibacterial, anti-fungal and antioxidant properties. Allicin is responsible for garlic’s pungent odor and serves as the plants natural defense mechanism from pests and other botanical threats. In fact, many people don’t hesitate to give garlic to their pets to ward off fleas.
Garlic’s ability to fight foreign organisms doesn’t stop there. Garlic works from the inside out, increasing your body’s ability to fight pathogens, so that they don’t invade your immune system and cause illness.
Garlic’s ability to stimulate immune cells gives your entire system a better line of defense, should an infection or sickness occur. It has been known to fight candida infections, viruses and bacteria. Garlic increases immune cells and strengthens them. Garlic has also been known to induce phagocytosis and promote the activity of macrophages, encouraging white blood cells to fight infection and foreign organisms in the body.
Garlic is available in many forms, including raw, minced and jarred or roasted. You can also get the active constituents of garlic in a concentrated capsule form. While consuming garlic in any form can be beneficial, I would recommend that you source the concentrated capsules for the greatest therapeutic benefits. Since the active constituents are concentrated, most capsules offer an easier way to obtain the health protecting properties of garlic. If you feel a cold coming on, you can take 2-3 capsules a day (or about 100-200 mg), as well as consume a meal containing a lot of garlic.
What about the smell? It’s a concern I shared. Many odorless garlic supplements are actually very true to their name. If you consume high amounts of garlic in your diet, suck on a leaf or parsley to neutralize the odor.
Garlic has been touted throughout history for having remarkable medicinal properties. Today, it is regarded by many cardiologists and other physicians as a wonderful alternative or complementary therapy for heart health. While its heart health benefits and culinary uses may still be garlic’s “claim to fame,” its influence on the body’s immune system should not be overlooked.
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Article updated on: August 27th, 2010