Garlic, Sweet Smell of Health: Benefits, Home Gardening Tips and Cold Cure Recipe

Garlic, that food we all love (or hate, but here at Stealth WE LOVE GARLIC!) has amazing medicinal uses. Recently, garlic health benefits have been the object of scientific research. Traditionally, it has been reputed as a cure for all diseases imaginable.

Listed below are some health benefits for Garlic, proper dose and what to look out for when you buy Garlic supplements at the store, along with a few home gardening tips about this wondrous food.

Garlic has always used in every aspect of cooking in Asian countries such as India and China for thousands of years. Numerous health claims have been made regarding the benefit of Garlic however only lately have any real data been presented to back some of the claims. Many companies have created their own formulations of garlic essence and garlic oil. These are being sold at health stores under names like Aged Garlic Extract, Ail, Ajo, Allii Sativi Bulbus, Allium, Camphor of the Poor, Clove Garlic, Garlic Oil, Da Suan, Lasun, Lasuna, Nectar of the Gods, Poor Man’s Treacle, Rason, Rust Treacle and Stinking Rose. The scientific name for Garic is Allium Sativum.

Fraud Warning

Be very careful buying odorless formulations of garlic supplements. If it is odorless, then it means that formulation may not contain a chemical called Allicin which is responsible for the garlic odor. Allicin is important as many health benefits from garlic. Look to make sure your product has 1.3% Alliin or 0.6% Allicin in it.

Dose

It is recommended to take 600 to 900mg of garlic tablets per day which is the equivalent of taking ½ to 1 clove of garlic a day.

Main Health benefits

Cholesterol Lowering Effects – Studies show garlic can lower your total cholesterol levels by up to 12% after taking it for 1 month. It can also lower triglyceride levels by 15% but will not raise your HDL levels (the good cholesterol levels). However the research done to estimate the figures above are heavily disputed with the current medical guidelines advising patients that garlic may have some effect but not significant clinical benefits in patients with high cholesterol.

Blood Pressure Effects – In the short term, garlic has been known to lower blood pressure by up to 10% in the systolic and diastolic readings. Most studies used the specific garlic powder formulation from Kwai and Lichtwer Pharma though some studies used the garlic extracts. The theory is that the mechanism of action of garlic is through stimulation of nitric oxide which relaxes your blood vessels and inhibition of your ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) so be careful if you are taking blood pressure medications from your pharmacy. It can cause an interaction.

Anticoagulant Effects – Garlic can make it harder for your blood to clot by reducing the ability of your platelets from sticking with each other and clotting. It also makes your blood “thinner” by reducing the viscosity or the flowabiltiy of your plasma in your blood. Be careful taking other herbal products or anticoagulant drugs like Warfarin (Coumadin) when taking high doses of garlic as it can increase your risk of bleeding out. Herbal products known to have anticoagulant effects are angelica, clove, danshen, ginger, ginkgo, red clover, turmeric, vitamin E and willow as well as a few other products. Taking fish oil supplements with garlic supplements can enhance this effect.

Gardening Garlic in Containers

This is the way I grow garlic.  I keep it separate from my other veggies that we grow.  Some veggies don’t like it.

Choosing a Garlic Variety
There are tons of garlic varieties to choose from and they are divided into two basic categories: hardneck types, which have a hard central stock with a single layer of cloves around it, and softneck types, which have swirling layers of cloves and no defined neck. I prefer hardneck varieties because they produce a flower bud called a scape in late spring. Scapes have a delicious mild garlicky flavor and taste amazing in pesto. In theory, you could plant garlic purchased from the grocery store, but it is often treated to prevent it from sprouting. For the best results and a more interesting array of varieties, buy garlic that was grown locally at a farmer’s market or purchase bulbs at a nursery.

Choosing Containers
Garlic has fairly shallow roots, but it is important to make sure they have plenty of room to stretch out in the soil. Choose a pot that is at least 18 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Half barrels and wooden crates work well, but you certainly do not need to buy a container for your garlic. The large black plastic containers that trees come in are a great choice, as are contractor buckets. Whatever container you use, make sure that it has drainage holes in the bottom. Place the container in a spot that gets at least 6 hours of bright, direct sunlight each day.

Use Good Potting Soil 
Garlic is prone to fungal root diseases, so it is important that the soil you plant the cloves in drains well. Don’t be tempted to put regular garden soil in the containers. It is too heavy and tends to get soggy over the winter. Instead use a high quality soil-less potting mix. These mixes typically contain a blend of coconut fiber or peat and compost, plus vermiculite or pearlite to help keep it light. I use a brand called Black Gold. Get the potting mix as damp as a wrung out sponge before placing it in the container. Fill the container to within about 2 inches of the rim.

Planting the Garlic
Break the garlic heads apart, being careful to keep the papery wrapper around each clove intact. Only plant the largest cloves (you can use the smaller ones to cook with).
Plant the garlic 2 inches in from the rim of the container, spacing the bulbs 5 inches apart in all directions. Use a piece of bamboo to make planting holes that are 3 inches deep. Plant one clove per hole, with the flat side down and the pointy end up. Backfill the hole with soil, making sure that the tip of the clove is about 1 inch below the surface. The garlic may sprout and then die back over the winter, but don’t worry. It will re-sprout again in the spring.

Caring for the Garlic Over the Winter
In very cold areas, you can place straw over the surface of the soil during periods where temperatures stay below freezing for an extended period of time. However, be prepared to remove it when temperatures rise, as the straw tends to stay damp and it will rot the garlic cloves. Skip using straw if you have wet, mild winters. In dry climates, don’t let the soil completely dry out. Keep it about as damp as a wrung out sponge.

Caring for the Garlic in Spring
In spring be sure to remove straw (if using it) as soon as temperatures rise above freezing. When the garlic begins to grow, fertilize it every 3 weeks with a dilute liquid organic fertilizer. Keep the soil consistently moist. Cut the scapes off just after they emerge to encourage the bulbs to grow larger. The bulbs will be ready for harvest in early summer when the bottom 1/3 of the leaves have yellowed.

However, I do cheat when spring comes.  The bulbs I start begin to sprout and I then put them into good potting soil in containers.

Cheap and Effective Cold Cure – Garlic & Ginger Soup (Recipe)

What you need:

A pack of Ramen Noodles (or whatever Chinese style soup noodles are around, cheap)

2 cups water

Lots of garlic (depends on your taste, but more is better)

Fresh ginger (or powder if you have)

Frozen or fresh veggies cut up into small pieces such as broccoli, green beans, red peppers, peas, carrots etc.

1 Tablespoon of sesame oil

Chili-garlic sauce (mm mm good) to taste

How to do it:

1) Boil the 2 cups of water along with the Ramen flavouring packet.

2) Add your garlic and ginger.

3) If you have frozen veggies add them and boil them out part of the way.  You will need the final 2 minutes for the noodles.

4) If you have fresh veggies, I suggest only slightly longer than blanching them.  I like mine pretty raw. Add them in.

5) For the final two minutes, add in your noodles and cook till done.

6) As an addition, I like to put in leftover chicken, beef or pork, cubed down small.  Frozen shrimp too.

7) Eat it up, yum.

This really helps me when I have a cold. Soothing, hot and HOT!

Garlic is an amazing food that is not to hard to grow, a benefit to your health and above all, really, really tasty!

P.S. For all you preppers, powdered garlic is said to have the same benefits.  Dehydrate and grind down.  Can be stored for up to 5 years in airtight containers.

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