Different parts of the Garlic plant are used for serving different purposes. The bulbs of garlic are considered the most commonly used part of the plant. They vary in size and flavour and can range from mild and sweet to pungent and very strong in taste. A garlic bulb is divided into numerous segments called cloves. The cloves of garlic can be used as seed, for consumption (raw or cooked) and also for medicinal purposes. The leaves, stems, and flowers on the head are also considered edible and are most often eaten while immature and tender. The leaves of garlic are often cooked and eaten in India. They can be used as an ingredient for packed or fast food and are frequently used for treating asthma, as well. The only parts of garlic that are not considered edible are the papery, protective layers of "skin" over various parts of the plant and the roots attached to the bulb.
Garlic has a sharp, punchy taste and pungent smell and is used as a major ingredient in the world's finest dishes. Fresh Garlic is dehydrated and sold to food processors for use in mayonnaise products, salad dressings, tomato products and in several meat preparations. The raw garlic can also be used in the manufacturing of garlic powder, garlic salt, garlic vinegar, garlic cheese croutons, garlic potato chips, garlic bread, etc.
Apart from the culinary usages, Garlic is also recognised for having several valuable medicinal properties. Garlic is used in making remedies for various ailments and physiological disorders and is considered one of the oldest medicines in the world. In Ayurveda, Garlic is considered as one of the most effective antimicrobial herbs, as it has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anthelmintic and antiseptic properties. Garlic has healing capacity and effectiveness against cholera, as well. It has useful anti-bacterial action against Eberthella typhosa, Escherichiacoli, acid fast bacilli, Aerobacter aerogenes, Staphylococcus aureus etc. According to Ayurveda, Garlic is also useful for increasing sexual energy and in combating impotence. It can help kill parasites like hookworms and pinworms, as well.
Several benefits of garlic have been described in Unani medicine. According to Unani medicine, garlic is used as carminative and can also act as a gastric stimulant. It can aid in digestion and absorption of food and is also given in flatulence. In modern Allopathic treatment also, garlic is used in a number of patented medicines and other preparations. The residue of garlic, obtained by alcoholic extraction and distillation, is believed to contain a bacteriostatic and bactericidal substance identified as 'allyl disulfide oxide'. Garlic is used as an antidote to snake and scorpion bites and is also a very good medicine for running cold and Saliva Formation. In ancient times, garlic was used to cure athlete's foot, by placing bulb between the toes. As herbal medicine, it is also used to treat diseases like chronic bronchitis, respiratory catarrh, whooping cough, bronchitic asthma, influenza, and other health problems. It can also fight infection, reduce cholesterol, protect against heat diseases and stroke, control diabetes, and prevent cancer. Garlic can prevent blood clots and destroy plaque preventing atherosclerosis and can reduce the chances of stroke, heart attacks and PVD.
The inhalation of garlic oil or garlic juice is commonly recommended in cases of pulmonary tuberculosis, rheumatism and impotence. The Garlic juice is extensively used for treating various ailments of stomach, and is also used as a rubefacient in skin diseases. It is used as eardrop in ear aches, as well. The garlic juice can also be used against duodenal ulcers, after diluting with water. Garlic is used for killing bacteria that cause tuberculosis and it reduces blood sugar level. It can help to improve the immune functions, fight against chronic diarrhea, etc. and it also heals open pores, activates and stimulates blood circulation, and improves hair growth. It is used for producing various products like garlic oil, garlic powder, garlic juice, garlic flakes, etc., as well.
The other medicinal properties that garlic contains include many bioactive substances like Alliin, Allicin, Gamma-Glutamylcysteine, Thiosulfinates, etc. These substances can help in fighting against bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections. Garlic can be effective in treatment for congestion in the respiratory system, if taken along with honey. It is used as slides under a bandage, in case of warts. Spreading a few fresh cloves of garlic amongst stored fruit can help delay rotting of the fruit.
However, inspite of having all the above mentioned advantages and valuable properties, garlic is not used by all Indian people. It is often avoided to be used even for medicinal purposes, as it has repulsive odour. Another reason for which people do not use garlic is that, they consider it as a non-vegetarian food item. Garlic also has some side effects. Consuming large amounts of garlic can cause heartburn. Fresh garlic can also sometimes cause local irritation and ulceration.
(Last Updated on : 25-07-2012)