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Garlic the wonder plant

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th May 2008 03:00 AM

ALLIUM sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a wonder plant, though many people dislike its pungent smell and taste.
Garlic belongs to the Alliaceae or lily species in the onion family. Most people know it by its Kiswahili name, katungulu chumu. Its close relatives include the shallot and leek.

ALLIUM sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a wonder plant, though many people dislike its pungent smell and taste.
Garlic belongs to the Alliaceae or lily species in the onion family. Most people know it by its Kiswahili name, katungulu chumu. Its close relatives include the shallot and leek.

By Sarah Ulotu

ALLIUM sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a wonder plant, though many people dislike its pungent smell and taste.
Garlic belongs to the Alliaceae or lily species in the onion family. Most people know it by its Kiswahili name, katungulu chumu. Its close relatives include the shallot and leek.

Garlic was worshiped by the ancient Egyptians, chewed by Greek Olympian athletes and believed to keep vampires at bay!

Garlic is commonly used as a flavour, but it can also be used as a medicine. A bulb of garlic comprises numerous fleshy sections called cloves. They are used as seeds and can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves, stems (scape) and flowers (bulbils) on the head (spathe) are also edible and consumed immature.
The paperly protective layer on the plant and roots is the only part that is not edible.

According to Nelly Birungi, a nutritionist at Mulago hospital, garlic is good for zapping bacteria, lowering cholesterol levels, keeping the heart healthy, thinning blood and warding off cough and colds.
Garlic helps heal a sore throat or cough that has not matured.

“Crush the garlic cloves in a bowl, add a little salt and eat. By morning, your voice will be back to normal. If you cannot eat the garlic raw, put the crushed cloves in hot water and drink,” Birungi says.

Garlic also helps in the formation of natural killer cells that fight cancers. It also works as an antioxidant that protects cells and rids the body of cancer-causing agents.

“It is believed that when garlic is crushed it forms allicin, which gives it the pungent smell. When allicin is formed, it breaks down further and, depending on how it is prepared, can increase the body’s resistance to cancer.

So in order to reap the benefits of garlic, use it correctly. Cooking garlic spoils its medicinal value,” explains Birungi.
According to Wikipedia, a web-based enclopedia project, garlic has long been considered a wonder herbal drug because it prevents infections ranging from a cold to the plague!

It is used extensively in herbal medicine (psychotherapy). Some people use it to treat the symptoms of acne.
Garlic can also be used as a mosquito repellent. Crush and apply it on the body before going to bed. The smell keeps the mosquitoes away.

A research carried out by Dr D Sooranna, Ms J Hirani and Dr I Das in the Academic Department of Obstertrics & Gynaecology at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London UK revealed that taking garlic during pregnancy can cut the risk of pre-eclampsia (raised blood pressure and protein retained in the urine).

The study also reveal that garlic may help to boost the birth-weight of babies destined to be too small.
“A pregnant woman can include garlic in most of the dishes she cooks. This will reduce chances of complications such as abnormal pregnancies and retarded growth — a dangerous condition for a mother and her baby, which occurs in about one in 10 pregnancies” says Sooranna.

Whenever a pregnant woman eats anything containing garlic, the activity of key enzymes that fight abnormal pregnancies is significantly increased.
Since allicin is destroyed by heat and age, it is best to cook garlic at the lowest temperature possible for a short time.

Garlic should be put in food that requires a short cooking time and low heat, such as rice and onion soup. It is advisable to add garlic a few minutes before removing from the fire.

“It is best to either cut or crush the garlic when still fresh. Let it sit for a minute or two then add to cooked food or use as salad dressing. Fresh garlic also offers higher levels of antibiotics,” Birungi says.

However, being a blood thinner, garlic should not be taken if one is already on blood-thinning medication. Patients who are about to be operated upon or have been under surgery should not take garlic.

It has also been known to decrease the effectiveness of protease inhibitors, therefore, people on antiretroviral drugs should not take garlic. Garlic can transform a simple meal into a delicious one.

Garlic cloves range from sh100 to sh1,000. It is available in supermarkets and local markets. Birungi warns that much as garlic is good for one’s health, one should not eat it in large quantities because it can cause irritation or even damage the digestive tract.

Some people are allergic to garlic, so it is advisable that one finds out the food ingredients before eating.

Benefits of Garlic
Mosquito repellent
Cures acne
Lowers blood pressure and protein retained in urine
Boosts weight of the unborn born
Reduces chances of abnormal pregnancy
Reduces chances of retarded growth
Source of antibiotics
Thins blood
Prevents cancer, plague, a cold and flu
Food spice

Garlic the wonder plant

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