Garlic is a wonderful spice that has been consumed since ancient times. Garlic has both health-promoting and disease preventing properties against many common diseases like heart problems, blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Here at home, we use garlic extensively in both cooking and also in home remedies.
What Is Garlic?
Garlic is a species of bulbous plant and is closely related to our common onion. It is a perennial flowering plant that grows out of a bulb. Garlic plant has a tall stem that grows almost up to 3 feet. The plant produces flowers and is mainly of purple colour. Garlic is native to Asia and Iran but is now widely cultivated all over the world, China is the top supplier of garlic now.
Garlic Botanical and Common Names
The botanical name of garlic is Allium sativum. It is called poondu in Tamil, lahsun in Hindi, bellulli in in Kannada, veluthulli in Malayalam, vellulli in Telugu, rasuna in Bengali and lasuna in Marathi.
Types of Garlic
Garlic is of two types, hard neck garlic and soft neck garlic. In hard neck garlic, there is a central scape and the cloves are found around the central scape (central stalk) whereas in soft neck garlic there is a garlic clove in place of the central scape. There are multiple varieties in both soft and hard neck garlic.
In Tamil Nadu, we commonly get five varieties of garlic. The first variety is called China garlic which contains big cloves, it is the cheapest and is mostly used. The second variety is called country garlic, the cloves are much smaller and are difficult to peel but they are very flavourful compared to china garlic.
The next variety is hill garlic which is the most used variety for medicinal purposes, the color of hill garlic will be slightly brownish and the fourth variety is single clove garlic which contains only one single clove of garlic, it is also widely used for medicinal purposes. The final variety is Himalayan garlic, it is almost like single clove garlic in size but with lots of garlic pods. We can use garlic as it is or in the form of garlic oil.
What Is Garlic Oil?
Two types of oils are referred to as garlic oil. One is garlic infused oil got by either boiling pounded garlic in any unrefined oil or by soaking pounded garlic in oil, sun drying and then straining it. It is also called garlic flavored oil. The second type of oil is garlic essential oil which is a concentrated form of garlic oil got by steam distilling garlic. Garlic essential oil though expensive is more potent than garlic infused oil.
Garlic Essential Oil:
Garlic essential oil is got by by crushing the garlic and then steam distilling it to remove the oil from garlic pods. Steam distilled garlic oil is usually yellowish brown in color and has a very pungent odour. To get a perspective of how potent garlic essential oil is when compared to garlic infused oil we have to know how much amount of garlic is used for making both. To get one ml of garlic essential oil, we need 400 to 500 grams of garlic but with homemade infused garlic oil, we use only 5 to 6 cloves of garlic for a cup of unrefined oil.
How To Make Garlic Oil At Home:
a. Garlic Infused Olive Oil – Sunlight Method:
To make infused garlic oil, pound 5 garlic cloves in a mortar and pestle, take the pounded garlic in a cup. Now top it with olive oil or unrefined coconut oil and place it under hot sunlight covered with a thin mesh. Once the oil gets heated up, strain the garlic out, your homemade garlic oil is ready! You can use the strained garlic in cooking. Since I live in a place where there is plenty of sunlight, I always make garlic oil using this method.
b. Garlic Infused Olive Oil – Direct Heat Method:
To make garlic oil using direct heat method, pound 4 to 5 large garlic cloves in a mortar and pestle. Heat a cup of unrefined coconut oil or olive oil in a pan. Add in the pounded garlic and fry for few seconds in low to medium flame till the garlic changes color slightly and a nice aroma wafts. Now switch off immediately, let cool, strain and store it in a bottle.
Where To Buy Garlic Essential Oil?
You can buy garlic essential oil easily online, it costs around 300 to 350 rupees for 15 ml depending on the brand. We also get garlic oil capsules, they come in 5000 mg soft capsules. You can buy them in medical shops or order them online. Finally we get garlic oil ear drops for treating ear infection, usually sold in 30 ml bottles.
Garlic Chemical Constituents
Garlic contains many bioactive compounds like flavonoids, tannins, saponins, polysaccharides, polyphenols and sulphur containing compounds that are responsible for its unique smell which includes allicin, allin, ajoene, etc. It also contains enzymes like allinase and peroxidase.
Garlic essential oil contains high amounts of sulfur compounds with diallyl trisulfide accounting for 38 %, diallyl disulfide accounting for 40 % and methyl allyl trisulfide accounting for 7 %, diallyl sulfide accounting for 3.7 % and methyl allyl disulfide accounting for 2.75 %.
Garlic Nutritional Benefits
Garlic contains potassium, phosphorus, sulphur, zinc and moderate amounts of calcium, selenium, magnesium, manganese, iron and low amounts of vitamin E, vitamin C, sodium and vitamin B complex.
Garlic Traditional Uses
Traditionally we drink garlic milk to treat indigestion. We always include garlic to all our lentil based curries to prevent bloating and indigestion. Garlic oil got by infusing garlic in coconut oil is used to treat ear infections. We soak garlic in honey and consume it everyday for reducing high cholesterol and blood pressure. We also use it for treating all hair and scalp problems and it is also used to treat chest congestion in babies
Garlic Health Benefits & Medicinal Uses
1. Antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties
Various chronic diseases are linked to inflammation and low antioxidant status. Garlic has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in antioxidants, regularly consuming garlic reduces reactive oxygen species which are produced through chronic inflammation.
Here in our place, we give garlic milk to people who are suffering from inflammation and pain and it greatly helps. Garlic has a protective effect on the liver, kidneys and heart and it also greatly helps reduce oxidative stress. Regular use will greatly help improve immunity and will prevent many infections from cancer to common cold so I would highly suggest always stocking garlic at home.
2. Good for Heart Health
In a study, 92 subjects were divided into two groups, one group were given 400 mg of garlic extract and the other group was placebo. At the end of 3 months, LDL cholesterol was greatly reduced in patients who took garlic extract thus greatly improving endothelial biomarkers. Also in a meta-analysis of five studies related to cholesterol and garlic consumption, patients who consumed garlic consistently experienced significant decrease in their total cholesterol levels.
3. Anticancer Properties
We are regularly exposed to various carcinogens in our daily lives in the form of environmental pollution, pesticides and chemicals which can all cause cancer. Certain natural products like garlic inhibits the growth of cancer cells, it does this by diminishing the activation of carcinogens.
Active compounds present in garlic like allyl sulfides prevents the generation of nitrosamines which is a type of carcinogen produced during cooking. Crude garlic extract has been proven to prevent cancer cell proliferation against many cancer cell lines including liver, prostate, breast and colon cell lines. Along with preventing cancer, it also reduces the side effects of anticancer therapies.
4. For Blood Pressure
Garlic is very effective in reducing blood pressure. In a study, 34 subjects with prehypertension and 47 subject with mild hypertension were given either garlic extract or placebo for a period of 12 weeks. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure were monitored regularly during the 12 weeks.
After the 12 weeks, people who were on garlic supplementation experienced significant reduction in systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure compared to placebo. If you are suffering from high blood pressure, I would highly suggest consuming garlic on a regular basis.
5. For Diabetes
Diabetes is becoming one of the most life-threatening chronic diseases and sadly, India is slowly the becoming the diabetic capital of the world. This is because of our sedentary lifestyle and consuming more of processed junk food which increases oxidative stress. The sulphur compounds present in garlic helps improve our antioxidant status thus helping with all markers of diabetes. In a study, consuming 300 mg of garlic supplement a day for 24 weeks greatly improved all metabolic parameters in diabetic patients.
Garlic essential oil also has amazing anti diabetic and blood pressure lowering properties. Garlic oil improves oral glucose tolerance, insulin tolerance and also improves the insulin stimulated utilization of glucose to synthesize glycogen. Along with it, it reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, which are the main reasons for progression of diabetes.
6. Helps With Arthritis
Arthritis which is a degenerative disease of the bones can cause chronic pain and inflammation. Garlic, due to its powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties helps reduce the pain and inflammation if consumed on a regular basis.
In a study, 80 postmenopausal overweight women who suffer from osteoarthritis were divided into two groups. One group received garlic tablets twice daily or placebo for a period of 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, the woman who took garlic experienced significant reduction in pain and inflammation.
7. Anti Fungal & Anti Bacterial & Insecticidal Properties:
Garlic has amazing anti fungal properties and is especially used for treating candida albicans. In a research, more than 90 % of the candida cells were killed after using garlic oil. The effect is dosage dependent and you can read the study that proves it here.
Garlic also has amazing anti bacterial properties and is especially effective for treating Helicobater Pylori which is one of the main reasons for chronic gastritis, gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers. All vegetables that have high allium content are effective for treating Helicobacter pylori and all forms of garlic including garlic oil are very effective.
Garlic oil has insecticidal properties and has been proven to be effective in getting rid of many insects including meal worms (it is effective against larva, pupa and adult), mosquitoes (Culex Pipiens & Culex Restuans). At home, we can add few drops of garlic essential oil to a cup of water and take it in a spray bottle and use it as an effective insecticide.
9. Anti Obesity Properties:
Garlic has amazing cholesterol lowering properties and anti obesity properties and this has been proven to be true of garlic oil too. Here in our village, it is a traditional practice to consume garlic rasam for reducing excessive fat and we use both garlic and garlic oil extensively. A study done on rats for 60 days has shown significant fat loss in the group that consumed garlic oil regularly, you can read the study here.
10. Disinfectant For Dental Instruments:
Another amazing use of garlic oil is its disinfectant properties, it is an amazing disinfectant for instruments used in dental procedures. Usually due to high risk of contamination, single use dental instruments are becoming the norm all over the world.
But in countries like India where cost is a big factor, the instruments are sterilized and used again and again. What amazes me is just adding a few drops of garlic essential oil to the water that the instruments are washed prevents most of oral microorganisms. You can read the study that proves it here.
11. Garlic For Ear Infections:
Garlic oil is one of the best home remedies for ear infections. In our home, garlic oil is the go to remedy for ear infections. When I was younger, whenever I suffered from ear infections, my mother used to fry garlic in unrefined coconut oil till a nice aroma wafts. Then using a piece of cotton, she used to apply just a drop or two in my infected ear. Within a few minutes of applying garlic oil, I will usually feel better, this is due to garlic oil’s anti microbial properties. But please don’t apply garlic oil if the inner drum is perforated.
12. Garlic For Skin & Hair Problems:
Garlic has amazing anti inflammatory and anti bacterial properties making it one of the best ingredients to use for skin care. It is widely used for treating many skin problems including wounds, denture stomatitis (mouth ulcers) and warts. Here in our village, we apply garlic oil to treat wounds and it helps heal the wounds very fast.
When we apply raw garlic on the skin, it might cause burns in some people so I would always suggest using garlic oil than raw garlic. Few drops of garlic essential oil mixed with a carrier oil can be used for treating acne effectively, it will reduce the inflammation and will help both treat and prevent acne. Garlic oil also can be used to treat many skin problems like warts, athletes foot, foot odour, ring worm, itching and psoriasis. To use, mix garlic essential oil with a base oil and apply on the affected area.
Garlic also treats almost all the scalp problems, it is an amazing home remedy for dandruff and itchy scalp. It arrests hair loss and greatly helps in hair growth too. At home, we make a garlic hair oil using garlic, peppercorns, dried ginger and cumin seeds for using as a pre shampoo treatment. It treats almost all scalp problems and helps promote hair growth.
Garlic Side Effects:
The main side effect of consuming garlic is bad breath and if consumed in excess, it can cause stomach irritation and heart burn so always have it in moderation. When taking it in capsule form, you should practice caution.
Garlic oil capsules can cause garlic burps which normally occurs to many people for an hour or two after consuming it. For some people, garlic oil capsules might cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea and hearth burn too.
Garlic breath is also another problem when consuming garlic oil capsules. Garlic oil capsules might interfere with certain drugs so if you are on any medication please mention it to your physician before consuming garlic oil capsules regularly. When using garlic essential oil, never use it directly on the skin or scalp, always mix it with a base oil before using else it might cause burns.
I love garlic and consume a lot of it when added to dishes but I usually don’t go beyond 5 grams which is also the general suggested amount and it has never caused me any problems. Always use garlic essential oil mixed with a carrier oil for external applications and for internal consumption, I would suggest using plain garlic or garlic oil capsules. For using externally, usually 1 to 2 % dilution of garlic essential oil with base oil is recommended, I would suggest starting with 1 % dilution. For internal consumption of garlic oil capsules, the recommended dosage is one 5000 mg capsule per day.
5 Top Ways To Use Garlic For Hair, Skin & Health
1. For Acne:
Garlic essential oil can be used in face packs that treat acne. For making the face pack, take a tbsp of multani mitti also called fullers earth in a bowl. Add in 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder and 3 drops of garlic essential oil to it. Now add rice water to form a thick but spreadable paste. This pack is amazing for reducing acne and inflammation, it also helps prevent further breakouts.
2. For Ear Infection:
For treating ear infections, I would suggest using garlic oil made by boiling the crushed garlic in olive oil or coconut oil. At home, we use coconut oil. Once garlic changes color slightly, remove from fire, let cool and strain. Take a small piece of cotton, dip in this mixture and squeeze out excess. Now squeeze in just a drop or two of this mixture in the infected ear. You will find the pain subsiding quickly but please don’t use this remedy if the inner ear is perforated.
3.For Hair Regrowth & Hair Fall:
Garlic when used as a hair treatment arrests hair fall and promotes fast hair regrowth. The ingredients needed for making garlic hair treatment are sesame oil, cumin seeds, dry ginger, black pepper and garlic. To make the oil, pound garlic and dry ginger. Heat sesame oil in an iron pan and add all the ingredients and fry till they turn golden brown. Switch off and strain. Use it to massage your hair scalp. You can find the video recipe here.
4. For Joint Pain:
Garlic infused oil can be used as a massage oil for joint pain. For the remedy you can either use garlic essential oil or garlic infused oil but garlic essential oil will be more effective as it is more concentrated. For the remedy, take a cup of unrefined coconut oil in a cup. Add 10 drops of garlic essential oil and mix well. Now massage gently on the affected area, this will help reduce the inflammation and pain greatly.
5. For Warts:
Garlic is effective for getting rid of warts too but when we apply raw garlic on the warts, we have to be careful that it does not touch the remaining skin as it can cause burns in some people. When we use garlic in the form of garlic oil, it is very very safe and helps get rid of the wart fast. To use garlic oil for removing warts, mix 3 drops of garlic essential oil in a tsp of coconut oil and using a cotton bud, apply on the wart two times a day till it falls off.