New scientific studies have revived interest yet again in the power of garlic. A recent study, an analysis of the results of 300 research projects, proved that frequent consumption of this aromatic bulb not only scares away vampires but also reduces the risk of stomach cancer by half and the possibility of colon cancer by 66%.
This analysis was carried out by the University of North Carolina. What it really deals with is a "meta-analysis": a computer program combined the results of diet and cancer studies that were carried out in countries such as China, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United States. "We have come to the conclusion that the therapeutic properties of this bulb have been scientifically proven," summed up Lenore Arab, professor in the School of Public Health at the university.
Some time ago, studies were carried out to legitimize garlic as an effective prevention agent. Almost all of them were based on comparing, during a period of no less than 10 years, diets high in garlic with diets that didn't normally include garlic (around 60,000 volunteers were gathered in the United States alone). This meticulous analysis observed that, barring specific risk factors (diets with an excess of fats or genetic predisposition), people who consumed garlic were more protected against diseases.
To sum up, garlic prevents or aids in the treatment of (no doctor assures that garlic alone is sufficient) the following conditions:
- stomach cancer
- colon cancer
- high cholesterol
- respiratory disorders
- joint problems
- high blood pressure
- bacterial infections
In fact, the authors of the study believe that garlic's anti-carcinogenic properties in the case of the stomach come from its antibacterial effect: garlic attacks Helicobacter pylori bacteria which can cause the appearance of cancer.
Alongside these conclusions, another scientific team found the key answer to how this bulb prevents so many things. Scientists from the Institute of Weizman in Jerusalem discovered the molecular mechanism that is behind some of garlic's therapeutic effects. They achieved this by using a biotechnological procedure to produce large quantities of pure allicin, the active biological component of garlic.
Thus, in the laboratory they were able to observe how this substance kills bacteria and rids the body of other attacking agents.
Loved by the poet Virgil and hated by Shakespeare, garlic overcame social rejection caused by its strong smell, and earned a privileged place in recipes from many countries all over the world. Originally from Asia, garlic can be cooked whole, or chopped into slices by using a razorblade (as seen in the movie "Goodfellas" when the mafia prepares a marvelous dinner while they are in jail), or it can be used in the form of powder or dehydrated cloves.
Doctors say that garlic won't lose any of its properties when moderately cooked; and when combined with its close relative the onion (both belong to the family of herbaceous plants), its therapeutic effect becomes stronger.
Garlic has been used as an herbal remedy ever since the Sumerians discovered it 5,000 years ago. Although today it appears in the pans of many famous chefs, it used to be considered a plebeian condiment. That's why the Ancient Egyptians would feed it to their slaves constructing the pyramids, so they would be strong and healthy at least until they finished their work. A basic seasoning in Provence, pesto and a good salsa, it only has one negative: the bad breath it produces. But kisses aside, scientists now have a new challenge. In different laboratories, they are researching ways to synthesize the basic substances that make up garlic with the means of making more effective medicines.
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