Garlic is a herb widely used in cooking, and it has been used since long time ago to treat and prevent a wide range of diseases. It belongs to the onion genus, and it was used in Ancient Egypt for cooking and its health and therapeutic benefits.
Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician known today as the father of Western medicine, promoted the use of garlic for treating parasites, poor digestion and respiratory problems. In Ancient Greece, the Olympic athletes were given garlic as the earliest example of performance enhancer used in sports.
Garlic spread from Ancient Egypt to the ancient civilizations of Indus Valley (Western India and Pakistan today) and it made its way to China. Throughout history, in East Asia, Nepal and Middle East, garlic has been used to treat hypertension, bronchitis, tuberculosis, dysentery, intestinal worms, fevers, diabetes and rheumatism.
It is interesting that several cultures in history that never contacted each other had almost the same conclusion about the therapeutic benefits of garlic. The National Library of Medicine, USA, revealed that garlic is used as well for several conditions related to the heart and blood system such as high cholesterol, coronary heat disease and heart attack.
We cannot overlook its use today for the prevention of prostate cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and rectal cancer; some of these uses are supported by science. It is noteworthy that the anti- inflammatory effects of fresh raw garlic are reduced by the short- term heating, and this may be a problem for those who cannot tolerate the taste and odor of fresh garlic.
A good substitute for such people is garlic oil or supplements that have not been exposed to too much heat. According to research, people who eat raw garlic at least twice a week have a significant lower risk of getting lung cancer.