sandra muyambo.jpgA certain seventy year old Chinese Chief hosted a birthday party and invited many guests. His son gave him a present and said ‘Daddy, may God give you thirty more years’. The Chief responded, ‘Son, do you want me to die at hundred years?’

 

With the difficult task of imagining his father dying, the son replied ‘sorry father, may you live for a thousand years.’

 

This little story from across oceans has a simple message. Though we all know that we will die, none of us wants to die, or imagine our beloved dead. The fear of death has driven mankind into the study of medicine. In all fairness, just like the Chinese Chief, if it was possible, most of us would choose to live for a thousand years. But we can not and all we can try to do is to live longer. But how can we live longer? The mere mention of the word medicine will bring many reactions some positive and some negative while others will obviously picture astronomical hospital bills. But did you know that many diseases can be prevented by using the ordinary material around us.

 

It seems quite a large number of people are ignorant of the medicinal powers possessed by some plants such as garlic which has proven to be an effective and economical immune booster. But above all it is unbeknown to many, a cheap and effective natural mosquito repellent that could save thousands of lives who succumb to malaria.

 

garlic.jpgGarlic (scientific name Allium sativum) is a species in the onion family and has been used throughout history for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The garlic plant’s bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant. With the exception of the single clove types, the bulb is divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves. Garlic has long been considered a herbal “wonder drug”, with a reputation in folklore for preventing everything from the common cold and flu to the Plague! It indeed has scientifically proven medicinal properties and has been used extensively in herbal medicine.

 

Mosquito repellant
There is a long history of using garlic to get rid of many insects, from slug to mosquito. Garlic has a reputation for protecting people from mosquito bites and some think that this could be the origin of the mythic belief that vampires are scared of garlic.

 

It’s not clear why garlic should be an effective natural mosquito repellent but it seems the powerful compounds such as allicin, which garlic releases are hostile to mosquitoes.

 

Another possibility is that the strong smell of garlic overwhelms the mosquito’s sense of smell and prevents them from finding their prey (us!).

 

A local medical expert, Dr. Johns Mombeyarara says there is a component in garlic which makes mosquitoes unconscious. So while the mosquitoes sleep, one can also enjoy his sleep!

 

There is strong anecdotal evidence that simply consuming more garlic can help to prevent mosquito bites. It seems people are also not aware of the fact that if you eat large amounts of garlic, it actually seeps out through the pores of your skin. Some people think that this invisible layer of garlic oil might create a natural barrier cream and any mosquito which finds you will think twice before taking a bite.

 

The question which immediately comes is, if it is true that garlic can be an effective mosquito repellant, why is it not widely used?

 

Garlic’s ability to repel a variety of pests has been proven scientifically though its effects against mosquitoes specifically, is less well documented, however and there is much subjective evidence to support it.

 

Garlic repellents exist in other countries in the form of commercial garlic sprays and these effectively coat an area and produce a natural mosquito barrier. Garlic is more effective at repelling some species of mosquitoes than others and for this reason; many of the commercial preparations available include a number of different repellent ingredients such as catnip and soy as well as garlic.

 

Some experts say coating the body with a jelly based compound including garlic can keep mosquitoes away for some time. Whilst the method can be effective against bites, it has fairly major side effects. The allicin in garlic is very strong and can result in skin problems and allergic reactions.

 

Acne Treatment
“Garlic is a veritable pharmacopeia. That’s why garlic has been found in every medical book of every culture ever. For thousands of years, garlic had been used for the treatment and prevention of disease,” says Dr. Hebert Pierson of the United States National Cancer Institute.

 

It is thus not surprising that raw garlic is used by some to treat the symptoms of acne and there is some evidence that it can assist in managing high cholesterol levels. It is also now part of the herbal repertoire for people living with HIV and AIDS.

In general, a stronger tasting clove of garlic has more sulphur content and hence more medicinal value.  Some have suggested that organically grown garlic has a higher sulphur level and hence greater benefit to health.

 

But how about the garlic-breath which some people might find some offending? The unpleasant breath can only be smelt if one directly chews garlic. To get around this, one can use supplements in the form of pills and capsules which have the advantage of avoiding the garlic- breath. However the availability of these supplements on the local market has not yet been established.

Antibiotic
Modern science has also shown that garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic . The body does not appear to build up resistance to the garlic, so its positive health benefits continue over time and can have a powerful antioxidant effect. Antioxidants can help to protect the body against damaging “free radicals”.

 

Garlic appears to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. The list is long when it comes to plant’s uses as a remedy. This list covers wounds, ulcers, skin infections, flu, athlete’s foot, some viruses, strep, worms, respiratory ailments, high blood pressure, blood thinning, cancer of the stomach, colic, colds, kidney problems, bladder problems, and ear aches, to name a few. 

It is believed to cure worms in both people and animals – try giving the dog a clove of garlic daily (but be sure he is not going to like it).

 

garlic cloves.jpgFor most internal problems, eating garlic raw is probably the most potent way to take it. However, due to the obvious lingering odors associated with this, a tincture can be made by soaking 112 grammes of peeled and separated garlic cloves in 475 millilitres of brandy. Seal tightly and shake every day. Strain and bottle after two weeks of this, and take in drops – 25 to 30 a day, if desired. 

Cough mixture
For cough, flu, and respiratory ailments, make a cough syrup out of garlic. Slice 450 grammes of fresh garlic and pour 950 millilitres of boiling water over it. Let sit for 12 hours and then add sugar until you reach the consistency of a syrup. Add honey for better taste, if desired.

 

For sore throat, make a garlic tea by steeping several cloves of garlic in half a cup of water overnight. Hold your nose and drink it.

 

Ear ointment
Garlic is a known anti-bacterial and anti-infection agent. An interesting use for ear aches is to slice a garlic clove, heat briefly in a small amount of virgin olive oil, and let cool. Then use a drop of two in the affected ear (strain the mixture beforehand, of course).Besides ear ointment, the same garlic oil can be used to relieve tooth ache, wounds, cuts, athlete’s foot, or any other external skin irritation, fungus, or infection. 

 

Flavourant

Garlic is believed to have a myriad of other uses which include cloning, consumption (raw or cooked) and has a characteristic pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking. The leaves, and flowers (bulbils) on the head (spathe) are also edible, and being milder in flavor than the bulbs, they are most often consumed while immature and still tender.

 

It appears though that cooked garlic weakens its anti-bacterial effects so don’t count on cooked garlic with meals for much in the way of a curative.

Are there any side-effects?

Despite its innumerable benefits, garlic however has its side effects. Raw garlic is very strong, so eating too much could produce problems, for example irritation of or even damage to the digestive tract.

 

There are a few people who are allergic to garlic. Symptoms of garlic allergy include skin rash, temperature and headaches. Also, garlic could potentially disrupt anti-coagulants, so it’s best avoided before surgery. As with any medicine, always check with your doctor first and tell your doctor if you are using it.

 

Research has concluded that garlic supplements “can cause a potentially harmful side effects when combined with a type of medication used to treat HIV/AIDS.

 

Garlic makes a wonderful health supplement but the garlic cure is no substitute for the basics: sensible eating and appropriate exercise. Garlic should be seen as part of a healthy lifestyle – not as an alternative to it. Always consult your doctor first regarding any medical condition.

 

We have grown up in the era of so-called wonder drugs. Garlic seems to be perhaps the greatest wonder drug of all. Imagine a single pharmaceutical drug that could prevent heart attacks, reduce cancer risk, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, improve digestion and act as an antibiotic. But the time of wonder drugs happens to be the time of wonder diseases. The best ever advice remains, don’t get sick.