Why Garlic Might be a Winter Cold-Buster

Garlic is one of the most widely used plants in human history, with wide-ranging health benefits that date back to the pharaohs and many other ancient cultures, such as the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Babylonians, and Chinese civilizations. 

Garlic contains compounds with potent beneficial properties that can boost the immune system, help maintain blood pressure already within a normal range, and support healthy cholesterol levels. Garlic also has potent antioxidant properties and promotes detoxification processes in the body. This spicy herb is grown around the world and is commonly used for conditions relating to the cardiovascular system. However, new research shows that garlic may be more effective than we ever realized for promoting a healthy immune response. 

Currently, garlic is one of the cornerstones of the popular, heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, which is perhaps one of the world’s healthiest diets. The beneficial effects of garlic may be due in part to garlic’s unusual concentration of sulfur-containing compounds (1-3%). For over a century, some of garlic’s key sulfur compounds called allyl sulfides have been known.  

However, not until 1944 was the chief, highly immune-active compound of garlic discovered: the oxygenated sulfur compound named allicin, derived from the Latin name of the plant, Allium sativum. Allicin is the main active ingredient in garlic and provides superior medicinal properties, including boosting the microbial-fighting response of white blood cells in the body.   

Studies show that garlic can help modulate immune system actions in the body by activating various immune cells to help fight foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Garlic can also act as an immune shield, helping to prevent illness before it even occurs. In addition, garlic can boost recovery times from illnesses and help get you back on your feet quicker.   

This magical herb is a highly nutritious blood pressure refresher that helps manage overall health and wellness as well as providing superior nutrients with very few calories. Garlic has even been found to improve cholesterol levels, which is correlated with helping to lower the risk of heart disease. Really – what can’t garlic do?  

Garlic can be consumed as a supplement or the old-fashioned way, as a garlic clove in a salad. If you want to consume garlic as a supplement, your best bet is to purchase it from a trusted source so you can benefit from the immune-boosting effects of high-quality garlic. 

 

Jenny Perez is an herbal educator, researcher, and writer who has been immersed in the field of nutrition and botanical medicine for more than 20 years. Jenny has created curriculum, content, and educational materials for Quantum Nutrition Labs, Premier Research Labs, the American Botanical Council, and Bastyr University’s Botanical Medicine Department where she was Adjunct Faculty, Herb Garden Manager, and Director of the Holistic Landscape Design certificate program.