Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Evidence that garlic was used medicinally has been found in Egyptian pyramids and ancient Greek ruins, it even gets a mention in the Bible and it’s still as popular today as it ever was.
Originating in Middle Asia, garlic has origins reaching as far back as around 2000 BC when the Sumerians are thought to have introduced garlic to China. Recognising the many benefits of the herb, it quickly became one of the most used herbal remedies in Ancient China. However, it wasn’t only the Chinese who realised the medicinal value of the pungent bulbs. Ancient Greek physician, Dioscorides, noted back in the first century AD, the value of garlic as a medicinal herb. Adding it to his Materia Medica with the note, “it doth clear the arteries” indicating early on its benefits toward cardiovascular health.
During the Middle Ages when, unfortunately, plagues were a fact of life, garlic was often used as a preventative agent providing protection against diseases and other infections. The Egyptians were familiar with the wonders of garlic, giving it to their slaves to keep them strong and capable of doing the arduous work required of them.
Highly sought after for both culinary and medicinal use, its variety of uses throughout the ages have ranged from the quite bizarre to simply delicious. Although the use of garlic for keeping away vampires and bad spirits might be a little hard to substantiate, there’s no denying the health benefits of garlic.
Garlic, like many plants, naturally contains a multitude of active constituents. Cleverly one of these constituents provides the plant with its own self-defence system. Once fresh garlic has been cut, crushed or chewed by insects, it produces a substance called allicin. Allicin is responsible for the distinct smell that we associate with garlic and insects hate it, so they tend to leave the plant alone. Allicin has many health benefits however it is relatively unstable, so levels will begin to decline quickly once it is exposed to air, along with any health benefits that may be associated with it.
Fresh garlic may be quite unpalatable to some, whereas others may find garlic breath socially limiting so raw garlic may not always be a convenient option.
Fortunately, we don’t all have to suffer from garlic breath in order to reap the benefits of garlic, there is an alternative to fresh garlic called Aged Black Garlic. Aged Black Garlic is a form of garlic that has undergone a unique extraction and ageing process in which the temperature and humidity are controlled over a specific period of time. This process results in an odourless garlic extract which is full of beneficial compounds such as S-Allyl-Cysteine (SAC). SAC is an antioxidant-rich amino acid which is very stable and has been found to play a major role in the myriad of health benefits attributed to garlic. SAC is found in abundance in Aged Black Garlic providing many health benefits including cardiovascular support, maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels and immune-enhancing properties.
All in all, garlic is a powerful plant that has stood the test of time, so if you just need a bit of immune support during cold and flu season or your cardiovascular health needs attention, try garlic.