Garlic or Bawang (Allium sativum L.) has been used as a spice, food, and medicine for over 5,000 years, and is one of the earliest documented herbs utilized for the maintenance of health and treatment of disease. Under its name, numerous list of traditional health benefits are claimed. This article discusses these traditional health benefits and provides evidence based studies as support and suggests its proper use and warnings.
Bawang or garlic, is a specie in the onion family Alliaceae. Bawang is a close relative of onion (sibuyas), the shallot, the leek and the chive. Bawang has been used throughout recorded history for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Bawang is a low herb, growing to up to 2 feet high. Bawang is widely popular for its bulbs. Bawang bulbs are broadly ovoid, 2 to 4 cm in diameter, consisting of several cloves. Bawang leaves are linear and flat. Umbels are globose, many flowered. Sepas are oblong, greenish white, slightly tinged with purple.
Bawang has a characteristic pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking. Bawang cloves are used as seed, for consumption (raw or cooked), and for medicinal purposes. The leaves, stems (scape) and flowers (bulbils) on the head (spathe) are also edible and most often consumed while immature and still tender.
Bawang has long been used in traditional medicne by various cultures, Widely known health benefits include the folliwng:
Bawang contains antibacterial compound known as Allicin, Because of this bawang or garlic is known as nature's antibiotic. Bawang juice inhibits the growth of fungi and viruses thus prevents viral yeast and viral infections. Preliminary test shows Bawang to have some positive results in the treatment of AIDS.
The Philippine Department of Health has endorsed Bawang as an alternative herbal medicine for its anti bacterial properties and its efficacy for controlling hypertension, blood cholesterol and blood sugar for diabetics among others.
The following are a number of studies that suggests the medicinal value of bawang in treating various diseases:
A study published in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews tried to determine whether garlic (Allium sativum) is effective for the prevention or treatment of the common cold, when compared to placebo, no treatment or other treatments. Results showed that a single trial suggested that garlic may prevent occurrences of the common cold but more studies are needed to validate this finding. Claims of effectiveness appear to rely largely on poor‐quality evidence.
Allicin, one of the active principles of freshly crushed garlic homogenates, has a variety of antimicrobial activities. Allicin in its pure form was found to exhibit
The main antimicrobial effect of allicin is due to its chemical reaction with thiol groups of various enzymes, e.g. alcohol dehydrogenase, thioredoxin reductase, and RNA polymerase, which can affect essential metabolism of cysteine proteinase activity involved in the virulence of E. histolytica. Source : Microbes and Infection (1999, Feb)
Garlic supplements have shown promise in the treatment of uncontrolled hypertension, lowering blood pressure (BP) by about 10 mmHg systolic and 8 mmHg diastolic, similar to standard BP medication. Hypertension could be alleviated with supplementation of organosulfur compounds derived from garlic Source: Journal of Integrated Blood Pressure Control Hypertension (2014, Jul)
Bawang - Antiinfectious: Antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic. Bawang juice is applied to the afflicted area. Scientifically ajoene 0.4% cream when applied topically, has been found 70% effective in certain dermatologic fungal infections. A 0.6% gel was effective in tinea corporis and tinea cruris.
Bawang - Antiinflammatory and antioxidant activity when included in diet.
Bawang - Hypertension: Bawang when eaten or chewed raw. Studies suggest ingestion of Bawang has beneficial antihypertensive effect but blood-lowering effects probably not dramatic. Other studies show a vascular benefit through improvement of aortic elasticity and possible slowing of the rate of atherosclerosis progression
Bawang - Hyperlipidemia: Bawang eaten or chewed raw is found to lower blood cholesterol. Though still controversial, but probably has beneficial effect on serum cholesterol and LDL levels. Some studies have shown a 4% to 12% lowering of total cholesterol. Bawang seems to have no effect on high density lipoprotein (HDL).
Bawang - Anti-cancer: Bawang is studied to have possible anticarcinogenic properties, specifically for colon, stomach and prostate cancers. In stomach cancers, probably through its inhibitory effect on H. pylori. In epidemiologic studies on stomach and colorectal cancer prevention, the garlic use was 3.5 grams to 30 grams of fresh or cooked garlic per week.
Arthritis, rheumatism, toothaches: Crush several Bawang cloves and rub on affected areas.
Headaches: Crush one Bawang clove and apply to both temples as poultice.
Insect bites: Crush Bawang or cut clove crosswise and rub directly to affected area.
Athlete's foot.Crush Bawang or cut clove crosswise and rub directly to affected area.
Fever, Decoction of boiled Bawang leaves and bulbs set to luke warm and applied to the head and body.
Colds, cough, sore throat, hoarseness, asthma and bronchitis; Nasal congestion steam inhalation of chopped Bawang and a teaspoon of vinegar in boiling water.
Fresh Bawang has been used as a complement herbal medicine to INH therapy for tuberculosis.
Digestive problems and gastrointestinal spasms. drink an infusion of a peeled bawang clove or can also be used as suppository.
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Aviello G, Abenavoli L, Borrelli F, Capasso R, Izzo AA, Lembo F, Romano B, Capasso F. Garlic: empiricism or science? . Nat Prod Commun. 2009;4:1785–1796. [PubMed]
Bakhshi M, Taheri JB, Shabestari SB, Tanik A, Pahlevan R. Comparison of therapeutic effect of aqueous extract of garlic and nystatin mouthwash in denture stomatitis. Gerodontology. 2012;29:e680–684. [PubMed]
Article last reviewed: 10.07.2016