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Garlic is a cousin to onions, leeks, chives, and shallots. A bulb or head of garlic is composed of smaller cloves. It is a root vegetable, with the bulb growing underground.

Garlic is best known as a culinary herb. The medicinal benefits and claims for garlic have awarded it the name "wonder drug among all herbs". Garlic has been used all over the world for thousands of years for a wide range of conditions. Modern day research helps explain the broad applications of this "miracle" herb. Garlic is reported to be more effective than penicillin against typhus disease, and works well against strep, staph bacteria, and the organisms responsible for cholera, dysentery and enteritis.

Most respiratory problems start with a viral infection, a cough, a cold, or a flu. Garlic is helpful in these viral conditions because the oil it contains thins mucous and makes expectoration easier. It acts as a decongestant. It can also be used to prevent the secondary infections some suffer when they get a cough or a cold. A cold turning into bronchitis or a cough turning into sinusitis being two examples. The mucous of a viral infection makes you a sitting duck for a bacterial infection. Bacteria love to grow in mucous. Garlic contains a microbe killer that is excreted into the mucous which makes it a less hospitable place for bacteria. It should be taken at the first sign of a cold and used continuously for a month!

Garlic may even prevent cancer. It strengthens the immune system, helping it to work more efficiently. Garlic can lower cholesterol, prevent dangerous blood clots, reduce blood pressure, and protect against bacterial and fungal infections.

Garlic sales have skyrocketed as garlic has been associated with disease prevention from heart disease, diabetes, infection, and cancer. In 1953, the United States produced about 35 million pounds of garlic. Today, approximately 500 million pounds of garlic are grown in California per year!

When garlic is cut or crushed, an enzyme is released creating a new compound, called allicin, which has been shown to kill 23 types of bacteria, including salmonella and staphylococcus. Garlic is ten times stronger when pushed through a garlic press than when minced fine with a sharp knife.

When garlic is heated, a different compound is formed that can prevent arteries from clogging, and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The blood-thinning quality of garlic may also be helpful in preventing heart attacks and strokes.

In World War I, garlic was used to fight typhus and dysentery and in World War II, British physicians treating battle wounds with garlic reported total success in warding off septic poisoning and gangrene when garlic was applied to wounds.

The slaves who built the Great Pyramids at Giza, ate garlic to prolong their physical strength. Garlic is best stored in a cupboard or pantry in a terra-cotta jar with holes in the sides. Stored this way it can last six months.

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