Garlic, a brief overview

Garlics’ proper  title is Allium sativum ,  the most pungent member of the onion tribe. It has been used for more than 6 centuries for healing and culinary purposes, across many cultures.

Its’ effects on health are many & various .
   To quote Andrew Weil M.D.,  (Associate Director of the program in Integrative Medicine – Uni of Arizona):
   “ It lowers blood pressure, cholesterol levels & triglycerides,  while increasing the HDL fraction of total cholesterol & reducing susceptibility of LDL cholesterol to oxidize.
    Also reduces the clotting tendency of blood by inhibiting the readiness of platelets to aggregate
    It acts as an antiseptic & antibiotic, & enhances activity of the immune system.” ( SPONTANEOUS HEALING p. 173)

And Penny Woodward tells us in her book GARLIC and FRIENDS that it acts as a fibrinolytic agent, has shown to be beneficial in cases of dysentery, also fungus & moulds (eg, thrush)

Contra-indication – may slightly irritate skin; not recommended if there is a bleeding disorder, ulcers, or if anticoagulants are being administered

recommended dose per day – : 1-3 cloves.

Research is revealing that cooked garlic has a different effect to raw garlic, though some experts put all their faith in the raw product.

You would be aware that heat changes the chemistry but just how this translates to health benefits in the garlic, is the subject of a study in USA  at Houstons’ MDAnderson Hospital. There is a disparity of allicin levels in garlic from different countries, &   at different ages of the bulbs. More research is needed re pharmaceutical benefits regarding this.

Study of cultures in some Meditterranean countries has shown that, where raw garlic is consumed as an every-day item, there is less cardio-vascular disease.
Some say that, if it doesn’t stink, it doesn’t work! ( its’ other name is “The Stinking Rose!”)

Best way to avoid the smell that results when garlic is bruised or crushed- the smell arising from the process that gives it its medicinal properties –
crush , mix with a half-glass of orange juice, apple cider/ apple cider vinegar, milk or water . Drink it down without chewing the garlic.
Or – crush, stir into thick yoghurt or cottage cheese (delicious with the addition of a little tahini paste & lemon juice)
Or-  eat with an apple
Or- chew  a few leaves of parsley  afterwards
Or- go for capsules;  up to 3 per day , strength of at least 5,000 milligrams of allicin.

Garlic also makes a great garden spray: mixed with kerosene, chili & soap. I use it against aphids, cabbage moths & caterpillars, slugs & wireworms; also checks mildew.

Season for fresh garlic

Australian garlic is harvested from November, to January  depending on the location & the variety.  (It is being grown in most states now & as consumers’ awareness grows, we want to see  research into the following:
a.  differing levels of allicin according to location & climate,
b.  different tastes,by region,  like wine

Some varieties are early , some late, this extends the harvest. It will keep, if dried & stored properly, several months.
If growing yourself –  leave to ‘cure’ , ie dry out, in plaits, or topped & tailed & spread out in thin layer for a few weeks  Atmosphere  should be dry & cool –  temperature of ten degrees is ideal.   There are excellent & reliable seed mail order companies in Australia that sell several varieties, both organic & non-organic, for the home grower,

Garlic is a very ‘hands-on’ crop to grow!  But a good & satisfying one.

Imported garlic has out-priced the local product for many years, but we are clawing our way back.. We hope to achieve  international co-operation in the future.

Storage methods – NEVER in oil! Lack of any acidity may lead to development of botulism – ok in the frig for a few days but that’s it.
Can be dried in a dehydrator, or frozen (best crushed first as texture of the whole clove is compromised: Flavour does change- experiment with a little first) . Can also be pickled in vinegar. Some studies show that the action of garlic is enhanced by pickling.

A word on Australian Garlic production

We currently produce less than 2% of the world total. But this is set to change due to some promising research -  early days, but it looks like Australian garlic just might turn out to have higher levels of allicin than that of other countries.

And Aussie consumers are discovering that Aussie garlic has more pungency, & tastes better. Heres’ hoping that the research turns out to prove that it is also better for their health!

The growers who are members of the Aust, Garlic Industry Association, believe that we have a superior product,  & we are proud of it.


NSW Government Department of Primary Industries
Andrew Veil MD – SPONTANEOUS HEALING published by Warner Books
Dr Linda White & Steven Foster – THE HERBAL DRUGSTORE published by Rodale
Penny Woodward -  GARLIC and FRIENDS- Hyland Publisher Australia  (American Botanical Council) (Gourmet Garlic Gardens) (Diggers Seeds, Dromana Vic)