Garlic is a hardy bulbous perennial having narrow flat leaves.
Garlic is a hardy bulbous perennial having narrow flat leaves. The plant bears small white flowers and bulbils and the bulb comprises 6 to 30 smaller bulblets called `cloves`. The bulb remains surrounded by a thin white or pinkish papery sheath. Garlic has a stronger flavour in comparison to onion or its other allies. Garlic requires well-drained, moderately clayey and argillaceous soil and a high elevation (900 to 1200 meters) to grow properly. It also requires a cool moist period during its growth and a relatively dry period during the maturing of crop. Usually, Garlic takes about 4 to 5 months to mature. It is grown as a late season irrigated crop.
Garlic has many uses. It is mostly used for culinary purposes and people all over the world use it as a condiment for different food items. In India and other Asian countries, it is used in several food preparations like chutneys, pickles, curry powders, curried vegetables, meat preparations, tomato ketchup, etc. The raw garlic can also be used in the manufacturing of garlic powder, garlic salt, garlic vinegar, garlic cheese croutons, garlic potato chips, garlic bread, etc.
Besides the culinary usages, garlic is also well known for having numerous valuable medicinal properties. Garlic is considered one of the oldest medicines in the world and is used in making remedies for various ailments and physiological disorders. According to the traditional Indian medication Ayurveda, Garlic is one of the most effective antimicrobial herbs, as it has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anthelmintic and antiseptic properties. The Unani medicine describes garlic as carminative and as a gastric stimulant. It can aid in digestion and absorption of food and is also given in flatulence. In modern Allopathic treatment, garlic is used in a number of patented medicines and other preparations. The active principle in garlic is an antibiotic named allicin. Garlic is used in treatment of the diseases like running cold, saliva formation, chronic bronchitis, respiratory catarrh, whooping cough, bronchitic asthma, influenza, chronic diarrhea, pulmonary tuberculosis, rheumatism, impotence, etc. It can also fight infection, reduce cholesterol, protect against heat diseases and stroke, control diabetes, and prevent cancer.
Many people in India often avoid using garlic even for medicinal purposes. The main reason is that, garlic has repulsive odour. However, preparing odourless garlic powder is not tough and can be done by inactivating the enzyme alliance in garlic. There are some side effects of garlic, as well. Consuming large amounts of garlic can cause heartburn, especially during pregnancy. If left in contact with skin of mucous membranes, fresh garlic can also cause local irritation and ulceration.