Garlic (Allium sativa ), is a plant with long, flat grasslike leaves and a papery hood around the flowers. The greenish white or pink flowers are found grouped together at the end of a long stalk. The stalk rises directly from the flower bulb, which is the part of the plant used as food and medicine. The bulb is made up of many smaller bulbs covered with a papery skin known as cloves. Although garlic is known as the “stinking rose” it is actually a member of the lily family.
The most active components of fresh garlic are an amino acid called alliin and an enzyme called allinase. When a clove of garlic is chewed, chopped, bruised, or cut, these compounds mix to form allicin, which is responsible for garlic’s strong smell. Allicin, in turn, breaks down into other sulfur compounds within a few hours. These compounds have a variety of overlapping healing properties.
Garlic also contains a wide range of trace minerals. These include copper, iron, zinc, magnesium , germanium, and selenium . The integrity of the growers and suppliers of garlic are important to the integrity of the garlic used. A soil rich with the presence of trace minerals will produce a healthful bulb of garlic, full of those minerals. Depleted soils produce a depleted product. In addition, garlic contains many sulfur compounds, vitamins A and C, and various amino acids.