I am familiar with one herb in the plant kingdom that has kept people healthy through the centuries. It was used by the Babylonians since the year 3000 B.C. The Egyptians used it to feed their slaves in order to keep them healthy while they built great pyramids. The Vikings filled their ships with this herb when going on long voyages, and the Russians have made it part of their diet for centuries, using it to combat bacterial, yeast and fungal infections. It has been known as “Russian Penicillin.”

In our part of the world, we call this wonder herb garlic. Sometime ago, 50 scientists interested in the effects of garlic on health met at the First World Congress on Health Significance of Garlic and Garlic Constituents. The conferences was organized by I. San Lin, vice president of Nutrition International, located in Irvine, Calif.

As a result of that study, the scientists presented papers on the efficacy of garlic on health. A series of papers revealed how garlic can prevent and lessen the ravages of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Garlic was also reported to have excellent anti-clotting properties, similar to aspirin.

Some investigators reported on the use of garlic to lower blood pressure and to treat certain forms of cancer. Several scientists reported on how garlic can prevent yeast and fungal infections, lower cholesterol and prevent recurrent myocardial infarction and treat sinusitis.

The adverse side effects should also be considered. Garlic has been shown to cause anemia, allergic bronchitis (asthma), stomach ulcers and a decrease in sperm count. In some cultures, the smell of garlic may not be as socially acceptable as in others.

Eating three cloves of garlic daily may chase some of one’s friends away. In fact, the smell of it may not foster an exciting, romantic interlude with a first date. There is, however, an odorless form of garlic known as Kayolic, which has been found to have the same beneficial effects as garlic.

Garlic has been shown to contain 200 different compounds and has a high concentration of selenium, which has been found to have anti-cancer properties.

It is very important to avoid garlic in large amounts if you are pregnant or have a tendency to easily bruise or experience bleeding gums.

If you don’t mind the smell and you want to keep well, add garlic to your diet.