Garlic has quite a reputation. It wards off vampires. It taints fresh breath. And it transforms meals into aromatic culinary experiences.
Recently, garlic has gained fame for yet another of its features-its health-promoting benefits. As a result, the so-called "stinking rose" has become extremely popular. Garlic supplements are currently one of the best-selling herbal supplements in the United States.
While garlic has been a subject of substantial clinical research in the past two decades, knowledge of garlic's medicinal qualities is not a recent phenomenon. Historical Chinese texts from 2,000 BC mentioned its healing properties, while Greek physicians such as Hippocrates and Galen recommended it for a vast array of conditions.
To gain a further appreciation of garlic's health benefits, it is possible to study garlic (as well as other foods and nutrients) through the lens of nutritional astrology. Through this periscope, we can peel away the layers and gain a unique understanding of how garlic can promote wellness.
Mars Rules Garlic
Garlic is ruled by, or associated with, the planet Mars, which also governs the sign Aries and co-rules Scorpio. Mars was the Roman God of War, a brave warrior revered for his courage, strength and leadership. Consequently, the planet Mars is associated with will and ambition, and characterizes the energy required to turn ideas into action.
The name Mars means "bright and burning one," corresponding to this planet's red, fiery color. Garlic certainly reflects this characteristic, as it can ignite both the mouth and stomach. As Nicholas Culpeper, the famed herbalist and astrologer, stated, "(garlic's) heat is very vehement."
Garlic's therapeutic action is attributed to its array of potent phytochemicals, including allicin, alliin, ajeone and diallyl disulfide. These compounds contain sulfur, a mineral that plays important roles in maintaining health. Coincidentally, sulfur is ruled by the planet Saturn, which governs Capricorn, the sign in which Mars is exalted (best expressed).
Garlic, Mars and the Heart
In medical astrology, different body systems and organs are associated with different planets. Mars is considered the secondary ruler of the heart (the Sun is its primary ruler). Scientific research has shown that Mars-ruled garlic may be an important component of a heart-healthy diet.
One way in which garlic may support heart health is through its beneficial effect on blood cholesterol and triglycerides. Elevated levels of these compounds can lead to heart disease by increasing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart attacks. Numerous clinical studies have documented garlic's ability to lower total cholesterol, triglyceride and LDL ("the bad cholesterol") levels, and increase HDL ("the good cholesterol") levels.
Garlic may also promote heart health through addressing other aspects of cardiovascular disease. Studies have suggested that it can lower mildly elevated high blood pressure, improve poor circulation and inhibit platelet aggregation.
Reviewing garlic's potential effects on blood pressure provides additional insight into the nutritional astrology of garlic. High blood pressure can be exacerbated by stress, a psychological and physiologic condition familiar to those whose astrology charts reflect a strongly placed Mars or focused Aries energies. Additionally, one of the ways that the body responds to stress is through the production of hormones secreted by the adrenal glands, which are also ruled by Mars. As you can see, Mars-ruled garlic may help to moderate some of the physiologic effects of Martian/Aries temperaments.
Garlic and Mars-The Great Warriors
As the God of War, Mars was a formidable opponent for any enemy crossing his path. Garlic seems to embody some of these Martian warrior-like qualities by fighting "foreign invaders" with its noted antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal activity. Additionally, studies have noted that people with diets high in garlic consumption have a reduced risk of colon and esophageal cancer (it is interesting to note that Pluto, which co-rules Scorpio with Mars, governs bacteria, viruses, fungi and cancer).
How to Use Garlic
Garlic's therapeutic action is concentrated when it is in its raw form. Ironically, Martian fire actually reduces garlic's therapeutic value. Heat destroys the enzyme responsible for converting the compound alliin to its active form allicin, one of garlic's most important phytochemicals. Many nutritionally-oriented healthcare practitioners recommend that people eat about one clove a day for health and wellness.
If you can't stomach the idea of eating raw garlic, you can use "odor-free" garlic supplements. To attain the maximum benefit, it is important to purchase supplements whose ingredient profile closely resembles that of raw garlic. It is recommended to use a supplement that is standardized for "allicin potential." Many health experts recommend a therapeutic daily dose approximating between 2,000-5,000 mcg allicin, depending on the reason for use.
It is important to always consult a licensed healthcare provider if you are thinking of using garlic or other dietary supplements to treat any health condition. Additionally, you should tell your healthcare provider about all of the dietary supplements that you are taking so that s/he can evaluate any potential drug-supplement interactions.