Ayurveda, Foods and Spices: Garlic

Garlic. Such a mixed bag! Many people can’t imagine a meal without it. Others find it overwhelmingly strong and avoid it at all costs. Garlic has huge health benefits, and yet it can dull or overstimulate the mind. It is cleansing and yet can be too heating for pitta.
Let’s explore garlic a bit further. The Sanskrit name for garlic is “rashona,” meaning “lacking one taste” because it contains all six tastes except the sour taste (the other five tastes include sweet, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent). Garlic has been used as a folk remedy for ages, treating flatulence, worms, parasites, infections, dysentery, food poisoning, Candida albicans, and more. It has the ability to remove pathogenic bacteria without depleting the body’s natural flora. 
Garlic also has a strong effect on the lungs; it’s a great cold remedy, it strongly decongests, and is an effective expectorant. Garlic enhances immunity and removes pathogens. It has a beneficial effect on the heart and can help lower cholesterol and reduce clotting. It is a circulatory stimulant, and warms the body (but use caution with pitta!). Garlic can be used externally as a paste or oil, and is effective for fungal infections, ringworm, and ear infections.
However, garlic is considered by some to be “tamasic” (dulling to the mind) and by others to be “rajasic” (overstimulating to the mind). Either way, it does not promote “sattva” (clarity of mind), so for those of you practicing a sattvic or yogic lifestyle, garlic may not be your best choice except when utilized as medicine. It is best suited for vata and kapha, but is generally too heating for pitta.
By Dr. Marisa Jackson-Kinman, CAS, PKS, AYT, faculty at the California College of Ayurveda