For most people garlic is eaten only in small quantities so is more important for its great taste than nutritional value. However, recent research has reported that garlic has the ability to reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood, a property attributed to the sulphur containing substance, allicin. Garlic is also supposed to be a natural antiseptic and to cure colds. Related to the onion, garlic is a small bulb consisting of "cloves". The cloves should be peeled prior to using. The leaves are grass like and the flower rises from a single central stem. When harvesting or purchasing bulbs, they should be white to off white / light yellow and firm. Avoid bulbs which are mushy or soft. Garlic may be used in many forms such as fresh, dried, processed into supplements and cooking. Actions / Properties: Internally - antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anthelmintic, antiseptic, antiviral, hypotensive-vasodilator, cholagogue, antispasmodic, decreases blood cholesterol, increases HDL, anti-atheromatic, PAF antagonist, increases fibrinolytic activity, hypoglycemic, expectorant, diaphoretic, antioxidant, antitumour, antineoplastic, antimutagenic, diuretic, carminative, emmenagogue. Topcal Uses - antimicrobial, antifungal, expectorant Flavored oils can add excitement to salads, marinades and sauces but infused oils have the potential to support the growth of Clostridium (C.) botulinum. Although the oil by itself does not pose a risk for botulism, the trendy addition of vegetables, herbs and fruits to oils, to make an oil infusion, can make this product potentially unsafe. Vegetables, herbs, and fruits are likely to have some degree of soil contamination, especially those that grow on or under the ground. Soil contamination introduces the possibility that C botulinum spores may be added as an unwelcome ingredient in a recipe. If the produce is put into an anaerobic environment, such as a container of oil, Botulism Toxin can be produced and botulism may result upon consumption. Several cases of botulism involving garlic-in-oil preparations brought this hazard to light in the 1980's. In 1985, Vancouver, BC, 37 people got botulism from a garlic-in-oil preparation. This was followed by a 1988 laboratory investigation into the survival of and toxin production by C botulinum in garlic-in-oil preparations. In 1989, 3 people in Kingston, NY, became ill, also from a garlic-in-oil infusion. Thus, in 1989 the FDA issued a ruling, ordering the removal from store shelves of all commercial garlic-in-oil preparations that lacked an acidifying agent, followed by a mandate requiring the addition of an acidifying agent (such as phosphoric or citric acid) to all commercial garlic-in-oil preparations. Acid prevents the growth of the C botulinum, so any spores that might be present in an infusion will not be able to flourish and produce toxin. The acid must be added as the recipe is being prepared. Are people aware of the slight, but deadly risk presented when these oil infusions are not prepared properly? Consumers need to understand the potentially life-threatening hazard of oil infusions. Oil infusion recipes can still be tasty and safe as long as the following precautions are clearly stated and adhered to: Wash all soil-contaminated produce before adding it to an oil infusion, Add an acidifying agent such as lemon juice or vinegar to the recipe at the rate of one tablespoon per cup of oil, Keep oil infusions refrigerated in order to retard the growth of any microbes, Discard infusions after one week, or sooner if apparent cloudiness, gas bubbles, or foul odor develop and, When in doubt, throw it out.