Bear garlic has been used in folk medicine for a very long time. Although common garlic has many positive properties, its bear counterpart may have even more beneficial effects on the work of the human body.
Where does bear garlic occur?
Bear garlic is otherwise known as gypsy garlic. Some people call it witches' onion. It grows wild in forests throughout Europe. It is also found in some parts of Asia. In Poland it grows in areas of the Kampinos Forest, Bieszczady and Białowieża Forest.
What are the characteristics of bear garlic?
Bear garlic is characterized by its long lanceolate leaves. They reach lengths of up to 20-50 centimeters. It is these leaves that are the most beneficial part of bear garlic for humans. Besides, bear garlic is characterized by a narrow long onion. It is smooth at the beginning, and during flowering, a jagged fibrous mass is formed from it. Garlic also has flowers and fruits.
Development of bear garlic
Bear garlic blooms around April to June. It blooms most intensively in May. The flowers are pollinated by flies and bumblebees. Fruits and seeds are produced in June and July. The seeds usually germinate after 14 months from November to April.
Features of bear garlic
The plant has a garlic-like smell. It is poisonous to some mammals including dogs. It contains the essential oil ursalin and ascorbic acid. The herb contains glycosidic flavonoids, phenolic compounds and lectins. Onion is full of polysaccharides and fatty acids. Bear garlic is high in magnesium, manganese and iron. It also has a high amount of adenosine.
Bear garlic under protection
Bear garlic is listed in the books of endangered species in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus. Since 2004 it has been under partial species protection in Poland, as it is considered a receding species. It was included in the Red List of plants and fungi in Poland in 2006. Threats to bear garlic include conversion of mixed forests to coniferous forests, destruction of habitats in riparian forests during river regulation and improper forest management. Bear garlic is included in the plant species under partial protection according to the Regulation of the Minister of Environment of 9 October 2014 "On the protection of plant species". It can only be harvested by entities that have received permission to do so.
Properties of bear garlic
Bear garlic has many properties. This is mainly because its leaves contain many active ingredients like allicin, sulfur compounds, chlorophyll and flavonoids. This makes bear garlic good for the human body. It helps in many ways, which is supported by scientific evidence. First of all, it supports the work of the digestive system. It is a support for gastrointestinal problems. The extract of bear garlic reduces the tension of the terminal small intestine. It also helps to get rid of parasites from the digestive system. Bear garlic is also recommended for cholesterol problems, helps to regulate blood pressure, supports immunity, and with it you can maintain healthy joints. It also supports liver function. The ingredients in bear garlic help detoxify the body by neutralizing heavy metals and other lingering toxins.
Bear garlic - what else does it help with?
Bear garlic has been used as an anti-scurvy herb. It improves digestion, has an antibacterial effect, and prevents cardiovascular disease. It can also be used for respiratory ailments, treating wounds, chronic skin diseases and colds. It also soothes rheumatic pains. It is even said that it can prevent malignant tumors. It prevents atherosclerosis and stimulates the secretion of gastric juice and bile, as well as mucus in the bronchi. It is used for cysticercosis.
Edible and ornamental plant
Bear garlic can be classified as both an edible and an ornamental plant. All parts of this plant are edible. They have a distinctive garlic flavor. It is strongest when the plant is fresh. When cooked or dried, the aroma weakens. The leaves are usually eaten, but the flowers and fruits can also be eaten. The flowers have a sharper taste than the leaves and the fruits have the sharpest. They can be used as a garnish for dishes. Garlic leaves are best harvested before they bloom, in March or April. They can be eaten raw or cooked. They can also be used to make pesto or added to soup, risotto, ravioli, yellow cheese and cottage cheese. Onions can be used like the common garlic. The juice of bear garlic is used in weight loss diets. The leaves can be pickled.
Bear garlic and supplements
Bear garlic is available at the pharmacy in several forms. These include bulk herbs, lotions for external use, capsules and tablets. Garlic should not be taken by people who have stomach or duodenal ulcers. You should also be careful if you are pregnant or taking anticoagulants.
Now is the best time to plant winter garlic. I usually buy it online, because it's more cost-effective then for a smaller amount I manage to get a lot of it. Sometimes in the shipment comes garlic in cloves, and sometimes in heads. When it is whole, I separate it into individual cloves. I make holes in the ground deep for my index finger and insert one clove at a time, with the pointed part facing up. Roughly at the distance of the hands from each other, but sometimes closer at the most in the spring I tear out the weakest to make more room for the others. In the same way I plant winter varieties of spring onions. And in shady places under trees and bushes in a similar way, but close together, I plant bear garlic.