Garlic can be your new best ally for the oncoming, bug-ridden months of winter.
In more ways than one.
A bit of personal history: There were a handful of years during college when I got bronchitis at least twice every winter, which often lead to pneumonia. From the moment I felt a germy shudder in my bones, a distinctive fatigue, I cleared my calendar and holed up in my basement to heal. And be crafty. My bouts of illness became involuntary retreats.
Strangely, they were not dreaded.
One year, I watched six Christmas movies in a row. Another, I borrowed my neighbor’s drill and made mobiles out of rope and wood. Yet another, I spent hours on a garage-sale sewing machine piecing together rudimentary quilts from cut-up thrift store clothes. (This was before surfing the internet was a common pastime.)
I relished the lengthy expanses of unencumbered time. However, having to miss weeks of school and work seemed like a large price to pay.
Then I met a chiropractor, Dr. Maraffa, practicing in Columbus, Ohio. She was treating me for whiplash when I felt the familiar core-lethargy that precedes a big sickess come over me. I told her that I was getting sick.
“If you say you are getting sick, you definitely will,” she said.
My first reaction was annoyance. I hadn’t had much—any?— experience with alternative and natural medicine, or with taking responsibility for my health. Her comment hit me as downright rude.
“Go home and eat raw garlic,” she said. “Crunch up a fresh clove and put it on a slice of toast to help avoid a stomach ache. Do this every time you feel like you are fighting something.”
I had to ask the guy at the grocery where to find the garlic because I didn’t know what it looked like. I’d only ever used garlic salt or smashed garlic in a jar.
But, for reasons mysterious to me, I followed her instructions and did as I was told by choking down the raw garlic bits.
That was 13 years ago—I haven’t had either bronchitis or pneumonia since then.
The following is an homage to garlic, in all its glory—raw and fresh, as an oil, syrup or juice. May it continue to treat the masses for our laundry lists of ailments.
Garlic as natural healing agent:
- One of the oldest uses of garlic is as an antibiotic.
- Diallyl sulfide, a compound in garlic, was 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics in fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, which is one of the most common causes of intestinal infections.
- It helps reduce allergic asthma and hay fever.
- Garlic-infused oil can be used as a chest rub for respiratory or digestive ailments, or in the ear to reduce inflammation. Garlic syrup can also be used to treat bronchitis, lung infections and digestive disorders.
- Fresh garlic juice is anti-fungal, and can be applied neat to athlete’s foot infections.
- Chewing whole roasted garlic cloves improve the circulation.
- The intestinal tract can be cleansed by adding several raw, mashed garlic cloves to salads.
- Garlic effectively treats a laundry list of other random ailments, including but not limited to: hair loss, sexual debility, clearing acne, psoriasis, and canker sores. For more information, click here.
Garlic as a preventative:
- Garlic boosts the immune system.
- It helps to reduce high blood pressure.
- It is used for the prevention of lung, prostate, breast, stomach, rectal and colon cancer.
- It helps prevent heart disease.
- Taking supplements that mimic fresh garlic can significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels without hurting beneficial HDL cholesterol levels.
- The Greek physician Hippocrates (circa. 460-370 BC), who is known today as “the father of Western medicine”, prescribed garlic for a wide range of conditions and illnesses. He promoted the use of garlic for treating respiratory problems, parasites, poor digestion and fatigue.
- A remedy using garlic was found on a Sumerian clay tablet which dated back to 3000 B.C.E. (!)
- Ayurvedic practitioners often prescribed garlic for leprosy. When the British came to India, leprosy became known as “peelgarlic,” because of the frequent sight of lepers peeling and eating garlic cloves.
- The original Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece were given garlic. This makes garlic possibly the earliest example of a “performance enhancing” agent used in sports.
*Tip: The smell of garlic on the breath can be reduced by eating an apple, drinking a little fresh lemon juice, or eating fresh parsley.*
The bottom line is: if you feel you’ve developed an ailment of any size, shape or variety, just pop a raw garlic clove into your mouth. Odds are pretty good it will do just the trick.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
Photo: via mullica on Flickr