It's definitely cold and flu season here in our part of the world and when it comes I head to the nearest super market to get our medicine. Not in the pharmacy though...rather, the produce isle. Yep, I'm looking high and low for those familiar whitish globes that are packed with antibiotic goodness...garlic, aka: "the stinking rose." That name is reported to have gone back to Greek and Roman times. The stinking part is obvious, but the rose part of the name still seems to be a mystery. But it's not mystery to me as I would rather have garlic over a rose in the landscape because of its immense value all year long.
When it comes to a cold or flu, modern medicine can't really do much for you. Antibiotics are only helpful for bacterial infections. But garlic can help remedy the infection, cutting down on your sick time and helping to prevent any secondary infections like a sinus infection.
You've probably read lots of great information out there about the health benefits of garlic. From helping your heart to preventing cancer, this little bulb packs of whollop of natural goodness. Nowadays, it seems to be relegated to garlic bread found in your local freezer section. But I'm determined to pass on the great news that garlic is an amazing healer and has saved our family from many a doctor's visit!
First, let me give you the low-down on the anti-viral qualities of garlic. Garlic is also anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and more. And I quote; "Dr. Tariq Abdullah, a prominent garlic researcher stated in the August 1987 issue of Prevention: “Garlic has the broadest spectrum of any antimicrobial substance that we know of — it is antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiprotozoan and antiviral." (source)
Not too bad of a reputation considering the limited amount of ways we use garlic in the U.S. We've even reduced garlic to powder and worse yet...minced garlic in a bottle. Yes, I've used these for cooking, but I stop at the minced garlic. I can't even describe the flavor, but garlic it isn't. Okay, my opinions aside...garlic is amazing in your cooking but using it raw can be a great way to shorten a cold or flu OR even prevent one.
And that's what I'm talking about here...raw garlic. The reason for garlic's amazing natural medicinal abilities is the marriage of two of garlic's chemical constituents, alliin a compound and alliinase an enzyme. When garlic is cut, these two chemicals come together and form "allicin" which in turn makes the lovely smell of garlic AND is one compound that is the cold and flu fighter. So, in order for garlic to be effective, these two lovelies must meet through mincing or dicing, so they can produce allicin. If you let garlic sit for 10-15 minutes, it gives the compound plenty of time to develop it's power-packed abilities.
From all the information I gathered, it is the activation of this sulphur compound, "allicin" that occur during mincing or crushing that makes garlic anti-viral. Heat will destroy this compound and it deteriorates with age. Crushed garlic is most effective within the first hour if you want to use it and get the most active properties from it.
Still wondering if it works? So did I. But we've been using garlic for a few decades and most recently in the last four years specifically for colds and flu. Our family just went through a bout of the most recent flu. This one was a doozy too. Two of us got it at first. It was all upper respiratory, not stomach, but body aches, sneezing, fatigue, stuffy head, sinus drainage, sore throat...you name it. So, we broke out the garlic, put raw diced garlic in all of our soup bowls (1-2) and poured hot soup over the cloves. This was our lunch for many days. We tried to have as much as 4 cloves a day while we were very sick. We managed to get through the worst of it and we were able to be on our feet the whole time and out in public after about 4 days. Now my husband had it next and it was very mild for him. He had been eating LOTS of garlic while we were sick. He had some problems with his lungs, but garlic having an "affinity for the lungs" soon took care of it.
Our oldest son, who is usually the one who gets every sickness the first and the worst, NEVER got sick. He took garlic in large amounts for many days and while he smelled like a piece of garlic bread, he never got sick. However, realizing that garlic not only fights against bacteria and viruses but also stimulates your immune system, it's not so strange to see how well it worked.
How do I eat raw garlic?
1) In a blender, combine 1-2 cloves of garlic with 2 tomatoes, a bit of basil, onion and celery for your own V-8 drink. Add a little salt to taste.
2) Add 1 or 2 minced cloves to hot broth (not boiling) or soup and consume right away.
3) Make some fresh salsa and make sure to add at least one clove to the portion you're eating. You don't have to consume it all at once, but try to eat it within a reasonable amount of time to ensure the garlic's potency.
4) Add raw minced garlic to honey or vinegar (Apple Cider), let it steep for as long as possible. Take the honey by eating a teaspoonful and use the vinegar as a dressing.
5) Make garlic oil. Mince garlic into oil and let it steep for 15 minutes. Apply this oil to the bottom of your feet at bedtime and wear socks. The compound in the oil will go into your system. This is great for children and if you don't want to eat the garlic. Our family uses this method a lot and it works for us.
Some Things to Consider:
1) Garlic isn't going to get rid of your cold or flu right away. It will take some time but it does cut down on the severity of what you have. Most natural medicines work this way.
2) Staying away from sugar is crucial when fighting any kind of infection as it hinders your immune system from fighting the infection. Try to eat only fruit (not juice).
3) Getting adequate rest and sleep is also important. Drink plenty of fluids and medicinal teas. We drank pots of my Vanilla Peppermint Medley (Read my post on peppermint here) and filtered water. Lots of fluids help to flush out the infection and keep you super hydrated. All these things will help your body get over whatever your body is fighting.
Why Use Garlic?
It's effective, it's easy to use and is ridiculously inexpensive. You can use many other herbal remedies but for the money, garlic is our hands-down favorite. It's the most potent single herb we've found and it works. It tastes good and you'll be getting lots of other health benefits as well.
Well, hope your winter season is cold and flu free...but if not, there's always the amazing herb garlic to give you a hand!
Have you used garlic to help your colds and flu? Blessings!
For more on garlic, you can read my post, Garlic Ear Oil Remedy.
Resources used for this post:
(All information in this post is purely educational and in no way meant to diagnose or prescribe medical advice. Please seek a health professional for any serious health complications.)
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