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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Raw Garlic: Cold and Flu Fighter


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:
http://www.garlic-central.com/stinking-rose.html 
http://www.livestrong.com/article/340975-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-raw-garlic-vs-cooked-garlic/ 
http://www.medherb.com/Materia_Medica/Allium_sativum_-_Antibiotic_and_Immune_Properties.html

(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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42 comments:

  1. Great information filled post. Would the heat of your soup reduce the effectiveness of the garlic?

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    1. Thanks! The heat of the soup would definitely take away some benefits, but the garlic is still really strong flavored, so I know it is working albeit not as much as eating it raw in something uncooked. :)

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  2. Hi. Garlic is good for cold in Japan too. Grated ginger and suger with hot water is good for those who caught cold in Japan.
    Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

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    1. Grated ginger is amazing! I've combined ginger, lemon and honey before for a tea when we have a sore throat or feel cold coming on...Thanks for sharing what you use as well. Have a great week!!

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  3. We use garlic also for colds and flu. I enjoyed reading some additional ways to prepare the garlic--the V-8 drink and garlic oil for the feet. I posted the garlic tea that we make.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Carol. It's always great to give and get more ideas...especially with this remedy. It's so simple and inexpensive!

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  4. Wonderful post! I love seeing the alternative and the more natural side to medicine. My husband and I don't get sick often, but I will be keeping this in mind for if we do! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting. Glad you don't get sick too...that's the best medicine! :)

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  5. Wonderful post! Such great information this time of year. Seems like everyone is getting the flu! I didn't know that garlic had to be cut to be effective, so thanks for pointing that out. Also didn't realize you could put garlic oil on your feet at night - so interesting!

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    1. Yep, garlic I know it seems strange, but actually heard about the garlic oil from a very reputable herb site and it's worked for us. There is a science to it as well, as the skin absorbs the garlic oil as well as its medicinal properties. I love simple remedy ideas that are inexpensive and easily available to everyone. Thanks for reading... :)

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  6. I never knew sugar hindered your immune system when sick. Just another reason for me to cut back as I doubt it is good for my immune system when I am not sick, either. By the way, thanks for visiting 'My House, My Rules today!
    ~Denise

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    1. I know, it's hard to believe~ I'm going to do a post on sugar just so we are more aware of how it affects our body. Not that I'm against it completely, but so it gives us the right info. to make good food decisions. Thanks for visiting too! :)

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  7. I love garlic...and it really does help keep you healthy! Thanks for sharing this on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

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  8. Garlic is eaten every day in our house and is one of my largest and most used crops. Being Italian probably has something to do with that! I grow enough to last all year with enough to replant. My grandfather used to put a whole clove of garlic in his mouth and suck on it before eating it to relieve a sore throat. Great post with lots of useful information! I like when people encourage others to use natural remedies!

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    1. Wow...now that's a garlic lover there! I have planted it in the past but we have such limited space that I haven't grown it for awhile. Thanks for sharing your Grandfather's story...I would think that the garlic clove would wipe out any sore throat coming on for sure using that method! :) I love to hear how our parents and grandparents used to do things; we can learn so much from them...thanks for reading. :)

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  9. Those are good ideas for getting more fresh garlic in your diet. I hadn't thought of putting it in broth. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Boys are such a blessing.

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    1. Thanks Ally and I agree about boys...! Thanks for visiting. :)

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  10. My grandpa swore by raw garlic to keep him healthy - he would swallow a whole clove and chase it with milk to get rid of the smell!! Kind of gross, but he was always very healthy and rarely got colds ;)

    Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday!

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    1. Wow! Now that's what I call a super antibiotic! Ha ha! I don't know if I'm that brave...but that's some serious home remedy there! :)

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  11. Garlic is seriously one of the best herbs to hit a cold or flu with when you feel it coming on. It can be instant if you catch it soon enough,before it really takes hold. I've even found that garlic powder is effective in a capsule -- you can make your own. So you don't actually have to chew down a whole clove to get the effect. Thanks for sharing your very informative post on Wildcrafting Wednesday.
    Chris

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    1. Thanks for your comments/information Chris and thanks for hosting the blog hop... :)

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  12. Yes, I take garlic capsules daily, is a nice composition, I like those garlic. Very good photos.

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    1. Awesome and thanks for giving me feedback on the photos! :)

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  13. I love fresh garlic! We eat it often....but I didn't know you had to eat it raw for it to be effective as an anti microbial. What an informative and awesome post!

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    1. Thanks...I know I learned even more after researching into it. It's an amazing herb! :)

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  14. I had a runny nose fri morn, by 3pm my throat was sore, by 9pm i couldnt talk. My friend suggested eating garlic clove and i laughed. I found this post an tried it, chewing through the horrible taste and along with gargling vinegar an drinking lemon honey vinegar hot drink my throat feels amazing this morning. Your post save me and i THANK YOU!!

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    1. Awesome! What a great testimony on garlic...thanks so much for your comments. :)

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  15. Awesome and thanks for giving me feedback on the photos!ReviewLiving

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  16. What if all I have is garlic that I have pre-minced from early in the week for fast cooking strategies? Will it still be as effective?

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    1. That's a good question. I would think that the freshest garlic minced (and allowed to sit for about 10-15 minutes) would be the most effective for acute infections. Garlic, fresh or cooked, all has health benefits, but when trying to knock out a cold or flu...I do try to keep whole cloves on hand to eat immediately. The stronger and more effective it is, the faster I feel better.

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  17. At the first signs of a cold or flu don't just take one glove cut up the whole bulb chop it up and take it straight with water if you can. It provides a knockout punch to any cold or virus.

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  18. i just eat the garlic cloves with food, such that, i don't cut it or anything, just bite into it and munch at it for flavor. You're saying it's better to cut/crush it and let it be for about 15 minutes?

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    1. Reading the science about garlic, they are showing that the active anti-viral and anti-bacterial compounds are better produced when garlic is minced raw and then sits for about 10-15 minutes. :)

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  19. Thanks for the post. Exactly a year after your post I will be using your garlic recipes to help my husband get rid of his cold and flu.

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  20. I swear by using garlic to stay healthy and for fighting colds. When I am sick, I mince up several cloves and spread them over hot buttered toast - its a yummy way to eat it and it works to get the cold out of your system in no time! I suggest 4-6 cloves per day for the first 2 days, and then 2-3 cloves per day for the next 2 days thereafter. You should definitely see an improvement.
    My other natural flu fighting remedy is Elderberry Juice. It is concentrated so you mix 1 tbsp in a cup of hot water and drink it like a tea. You can add honey if you want - but no sugar. I drink that twice a day when I am sick as well and the last time I was sick the cold never moved into my chest as it always did before. Also, (knock on wood) I have not been sick for about a year now and I usually get sick several times a year and always around Christmas or the New Year. Nothing compares to these natural cures!!!!!

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  21. I also use garlic oil for ear infections. It works almost immediately...within 1-2 days! Much faster than Western antibiotics:)

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    1. Yes...we did too. Amazing stuff!

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  22. Garlic is way cheaper than most cough and cold medicines.
    http://jtrader.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Reduce-Swollen-Lymph-Nodes-in-Your-Neck-Echinacea-Garlic-Lymph-Cure

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