I love garlic. I love to cook it, I love the smell of it (except on people’s breath!), and most of all, I deeply appreciate its healing properties. When my children were little, and the symptoms of a cold were starting, I used to give them raw garlic hidden in their mashed potatoes. I’d squash in two whole cloves and feed it to them for dinner. By the morning the cold symptoms symptoms would be gone. If they had chest infections, stomach bugs or typical childhood wounds from falling off their bikes; if they scratched their legs or cut their fingers, I’d give them masses of raw garlic, concealed in their food. They’d be smelly for a few days, but you try getting little ones to swallow a handful of garlic capsules three times a day. They just won’t do it.
Garlic is possibly one of the most popularly used home remedies, and has been around for at least 6000 years. I keep tons of it in my kitchen. I use it in my cooking, and consume ‘garlic-burgers’ when I feel under the weather (this is basically a burger bun with a thick layer of garlic mashed in mayo in between). It perks me up, I feel more energetic and whatever I was coming down with makes a hasty retreat. Garlic is an extremely powerful remedy. It is a well-researched herb, is scientifically tested to be effective in a wide range of diseases, and is abundant in nature.
It is inexpensive if you eat it raw, and costs a little more if you buy the capsules (capsules won’t have the smell-factor associated with garlic). If you use it raw or buy odour-free capsules, it certainly costs a whole lot less than a visit to the doctor. Known as a natural penicillin, it is used as an anti-bacterial and an anti-fungal. This means you can use it for coughs, colds, and any type of infection throughout the body. I use it unapologetically for every condition under the sun. For me, it is a magical potion that works absolute magic. It has diuretic properties (that is, it makes you urinate a lot, reducing bloating in the body), it gets rid of worms and other parasites from the intestines; it promotes the healing of wounds on the body and stops infection quickly. Garlic also helps to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, it helps in the fight against cancer and it fends off all kinds of infections within the respiratory and digestive systems, and urinary tract. Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, apparently used garlic to heal cancerous tumours. He suggested that physicians use garlic for pneumonia and other infections. He prescribed it for digestive disorders, as well as using it to improve menstrual flow.
During medieval times, garlic was used as a remedy for drunkenness and indigestion. A medieval German nun and medic, St. Hildegard of Bingenm, used raw garlic to heal the sick. During the Great Plague in 1665, garlic was recommended by the London College of Physicians to combat the deadly disease. An English physician, who went by the name of Sydenham, used garlic about the same time to heal patients of small pox. In later years, French chemist and microbiologistm, Louis Pasteur, verified that garlic was effective against infectious germs. Closer to the present day, Albert Schweizer, used garlic in Africa to cure typhoid fever and cholera.
Garlic is considered to be both a vegetable and a herb, and is a member of the onion family which also includes leeks and shallots. As effective as it is, it is a very smelly herb however. In ancient Egypt, when unfaithful husbands fooled around with their mistresses, they were known to eat whole garlic cloves to ensure that their wives would never smell the perfume of their lady friends. For a period in ancient history, garlic was known around the world as the ‘stinking rose’, and for a while became a symbol of the common people. The more refined classes deemed it far too odorous to eat, and so refrained from allowing it into their homes.
You’ll be happy to know that the extremely pungent odour of garlic can be removed by running your hands under cold water while rubbing a stainless steel object. As for mouth odour, if you eat large quantities of parsley at the same time as eating the garlic, this helps to combat the smelliness. To be honest, this never helps me, though I’ve seen (smelt!) it to be effective in others. Local pharmacies have anti-garlic pills, which you might find to be more helpful.
Way back in ancient times, Garlic was popular with the Egyptians, who placed models of garlic bulbs in the tomb of Tutankhamen. Egyptian records dating from 1,500 B.C. describe garlic as a cure for over 22 common ailments, including lack of stamina, heart disease and cancerous tumours. Egyptian slaves were also reported to have built the pyramids on a diet of garlic, bread and water, Greek military leaders offered garlic to their armies before battles to give them strength and courage, and it was also used afterwards to help heal battle wounds. In the ancient Olympics, Greek athletes consumed garlic to give them strength and help them gain victory in their sport. During World War I, Garlic was used to treat battle wounds and to combat dysentery. Known as ‘Russian Penicillin’, Garlic was used during World War II because of its efficacy in treating wound infections.
My Own Home-Made Garlic Remedies!
How to eat raw garlic:
- Make a ‘Garlic Burger’. Crush three large cloves of garlic and mash it into some mayonnaise. Place a burger between the buns and cover it with the garlic mayo. A slice of cheese will help to conceal the taste.
- Prepare garlic toast. Mash garlic in the butter and spread it on the toast. Cheese will help to mask the taste here too.
- Mash garlic with honey and swallow it like medicine, or put it on some toast.
- Make different garlic dips, using avocadoes, or mashed chick peas (hummus), and eat with potato chips.
- Mash potatoes and butter with raw garlic, or use mashed cauliflower instead as a delicious dish.
- Mash garlic in vanilla ice-cream!