Garlic – inexpensive, yet effective healing

Your mama productivity plummets when you are sick or, for that matter, anyone else in your care is

See how lucky I am?!!?
See how lucky I am?!!?

sick! We often hear about amazing, newly discovered remedies, which are often accompanied by a hefty price tag.  So let’s revisit plain ‘ol garlic.  It’s great to fight off an illness, but also to prevent one in the first place. It is also easy to keep around and easy to get almost anywhere. If you’re lucky enough, you might have a source of already peeled fresh garlic of high quality.  That might cost a wee bit more, but save you some preparation time if you opt for any of these concoctions. 

As run in La Montanita’s January 2015 Co-op Connection.

Garlic is magic. OK, maybe not magic. But it’s pretty amazing stuff. This member of the onion family is a natural antioxidant, preserving cell integrity. Garlic is also antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral, making it helpful in preventing many ailments and infections. And a great friend in the face of winter’s (and any season’s) colds, flu, coughs and blahs.

There is almost universal agreement that garlic tastes fantastic and compliments any dish. Most of us cook with it regularly. To maximize its health benefits, especially if you’re fighting off an illness, you likely need to consume more of it. So the first step would be to just add MORE of it to your cooking. But raw garlic produces the most benefits. The compounds that fight infection are released when garlic is crushed or chopped. And are strongest 7-14 minutes after chopping or crushing. So if you’re REALLY trying to get the absolute most out of your garlic, you could time your consumption accordingly.

Does crushing garlic and then consuming seven minutes later sound like a burning pill of fire? Yes its hard to eat 3 raw cloves of garlic a day, as suggested by garlic fans for overall health maintenance. There are, of course, garlic supplements you can take to make this a little easier. Fans like that you can avoid garlic odor on your breath and body, as well as some stomach sensitivity some have when consuming raw garlic. Others say that the benefits of garlic are in the allicin, which gives garlic it’s distinctive smell, and that if you can’t smell it, you won’t get those wonderful properties.

While we CAN cut and take the cloves themselves as pills, how else can we get those properties of raw garlic into us? First, we can include them in recipes we already love. If you feel a cold coming on, how about whipping up a batch of delicious guacamole? Add lots of garlic and serve with various vegetables. Or make up some of your favorite salsa. Lots of garlic and some chile are a great immune boosting combination. Add raw garlic to almost any homemade salad dressing. Plenty of raw garlic gives hummus a delicious zing.Another way to eat garlic is to ferment it. After a nice long ferment, much of it’s spicy “kick” has subsided and it’s much easier to eat a few cloves raw. My kids fight over the garlic floating in the pickle jar. I always toss a few in there, but we also make jars of fermented garlic cloves. Again, this takes time. But then you have raw, preserved garlic that you can eat whole OR add to your guacamole, salsa, or hummus. In addition to the magical properties of garlic, you ALSO have the benefits of probiotics to help boost your immunity.

Honeyed garlic is a different way to get garlic into young and old. You can approach this in two different ways. You can chop a clove and place it on a spoon of honey and take them together. Many people like how quick and easy this is to take. You can also make a big batch of garlic honey by infusing the honey with the raw garlic. Take whole cloves OR chop them and place them in a jar. Add honey to cover and let sit for several days. Like garlic, honey is also anti-microbial, so you get a double dose of goodness here. Plus, if you’re dealing with a sore throat, honey is a nice remedy to help coat and soothe the inflammation. You can consume the cloves, which will now be sweetened and mild. You can also just take the honey and help tame a cough. I take this with ease, but the rest of my family really does not prefer this. They will fight over a pickled clove any day.

Next we have a variation on the garlic-honey theme: Garlic Tea. In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups of water and 3 cloves of garlic (cut in half to release the beneficial compounds) to a boil. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice. Strain. Sip 1/2 cup, warm, three times a day. Refrigerate extra to use the next day. All three ingredients help un-stuff a troubled respiratory system, as well as fight viruses and bacteria. Staying hydrated and having a steamy cup under your nose don’t hurt either.

Infusing oil with garlic is another remedy with internal and external benefits. It’s most famous for helping with ear infections. Crush or chop garlic and cover with olive oil. Let sit for at least 15 minutes and then gently warm. Use a dropper to place 5-10 drops into the infected ear and then place a cotton ball over the ear. You can top it with a warm layer of some kind. Many people swear by this remedy. Others aren’t fans, so if it doesn’t work for you, just make enough oil to make a salad dressing and then you can get the garlic’s benefits internally too. Also consider applying garlic oil topically. Many people try this with other oils, such as coconut oil, and then rub it into the skin for immediate absorption into the bloodstream. Try the feet, chest, or throat, but do a small patch test first to check for reactions. DO expect to smell like salad dressing after application.

Finally, try garlic milk. This Ayurvedic remedy is known to have several benefits. This remedy is less spicy and smelly (you will cook the cloves), yet still effective in fighting a colds and infections. It’s also known to relieve abdominal gas and bloating, constipation, accesses and unhealed wounds. It’s also used as a sleep remedy. Another benefit of this method is garlic breath won’t be an issue. You can add sugar or honey to taste, making it more appealing to a picky kid. Barely crush a clove of garlic into one cup of milk. Let boil to soften garlic, stirring to keep milk from sticking. Add sugar or honey to taste. Drink milk and eat cooked garlic cloves. For an extra boost you can also add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder when boiling.

You will have to test the claims that the garlic-milk combination won’t leave you with garlic breath. If you go for a raw remedy or just overdo the raw garlic in a recipe, here’s my go-to fix: baking soda mouthwash. Add a little baking soda to a cup of water and rinse, rinse, rinse. Other fixes to try include chewing on fresh parsley, chewing cardamom seeds or fennel seeds, or eating yogurt. And then there’s my favorite solution: feed garlic to anyone else around you!

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