Garlic is one of the greatest gifts to our health maintenance, and perhaps even more importantly to acute care when we do fall sick. One of the greatest successes we have seen over and over again in our house is the effect garlic has on the common cold, among other things. While it can be taken every day for ongoing health maintenance, peeling, chopping and dicing can be tedious, and time consuming. Although I love the smell, not everyone does…in fact we have a separate cutting board for garlic and onions so the next apple we slice doesn’t pick up the garlic flavor. However garlic, like onions are rarely added to the shopping list as an item we need for a specific recipe….they are both a staple in our pantry that we rarely run out of. We love cooking with Garlic, fermenting it and even eating it raw when something acute attacks. My kids happily take it by the spoonful when it is covered with a dollop of organic apple sauce, and countless times, I’ve headed off a cold before it got a foothold by multiple doses in a day. What on earth is up with Garlic?
Both Eastern and Western medicine alike extol garlic for its powerful health benefits, with the Cleveland Clinic listing it on their top 35 “Power Food” list. It is packed with Phytochemicals which keep the plant itself
healthy, and does the same for us by protecting from disease while boosting our immune system. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), among other things, garlic is known to be used to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and even different types of cancer.
Also known for its sometimes pungent smell and bad breath, the NIH also recognizes it as being safe for most people. There can be some health concerns associated with Garlic, but mostly when you’re taking another pharmaceutical or have a specific condition. Some general health guidelines are indicated in this article but if you have a concern, you should check with your medical professional before consuming larger amounts of garlic than you may be accustomed to. Even the FDA includes garlic on their GRAS list (Generally Recognized as Safe).
The relatively recent historical use of garlic shows endless cases from Eastern and alternative medicine throughout time. Garlic falls into an antimicrobial category, and shows antifungal, antivirus, and antibiotic properties with reported benefits against many flu viruses and the herpes simplex. It has been known to reduce or stop a cold in its tracks, ease symptoms and shorten the duration of the flu, as well as reduce bronchial congestion. Internally, it can help treat yeast infections, and topically fungal infections like athlete’s foot, or the pressed oil for middle ear infections.
Garlic is wonderful raw or cooked, but when raw, despite the considerable “bite” it seems to really shine as your most potent ally. It has no odor when sitting on the counter, wrapped up in its skin, but once cut or crushed, the garlic cellular compound’s rupture, and mix, creating allicin…the good stuff, and of course the distinct smell once you start dicing.
Cook with it. Ferment it. Supplement with it if you have to…keep it fresh in your pantry (not in your fridge, the jarred stuff is not fresh!). Do your own research though, and learn how to keep garlic a staple in your diet. Just think, if “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” just think what Garlic will do for you!
If diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. If diet is correct, medicine is of no need.- Ancient Ayurvedic proverb
BONUS: One of the greatest new things I learned last year in the kitchen was how to peel garlic. This was especially helpful when I culture a large batch, but you know how your fingers smell like garlic for 24 hours because peeling it is so tedious?
Check out this 1 minute video on how to peel garlic like a pro in10 seconds.