Traditionally and historically garlic is best known for its use in cooking for flavouring many dishes including stews, pasta sauces, casseroles and curries. Eaten raw this herb strengthens the immune system, but some might say “at a price!” One such person was Thomas Nash, who once said, “Garlick maketh a man wynke, drynke, and stynke.” (First husband of William Shakespeare’s granddaughter Elizabeth Barnard)
Garlic, (Allium sativum) energetically described as hot, pungent and spicy, is not just a flavour enhancer it can also fight off nasties by boosting the immune system. The active constituents include alliin, quercetin, anthrocyanins, amino acids and volatile oils, to name a few. Garlic’s natural mechanism of protection is the volatile sulphur compound, allicin that oozes a pungent smell once cut. You may be among those who dislike the smell and or taste and perhaps surprised to know that parasites also cannot live in the same environment as garlic, because it is anti-parasitic. Not only anti-parasitic, but antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal as well. It is also rich in vitamins A, B and C, and minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium and iron.
Garlic on its own in the raw form is perhaps a little too overpowering with the capability of “living-on” for days! Added to a favourite dish whether roast lamb, vegetarian dishes, such as ratatouille, vegetable curry, stuffed peppers, pesto, or steamed kale served as a side dish, will enhance the flavour and the enjoyment of the dish, whilst boosting both your immune health and that of the whole family.
Garlic is also very effective for ear infections and earache by dropping oil infused with garlic (Jojoba, Olive or Sweet Almond oil) into the ear. Gently warm it beforehand, test the temperature to make sure it is not too warm and then drop into the ear. The antimicrobial and antibacterial properties will gently ease the pain and eliminate the infection whilst when taken internally, boost the immune system to fight the infection. Similarly the garlic infused oil can be rubbed into the chest and or feet for chest infections, coughs and catarrh, before wrapping up warm and getting a good night’s sleep.
Garlic, even though wonderful in most instances, has some downsides, as too much garlic can be too grounding thus creating mental dullness. For this reason it is not recommended before meditation.
N.B Raw garlic may interfere with some medications.
Author : Rachel Shackleton
Phytotherapy, Michael Thomsen ND, MSc & Hanni Gennat BSc, PhD
Dispensing with Tradition, Anne McIntrye & Michelle Boudin
The Complete Herbal Tutor, Anne McIntrye