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US: Garlic - one of nature’s oldest remedies

Some of us have heard stories of grandmothers who took to the woods to gather herbs for tonics or treatments for various ailments.  Now we can experience the rewards of some of these herbs right in our own back yards or buy them in supermarkets.  There are hundreds of herbs, rare and common, just waiting for you to discover them.  A good place to begin is with garlic.

Garlic is a strong smelling cousin of the onion and it is seldom considered a herb.  The fact is that it is one of the most valuable for medicinal purposes, and its reputation goes back as far as the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.  It is a diuretic, stimulant, expectorant, and sweat-promoter.  For centuries, it has been a common European remedy for colds, coughs, and sore throats.  We often hear jokes that garlic works because the smell of garlic is so bad that no one will get close enough to you to give you a germ.  This may be true, but Soviet scientists have isolated the pharmaceutical substance in garlic that serves as a natural antiseptic.  It is called allicin and it is found in garlic’s essential oil, the part of garlic that has the odor.  Don’t expect odor free garlic supplements to have the same powerful medicinal value as pure raw garlic.

More recently, doctors have found that garlic opens up blood vessels and reduces blood pressure in hypertensive people.  Dr. Pavo Airola, a German-trained doctor, wrote a book called The Miracle of Garlic.  In it he tells of the lack of all the kinds of circulatory problems in countries where garlic is eaten with every meal, even though the rest of the diet may be rich in pasta and other foods believed to cause such problems.  I heard a doctor on television say research at the University of Texas revealed that garlic contains as many as 60 chemicals which help prevent cancer.  That alone is enough encourage its use.

Polish scientists discovered that bacteria, including staphylococci, which resist other antibiotics, succumb to a pulverized garlic preparation.

Herbalist lore tells us that a clove or two of garlic, pounded with honey and taken two or three nights successively, is good for rheumatism.  In colonial times, New Englanders used raw garlic juice to rid the body of intestinal worms.  I know a woman who surrounds a garlic clove with ground beef which she entices her dog to eat daily for this purpose.

During World War I, garlic was used as an antiseptic in hospitals.  Pads of sphagnum moss were sterilized, saturated with water-diluted garlic juice, and applied as bandages to open wounds.


Publication date: 3/27/2009


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