Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic is a tremendously powerful herb that most of us have a steady access to. It is always found at the local grocery store and, with the increasing popularity of farmer’s markets, heirloom varieties can often be bought locally, which results in even more medicinal qualities. Today it is one of the most researched and most used herbs in our kitchens and herbal apothecary. It has a variety of actions, making it a great ally for a variety of health disturbances.
Raw garlic can be taken liberally at the first sign of a cold or flu to ward off the illness or to lessen the symptoms. I like to do this by dipping bread in olive oil with lots of minced garlic! Raw garlic is an emetic, so it’s a good idea to approach it slowly and back off if nausea occurs.
Herbalist Stephen Buhner reports in his book Herbal Antibiotics that garlic is effective against Staphyloccus aureas, Candida albicans, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus spp., Salmonella spp., herpes simplex, and more. He recommends eating the fresh juice for best results. To do this without immediately experiencing its strong emetic qualities, Buhner recommends starting with a 1⁄4 teaspoon in a glass of tomato juice and slowly working up your tolerance.
For fungal infections garlic can be used externally as well as internally. It is quite strong and could burn sensitive areas, so it can be diluted by soaking it in oil for a 1⁄2 hour to several hours, straining and then applying to the area. An old time folk remedy that works wonders for congestion associated with colds and the flu is to take this same oil, spread it on the feet, cover with a pair of old socks, and then retire to bed for the evening.