Herbs > Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic is a very well known
herb, most noted for its culinary uses, which are
very broad. A little garlic will enhance the taste of
almost any meal. Garlic has a long history of
association with the supernatural - it is said to
ward off vampires, and in Mohammedan legend, it is
said to have sprung from the footprints of Satan.
This is perhaps due to its potent aroma. Despite
these unsavoury connections, garlic is a highly
useful healing herb with a wide range of
Garlic is a powerful antibiotic and
anti-fungal herb. It can open blood vessels and
reduce hypertension, eliminate intestinal parasites,
lower cholesterol and reduce susceptibility to
allergies. It will boost immunity to colds and flu,
and hasten recovery from these if it is too late for
prevention. A perfectly acceptable way to take garlic
for these purposes is to simply add plenty of fresh
garlic to meals. Any amount will be beneficial, and
it is virtually impossible to overdose on garlic.
Simply add according to taste. However, it should be
noted that the pungent aroma of garlic can linger for
days in the form of bad breath and body odour, so be
aware of this when adding garlic to food. For those
who wish to avoid this possibility, or who simply
dislike the taste of garlic, there are odourless
tasteless garlic capsules available from health
shops. These contain all the active ingredients of
garlic, without the pungency.
Garlic oil applied directly to
boils, blisters and sores will hasten the healing
process and kill any bacteria growing on them. The
oil can be bought from a health shop, but it is very
easy to make at home. Blend 1/2 cup of fresh minced
garlic and 1/2 cup of olive oil thoroughly, then add
another 1/4 cup of olive oil. Place in a glass jar
and leave in a sunny place for 10 days, shaking the
mixture 3 times a day. After the tenth day, strain
the oil through a cloth and bottle. Store in the
refrigerator. The garlic pulp which is left over can
be used for cooking. This oil is also useful for
earaches, dropped into the ear with a dropper.
For fungal growth on the skin
or nails, apply a clove of garlic which has been
smashed or crushed. Hold in place with a band-aid and
leave overnight. This may have to repeated several
times a week, but even persistent fungal infections
will heal with this treatment.
Taking garlic supplements can
be beneficial to diabetics. While it wont cure
the diabetes completely, it can reduce the amount of
insulin which must be taken, and improve the general
well-being of diabetics.
Garlic is effective at easing
toothache. Peel and crush one clove, and spread this
on a small square of bread which has some peanut
butter smeared on it. Apply the section of bread to
the affected tooth, garlic side down. Leave in place
for several hours, and repeat as needed.
Burns can heal much faster with
garlic applied to them. This is effective for both
minor and major burns. Peel and mince the garlic so
it becomes a thick, wet pulp. Apply directly to the
burn and cover with a gauze dressing. Change the
garlic and the dressing every 10 hours.
An effective cough syrup which
will also act as an antibiotic and an expectorant can
be made from garlic, onions and honey. Cover 1 cup of
chopped raw onions with honey and simmer gently.
After 20-30 minutes, remove from the heat and allow
to cool for 10 minutes. Add 4 teaspoons of powdered
garlic or 6-8 cloves of crushed fresh garlic. Cover
and allow to steep (do not return to the heat) until
the mixture reaches room temperature. Use in 1
teaspoon doses as needed.
Raw garlic juice can cause sensitive skin to
blister. This can be avoided by wrapping the garlic
in gauze and dabbing a little petroleum jelly on the
area before applying.
Growing garlic in the garden will
effectively deter pests from nearby plants. However,
it is detrimental to the growth and flavour of
legumes, so keep them well separated.
A rope of garlic - whole dried
plants with their foliage braided together - is said
to provide protection and health when hung in the
kitchen. It also looks attractive, and is a
convenient way of storing garlic.
For a milder taste when cooking
with garlic, it can be roasted or poached. To roast
garlic, place a whole bulb in the oven at a medium
heat until the outer skin browns. This will produce
garlic a nutty taste, which is entirely edible by
itself or usable as an ingredient. To poach, simmer
very gently in water over a low heat until it becomes
soft. The garlic will become sweet and very mild.
This is a good method to use to consume large
quantities of garlic (perhaps to boost immunity
during the cold and flu season).
Garlic can be propagated from individual
cloves of the bulb, planted at a depth of 2.5-5cm,
which should be planted in late autumn in warm
climates, or in early autumn in cooler climates.
Mulch with straw over Winter. The plants will mature
in 10-12 months, and can be harvested in late Summer
to early Autumn - when the foliage begins to yellow.
The bulbs should be allowed to dry, preferably in the
sun, before storage.
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