Kick Influenza and Colds to the Curb with Garlic (And A Garlic Soup Recipe)
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
An easy, inexpensive and beneficial remedy for the cold and flu season could be as near as your food pantry. Commonly known as “Russian penicillin,” garlic has been used throughout history for everything from stomachaches to parasites and leprosy. In fact, the ancient Ebers Papyrus documents no less than 32 illnesses that respond to the herb. However, garlic really shines when we use it to stay healthy and flu-free while the rest of the masses sneeze and cough away. And what better way to reap the benefits of this odorous bulb than with a traditional 52-clove garlic soup or gingered garlic tea?
Garlic has a reputation as a powerful germ-blaster — and for good reason. When crushed, a chemical reaction takes place which produces allicin. This compound is a boon for health, tackling issues like high blood pressure along with bacterial, viral and fungal infections. Studies suggest that garlic can also help prevent the onset of certain types of cancers. Moreover, the ancient Greeks used it to treat infections as well as disorders of the lung and blood, while the ancient Egyptians held the herb in high esteem for supporting stamina and general well-being.
As a potent antioxidant, garlic was shown in this study to inhibit Campylobacter jejuni. Researchers discovered that the extract is 100 times more effective than antibiotics in fighting the bacterium, which is a common cause of intestinal distress.
How to use
The debate continues on whether it’s better to consume garlic raw or cooked. Here are a few tips on how to use the bulb both ways during our current season of illness and beyond.
Remember: always crush or chop garlic and let stand for 10 minutes to fully activate the allicin.
Gingered garlic tea.
Peel and grate a 2-inch chunk of ginger and simmer in 3 cups purified water for 15 minutes. Add 1-2 cloves of garlic and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Sweeten to taste with raw honey. For ultimate benefit, do not strain. Drink up to six cups per day.
Cold and flu shot.
For rapid relief if you’ve caught a bug, blend 1-2 cloves garlic with 1/2 cup purified water. Drink down entire glass quickly, followed by a second cup of plain water. Can be taken every few hours throughout the day. If the garlic proves to be too much for your stomach, you can add a bit of honey.
Garlic and honey soother.
This blend is especially helpful if dealing with a cough. Mix together 1 clove garlic with 1 teaspoon pure raw honey. Swallow down quickly, followed by a glass of water. Take up to 3 times per day.
Lastly, a potent 52-clove garlic soup recipe by Preventdisease.com:
January 20, 2013 by JOHN SUMMERLY
Garlic Soup Made With 52 Cloves of Garlic Can Defeat Colds, Flu and Even Norovirus
Forget the flu shot. A soup based on more than 50 cloves of garlic, onions, thyme and lemon will destroy almost any virus that enters its path including colds, flu and even norovirus.
It has gained its reputation as a virus buster thanks to one of its chemical constituents, allicin.
'This chemical has been known for a long time for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal powers,' says Helen Bond, a Derbyshire-based consultant dietitian and spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association.
'Because of this, people assume it is going to boost their immune systems. Lots of people are simply mashing up garlic, mixing it with olive oil and spreading it on bread.
'But how or whether it may actually work has still not been proven categorically.'
Indeed, scientists remain divided on garlic's ability to combat colds and flu. Last March, a major investigation by the respected global research organisation, the Cochrane Database, found that increasing your garlic intake during winter can cut the duration of cold symptoms -- from five-and-a-half days to four-and-a-half.
But the report, which amalgamated all previous scientific studies on garlic, said it could not draw solid conclusions because there is a lack of large-scale, authoritative research.
The problem is that pharmaceutical companies are not interested in running huge, expensive trials -- as they would with promising new drug compounds -- because there is nothing in garlic that they can patent, package and sell at a profit.
26 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
Preheat oven to 350F. Place 26 garlic cloves in small glass baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. Cool. Squeeze garlic between fingertips to release cloves. Transfer cloves to small bowl.
Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, thyme, ginger and cayenne powder and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add roasted garlic and 26 raw garlic cloves and cook 3 minutes. Add vegetable broth; cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to saucepan; add coconut milk and bring to simmer. Season with sea salt and pepper for flavour.
Squeeze juice of 1 lemon wedge into each bowl and serve.
Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
If garlic were found to be a wonder drug, consumers could simply buy it in the supermarket for 30p a bulb or grow their own in the garden.
Nevertheless, garlic has a long and proud tradition as a medicine. The Ancient Egyptians recommended it for 22 ailments. In a papyrus dated 1500BC, the labourers who built the pyramids ate it to increase their stamina and keep them healthy.
The Romans fed it to soldiers and sailors to improve their endurance. Dioscorides, the personal physician to Emperor Nero, wrote a five-volume treatise extolling its virtues.
One of the most interesting of the recent findings is that garlic increases the overall antioxidant levels of the body. Scientifically known as Allium sativa, garlic has been famous throughout history for its ability to fight off viruses and bacteria. Louis Pasteur noted in 1858 that bacteria died when they were doused with garlic. From the Middle Ages on, garlic has been used to treat wounds, being ground or sliced and applied directly to wounds to inhibit the spread of infection. The Russians refer to garlic as Russian penicillin.
More recently, researchers have unearthed evidence to show garlic may help us to stay hale and hearty in a number of ways.
Last June, nutrition scientists at the University of Florida found eating garlic can boost the number of T-cells in the bloodstream. These play a vital role in strengthening our immune systems and fighting viruses.
And pharmacologists at the University of California found that allicin -- the active ingredient in garlic that contributes to bad breath -- is an infection-killer.
Allicin also makes our blood vessels dilate, improving blood flow and helping to tackle cardiovascular problems such as high cholesterol.
An Australian study of 80 patients published last week in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that diets high in garlic may reduce high blood pressure.
In 2007, dentists in Brazil found that gargling with garlic water (made by steeping crushed garlic cloves in warm, but not boiling, water) can kill the germs that cause tooth decay and gum disease.
But they hit a snag: the volunteers refused to continue the experiment, complaining that the garlic gargle made them feel sick. Looking at the garlic soup recipe certainly made me feel queasy. Still, it gave me an excuse to use up my ample supply of garlic.
Though last year's awful weather caused crop failures on my allotment, I enjoyed a bumper harvest of garlic.
Among its many other virtues, garlic kills slugs and snails. Researchers from the University of Newcastle believe it contains oils that may cripple the nervous systems of these slimy creatures.
There are two schools of thought as to the best way of preparing garlic to make the most of its medicinal qualities.
Argentinian investigators found it releases its allicin-type compounds when you bake the cloves, while scientists at South Carolina Medical University believe peeling garlic and letting it sit uncovered for 15 minutes produces the highest levels of compounds to fight infection.
So you can simply peel half of the garlic cloves and roast the other half with the kitchen door tightly closed (to stop the pong permeating throughout the house).
After an hour-and-a-quarter's industrious soup-making, sprinkle lemon juice over a bowl of steaming, grey gloop andÂ tuck in.
The heady aroma certainly revs up the appetite and the first spoonful does not disappoint. Delicious as it is, however, one large bowl of home-made soup is a more than ample meal.
As for the soup's cold-preventing powers, only time will tell. Regular bowlfuls may very well keep me free of winter ailments, thanks to the virus-killing compounds they contain.
Or it could just be that my nuclear-strength garlic breath will keep everyone who is infectious far out of sneezing range for months to come.
John Summerly is nutritionist, herbologist, and homeopathic practitioner. He is a leader in the natural health community and consults athletes, executives and most of all parents of children on the benefits of complementary therapies for health and prevention.