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Herb of the week: Garlic.

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Botanical name: 

Photo: Allium sativum 5. A short profile:

Latin: Allium sativum.
Family: onion family, Alliaceae.
Parts used: Cloves, greens.
Taste: Garlic.
4 humors: Hot, dry.


  • Strengthens the heart.
  • Antimicrobial: helps with colds, flus and similar.
  • The oil is nice for ear aches.
  • Strongly antiseptic.
  • Hot hot hot.
  • Strengthens the immune system.


  • While some people are sensitive to onions and garlic, that doesn't mean that everybody should avoid them. People who are not sensitive to onions and garlic should in fact eat a lot of garlic and onions.
  • Some people are sensitive to the sulfur in garlic (and onions). They get hives or similar. They should avoid garlic and onions.
  • Yes, you can do something about garlic breath: give garlic to all your friends, too. No other forms of "getting rid of garlic breath" work.
  • All right, yes, if you eat a raw clove of garlic for weeks on end, you won't smell after week three or so.
  • Kyolic garlic is scentless (I think?). It'll help your heart and veins, but a lot of the action against coughs and flu is gone with the smell.
  • Garlic and blood thinners don't match. One or the other, not both ... and, if the blood thinner isn't there for something life-threatening, my vote is for garlic.
  • Onion works similarly, but is milder.


  • Mmmm. Garlic with lemon juice and honey, as a hot tea, for the flu. Yum!
  • While you can keep garlic on your skin for half an hour, I don't recommend it: it's so hot that it'll raise blisters, more likely than not. If you want to enhance local blood supply with garlic, cover the area in oil or an oil-based salve first.
  • Or make a salve or an oil from garlic. That'll also help with ear aches. (It smells TRULY awful, though. Think old garlic breath. Yech ...)
  • Give garlic to anybody elderly with heart problems. They'll thank you for it, and so will their digestion. (Unless, of course, they're in the "sorry, I just can't eat onions or garlic" camp.)
  • Give garlic for pinworms (threadworms for the Brits). It'll work a treat. Give it to the dogs, cats, and all adults in the family as well, if the kid brings the worms home from school. Other invasions might respond to garlic as well; ameboid critters (like giardia) don't like it either.
  • Rub some garlic on the soles of the feet, in order to get a dangerously high fever down fast. (Also temporarily get rid of the down comforter ... it's not helping any!).
  • Garlic is one of the herbs that are good for MRSA and similar really persistent bacteria. Give lots, and use it as a wash, too. Combine with Echinacea and elecampane.

Comments on Facebook:

  • Kris M. K.:
    Judith, Remember our garlic, olive oil and parsley pasta? We binged. I have a garlic cookbook with a garlic soup that includes 40 cloves of garlic. I use 50. I am pretty sure it cures anything.
    4 January 2013 at 15:15
  • Judith S.:
    i do remember our garlic pasta. and you're totally correct, that stuff cures everything.
    4 January 2013 at 18:40
  • Greg P.:
    have dropped both onion and garlic a lot from my intake; too hot, dry and high sulphur for my Vata dosha... but when I do! :) nurture food for sure!
    5 October 2012 at 15:58
  • Shawn R. B.:
    LOL I bet that garlic salve smells as bad as you say it does. A few years ago I made some onion salve after reading about it in a civil war era cookbook - while it did work, it stank - stank - stank! After that I vowed to only make enough to use right then.
    5 October 2012 at 15:08

Comments on the herblist:

  • From Deb P.:
    Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2012 20:55:43 -0400

    But then it's not raw. I treat everything with raw garlic. Best there is for colds.

  • From Henriette:
    Date: 10/06/2012 02:59 PM

    I think of it as raw: chop it up, add honey + lemon juice, add boiling water, let steep for 5 minutes, drink.

    It's certainly not cooked ...

  • From christine b.:
    Date: 10/06/2012 09:26 PM

    For me, 5 minutes is cooked. I add fresh garlic slices to my scrambled eggs in the last couple of minutes of cooking at a much lower heat than boiling, and the garlic is definitely not raw when I eat it with the eggs.

  • From Shannon Y.:
    Date: 10/06/2012 09:27 PM

    "But then it's not raw. I treat everything with raw garlic. Best there is for colds."

    That may be however, not everyone is willing or able to eat raw garlic. I will use whatever method is most likely to be ingested. Savoury soups, breads, pestos, and teas are a good thing and especially in combination with other herbs or veg such as onions and thyme or perhaps sage. Kimchee works in my home...Kimchee being very effective and has stood up to studies. Plus it is tasty.

    That stated. At one time I lived in an un named Latin American nation with a very health sand flea and mosquito population. The local cuisine used a lot of garlic. I loved the local cuisine. Also noticed that the local insects loved the rest of the ex pat population more than me... likely because I ate what the locals ate instead of fast and or bland food.

  • From Jason B:
    Date: 10/06/2012 10:06 PM

    I've read that the medicinal properties of garlic don't survive cooking and I've noticed this to be true for myself in terms of what is most effective. What I do is chop the garlic finely, leave it sitting in the air for about 10 minutes to activate the allicin, and then I put it in a shot glass of water and swallow it without chewing. It's the chewing that people find difficult, plus the stinky breath! I find that the shot-glass method bypasses this problem and I don't have any stench.

    If you want to use it more for mosquitoes and other pests, then consume your raw garlic with hot water. It will send it to the skin and sweat. This WILL make you more stinky but I guess that's the point!

It's in my book "Practical Herbs 2.