Friday, October 16, 2009
At the first sign of a sneaking-up-on-me cold (sniffles, scratchy throat, sneezing, itchy or runny eyes...), I reach for my mug and the bulb of garlic that is usually in the countertop basket of fruits and veggies I use daily.
Garlic is one of the more popular home cures for colds. Many cultures have a home remedy for the cold using garlic, whether it’s chicken soup with lots of garlic, a drink made with raw crushed garlic, or it may just involve eating cloves raw garlic.
Here's a simple Garlic Tea, that does the job: crush anywhere from one to six fat cloves of garlic, put in the bottom of a mug. Set the timer for 10 minutes, the amount of time it seems auspicious for the "good stuff" to be activated. Then fill the mug with boiling water, add some honey and fresh lemon juice to taste, and sip away. When you get to the bottom, where the garlic resides, get a spoon and scoop those jewels of health up, and EAT THEM!! Yeah, you'll have some garlic breath for a bit, but no worse than with a garlic-laden spaghetti sauce. Brush your teeth and gargle, if it really bothers you.
"The cold-fighting compound in garlic is thought to be allicin, which has demonstrated antibacterial and antifungal properties. Allicin is what gives garlic its distinctive hot flavor. To maximize the amount of allicin, fresh garlic should be chopped or crushed and it should be raw.
In a study involving 146 people, participants received either a garlic supplement or a placebo for 12 weeks between November and February. People who took garlic reduced the risk of catching a cold by more than half. The study also found that garlic reduced the recovery time in people who caught a cold. More research is needed to corroborate these results.
Garlic does have some possible side effects and safety concerns. Bad breath and body odor are perhaps the most common side effects, however, dizziness, sweating, headache, fever, chills and runny nose have also been reported. Large amounts may irritate the mouth or result in indigestion. Garlic supplements should avoided by people with bleeding disorders, two weeks before or after surgery, or by those taking "blood-thinning" medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) or supplements believed to affect blood clotting such as vitamin E, garlic or ginkgo. "
I'm a believer - and I don't mind garlicky breath for a few days if it means not dealing with cold symptoms. Take your choice...