This week I came down with the stomach virus that’s going around Seattle. Despite living as healthily as I can manage, I still interact with people and germs, and I still get sick. I just don’t get sick for as long as I used to. And whenever I’m sick, I turn to garlic.
Yes, garlic. This is not a typo. Since the dawn of time – or at least literature – garlic has been considered a cure-all. It’s been claimed to help in resisting colds and flu, the Plague, and even vampires. Many people in other countries still rely on garlic as a health supplement.
I used to travel a lot for business. And between all the indulgent eating and the germs on planes and shaking a lot of hands, I would usually get sick. One time, when I got a cold in Torino, Italy, my local contact advised I eat a clove of garlic. Every day. He said he did it, and never got sick.
At the time I hadn’t bought into natural wellness. Or food allergies. Or the understanding that everything we put in our mouths effects our entire bodies. So I ignored his advice. Laughed about it, in fact. “What a quaint Italian custom,” I thought, arrogantly.
What I didn’t realize is that I was just following the current medicinal thinking, which has evolved over time.
A Short History of Medicine.
Doctor, I have an ear ache!
2000BC Here, eat this root.
AD 1000 That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.
AD 1850 That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
AD 1940 That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
AD 1985 That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
AD 2000 That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root.
Author unknown. Reprinted from Herbal Supplement Resource.
Over the last few years my thinking has evolved to include a more holistic look at medicine. Why shut out any option, right?
And I’ve come to appreciate garlic in all of its forms—raw, roasted, stir fried, minced, pressed, or eaten whole. Especially when I’m not feeling well. It turns out that raw garlic has the most medicinal value. And raw garlic that’s been minced or crushed has even more goodness than the whole clove, because you get more of the juices interacting with your bodily fluids*.
Juicy raw garlic from a garlic press.
Raw garlic also results in most people’s top two complaints about garlic. That smell, and the burning.
That burning sensation in your mouth? That’s the garlic killing off bacteria and eating the sugars and yeast that accumulate on your tongue. Eat some once in a blue moon and it’ll always burn. But eat a little every day, as my Italian friend suggested, and over time the burning will give way to enjoyment of the juicy, spicy taste.
Which leaves us with garlic breath. Garlic, or at least its smell, has an unwarranted bad rap. In a world totally aligned with health, not to mention yumminess, romance-seekers would be attracted to anyone who smelled like garlic. Personally I’ve come to love it. Who doesn’t love garlic fries, garlic bread, and olive oil with crushed garlic? You can’t get the taste without the smell. You could take garlic supplements, but they are neither as delicious nor as effective as the raw stuff. So let’s not discriminate! Next time you meet someone who smells of garlic, congratulate them on their good choices!
Let’s declare a garlic revolution!
*A character in one of my favorite movies, a cult classic, was obsessed with bodily fluids. In fact, he started a nuclear war. Guess who? For the record, that’s not the kind of revolution I’m suggesting. 🙂