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Garlic - Allium sativum

Recipes using garlic have been found in the cuneiform script of ancient Babylon dating back at least 5,000 years. Strongly anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal in nature, Garlic is active against a wide spectrum of infections, and has been used for thousands of years to prevent infestation with intestinal worms in both humans and animals. It is rich in silicon, and also has some anti-histamine activity.

The French used to wash battlefield wounds with Garlic, and in Ireland it was woven in to the thatch of cabins to ensure good luck to the family, whilst Turkish fishing boats still carry it for good luck. In Medieval Times Garlic was used to treat leprosy.

The power of the garlic is apparently in its odour - destroy this and the effectiveness of garlic is reduced! The odour comes from a group of sulphur-containing compounds (notably allicin - one of the plant kingdoms most potent broad-sprectrum antibiotic) which account for its medicinal activity. Because these potent chemicals can only be excreted through the lungs or via sweating, garlic is a particularly helpful antiseptic for lung infections and skin problems [and you can always chew parsley to help combat smelly garlic breath - or get everyone else to eat it too!] Anyone suffering from colds, flu, bronchitis, lung infections, or a sore throat should include plenty of garlic in their diet. Also effective as a preventative - [of both colds and friends]!
Garlic makes an effective insect repellent, but even if you do get bitten or stung a little raw garlic rubbed on the afffected area wll counter the pain and any possible infection. Garilc is also used as a remedy for intestinal worms, along with onions. Garlic is a blood thinner and helps lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of blood clots and can help reduce blood sugar levels.

The strong anti-fungal properties of Garlic make it an excellent, if somewhat smelly, remedy for athletes foot and similar fungal infections - an old folk tradition was to secure a sliver of raw garlic clove against the affected area, where it was left to do its' magic.

Earache can be effectively eased by using a raw garlic infused oil [warm the infused oil slightly and apply to ear] - although a friend of mind mentions that she prefers to use a garlic clove as an ear plug - you may need to pick out one which will easily fit in your ear, or simply cut one down to the appropriate size. The benefits of this method means that you can walk about, get on with daily life [to a certain extent!], whilst letting the garlic get to work on the bacteria and infection. [Just don't forget you've got a garlic earplug if you're popping down the local shop for a paper to read.... although I'm sure the smell will no doubt keep you fully aware of its' presence!]

In The GreenWitch, Barbara Griggs reveals a hangover cure involving garlic and red wine - as told to her by naturopath Michael Van Strobe - which was apparently employed after Bacchanalian orgies in Ancient Rome : Peel all the cloves from a large head of Garlic and place them in a pan with half a pint of red wine. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, before straining. The alcohol is boiled off whilst the tannins, and the curative properties of the Garlic, remain.

Garlic is also easy to grow! Simply plant single bulbs in spring or autumn in light, well-watered soil in a sunny position and watch them shoot up. Once the white flowers have bloomed, pick off the flower stems and harvest the bulbs when the leaves have died down.

! Best to avoid high doses in Pregnancy and during lactation as it may lead to heartburn or flavoured breast milk !


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