As a cultivated plant, garlic is of such antiquity that it is difficult to know its origin. Some consider it indigenous to southwest Siberia, where it spread to Europe and has naturalized in Sicily. The Greek poet, Homer, tells of the virtues of "Yellow Garlic” that Ulysses owed his escape from being changed into a pig by Circes.
It flourishes best in sandy, rich moist soil. Plant cloves two inches deep, about 6 inches apart, in a sunny spot. Keep free from weeds, and gather the soil around the roots. Most commercial garlic growers plant in the fall, even in our cold climate. That way it is ready to produce roots before the ground can be worked. My experience has shown that it likes plenty of nitrogen rich compost and manure. As with onions, bulb formation is influenced by day length. So an early start is essential to get large bulbs.
This herb has been used to heal everything. It is very antiseptic and has been used in many wars to prevent festering of wounds. The raw juice is expressed, placed on sterile pads and applied to the wound. From leprosy to the plague, garlic is attributed as a great healer.
Fresh garlic may be applied to acne, warts, and corns. Orthodox medicine acknowledges that the plant reduces the risk of further heart attacks in cardiac patients; it is also a stimulant for the immune system and an antibiotic. Over 1,800 scientific studies support the use of garlic in lowering cholesterol levels and blood sugar, preventing heart attack and stroke, and treating infections and cancer.
Diabetics can use garlic to stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin, without stimulating weight gain. When garlic oil is applied directly to the ear canal, it stops the growth of two fungi that sometimes cause ear inflammation.
Raw garlic can counteract the effects of probiotic digestive cultures taken to restore normal digestion and has been known to cause an upset stomach. Avoid using garlic if you take a blood-thinning drug, such as Warfarin, because it will add to the drug's effects. Nursing mothers should use garlic with caution because it can cause colic in some babies.
Thirty-five years ago, I would make a garlic syrup for coughs and colds. I used to sell it at art fairs, but I spent so much time explaining it to people, I wasn’t able to sell anything else! It is also a delicious marinade for meats. Here is the recipe:
Cut a pound of garlic, cleaned, into slices. Or you can crush it with a garlic press. Pour a quart of boiling hot water over it in a closed pot (glass or stainless steel is best). Let it sit for twelve hours. Make a syrup with one quart of apple cider vinegar and two cups of honey; add the garlic solution and gently simmer to reduce to a syrup. You could strain it, but I enjoy chewing the small pieces. You can add caraway and fennel seed bruised and boiled for a short time in the vinegar. They are good for tummy aches and women’s complaints while adding extra flavor to your syrup.
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, DK Books, 1993
A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve, Dover, 1971
Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phyllis Balch, Avery, 2002
Herbal medicine and teas
As a method of healing, are not recognized in the USA. Lynn Wallingford Cochrane makes no health claims. Any herbal or tea information is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prescribe in any way, and is for informational purposes only. She does not take responsibility for your experience using them. She trusts that you will consult a licensed healthcare professional when appropriate, especially pregnant women, nursing mothers, anyone over 60 years of age, anyone under 12 years of age, or anyone with a serious medical condition.