If I could only choose one herb for winter (or anytime during the colder months), garlic would be it, without a doubt.
Garlic is an amazing, versatile herb that can be used for food and medicine. It’s easy to find (in any grocery store), it comes in several forms (whole, minced, powdered), and it can be used for a lot of different ailments.
Today, I’d like to share why I think garlic is the #1 herb to have on hand for winter. We’ll talk about how to stay healthy, the medicinal properties of garlic, and how to use it.
The first two things to think about as far as natural health goes is nutrition and prevention.
So first, adding garlic to your diet or increasing it is #1 as far as priorities go. Besides, garlic makes everything taste better, and thankfully, it’s good for your body.
Next, don’t wait til you or your little one is sick to think about using it. Garlic is best at preventing you from getting sick so start now while you’re healthy and get it into your diet as much as possible.
Garlic is also easy to grow. It’s a perennial so it comes back year after year. If you opt not to grow it yourself, it’s pretty cheap to buy at the store so stock up… in your garden or your pantry. Trust me, if you’re like me, you’ll use a lot of it!
Garlic: An Herb For Winter
Garlic is one of several herbs commonly referred to as “Heal-All” simply because it seems to be good for everything! It’s antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic (Gladstar, 1993; Tilgner, 2009).
It’s primarily used for its infection-fighting properties (studies have shown garlic to treat some pretty nasty bugs) which make it a great herb for winter or any cold months where viral illnesses seem to be everywhere, but it’s not limited to viruses only. Studies have shown garlic to be effective against some gram-positive and gram-negative as well as drug-resistant bacteria (Sivam, 2001).
However, it’s also a great herb for the heart. It’s known to stimulate blood flow, reduce tension in the cardiovascular system, regulate blood pressure, and strengthen blood vessels (Reinhart, 2008).
How To Use Garlic
Garlic can be used internally or externally by all ages, and you can use it in a variety of preparations.
It works great for poultices, infused oils, salves, teas, and tinctures. Be sure to check out the “Using Herbs” page to learn how to make each of these preparations yourself. They’re so easy!
When making garlic preparations, remember to crush the clove as this is what releases garlic’s medicinal constituents and let the clove sit for 10 minutes for these propreties to activate before making your preparation.
Some things to keep in mind when using garlic is:
- Too much raw garlic taken on an empty stomach can cause stomach upset.
- Garlic should not be placed directly against the skin for long periods of time as it can burn and blister the skin. Put a barrier between the garlic and the skin such as a thin cloth or some olive oil.
- Garlic can potentially enhance the effects of blood thinners and antithrombolitic medications. Consult your doctor if you are thinking about taking garlic and you are on these medications.
Example In Using Garlic
Now that I’ve told you a bit about garlic, let me give you an example of how I’d use it for myself or for one of my littles.
Let’s say my toddler was complaining of a sore throat, and I knew that strep throat had been going around in our area. Below are some steps I’d take to try to prevent my kiddo from getting it or to manage it if he did come down with a sore throat.
- First, I’d start adding more garlic to the foods I prepared. Garlic and honey on toast, garlic in pasta and soups, garlic on chicken and beef, etc.
- Next, I’d make a strong garlic infused oil and a strong garlic tea to use throughout the day for several days in a row.
- I’d start by massaging the garlic oil on my child’s neck using small circular motions, paying specific attention to the glands and lymph nodes in the neck. Not only will this help the garlic to absorb into the neck area, but it encourages blood and lymph fluid to move (which helps the body to clear any infection if present) and it can sooth pain as well.
- I’d also bottle up the garlic tea (with a wee bit of raw honey to sweeten it) in a spray bottle and encourage my child to spray the back of their through 5-6 times a day. Garlic works best when it’s fresh and it comes into direct contact with the affected tissues.
- I’d continue this for 5-7 days until my child felt better.
Okay, so I hope you too will see how great garlic is… a must have herb for winter months, and I hope you’ll feel confident being able to use it for a sore throat and more!
How have you used garlic to get well during a sickness? Tell me about it in the comments below!
- Gladstar, Rosemary (1993). Herbal Healing for Women. Simon & Schuster; New York, NY
- Reinhart, K.M. (2008) Effects of Garlic on Blood Pressure in Patients With and Without Systolic Hypertension: A Meta-Analysis. Annals of Pharmacotherapy vol. 42 no. 12 1766-1771
- Silagy, C.A.; Neil, W., Andrew, H. (1994). A meta-analysis of the effect of garlic on blood pressure. Journal of Hypertension: Vol 12 Issue 4.