Chances are you’re very familiar with one of the world’s most ancient medicines: garlic. When dealing with a number of common minor ailments at home, garlic can be a truly powerful herbal remedy. Let’s talk about the medicinal benefits of garlic!
Garlic is one of the most researched medicinal herb out there: Check out Pub Med’s long list of garlic-related studies.
How to Grow Garlic
Not only is garlic a powerful home medicine ally, it’s one of the easiest crops to grow. It requires no fertilizers or pesticides – it contains it’s own pesticides which I’ll get to later – and requires very little water throughout the season.
Simply break apart a head of garlic and plant individual cloves, pointed side up, a few inches into the soil. Mulch heavily.
They’re usually planted 6-8 weeks before the first frost in the Fall but can also be planted as soon as the soil can be worked in the Spring. For a complete guide to growing garlic, check out my Complete Guide to Growing Garlic.
And for more information on how to use garlic in companion planting, check out my FREE Complete Guide to Companion Plants:
They only need a few inches to grow in, and so are great in containers or apartment gardens.
They’re also one of the few crops that gives you a double harvest: the garlic bulb and the garlic scape. Check out my posts on How and When to Harvest Garlic Scapes, and my Wild Garlic – How to Harvest and Cook.
History of Medicinal Garlic
Garlic has been used medicinally for over 7,000 years – where it was found in Paleolithic caves.
The known constituents in garlic that give it its’ incredibly versatile medicinal benefits are: alliin, allicin, ajoene, allinase, terpenes, B vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidant flavonoids, sulfur, selenium, and phosphorus.
Garlic and Circulation
The aromatic constituents in garlic act as a natural pest-repellent (which also make it GREAT for companion planting) are also responsible for dilating blood vessels.
This increase in dilation increases blood circulation which reduces blood pressure (dilation means there’s more room for the blood to flow, hence, lowering the pressure.
Better circulation means more oxygenated blood can pump freely through the body, increasing people’s energy and sense of vitality. Source
Studies have shown that eating one clove of garlic (or one capsule) daily for 4-6 weeks can lower blood pressure, making it a great natural remedy for hypertension in pregnancy – however if bleeding is an issue, please avoid. It has anti-clotting effects in large doses. Source
High blood pressure is usually caused by the hardening of arteries due to cholesterol plaque and calcification. Garlic has been show to halt and sometimes even reverse the hardening of arteries, possibly due to it’s dilation effect. Source
Garlic and Cholesterol
Studies have also shown that eating 1-2 cloves (or capsules) a day can lower serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as increasing good cholesterol (HDL). It does this by supporting the liver – the organ primarily responsible for regulating cholesterol levels. Source
Garlic and Diabetes
Cold and Flu
When I lived in Mexico, a local medicine woman would make a tea out of boiling a stick of cinnamon and a clove of garlic (and sometimes a chili pepper).
There are other garlic concoctions such as fire cider, fermented garlic, and garlic honey – but I’ll write separate posts on those!
It turns out garlic has more than 18 known antibacterial constituents and has been shown to have antimicrobial activities throughout the body on viruses, bacteria, protozoa, yeast and fungi! Source
Or, if you don’t want to wait, check out Herbal Academy’s Fire Cider Recipe.
Garlic and Women’s Issues
A garlic suppository inserted into the vagina can help treat yeast infections and can help treat menstrual cramps, weakness during menstruation, amenorrhea, morning sickness and hot flashes.
Garlic and Respiratory Issues
The volatile oils in garlic have also been shown to be excreted through the lungs, making it especially effective in treating respiratory infections and illnesses. It’s also an expectorant, helping the body to thin and expel phlegm in the respiratory system.
Garlic and Ear Infections
In addition to treating the lungs, it can also be used juiced or in an oil to relieve muscle aches and pains and in the ear to treat ear pain and infections. In addition to a drop of garlic oil or juice inside of the ear, you can also rub it along the eustachian tubes on the outside of the neck.
Herbal Academy has a simple recipe to make garlic ear drops to treat ear infections. I’ve used it on Farmer Jack several times and it always seems to reduce the severity and duration of his ear infections.
Garlic juice or oil can also be used to treat athletes foot, especially when paired with tea tree oil.
If you’re interested in more studies related to garlic please comment below and let me know, I have a whole stack of them I’m happy to share!
Do you eat garlic? Use fire cider or garlic honey? Care to share your favorite garlic recipes?? Comment below!
Wondering where I got my information and access to hundreds of scientific studies on herbal medicine? Herbal Academy’s Herbarium is my best kept secret! It’s $45 per YEAR and gives you access to their massive library of herbal monographs, videos, intensives, blog posts, ebooks, etc. It has completely changed my life as an herbalist and I highly recommend it!