Healthy Beginnings

Garlic – can it really help fight the flu and food-borne illness?

Garlic – can it really help fight the flu and food-borne illness?

Garlic – the potent, vampire-repelling and romance- killing herb – has a long history of being used as a powerful illness- fighting therapy. But, does drinking garlic tea or garlic cough syrup truly battle sore throats and u-like symptoms? Or, does this question just continue to bolster regurgitated, unsubstantiated folktales?

Researchers at Washington State University found that a compound in garlic is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics at fighting Campylobacter bacterium, one of the most common bacterial causes of food-borne illness in the United States.

The compound – diallyl sulfide – was more effective than erythromycin and ciprofloxacin, antibiotics used to treat norovirus and other bacterial infections with symptoms
of abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. The research was published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Garlic also contains allicin, which has been found to exhibit antibacterial activity against various bacterial agents. One study published in by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that individuals who ingested a capsule of an allicin-containing garlic supplement, once daily over a 12-week period, had significantly fewer colds than individuals who did not ingest an allicin-containing garlic supplement, indicating that an allicin-containing supplement can prevent attack by the common cold virus.

While eating garlic is a generally healthy practice, researchers and scientists remain divided on garlic’s ability to combat bacterial illness, u and cancer-causing agents. However, there’s no question that garlic is rich in manganese, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamins B6 and C, and has immune-boosting and antiviral effects, which can help reduce inflammation, boost immune function and improve cardiovascular health.

After all, garlic has been prescribed since prebiblical times (an ancient Egyptian medical listing from 1550 B.C. recommends garlic as a remedy for 22 ailments, including headaches, bites, worms, tumors and health complications), according to an excerpt in Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs.

If you’re looking to take advantage of garlic’s immune- boosting properties this u season, try this soothing, garlic soup:


26 garlic cloves (unpeeled)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) organic butter (grass fed)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder

1/2 cup fresh ginger

2 1/4 cups sliced onions

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

26 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup coconut milk

3 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth

4 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 26 garlic cloves in small glass baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. Cool. Squeeze garlic between fingertips to release cloves. Transfer cloves to small bowl.

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, thyme, ginger and cayenne powder and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add roasted garlic and 26 raw garlic cloves and cook

3 minutes. Add vegetable broth; cover and simmer
 until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes. Working
 in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to saucepan; add coconut milk and bring to simmer. Season with sea salt and pepper for flavor. Squeeze juice of 1 lemon wedge into each bowl and serve. Serves 4.

Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Research suggests that garlic has earned its place in the modern medicine bag.

The following tips are derived from Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, edited by Claire Kowalchik and William H. Hylton.

Old-time garlic remedies for aches and pains:

Garlic cough syrup: Pour a quart of boiling water on a pound of fresh, sliced garlic. Let this steep for 12 hours, then add sugar until the consistency is syrup. To improve the taste, add honey and vinegar boiled with caraway and fennel seeds.

Garlic tea: Gargle garlic tea for a sore throat, and swallow it if you have the flu. Chop several cloves of garlic and let steep in ½ cup of water for 6 to 8 hours.

Garlic oil: To soothe an earache, place a few drops of warm garlic oil in the affected ear. Make the oil by slicing a garlic clove, adding a small amount of olive oil ad heating briefly. Strain before use.



Garlic compound fights source of food-borne illness

Hylton, William H., and Claire Kowalchik. “Garlic.” Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, Inc. 1987. 215-219. Print.