Garlic, you say, what is there to talk about? It sticks to the knife when I cut it, makes my fingers—and the cutting board—stink, and no one wants to be caught eating the tiny white nuggets for fear of their breath and sweat smelling of it. Bottom line: It reeks.
And in that reek are its blessings.
We get to get over our disdain and embrace its blessings.
What a treasure it is. Yes, it adds depth to our dishes, oomph to our sauces and rubs. And it is so much more than a seasoning. That smell is a sign that we've stumbled upon a powerful healing food which our ancestors have long known about.
You know I adore a good acronym. Well, I’ve come up with one for this occasion—whether it’s good or not is another matter.
G Glucose control. Garlic supports blood sugar balance and has been shown to actually reduce high blood glucose levels in folks with Type 2 Diabetes.
A Arthritis. Garlic has long been used in the treatment of inflammatory conditions, including arthritis. Research now bears that out.
A bonus A, for anxiety. Yes! Studies are showing that garlic, possibly because it is reducing oxidation in the brain—and because it is boosting gut health—may support us in lowering our anxiety levels. Woot.
R Heart. Circulation. In the same vein (ahem) as the comments on arthritis, garlic has traditionally been respected as a blood thinner and supports heart function by reducing the inflammation which can slow things down. It has also been found to reduce blood pressure. (Careful if you’re going for surgery!)
L Longevity. Lucidity. By this I refer to garlic’s power to reduce the likelihood of dementia and ability of its many properties to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Truly fantastic! Check out the science here.
I Inflammation. Infection. Yes, and Yes. Garlic is antibacterial. Garlic is antiviral. Garlic is an unsung hero that most of us have casually hanging out in our kitchens. We can use it for gut issues involving bacteria and parasites. We can use it against ear infections, and for wound healing. We can use it against staph infections.
C COVID. This is what caught my eye most recently and inspired me to wake up and smell the…garlic, yeh. That was a bad joke. But recent research is showing that compounds in garlic may be able to kill the SARS-COV2 virus. Seriously. Okay—not kill the virus, but make our bodies less attractive to it. There is a compound in garlic which prevents the virus from attaching to our immune receptors, thus preventing that cytokine storm you may have heard about.
C Yes, we get a double C on this spelling of garlic, because. Cancer. Garlic has been shown to have a lot of anti-cancer benefits.
Garlic. Such a humble plant. It may be small, but it big mighty. Big mighty.
So enough educating, let’s get to eating it to give our bodies what they need to thrive.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Eat it raw. Grab the bulb, pry off a clove, crush it to release the skin. Peel it. Crush and/or mince it some more. Let it rest 10 minutes all by its onesies, no heat, to allow the magic of nature to work—this is where the garlic turns into an allicin factory. And allicin is one of the compounds we know to be incredibly powerful.
2. Eat it powdered, pre-chopped (paying attention to any added ingredients, of course!), aged, or as a supplement.
3. Cook with it. After letting it rest and become allicin-ified, throw it in all the dishes you can.
4. Add it to extra-virgin olive oil (unfiltered, organic, one country of origin for optimal nutritional value) to create garlic oil for salads. Gently heat ½ cup of oil with 4 cloves of crushed, minced, garlic. Allow it to gently bubble—not boil—for 3-5 minutes and then cool before storing it in a glass jar. Feel free to strain the garlic, or leave it in to extract more goodness. Keeping it in the fridge will keep it fresh longer. The internet tells me to throw it out after 5 days to avoid botulism, but I’m thinking that is, well, unthinkable—no way. Use it up before that happens.
5. Create potions, so to speak: Here is a tasty-sounding concoction called Fermented Garlic in Honey.
My suggestion is to aim for a clove a day in whatever form works for you. And build from there to 3-4. Research is spotty on dosages for the full benefits we’ve been discussing here, so it’s one of those bio-individual situations. Listen to your good body. If the raw by itself gives you heartburn, try raw on a salad. If that doesn’t help, throw it in the soup or in the stir-fry, or sauce. Throw it in wherever you can to boost your health and the health of those you care about. If it's still problematic--your body may need some gut-healing of a different sort. Reach out!
Oh—if the smell is an issue, follow up your garlic with some parsley!
Happy Healing, everyone!