Garlic: Nature's Penicillin

Have you ever thought about how much money people could save if they just knew how to use the herbal remedies they can get at any grocery store? For instance, instead of going to the doctor and getting a prescription for an antibiotic, many common infections could be better treated with garlic. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and I’ve regularly used it in place of antibiotics for numerous conditions.

While broad-spectrum antibiotics have their place, they do have a couple of drawbacks. First, they are commonly prescribed for health problems that are typically viral in nature. These problems include colds, sore throats, bronchitis, earaches, and sinusitis. Antibiotics aren’t helpful for viral infections and the CDC even says that 30% of all antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary.

In addition, broad-spectrum antibiotics disrupt the friendly flora in the GI tract. This can make a person prone to fungal infections and tend to weaken the immune system overall.

This is where garlic shines. It has the advantage of being antifungal and antiviral in addition to being antibacterial. It is also antiparasitic and helps promote the growth of friendly gut bacteria due to its high content of mucilage which feeds friendly bacteria. This is a disadvantage if you’re dealing with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), but otherwise, it’s not generally a problem.

The Part That Works is the Part That Stinks

Garlic cloves from Adobe StockGarlic does have one major unpleasant side effect—its odor. If you’ve got to be around other people while you’re using it, they probably won’t appreciate it. Unfortunately, there’s no way around the smelly part, because the best antimicrobial compound in garlic is allicin, which is responsible for its strong odor.

Allicin is formed when raw garlic is chewed, chopped, or smashed. This releases an enzyme called alliinase, which converts alliin (a substance with no smell or taste) into allicin, a volatile sulfur compound. Allicin kills bacteria and fungus, along with parasites like ringworm. It also helps rid the body of many common viral infections.

In my experience, freshly crushed garlic is the best when fighting infection. This is because allicin breaks down into other sulfur compounds within 24 hours. At this point, garlic becomes less effective at fighting infections, but still retains some of its other medicinal benefits, such as aiding circulation. There are commercial products with stabilized allicin you can buy, but I haven’t found them as effective as the fresh stuff. You can also get some allicin from garlic oil, which stabilizes the allicin in an oil base. Still, I primarily rely on fresh garlic for fighting infection. I'll cover some tricks for making it more palatable later.

Lung Remedy

Fresh garlic slices from Adobe StockI have a genetic tendency to respiratory issues. It shows in my eye pattern and also my health history. So, if I start to get congestion in my lungs, I don’t want it to turn into something more serious, like pneumonia, which has happened to me a few times. So, I start using garlic if get bronchitis or a bad cough.

Garlic is particularly helpful for infections in the lungs because once allicin gets into the body, it tends to be excreted through the lungs. As it’s being excreted, it not only helps to fight infection in the lungs, it also acts as an expectorant to help expel congestion from the lungs. It also shows up on the breath. You can even apply raw garlic to the feet and you’ll smell it later on the breath.

I started using raw garlic for my lungs about three decades ago. There was a nasty winter temperature inversion causing a smoggy environment for about two or three weeks. I got a nasty cough (as did a lot of other people I knew). After a couple of days, I decided I’d had enough of that. I decided to try something radical.

I chopped up several cloves of raw garlic and swallowed the pieces. I also took four capsules of an expectorant formula. I repeated these every four hours. By the end of the day, I’d coughed up a lot of mucus and felt completely better. I had no more problems after that. In contrast, some other people I knew had problems for the next couple of weeks.

About a decade later, I heard a talk by Paul Berger, who had started using garlic with AIDS patients. He said their compromised immune systems made them prone to respiratory infections, which could grow worse and were often cause of death. He had them take several cloves of raw garlic daily and this prevented them from getting respiratory infections.

Earaches

Garlic clove in ear from Tree of LightGarlic is also my number one remedy for ear infections. I used garlic oil (or garlic and mullein oil) for ear infections in my children when they were growing up. I’ve also recommended this to other parents. One parent had a child who had an earache for about two weeks despite being on antibiotics. I had them start using garlic oil and the child was better in two days.

You warm the oil to body temperature and put several drops in each ear two or three times a day. It also helps to take the kids off of dairy and wheat as these allergens are often underlying causes of the congestion in the ear. If kids have frequent ear infections, I also recommend eyebright tincture, which helps block the swelling of the eustachian tubes so the ears will drain properly. I think it reduces allergic reactions, too.

For adults, I simply slice a clove of garlic in half, coat the cut half with olive oil so it won’t cause burning sensations on the skin, and place the garlic slice on the outer ear with the cut side facing the ear canal. (Don’t put the garlic clove into the ear canal, just place it on the outer ear, like earbuds.) I’ve done this on myself many times and it nearly always works to rapidly ease pain and relieve the congestion and infection in the ear.

Dental Abscess

If you’ve ever had an abscess on a tooth, you know that this can be painful. Dentists often recommend antibiotics while you’re waiting for the appointment to get the tooth pulled or the root canal done. I figured out I could use garlic to do the same thing. I cut a thin slice of garlic and coat it in olive oil. I then stick it in between the gum and the cheek over the abscess. You have to change it every couple of hours, but it rapidly takes down the swelling and eases the pain.

The volatile nature of allicin means that it can penetrate the skin rapidly and be absorbed into the nearby tissues. This enables it to get to the site of the infection quite rapidly.

Other Uses

I’ve used garlic oil topically to aid infections. I’ve rubbed it into the throat to relieve a sore throat. I’ve also rubbed it into the back and chest to ease lung congestion in young children. I diluted it with extra olive oil for this purpose. Both therapies were very effective, because of the smell, I decided to put antiseptic essential oils in olive oil and use that instead.

I’ve also used garlic in enemas to bring down fevers. You blend one clove of garlic with a pint of warm water and strain it. You then use this as a rectal injection. This can also be done for parasites. I prefer to use other things in enemas that are less irritating now, but the treatment was very effective.

There are reports of garlic being used to treat battle wounds in World War II when supplies of antibiotics ran out. Crushed garlic was applied to the dressings applied to wounds to prevent infection. I’ve personally never applied garlic to a wound, but I think it would work.

Taking Garlic Internally

Pressing garlic from Lee Kindness / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)Taking raw garlic internally requires some creative techniques. You can make garlic bread with freshly crushed garlic, for instance. I do something like this when I’m congested. I thinly slice cloves of garlic and put them on crackers with a little butter or cheese to cut the pungency of the garlic. Then I eat them. Works great.

Another way to use garlic internally is to make garlic lemonade. This is especially useful for chest colds and as a prevention for lung infections. Put two to four cloves of garlic into the blender. Add a peeled and quartered lemon. (Use a peeler to remove the yellow part, but keep the white pith under the peel.) Then add two pints of water (warm or room temperature for best results). Blend everything until smooth and strain. Add honey to sweeten to taste. I find one tablespoon is good. Drink this mixture throughout the day. The stuff tastes better than it sounds and it’s really effective.

You can also extract garlic in oil for internal or topical use. Crush the raw garlic and put it in olive oil on the stove. Stir the garlic in the oil over low heat to warm the oil, making sure not to brown or burn the garlic. Strain the oil and cool. Keep it in the fridge and use it within five days.

You can also crush raw garlic and put it in olive oil without warming it. Store this in the fridge for two days before using it. Again use it in five days, because this homemade garlic oil can spoil.

Garlic as an Emotional Remedy

Garlic has many uses besides being a natural infection fighter. It’s also a great remedy for circulation, for instance. I’ll save these uses for another article. But, I would like to talk about the emotional effect of garlic because it relates to immunity.

Immunity has two aspects. The first is the ability to recognize what belongs to the self (or is good for the self) and what does not belong to the self (or is not good for the self). The second is the ability to resist, destroy, or expel that which is not self or not good for the self.

Emotionally, the first aspect of immunity is linked to self-image. Do you have a clear image of who you are and who you are not? If you can't maintain a clear distinction between who you are and who others are, it can create dysfunctional co-dependency that can lead people to emotionally leach off of you or to you emotionally leeching off of them.

The second aspect of immunity is linked to self-esteem. Do you see yourself as someone worth standing up for or defending? If not, it sends a message to your immune system that it doesn’t need to fight very hard to protect you.

Garlic Flower Essence

Garlic flower head from Adobe StockGarlic flower essence is for the person who has a problem with their emotional boundaries. They allow others to influence them too much. They tend to be fearful, lacking a strong personal identity and the will to defend themselves emotionally. This makes them prone to being drained of their vitality by others.

The chest, where the heart and lungs are housed, is the seat of emotional attachment to others and this is the primary area of influence for garlic (lungs and circulation). Garlic strengthens the sense of self housed in the thymus, the seat of immunity and self-identity. The thymus is probably linked to the concept of the heart protector in Chinese medicine, which protects the heart from being taken advantage of by others.

Garlic helps a person speak up for themselves (think of garlic breath). It helps a person resist allowing others to unfairly leach off of them (the smell pushes people away). In short, garlic helps people get rid of emotionally parasitic relationships that drain the life out of them. Such relationships are often smothering to a person, and garlic restores the person’s ability to assert their own identity, which allows them to breathe freely instead of being smothered.

I hope this gives you some valuable insights into how to use garlic in healing. If you’re concerned about the breath aspect of it, try using some liquid chlorophyll or parsley when you take it. It will help reduce the odor so you don’t push the people you love away too much.

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