Posts Tagged ‘Garlic’

I don’t necessarily believe in herbal “Panacea’s”, however, with one exception…Garlic (Allium sativum) comes pretty close.  What a fabulous herb that is so accessible to all and can be used as food/medicine.  Whether cooked or eaten raw the health benefits of garlic are astounding.  When eaten raw, garlic is an extremely effective antimicrobial (substance that kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, or protozoans).  When cooked, garlic still extols numerous health benefits to include being a powerful antioxidant, blood thinning which helps to prevent clotting, and an adjunct to lowering blood sugar. (more…)

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I have to admit I have become a compulsive label reader.  So… just out of curiosity I read the label of a children’s pain reliever and fever reducer.  I won’t mention the name, but I will tell you that it rhymes with Mylenol.  I was absolutely blown away by what was in this over the counter drug that is given to millions of children each year.

Anhydrous citric acid, butylparaben, FD&C Red#40, flavors, glycerin, high fructose corn syrup, microcrystalline cellulose and carboxymethyl cellulose sodium, propylene glycol, purified water, sodium benzoate, sorbitol solution, sucralose, xanthan gum.

Just looking at these ingredients makes me cringe….what are we feeding our children?  According to the FDA, “Most drugs prescribed for children have not been tested in children.”  The FDA also goes on to say that, “…only about 20 percent of drugs approved by the FDA were labeled for pediatric use. By necessity, doctors have routinely given drugs to children “off label,” which means the drug has not been approved for use in children…”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel real comfortable with those facts.  With that said I’m here to tell you that there are a lot of wonderful herbs that can be used with kids in lieu of over the counter or prescription drugs and they are much safer and very effective.  Even many of the spices you may have in your kitchen cabinet can be very effective when it comes to treating acute conditions.

Some wonderful herbs and spices to have around the kitchen include:

  • Garlic –  This herb is one of the most valuable herbs you will ever have around the house.  Often called, “Poor Man’s Penicillin”, garlic is by far much more effective and safer than any antibiotic on the market.  Garlic is highly effective against both viral and bacterial infections and can be your first line of defense against antibiotic resistant infections. 

Remedies using Garlic:

Asthma (acute) – Simmer two cloves of garlic for 20 minutes and drink a glass once the mixture is cool.

Congestion – Soak a 1 pound of garlic in a quart of boiling water for 10 or 12 hours. Strain out the garlic and mix the liquid with 4 pounds of honey and bottle. Take 1 teaspoon for congestion.

Ear Infection – Chop up several cloves of garlic and soak them in olive oil for a minimum of 30 minutes or overnight. Strain out the garlic and warm the oil to body temperature. Place several drops in the infected ear. Also treat the none infected ear.

  • Ginger – Not only is ginger a very effective antibacterial herb, but it is also a very good expectorant, pain reliever, circulatory stimulant, immune stimulant and diaphoretic (increases circulation to skin).  Ginger is often used for motion sickness as well as nausea associated with chemotherapy or morning sickness.

Remedies using Ginger:

Cough/Cold/Flu –  Add a thumb size piece of ginger root to one quart of water and bring to a boil.  Simmer with lid on at low heat for 30 minutes.  Let the mixture cool.  Strain and drink ½ – 1 cup as desired.  May sweeten with honey.  (Do not use for a dry unproductive cough)


  • Honey – This sweet treat is loaded with vitamins and minerals and is like a first aid kit all rolled up into one remedy.  Honey is extremely effective taken as a preventative or during the course of colds, flu and respiratory infections.  Honey is also a very effective wound healer if applied topically to burns, ulcers and various other skin afflictions. Caution:  Do not give to children under 1 year of age.
  • Sage –  Often found in most kitchen cabinets this culinary herb is a wonderful antiseptic/antibacterial herb and can be applied topically for infected wounds or taken internally as a tea for various conditions such as sore throats, respiratory infections and dysentery.
  • Cayenne – This hot and spicy herb can be used topically to stop bleeding, to reduce inflammation and as a counter-irritant which may help relieve pain.  Internally Cayenne is taken as a digestive aid, anticoagulant and circulatory stimulant.
  • Cinnamon – There is some research to indicate that cinnamon may be effective in helping to regulate blood sugar and is a wonder addition to any diet.  As a carminative (alleviates gas/bloating) Cinnamon may be useful for colic, cramping, nausea, flatulence and vomiting.  Cinnamon is also astringent and may be effective in acute cases of diarrhea.
  • Anise – Not only good for the digestive system, but anise has also been used as an expectorant for chest congestion and mucus.

Anise may be used in the following applications:

–   Seeds may be chewed to help relieve indigestion or as a breath freshener.

–   A compress made from the tea can be used topically to help relieve pain.

–   The seeds can be used to make a syrup or tea which may be beneficial for coughs.

–   A tea made with Anise may help to stimulate the flow of mother’s milk.

–   Taken as a tea it may help to remedy colic, flatulence, cramp/griping, bloating and indigestion.

–   A nice addition to herbal recipes to enhance flavor.

  • Clove – Because of its pain relieving action, Clove has traditionally been used as a popular folk remedy for toothaches. Clove is also known to naturally relieve inflammation and is antifungal therefore making it potentially beneficial for parasitic infections.

CAUTIONS: Do not give to children under 5 and always dilute clove oil in water or oil.

  • Basil – An herb used for centuries in both culinary and medicinal applications, Basil is said to be both cooling and heating in its actions. Traditionally, it has been used in instances of melancholy (depression), indigestion, and for insomnia related to nervous tension. Basil is also used for conditions ranging from colds, fevers, kidney and lung troubles.

Remedies using Basil include:

–   Make a tea using basil for headaches, indigestion, fevers, colds, flu, menstrual

cramps, nausea, and vomiting.

–   Apply as a poultice for bacterial infections and burns.

–   Crush leaves and apply the juice topically to help with the itch of insect bites and inflammation of the skin.

–   Use as a steam for head colds.

–   Mix the juice of the leaves with honey for coughs.

The list of beneficial herbs found in the spice cabinet are endless.  Just about all culinary herbs can be used for various conditions which range from digestive issues to respiratory ailments.  Why rely on over the counter drugs which are loaded with various synthetic chemicals when you can use natural alternatives which are very safe and effective and have been used for centuries.

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It is true that herbs can be powerful medicine.  However,  traditional wholesome foods can be just as powerful.  Traditional  foods are the best form of health care you can provide for your family because they retain their nutritional properties and help to build as opposed to depleting the body. 

Lacto-fermentation is a traditional method of preserving food.  When foods are prepared through the process of lacto-fermentation they produce lactobacilli which are health promoting bacteria.  This beneficial bacteria makes foods more digestable and increases the vitamin and mineral content.

Another benefit of lacto-fermented foods is that through the fermentation process they also produce antibiotic like substances and essential enzymes.

Incorporating lacto-fermented foods into each meal is a great way to keep the gut and immune system in tip top condition thus preventing illness and disease.

For those of you who have never read Sally Fallons book, Nourishing Traditions, I highly recommend it.  Loaded with health promoting recipes it will be a great addition to your kitchen. 

The process for making lacto-fermented vegetables is quite simple.  Once the vegetables have been prepared they are placed in a wide mouth canning jar.  Ingredients which are added to the vegetables include filtered water, salt, spices/herbs and whey  (whey is the liquid byproduct of  curdled milk).  If whey is unavailable additional salt may be added.  The jar of vegetables is allowed to sit for several days and they are then placed in cold storage.

There are numerous recipes for lacto-fermented foods on the internet.  I highly recommend giving them a try. 


Makes 1 Quart

4-5 pickling cucumbers or 15-20 gherkins

1 tbsp mustard seeds

2 tbsp fresh dill

1 tbsp sea salt

4 tbsp whey (if not available use an additional 1 tbsp salt)

1 cup filtered water

Wash cucumbers and place in a quart-sized mason jar.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over cucumbers, adding more water if necessary to cover the cucumbers.  The top of the liquid should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.  Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

Courtesy Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon 2001

One thing I would like to add is that if you like cruncy pickles as oppossed to mushy pickles you can add fresh grape, oak or cherry leaves to your jar.  The tannins in the leaves help to keep in the pickles crunchiness.  Enjoy!

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What is Heliocobacter pylori

Heliocobacter pylori is a gram-negative bacteria and perhaps the most common of all bacterial infections.  The H. pylori bacterium, as it is often referred to, lives in the lining of the stomach and closely resembles normal epithelial cells.  Because of its spiral shape, the bacteria can literally drill into the lining of the stomach.  Hidden within the mucous lining of the stomach the H. pylori bacteria is able to evade immune cells, which cannot reach it through the stomach lining.  H. Pylori is also able to produce a cloud of acid neutralizing chemicals, which helps to ensure its survival.

 How is H. Pylori Contracted

Researchers are unclear as to the true source of the helicobacter pylori bacteria, however it is more common in areas where there are unsanitary living conditions and over crowding.  Some speculate that the bacteria might be transmitted through human contact as it has a tendency to run in families.  The h. pylori bacteria is also thought to enter the body via the digestive system through eating contaminated food and water.

 Effects of Exposure:

Often times persons infected with the helicobacter pylori bacteria will have no apparent symptoms.  However, complications such as gastritis, peptic ulcers, and gastric cancer are associated with the bacteria.

Diagnosing H. Pylori:

One of the simplest ways to diagnose H. pylori is through a test, which analyzes the breath of the patient.  The patient is administered a dose of radioactive C14 by either ingesting a capsule or by having it administered in water.  The patient is then asked to blow into an apparatus, which analyzes the exhaled carbon dioxide for traces of C14.  If  C14 is detected it indicates the patient has an active infection of the Heliocobacter pylori bacteria present in their stomach.

Another method would be through a blood test which checks for antibodies, which react to the bacteria.  This test, however is not extremely accurate because it can only determine if there has been prior exposure to the bacteria, and cannot indicate if the bacteria is currently active.

The last test is performed through samples or biopsies of the lining of the stomach.  A gastroscopy is performed by inserting a fiber optic tube into the mouth, along the esophagus and into the stomach.  While visually inspecting the stomach and duodenum, doctors are able to take biopsies, which they will later test for the bacteria.

Possible Remedies for H. Pylori:

Garlic: (Allium sativum)

Garlic, which is often called, “Poor man’s penicillin” in folk medicine may prove to be a staunch ally when it comes to H. Pylori bacteria.  Constituents in garlic show positive effects against both gram-positive and negative bacteria.  Researchers have concluded that, “The incidence of stomach cancer is lower in populations with a high intake of Allium vegetables.”  Also, some antibiotic resistant strains of H. Pylori are susceptible to garlic. (1)  Suggested dose is 1-3 cloves of raw garlic per day.

Cranberries:  (Vaccinium macrocarpon)

Research conducted at the Institute of Technology in Haifa Israel indicated that the consumption of cranberry juice inhibits H. pylori from adhering to the stomach mucosa.  Other studies suggest that by consuming cranberry juice on a regular basis it may actually suppress the H. pylori bacteria possibly preventing ulcers and perhaps even gastric cancer. (2)

Ginger: (Zingiber officinale)

According to Dr. James Duke, “ginger contains 11 compounds that have demonstrated anti-ulcer effects.”  Dr. Duke also suggests that a combination of honey and garlic also provides the additional benefit derived from the honeys antibacterial properties.

Licorice Root: (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Numerous studies indicate the Licorice root may be an effective treatment against H. pylori.  (3)  However, for those that suffer with hypertension, Licorice may be contraindicated as it has a tendancy to increase blood pressure.  For those that are affected there is deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) which is basically licorice root which has had the constituent glycyrrhizin removed.  Although DGL has been modified there is still evidence to suggest that it is effective against H. Pylori.

Cabbage: (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)

Cabbage juice has been a traditional remedy in folk medicine throughout the ages.  This remedy might not be too far off the mark.  According to an article published in the Western Journal of Medicine, cabbage juice may be effective in healing peptic ulcers much more quickly than conventional treatments.  (4)  Suggested dose is 1 quart of raw cabbage juice per day.


1.  Protection against Helicobacter pylori and other bacterial infections by garlic. Sivam GP. Bastyr University, Research Institute, Kenmore, WA 98028, USA.

2.  A high molecular mass constituent of cranberry juice inhibits helicobacter pylori adhesion to human gastric mucus. Burger O, Ofek I, Tabak M, Weiss EI, Sharon N, Neeman I. Faculty of Food Engineering and Biotechnology, Institute of Technology, Technion, Haifa, Israel.

3.  Anti-Helicobacter pylori flavonoids from licorice extract.  Fukai T, Marumo A, Kaitou K, Kanda T, Terada S, Nomura T.  Department of Physico-chemical Analysis, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Toho University, 2-2-1 Miyama, Funabashi, Chiba 274-8510, Japan. fukai@phar.toho-u.ac.jp


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GarlicToday there is a bit of a chill in the air and I’m thinking about soups and stews.  One thing I love to put into my soups and stews is Garlic.  What a phenominal herb it is.  Not only does Garlic add a wonderful flavor to hundreds of dishes, but it also has a list of health benefits and uses that is almost endless.  Garlic is best eaten raw, but still contains some beneficial properties when lightly cooked.

Sometimes refered to as Poor Man’s Penicillin, Garlic is a premiere substitute for antibotics without the harsh side effects.  When my son was really young and it was apparent he was coming down with something I would mash up several cloves of garlic and pour enough olive oil over the cloves to cover them.  I would then let the mixture sit for as long as I could, at least 30 mins or more, and then I would strain it.  I would then take the olive oil and apply it to the bottom of his feet and put him on a pair of socks.  Off to bed he would go and in the morning you would never know he had been sick.  The fever would be gone and he would be feeling fine.

Garlic is a mild blood thinner, can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and increase circulation.  Some research indicates that Garlic may help to lower blood sugar levels in some people making it beneficial for diabetics.  Because of Garlics antimicrobial,  and anti-bacterial properties it may be beneficial with any number of infections and may help to rid the body of parasites.  Garlic is also a wonder antifungal and may be used both internally or applied externally for conditions such as nail fungus and athletes foot.

So when dinner rolls around tonight don’t forget the Garlic.  Bon appetit!

P.S…another bonus to eating a lot of garlic is that it will not only keep people away such as salesmen, but you won’t have to worry about those pesky vampires this Halloween.

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