You may have heard that garlic keeps away vampires, which is as good a reason as any to keep some on hand. But have you heard that eating raw garlic or taking garlic supplements can help keep away the common cold? It can also help your body fight off the germs should they get through your defenses.
There’s more to garlic than a tasty ingredient in your favorite Mediterranean dishes. Garlic has immune-boosting properties that are useful in many ways to keep you healthy. If you feel the unmistakable signs of a cold coming on, reach for some garlic to keep it at bay. Garlic is good for colds, which is why we at Balanced Care recommend it as part of your winter defenses.
From Apothecaries & Herbalists to Mainstream Science
Garlic has been a part of healers’ regimens for centuries. Medicine people, midwives, and herbalists have prescribed garlic for a variety of illnesses and inflammation in cultures around the world. Recently mainstream western scientists have researched garlic’s healing properties and corroborated hundreds of years of natural remedies with concrete data.
One study had one group of participants take garlic supplements over a set period of time, and another group did not. The group that took daily garlic had fewer colds than those who did not consume garlic.
Another study people who already had a cold took garlic supplements. Researchers reported that those taking garlic had fewer cold symptoms and felt better sooner than those not taking garlic.
Most scientists attribute the allicins, or sulfur-containing compounds, in garlic to its anti-cold virus effects. However, there are many other compounds in garlic that scientists think play a role in reducing the viral load, and the research continues.
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Best Ways to Get Your Garlic if You Have a Cold
Fresh garlic is the most powerful and potent for its cold-fighting properties. If you enjoy the taste of garlic — or can at least stand it — this is the fastest and most effective way to get the good stuff in garlic into your system.
Eat a Clove at a Time
Simply peel off the “paper” outer covering of a garlic clove, press it with the side of a knife to crush it slightly, and then wait 10 or 15 minutes before popping it in your mouth. If it’s too pungent for you, have a glass of orange juice on hand as a chaser to counteract the taste. Try one clove every three or four hours.
Also Read: Can Food Allergies Really Be Cured?
Make a Garlic Drink or Tea
Crush a clove of raw garlic with a garlic press and add to a glass of 6-8 ounces of water. Add in one to two tablespoons of honey, stir vigorously and drink quickly. Honey has both antibiotic and antiviral properties. Instead of honey, add two tablespoons of lemon juice for a refreshing drink. Lemon is a good source of vitamin C and helps to reduce congestion and dehydration.
It’s important to crush or mince the garlic cloves and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. This process “activates” the allicin compounds in the garlic by spurring enzymatic activity.
If drinking cold garlic water, even with honey or lemon, doesn’t appeal to you, try making a warm garlic tea. To brew, cut three or four cloves of garlic in half and add to three cups of water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and then add ½ cup of fresh lemon, including the seeds and the rind and ½ cup of honey. Let it steep for 10 minutes, then strain. Sip throughout the day and warm in the microwave as needed. The warm liquid will help decrease congestion, and your brew will contain large amounts of antioxidants, vitamin C, and allicin compounds.
Cook with Garlic
If you have a cold, add some heads of garlic to your shopping list. Use 2-3 cloves at every meal while you are sick. Crushed or minced garlic can easily be added to your dishes, even if it’s vegetable broth, chicken noodle soup, or other comfort foods. Add garlic to your rice as it cooks, or to vegetables or potatoes. Rubbing crushed garlic over your meat before cooking is also an excellent way to use garlic in your meal preparation.
Garlic Supplements, Oils, & Extracts
Two or three cloves of garlic per day are the right amount to get the benefits of garlic for your health. If you choose to use a garlic supplement, aim for between 600 and 1,200 mg per day. There are several ways you can take garlic as a supplement. These do not contain the allicins that raw garlic do, but they do retain garlic’s other beneficial properties.
You can buy oil, usually olive or grapeseed, that has been infused with raw garlic. Or try making your own. You can use the oil on your salads on in cooking, or you can purchase capsules filled with the liquid.
Aged Garlic Extract
This is made from slicing raw garlic and aging it in ethanol for 18 months or more. The extract is taken medicinally under the tongue. Studies have shown that aged garlic extract retains its medicinal properties, including reducing the severity of colds and flu.
Treating Your Cold Naturally
Of course, in addition to eating garlic to help kick your cold, you need to also take care of your whole body. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids to stave off dehydration. Gargling with warm salt water is a tried-and-true method for reducing throat scratchiness and irritation.
You can also try taking a zinc supplement to give your immune system a boost; zinc has also been shown to reduce the duration of a cold. And don’t forget chicken soup — with plenty of garlic. The warm liquid helps to open your lungs and reduce congestion, and the broth also has healing properties.
Balance Your Health
For a holistic approach to your health and natural remedies to boost your immune system for greater wellness, contact us at Balanced Care. Our doctors are well-versed in traditional and natural methods to take care of your health. We will listen to your needs and consider your treatment systemically.