Worn or carried as a protective talisman throughout the ages, and valued as a pungent culinary spice, the garlic bulb has gained recognition as a medicinal remedy in Chinese and Western cultures. It can be eaten raw or cooked, to release its therapeutic effects. Garlic's active ingredient is allicin, an amino acid derivative that is also responsible for the herb's pungent smell. In China this perennial herb is prescribed for colds and coughs, as well as for intestinal and digestive disorders. Chinese herbalists also believe that garlic can be used externally as an antibiotic, to relieve skin infections. In traditional Chinese medicine, garlic is characterized as acrid, bitter and warm.
Western herbalists prescribe garlic for many of the same ailments as their Chinese counterparts. It is also thought to strengthen the cardiovascular system, by reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.
Taken internally for:
Applied externally for:
Over the counter:
Garlic is available as cloves and in tablet form.
Nose drops: 1 part crushed root combined with 10 parts water.
External treatment: Combined with sesame oil and applied externally to treat ringworm of the scalp, pinworm, carbuncles, swelling, athlete's foot, arthritis and rheumatism.
Combinations: A mixture of garlic and sugar water is sometimes prescribed for digestive disorders, diarrhea, colds, coughs, food poisoning from shellfish and conditions that require an enema.
Tincture: 1 cup crushed cloves combined with 1 quart brandy, shaken daily for two weeks. Take up to 3 tbsp. a day.