Garlic: King of Medicinal Herbs

January 18, 2023 by Lazer Brody

Quick quiz: which natural vegetable, root or herb strengthens the immune system, prevents colds and flu or shortens their severity and recovery time, increases energy, enhances cardiovascular health, virility and fertility too? If you answered garlic, you’re right. With that in mind, fresh dried garlic cloves are a commodity that deserve a place of honor in your pantry, especially during the winter.

The Talmud’s Recommended Herb

Garlic is such an amazing and powerful herb that it gets top billing in the Gemara as an outstanding fertility enhancer (Bava Kama 82a). No other herb with such fantastical medicinal properties adds so much flavor to your food while also providing many health benefits. In the Middle-Eastern diet, especially if you’re eating Italian or Israeli cuisine, Herbalists commonly use garlic for symptoms of upper respiratory infections, as a general antimicrobial, and to support both heart health and digestion.

The Winter Wonder

Winter is flu and cold season. Therefore, garlic is a must for staying healthy. Grab it the moment that you sense that you are coming down with something or you also feel a cold sensation. Garlic eases the fever process. It is a diaphoretic, which means it helps your body to warm up when you have the chills. It enhances circulation, so it helps warm cold fingers and toes.

Congested? Don’t worry. Garlic excels in relieving congestion, both in the lungs and bronchial tubes. It opens up sinuses as well. Another reason that I’m so fond of raw garlic is that it stimulates mucus flow, thins mucus and therefore makes it easier for the body to expel it. You can even rub garlic cloves on your fingers and toes to warm them, or use an oil, preferably olive, that’s infused with garlic. Garlic’s antiviral properties also prevent respiratory infections.

Prebiotic, not Antibiotic

Garlic is not an antibiotic. Antibiotics murder bacteria, even the helpful type. Garlic is a prebiotic, meaning that it promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, particularly Bifidobacteria, in the gut. It also helps prevent disease-promoting bacteria from growing. That’s not all: garlic is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and lipid-lowering. It has anti-tumor effects and even eases asthma.

The Happy Heart

Garlic lowers the danger of blood clots and therefore can prevent heart attacks and even strokes. Garlic reduces blood pressure, lowers cholesterol. Research shows that garlic flushes the soft plaque in the arteries, which could break off and cause a blockage that leads to a heart attack. In other words, it’s effective against atherosclerosis. If that’s not enough, garlic zaps you viamins and minerals, including manganese, B6, B1, C, Selenium, calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and iron.

Practical Tips

The Brody household loves braided garlic fresh and local from our outdoor market. Although it stays potent and fresh for at least 6 months, a garlic braid of 12 heads will last for less than in a month in our home, sometimes no longer than two weeks.

To increase the potency of garlic each time you use it, finely chop or crush a garlic clove and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. That’s why when I prepare my breakfast of fresh salad, the garlic gets chopped first. Then, I continue to prepare the other veggies and ingredients. It takes 10 minutes  for the enzyme alliinase to convert alliin into allicin, garlic’s effective compound that gives it its aroma and medicinal properties.

To combat garlic breath, chew a swig of fresh parsley. If you’re not used to or stomach-sensitive to fresh garlic, either start with small quantities or eat roasted garlic.

The takeaway: grab the garlic! Blessings for your good health.

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