Smell is Everything: The Power of the Stinking Rose
The bitter cold is upon us, and what better herb to talk about than a warming herb, one that can fight colds, flu’s and a long list of infections. This plant has historically been referred to as The Stinking Rose, and for good reason. After eating this herb the distinct scent is released through the breath and wafts from the pores of the skin, at times practically surrounding a person with its smell. Can you guess what herb this is? Garlic, of course!
Garlic has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Sanskrit records dated at around 5000 years old, document the use of garlic remedies; and in China garlic has been used as medicine for at least 3000 years. According to Chinese medicine the warming nature and pungent odor of garlic produces a therapeutic effect through the lung, spleen and stomach meridians. You can definitely feel the results when you’ve eaten a lot of garlic. There is a long list of conditions that can be treated with this smelly herb, from ear infections, to toothaches, to high cholesterol, to poor circulation and more. As a food garlic is ubiquitous in kitchens around the world, as it is used to give many dishes their flavor and aroma.
Garlic contains some of the most powerful plant substances we know of, including allicin, SAC (S-Allyl Cysteine), DADS (diallyl disulfide) and seventy five other sulfur containing compounds. These compounds can bind toxic chemicals and substances and later excrete them from the body. Allicin is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals like those created by pollution. SAC can decrease LDL (bad cholesterol). The therapeutic benefits of these compounds are far too many to list here. Garlic also contains vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals like beta-carotene and quercetin.
Garlic can be used to treat a wide array of infections since it has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. It also protects against yeasts. For those who like to know the science behind it, there is evidence that garlic can boost the immune system by increasing T-cell proliferation, stimulating macrophage cytotoxicity and phagocytosis, restoring suppressed antibody responses, and by releasing Tumour Necrosis Factor. In short, it packs a powerful immune boosting punch. There are studies that show the ability of garlic to prevent colon cancer, stomach cancer and prostate cancer.That’s a lot of food for thought. If you’ve never been a fan of garlic maybe it’s time to slowly introduce it into your diet. There are many ways to consume garlic, here are a few:
- Raw! Juice it, add it to salad dressings, or just take a bite! This is the best way to eat garlic, as some of the therapeutic compounds are destroyed after cooking. Chopping causes a chemical reaction that releases allacin, one of the odoriferous compounds in garlic. Two to three cloves a day is a good amount to achieve its healthful benefits. Raw garlic juice is a powerful antifungal agent. When juicing organic is best, but always be sure to choose fresh garlic. A good trick is to wrap some parsley around the clove when placing it in the juicer. The chlorophyll helps to decrease the intensity of the smell.
- Cooked. If you can’t stomach the thought of eating raw garlic then try it roasted, sautéed, baked, boiled… There are still many benefits to eating it cooked. Garlic has a distinct flavor which people often love or hate.
- For those who aren’t too fond of its taste there’s always the option of taking a supplement. Aged garlic taken as a supplement is good because it does not have the taste or odour associated with eating fresh garlic.
The weather isn’t getting warmer any time soon. So why not warm up from the inside out? Do you often feel chilly? Garlic can help. Have you been getting a lot of colds lately? Garlic can help. Are you worried you might get the stomach flu that’s going around? Garlic can help! Don’t let its smell fool you, garlic is good food and good medicine. Enjoy!
Note: Garlic should not be taken at therapeutic doses if a person is on anticoagulants or about to have surgery. If you are on blood thinners please talk to your health care provider before increasing the amount of garlic in your diet.