April 16, 2020 by Clare Hawkins
The addition of certain herbs with medicinal properties to your diet can be easy way to boost your immune system, and give your body extra support against illnesses. Over the next few weeks, we will be showcasing some beneficial herbs that you may already have stocked in your kitchen.
Please remember that now more than ever, you should not rely on home remedies as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you show symptoms which are of concern, or if you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, do not delay seeking medical advice.
Garlic has many beneficial properties and has been used for thousands of years in many cultures to fight infection. Garlic is known to aid immune function (Tilgner, 2009) and contains 18 known antiviral and antibacterial substances (Gladstar, 1993). It has been shown to be effective against gram-positive and gram-negative aerobic bacteria as well as against antibiotic-resistant bacteria (Sivam, 2001).
Through its anti-inflammatory action and antimicrobial oils secreted through the lungs, it can ease some of the discomforts of a cold, as well as shorten its duration by stimulating the immune system, thinning mucus, and resolving a fever.
In this simple recipe, garlic is combined with honey, another antimicrobial superfood. This can be taken regularly to support the immune system, or to soothe symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, or sinus congestion. Try garlic honey stirred into a hot cup of tea or eaten by the spoonful!
- 3 garlic (Allium sativum) bulbs
- Raw honey
- Peel and separate the cloves and chop or grate.
- Fill a sterilised, dry jar about half full with chopped garlic cloves, then cover with honey. (Avoid filling to the top of the jar as a harmful bacteria is more likely to grow if there is no air space at the top of the jar. *See the food safety note below)
- Poke through the honey with a sterilised, dry spoon to make sure that all of the garlic is covered.
- Cap and label the jar, and store for up to 3 months.
- To use, take 1 teaspoon once a day as a tonic or 4-6 times a day during an active infection.
*Honey and garlic can both harbour spores of Clostridium botulinum (the pathogen that causes botulism). The growth of C. botulinum spores is more likely to occur in a neutral pH, a moist environment, or an environment without oxygen. C. botulinum spores are less likely to reproduce and the risk of botulism is lower in preparations with high acid (pH of below 4.6), high sugar, or high salt content (United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, 2010). Honey is approximately 80% sugar, making it high in sugar. Honey is also acidic, with a pH of 3.9 (National Honey Board, n.d.). Though many use this recipe as-is, because the honey is diluted by the garlic thus causing the sugar content to lower, some individuals choose to use a pH meter and add a splash of apple cider vinegar to keep the pH levels below 4.6.
Gladstar, R. (1993). Herbal healing for women. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science principles and practices of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Masé, G. (2013). The wild medicine solution: Healing with aromatic, bitter and tonic plants. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Sivam, G. (2001). Protection against Helicobacter pylori and other bacterial infections by garlic. The Journal of Nutrition, 131(3), 1106-1108. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/131.3.1106S
Tilgner, S. (2009). Herbal medicine: From the heart of the earth. Pleasant Hill, OR: Wise Acres LLC.
National Honey Board. (n.d.). pH and acids in honeys. Retrieved from https://www.bjcp.org/mead/ph_acid.pdf
United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. (2010). Clostridium botulinum. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/a70a5447-9490-4855-af0d-e617ea6b5e46/Clostridium_botulinum.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
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