Things You Should Know About Garlic – DIY, Recipes and More

August 28, 2015 Updated: August 28, 2015

By , Organic Lifestyle Magazine

Most know about garlic’s antimicrobial properties. A healthy diet rich in raw garlic is the best defense against fungal, bacterial, viral, and parasitical infections. Garlic may also be used topically to treat vaginal yeast infections and athlete’s foot.

WWI soldiers used crushed garlic on infected wounds suffered in battle. Hippocrates, considered by many to be the “Father of Medicine,” also used garlic to heal cancerous tumors. Garlic’s history is as rich and plentiful as its benefits. It is a truly amazing herb and one that many naturally minded healthcare practitioners will tell you is one of nature’s most incredible plants.

Be forewarned, garlic does burn the skin. It’s not pleasant, but the results are amazing. Here’s a personal story about treating a spider bite with garlic:

(PRORebecca Siegel/Flickr/CC BY)
Allicin is garlic’s strongest antimicrobial component. (PRORebecca Siegel/Flickr/CC BY)

In Los Angeles there was a spider with a bad attitude in our apartment. He bit me nine times over the course of four nights. I do not know what kind of spider it was, but he was nasty, and five of those bites got very infected. 

I’m not one to get infections easily, but the spider that bit me was a potent little one! The bites were on my left arm near my elbow. I couldn’t even move my elbow. One of the bites was so bad that there was almost a third of a cup of green and greenish yellow, thick, oozing puss that I spent 5 hours carefully extracting, only to have it fill up the next day. I was taking tons of supplements and eating well; I was doing everything I could to ensure I did not get an infection, but this toxin the spider bit me with was unrelenting. 

I was also using some of the most potent herbs I knew of, putting them directly into the huge hole left behind from the puss extraction. During the third time (seven days after the bite) of removing the puss (I was cutting open my arm and literally digging into the infection, scooping out this nasty pussy junk), I noticed streaking. Blood poisoning. So I decided to take drastic measures. I knew it would burn me badly, but I filled up the hole with garlic. I shoved a total of four large minced cloves into the infection, which gives you an idea of the massive size of the hole that was there on my arm just below my elbow. Then I bandaged the wound.

It itched so badly that night, but my whole arm hurt and itched so much already that the garlic itch didn’t matter to me. I taped my hands in my sleep so my fingers wouldn’t claw off the bandage while scratching in my sleep.

The next day I awoke to a huge purple welt. It was three times the diameter of a quarter, and it looked like something had eaten a huge chunk of my arm. It was ghastly! But it was also uninfected! I had no itch, and very little pain right there, unlike the other bites.

The other bites had to be drained for infection a few times, even well after the wound closed. I did not do the garlic trick with them, as the scar that I thought might be permanent was massive and disturbing to look at. It took a month for the other spider bites to heal, and it took 6 weeks for the garlic wound to completely heal leaving a very large scar.

But here is what I found most interesting. Today, one year later, every single spider bite left a scar, except the big one. The one I put the garlic into is less visible than the others. As massive and nasty as it was during the slow healing process, the permanent damage done was less than that of even the relatively insignificant other bites.

Garlic Potency – Allicin

A sulfur-based compound called alliin and an enzyme called alliinase are separated in the garlic’s cell structure when garlic is whole. Cutting garlic ruptures the cells and releases these elements, allowing them to come in contact with each other and oxygen to form a powerful new compound called allicin, which not only adds to the number of garlic’s health-promoting benefits but is also the culprit behind its pungent aroma and gives garlic its “bite.”

Allicin is garlic’s strongest antimicrobial component. This is also why researchers tell us that slicing, chopping, mincing or pressing garlic before cooking will enhance its health-promoting properties by releasing more allicin. Avoid boiling or cooking whole garlic cloves as this deactivates the enzymes.

(sanapadh/iStock)
Pressing garlic or mincing it into a smooth paste will give you the strongest flavor and may also result in the highest amount of allicin. (sanapadh/iStock)

 

By chopping garlic more finely, more allicin may be produced. Pressing garlic or mincing it into a smooth paste will give you the strongest flavor and may also result in the highest amount of allicin. Let it sit for five to ten minutes before eating or cooking. If cooking is required, do not expose to heat for longer than five minutes.

The processes used to create garlic tablets destroy allicin. Fresh garlic is best, but if you need to take it as a pill, don’t take garlic in tablet form. Use powdered capsules instead.

Garlic and Cancer

When garlic is a regular part of the diet, it has been shown in studies to help prevent cancer of the prostate, bladder, colon, stomach and breast.

One study of 40,000 postmenopausal women showed a 50% reduction in colon cancer.

Fingernails and Cuticles

Garlic strengthens nails and can heal cuticles. While ingesting garlic has a positive effect on skin and could, therefore, help cuticles, and possibly promote nail growth, people usually use garlic topically to enhance nail growth and repair cuticles.

Here’s a recipe for garlic infused nail polish.

Make sure to use nontoxic nail polish! Here are a few:

  1. Piggy Paint, non-toxic, odorless, kid-friendly, kid-colored, water-based formula.
  2. Honeybee Gardens, an alternative to solvent-based nail polish, water-based, odorless, removes with rubbing alcohol.
  3. No-Miss, does not contain the three-to-avoid above, and also does not contain camphor.
  4. Acquarella, water-based system of nail polish, conditioner, remover and moisturizer.
  5. Suncoat, water-based nail polish that has been recognized and honored from the Canadian Health Food Association Expo.
  6. Gaiam, created by New York City’s first organic spa, our non-toxic nail polish is free of known carcinogens.

Alternatively, you can also soak nails in garlic oil, or apply garlic oil to nails regularly.

For damaged cuticles that don’t want to heal, take crushed garlic, apply to the cotton of a Band-Aid and wrap the finger. The way to do this is to open the Band-Aid wrapping, place the Band-Aid on a table or counter, place garlic in a “U” pattern to lineup with the cuticle line, and then put the finger, nail down, onto the Band-Aid and wrap the finger. It’s a little easier with help, but it’s not too difficult to do alone. It will itch for about 20 minutes. One finger is pretty easy to manage the irritation, but multiple fingers can get pretty difficult to bear. Leave it on for a minimum of 3 hours – 8 hours max. Once the Band-Aid is removed, let the skin air out for a few hours at least, but if there’s the potential to damage the cuticles again, wrap them up in new Band-Aids.

Pest Control with Garlic

Germs, parasites, and most animals don’t like garlic. If you have a garden that you want to protect or a pet you need to keep flea free, it’s easy to make a garlic spray that you can apply directly to plants and animals.

Garden Protection Recipe

  • 1 whole bulb of garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper
  • 1 quart of water
  • 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap

Chop all ingredients finely (or crush, or use a food processor), and put in blender with water. Blend at a low speed until well mixed and then strain. If you blend at too high a speed, you may have nothing to strain, and the mixture may be too thick for a spray bottle, but it depends on the sprayer.

Put liquid into a spray bottle and add dish soap. Mix well.

Use a spray bottle to liberally apply to plants, all over, including the top and underside of leaves.

Flea Control Recipe

  • 1 whole bulb of garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 quart of water
  • 10 drops of peppermint oil clove oil or any other essential oils that pests don’t like.

Chop all ingredients finely (or crush, or use a food processor), and put into a blender with water. Blend at a low speed until well mixed and then strain. If you blend at too high a speed you may have nothing to strain, and the mixture may be too thick for a spray bottle, but it depends on the sprayer. Spray pet before it goes outside, and regularly if there are fleas in the house. Avoid spraying near the pet’s eyes.

Tzatziki - traditional greek sauce with garlic. (Lilechka75/iStock)
Tzatziki – traditional greek sauce with garlic. (Lilechka75/iStock)

Other Garlic Health Benefits, Tips, and Tricks

  • Garlic might help prevent hair loss! Massage garlic oil into scalp.
  • Garlic is definitely a low calorie food with 4 calories per clove.
  • If you put a slice of garlic over a splinter and cover it with a bandage, it will help the skin push it out.
  • Garlic has its own day of recognition! April 19 is National Garlic Day.
  • Garlic is rumored to ward off mosquitoes and other vampires.
  • Garlic helps babies gain weight while they are in the womb.
  • Rub garlic on a cold sore to get rid of it.
  • Put a slice on a skin tag and cover with a Band-Aid to get rid of it.
  • Garlic is high in iodine – good for the thyroid.
  • Garlic is high in vitamin C.
  • Garlic doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
  • Avoid CHINESE GARLIC!
  • Garlic helps to regulate blood sugar.
  • There are 300 varieties of garlic grown worldwide.
  • Garlic has been grown for more than 5000 years.
  • To quickly peel an entire head of garlic, put it in a jar and shake until the cloves come loose and the skin comes off.
  • Grow a new bulb from any clove that sprouts.

Garlic is my go-to herb for many ailments, and I eat it every single day. I put it in my salads and in the foods I cook. I eat it raw and cooked, but more often raw. I use it to reset my gut flora, I use it to detoxify my body, and I use it to make food taste better, but it does so much more.