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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Garlic, A Daily Medicine

It is said that Columbus Day is the traditional time to plant garlic in order to harvest your crop next summer. If you grow garlic, most likely you save the best bulbs for fall planting. If you need to purchase bulbs, don't just buy garlic from the supermarket. Growers may have sprayed their crop to prevent sprouting, therefore there is the chance your cloves won't grow. Order high quality bulbs from a reputable source or from your local farm supply store.

Separate the garlic bulbs into its individual cloves. A typical bulb has from 7 - 10 cloves and each clove will develop into a new bulb. There is a saying that garlic seems to come up wherever it is dropped. Perhaps somewhat true, but garlic likes to be about 3-4 inches under well-drained, rich soil, and spaced 6 inches apart with root end down. Cover them with a good topping of about 6 inches mulch. A precaution against fungal diseases would be to first soak the bulbs before planting in a jar of water containing one heaping tablespoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of liquid seaweed. Let soak for a few hours.

You'll see shoots growing through the mulch but not to worry about being stunted with the cold weather. This is normal and come spring they'll start growing again. Don't pull back the mulch in the spring. It helps conserve moisture and suppresses weeds. Garlic doesn't compete very well with weeds.

During the month of June you'll notice the flowering heads begin to form. These are called scapes. For larger garlic heads, snip off these tops. Should you not get around to it, you just may have smaller garlic bulbs. To leave them on saps energy from the forming underground bulbs. Here is post with ideas of how to use these nutritious scapes in your cooking.

By late July when you notice the green part of the garlic has died back about 2/3 of the way, carefully dig out the bulbs. Use what is called a potato fork to carefully loosen the soil near the bulbs. If you do this job on a day after a soaking rain, you'll find the soil loose enough the bulbs may pull out very easily and you may not need a fork. Shake off the dirt and lay in an airy place out of the sun to dry. Store in a dry area with good circulation. Don't put in a closed container or in the refrigerator or they will mold.

Tried and true remedies with garlic
According to Dian Dincin Buchman in "Herbal Medicine", if garlic wasn't so cheap we would treasure it as if it were gold. While garlic has only 1 percent of the impact of penicillin, it is more effective with gram negative bacteria than is penicillin. It sweeps through the body in a cleansing fashion without destroying the body's good intestinal flora.

Garlic is safe for children and nursing mothers (unless mom is on a garlic and onion free diet to reduce colic). A great way to get your child to benefit from garlic if he or she refuses to eat it is through an oil to apply topically. Steep three minced cloves in four ounces of olive oil 8 - 12 hours. Rub the oil onto the soles of your child's feet before bedtime and cover with socks. Garlic's healing antiviral properties will be absorbed through the skin and circulate throughout the bloodstream. Keep the bottled oil in the refrigerator. Good for about one year.

The legendary Vinegar of the Four Thieves, possibly discovered during the bubonic plague of the middle ages, is made utilizing an herbal vinegar with the addition of garlic. This antibacterial vinegar makes an excellent wash for disinfecting surface areas. Diluted, this vinegar may be used in a bath or to wipe down the body. Internally, it can be used as a preventive during flu season. The dose is a teaspoon in water, no more than three times in an hour.
2 quarts apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. lavender
2 tbsp. rosemary
2 tbsp. sage
2 tbsp. wormwood
2 tbsp. rue
2 tbsp. mint
2 tbsp. garlic buds

Combine the dried herbs (except the garlic) and steep in the vinegar in the sun for two weeks. Strain into a bottle and add several cloves of garlic. Cap with a lid and steep for several days and strain. Add 4 oz. of vegetable glycerine for preservation.

Another old recipe is the following herbal honey syrup:

Knock it Out Cold Remedy
1 eight oz. jar honey
1 inch piece of ginger, bruised
1 lemon, chopped including skin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cloves garlic, sliced

Remove 2 - 3 tbsp honey to make room in the jar and add the rest of the ingredients.
Steep for six to eight weeks.
At the first sign of a cold, take 2 tsp in a cup of hot water.
Drink three times a day. Not for children under one year of age.
Store in a cool, dark place or the refrigerator.

A cough syrup utilizing garlic or onions:

Take 3 - 4 garlic cloves, remove skin and slice them into a cup with a lid. Add enough honey to cover, put the lid on the container, and let it stand for a few hours. Give a spoonful of the finished syrup to coat the throat and help ease a cough. Being a high sugar content don't give too often. Don't give to children under one year of age. Store in a cool, dark place or the refrigerator.

At the first feeling of an earache, try this homemade remedy

Pick the yellow flowers of the mullein roadside weed and add them to a small bottle or jar. Cover with olive oil and steep in a warm place or the sun for two weeks, strain and add fresh flowers for another few weeks. Strain into a glass dropper type bottle (you won't be using this oil that frequently so use a 1 or 2 oz. size bottle). Add a few garlic cloves and store in the refrigerator. I just leave the garlic in the oil. Be sure to refrigerate to avoid botulism. Discard after one year. When needed warm up the oil by putting the bottle in a pan of warm water. Drop 1 - 2 drops in the ear and stopper the ear with a little cotton. Place nothing in the ear canal if your child has ear tubes or has any type of ear drainage. An alternative would be to add a few drops to a cotton piece and then stopper the ear. If you don't have access to the mullein herb, an oil with just the garlic is great as well.

Garlic has been long used for corns and warts:
At night crush a garlic clove and press against the corn or wart and hold in place with tape. Repeat nightly.

Last, we all are told to eat plenty of garlic for our hearts. Garlic and onions are members of the allium family and are known to fight poor circulation. The sulfur compounds keep the platelets from clumping together and making the blood sticky. Cook with plenty of both garlic and onions instead of salt to help fight high blood pressure and lower cholesterol. If you are taking blood-thinning medication such as warfarin, check with your doctor before using the garlic clove a day method.
Here is a post with more ideas for using garlic for healing as well as three nourishing soup recipes.