Saturday, April 20, 2013

Garlic: Nature's Best Anti-Bacterial, fungal, and infection Herb...with a Kick

 “Garlic…powerful blood cleanser, digestive stimulant,  systemic cleanser, and diuretic”(1)

Garlic—the very name itself sounds as pungent and strong as its biting taste, and strong onion-like odor. It might seem strange, to some, that garlic is considered such an important herb, since one of its nick-names is the ‘stinking rose’. Nearly all of this plant is useful, such as the cloves of the bulb in the fall, and its garlic scapes, in the summer.

Garlic is an amazing herb, and as such has been one of the most important simples known to herbalists. Overall, this biting-herb’s use has been recorded since 3000 B.C. (3), and specifically in Egypt since 1000 B.C. (4), where it was primarily believed and used to “repel snakes, [and] to discourage tapeworms”, (5). In the Middle East garlic was also taken to promote endurance, speed and strength (3), and especially to prevent infections, along with the use of onions, during the construction of the Pyramid of Giza (5). In 450 A.D. in China, manuscripts were written praising this allium’s medicinal properties, and in nearby India it was referred to as the ‘wonder food (6). The Ayurvedic medicine system traditionally used garlic for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, as “a blood cleanser, and for nervous disorders, such as headaches and hysteria…for the lung[s] as an expectorant and powerful decongestant”(6), no wonder why it is a main ingredient in chutneys, and curries!
In the Mediterranean, garlic has become a staple ingredient in Italian and Greek cuisine. Also in the same area, in Greece, Hippocrates found garlic to be quite useful as a  “cure for boils…and a dubious cure for baldness” (7), and was carried by Romans during their Empire expansion for circulation and high blood pressure. Moving north to England, the British herbalist Maude Grieve’s book the Modern Herbal states that garlic syrup “is an invaluable medicine for asthma, hoarseness, coughs…and most other disorders of the lungs…[including] chronic bronchitis on account of its powers of promoting expectoration” (8). Also around Grieve’s time, this herb was highly valued throughout WWII as a natural antiseptic for soldiers who spent lots of time in the trenches(7).

Garlic’s current-day use is parallel to this pugent herb’s traditional uses, though with constant improvement of technology and scientific studies, even more amazing medicinal uses are being discovered! This herb is still used to purify blood, cholesterol and blood pressure, and very successfully reduces clotting because garlic “breaks down fibrin—[being] the substance that blood clots are made of” (9). Garlic also seems to greatly benefit atherosclerosis by “block[ing] the biosynthesis of cholesterol”, due to the presence of the compound allicin (10). Several other herbs, also know as spices, have excellent anti-clotting, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which include: onion, cayenne pepper, turmeric, ginger and lemon grass. Additionally, a study was done using patients diagnosed with hypercholesterolemic who were given “a water extract of garlic…for two months during which time the patients experienced a 28.5% reduction in cholesterol”, and the dose was about 10 grams of garlic/day (11).

Besides cholesterol and heart-ailments, garlic also benefits the lympathic system by being a strong ‘cleaner’ “of the mucous membranes” (1), and is one of the “most popular…antibiotics…[which] fights the microorganisms responsible for many types of infections” (12). Both of the above medicinal benefits help to treat and prevent bronchitis, colds, whopping cough and tuberculosis. Garlic contains the compounds alliin and allicin, being “sulfur-containing compounds that act against a range of bacteria and fungi…Allicin is an antibiotic against bacteria such as Staphylococcus and Salmonella”(13), as well as “candida, cholera, …dysentery and typhus” (14), thus being helpful in yeast infections and urinary tract infections, and athlete’s foot.  If you plan to use garlic for these medicinal purposes make sure you don’t cook it, because than the allicin becomes destroyed.
Beyond athlete’s food, staph and salmonella, garlic is also amazing at treating wound-infections, from rusty nails. An interesting story I found from Kathi Keville’s book Herbs for Health and Healing, is a story of a man who was mowing the lawn when a rusty nail punctured his leg. Even after he was administered a tetanus shot from the doctor, “the area around the hole had become swollen, red and painful, and the entire leg felt very hot” (15). Having recently learned about the infection-treating properties of garlic, he applied poultices of crushed garlic cloves every hour. After doing so for several hours, he fell asleep and woke up later to an infection-free wound, with no sign of there being a puncture! Lastly, Garlic has even been shown in studies to fight off more serious diseases, including stomach cancer. A study done in Washington D.C. in 1990 showed that if you ate at least “25 to 50 pounds of garlic over 20 years—[you] have fewer cases of stomach cancer” (16). Other helpful alliums for ones diet, include: onions, chives, and leeks.

Here are three recipes for fun, easy and delicious ways to take raw garlic!

Wicked Garlic Dip:
-3 medium sized red potatoes, peeled and diced
-3 medium cloves of garlic, peeled *I ususally use 8-12 *
-up to 1/3rd cp mayonnaise
-1/2 tsp salt

1) Boil the potatoes until cooked well, drain and put into a food processor.
2) While the potatoes are still warm, add mayonnaise, garlic cloves
     and salt. Blend until smooth, keep refrigerated
*this recipe is adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook*

  For another Garlic Recipe, see previous blog:

Garlic honey
This is such a simple recipe! All you do is take peeled raw garlic cloves, and infuse it in honey for 1-6 weeks. A loose ratio I have learned is to add 3-6 garlic cloves per 4 ounces of honey. You don’t even have to take out the garlic, you can eat them because they will almost become candied. Yumm!

-The Healing Power of Garlic: the Enlightened Person’s Guide to Nature’s
       most Versatile Medicinal Plant, by Paul Bergner
-The Garden of Life By: Naveen Patniak Ayurvedic book sharing traditional uses

Works Cited
Bauman, Edward. The Holistic Health Handbook: a Tool for Attaining Wholeness of Body, Mind, and Spirit. Berkeley, CA: And/Or, 1978. Print.
Bremness, Lesley. Herbs. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2002. Print.
Brown, Kathleen, and Jeanine Pollak. Herbal Teas: 101 Nourishing Blends for Daily Health and Vitality. Pownal, VT: Storey, 1999. Print.
Coon, Nelson. Using Plants for Healing, an American Herbal. [New York]: Hearthside, 1963. Print.
 "Herbalism." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 25 Oct. 2011. <>.
Huson, Paul. Mastering Herbalism: a Practical Guide. New York: Stein and Day, 1975. Print.
Katzen, Mollie. The Moosewood Cookbook. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed, 1992. 102. Print.
Keville, Kathi, and Peter Korn. Herbs for Health and Healing. Emmaus, Penn.: Rodale, 1996. Print.
Mowrey, Daniel B. The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine. New Canaan, CT: Keats Pub., 1986. 10. Print.
Patnaik, Naveen. The Garden of Life: an Introduction to the Healing Plants of India. New York: Doubleday, 1993. Print.
Seymour, Miranda. A Brief History of Thyme and Other Herbs. London: John Murray, 2002. Print.
Sumner, Judith. The Natural History of Medicinal Plants. Portland, Or.: Timber, 2008. Print.

Number Citations:

1) Bauman, 124      2) Huson, 53   3) Brown, 122   4) Wikipedia, Herbalism 5) Sumner, 17  
 6) Patnaik, 112  7) Seymour, 56    8) Coon, 70    9) Keville, 67      10) Mowrey, 11  11) Mowrey, 10 
12) Keville, 219-220   13) Sumner, 173  14) Bremness, 142  15) Keville, 258  16) Keville, 109

Monday, April 1, 2013

Part 2 to Further 'Goldenseal Sanctuary' Adventures & Classes

“I suggest finding, and buying, a piece of land you can fall in love with”
~ Paul Strauss

Swamp White Oak Quercus bicolor
            An interestingly popular food among the native, and non-native, Appalachian folk is Poke, Phytolacca americana, being a very large rooted perennial has toxic berries, that are very bright red-purple, and the stalks are bright pink in the winter. Traditionally has been used by Native Americans for: dysentery, arthritis and rheumatism, and in the form of a poultice for sore breasts; all other ailments it was taken in the form of a berry tea. This tea was also used by them for washing sprains and swollen areas; root poultice for bruises and neuralgic pains; and lastly, folk uses are along the same lines. Paul Strauss taught us that it is a very popular plant as a medicine and food in the Appalachian area, WHEN UNDER ½ foot!! The way in which Paul ingeniously kept Poke year-round, and at the safe ‘size’, was by putting a large cutting in his root cellar, which produced fresh Poke greens and shoots, which being under ½ foot he was able to safely consume. Poke’s first ‘greens’ are in the spring, like many other wild herbs, if you dig up the root you can have this give you continuous shoots. Paul told us that the root is effective for glandular infections, as well as mastitis and other breast infections. He also informed us that a poultice of the fresh leaf can be applied to the breast for treating these infections, of the breast and glands, as well, if you do not want to ingest the root, or apply it topically.

I don’t separate organic gardening from herbalism…cause you can only get to people in some way…if you can get someone to respect herbs from an organic gardening standpoint…than you have your strategy ~ Paul Strauss

            Next we have White Oak, Quercus alba, being a strong, sturdy tree, herb and wood as well. Possesses horizontal branches, with light colored whitish bark, and possess evenly-rounded leaves…the inner bark is used to make medicine, though the outer bark can also make medicine; inner bark Paul Strauss and 7Song both believe to be ‘purer’ medicine. Best harvested in the spring; and is commonly found in dry woods.
            “I’ve been stewarded by the earth—I’ve had good teachers in human forms BUT this life and earth”…
are your best teachers ~ Paul Strauss
             Was used tribes including the Cherokee, Delaware, Menominee and Ojibwa, to name a few. They used white oak for many ailments, the most common including: sore chapped skin, mouth sores, as an antiseptic, emetic, diarrhea, laryngitis, coughs and sore throats, and rheumatism. Paul told us that white oak was once of the most commonly used woods for making baseball bats, which makes sense considering. It’s inner bark of the new growth is best harvested in the spring; you can add white oak to oatmeal Paul taught us for treating poison ivy. White oak is one of many astringent herbs, meaning it pulls proteins together, and thus tightens loose things, including: gums, skin, treating wounds and diarrhea.

“You need to believe long enough in your own idea to make it happen”
~ Paul Strauss

White Oak tree that looks sickly -Quercus alba
            Later that evening, our combined class with Paul Strauss and 7Song, they primarily covered the medicinal properties and uses of white oak. 7Song stated that the bark of white oak, fresh or dried, can be put between the gums and lips, as you would with chewing tobacco, to set your teeth, and tightens lips and gums. Similar to all other astringent, besides Oak we have many in the Rose family (Ex’s: raspberry, rose, blackberry), as well as White Willow (ie-nature’s ‘original’ aspirin). Astringent herbs also possess an anti-inflammatory action, so besides for treating diarrhea, it helps with wounds, which could be seen as an inflammatory problem, especially if it is hot. An interesting way Paul or 7Song mentioned using white oak for loose gums, is to decoct for 10-15 minutes in water, at a medium simmer, and use as a mouth wash, or drink as a tea, though be wary—you’ll be smacking your lips because your mouth will feel bone dry. They also stated that this is a very safe plan, though if you give white oak to someone with a very high metabolism it might mess up their food absorption, and their absorption of nutrients, vitamins and such.

I view money as concentrated energy, but we need to use it to do what you need to 
do to help the earth” ~ Paul Strauss

I know I am including many quotes from Paul Strauss but he always had someone so wise, meaningful and amazing to say…ALL the time…enjoy! Paul mentioned that he knew a Hopi elder and this elder said that god gave the herb chaparral for everything.

-Peterson Field Guides Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster & James A. Duke
-Native American Medicinal Plants by Daniel E. Moreman