This well known home remedy was one of the first I learned in Naturopathic Medical school years ago and it has proven itself effective time and again for helping my patients get over nasty chest and head colds fast. Although most people know that eating garlic during a cold helps boost the immune system many people don't know the most important ingredient to making this Garlic "trick" work---exposure to oxygen/air, time and crushing of the garlic. Why? Because research has shown that by crushing the garlic one exposes the chemicals inside the cells to air which activates a chain on chemical reactions necessary to create its antibacterial and antiviral components. In this way Garlic chemically acts much like those "hot pockets" one uses when skiing to warm their hands - exposure to air to start the chemical reactions. Research has shown crushed garlic to be bacteriostatic, antiviral and antifungal inhibiting the growth of a wide range of pathogens including Staphylococcus sp., Neisseria meningitidis, Corynebacterium diphtheria and Vibrio cholera. Chopped garlic that has been exposed to the air for 10-20 minutes will do the trick!
I usually recommend that one raw clove is finely chopped and exposed to air for 10-20 minutes. This can be swallowed 1-2 times/day while sick. (Note it can be very hard to swallow if raw - one good way to eliminate the strong scent is to take it mixed in honey). Garlic is one of the best herbs for upper respiratory (chest) infections because the antibacterial chemical in garlic is excreted out of the body through the lungs thereby acting strongly on bacteria in the lungs. Cooking the garlic will remove the antibacterial compounds and make it ineffective.
This may come as a surprise to some but caution should be taken when using fresh garlic in high amounts. It is not appropriate for people with stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal reflux or other stomach conditions as it can irritate the stomach lining. As well, fresh raw garlic should not be used during early pregnancy due to its uterine stimulant action and during breastfeeding as it tends to cause colic in babies. Also diabetics with unregulated blood sugar so should not use garlic because it affects insulin levels. Fresh garlic may increase the effects of anticoagulant drugs like Warfarin so people on blood thinners or people going into surgery should not use it.
Garlic is really one of the easiest and most effective home remedies available for chest colds! It works fast and effectively if properly prepared. So remember to crush that garlic for better health this Winter! it will do the trick!
Dr. Anders Nerman, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor with an Integrative Family Medical practice in Wolfson Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel. For more information visit www.drnerman.com or call 972-54-427-8667 for a FREE 15-minute consultation or to book an appointment.
Information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or adopting any treatment for a health problem.