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In A Nutshell – Garlic – Allium sativum
by Jill Rosemary Davies

Garlic, renowned throughout the centuries for being a classic healing food, boasts numerous health-giving and preventative properties. Consumed worldwide and enjoyed as a staple ingredient for full-flavoured culinary dishes, this remarkable ‘cure-all’ herb naturally boots the immune system, and in many cases, replaces the need for antibiotics. The heart, liver, and circulatory system also benefit from a regular diet of Garlic. A no-fuss herbal remedy to secure all-round health and well-being.



Exploring Garlic

A history of healing

Anatomy of Garlic

Garlic in Action

Energy and Emotion


Growing, Harvesting and Processing

Preparations for Internal Use


Tincture Syrup


Soup and fighter ‘Hooch’

Juice and leaves

Powder and Snuff

Preparations for Internal Use



Ear drops and herbal oil

Suppositories and douches



Natural Medicine for Everyone

Herbal Combinations

How Garlic Works



Well known for its culinary uses, Garlic is also an outstanding medicinal herb. Its antibiotic properties make it useful for fighting a wide range of infections in both humans and animals, protecting and prolonging life for all concerned.

Garlic, which is widely cultivated commercially, may grow to be 30–90 cm (1–3 ft) tall. The bulb below ground is the main part of the plant to be used medicinally and is divided into segments called cloves. Each bulb contains between 6 and 12 cloves, which often vary tremendously in size, depending on the soil conditions.

An erect stem grows from the garlic bulb to form an umbrella-shaped arrangement of flowers clustered together, with linear leaves growing from the base of the stem. The flower cluster, swathed in a papery sheath, varies in colour from purplish white to pale pink or a reddish white, according to the species, soil and chemical influences.

The aromatic, attractive flowers have many small bulbils in between them. Black seeds, which form after flowering has finished (between July and September), ripen in wild Garlic species, but will not do so in cultivated varieties.

Garlic's familiar smell derives from its sulphur-containing constituents, which also give the herb its medicinal properties. If you crush a clove, allicin is released, which converts to odorous diallyl disulfide.

A traditional antidote to the lingering smell of garlic is to chew a sprig of parsley.

There are many closely related species of Garlic. In Britain these include wild field Garlic (Allium oleraceum), which is a common sight in the early summer and grows in damp hedgerows and along riverbanks. It has small but strong-smelling bulbs.

Ramsons (Allium ursinum) is another common Allium species. It has very broad leaves that make it an excellent, pungent addition to a salad.

Ramson has many of the same medicinal uses as Garlic and a long history as a healing herb, as this ancient Old English rhyme attests:

'Eat Leeks in Lide and

Ramsons in May

and all the year after

Physicians may play!'


Botanical family: Liliaceae (though it is sometimes assigned to Alliaceae).

Species: Allium sativum is the Garlic that is most frequently used medicinally and, unless otherwise stated, is the species referred to in this book. There are 500 other members of the Allium family, including leeks, onions, chives and shallots, as well as different types of garlic suitable for medicinal use in a similar manner to Allium sativum.

Exploring Garlic

Garlic has a history of recorded use stretching back about 5,000 years. Some believe it originated in Central Asia, while others think it came from the Kirgiz desert in Western Siberia. Today it is widely cultivated around the world.

Where to find garlic

Both wild and cultivated varieties of Garlic grow all over the globe. The herb can be found growing in Asia, Egypt, Pakistan, China, Russia and the United States and in Mediterranean regions of Europe, for example Greece, Italy, Spain and France.

Field Garlic (A. oleraceum) can be found growing wild in parts of Britain, notably in Yorkshire and Derbyshire, but Ramsons (A. ursinum) is the most common type of wild Garlic in Britain. It grows on rich, loamy, mildly acidic soil and is self-pollinated. Unlike Allium sativum, Ramsons is used mainly for its leaves. Carpets of white Ramsons in British woodlands are a breathtaking site in the Spring.

In the United States, another type of wild Garlic, Allium vineale (known as Crow Garlic in Britain), can be found in the fields of Massachusetts, Michigan and New York State. It has attractive pink and white flowers and reaches a height of 30–90 cm (1–3 ft) depending on the soil. A similar-looking type of wild Garlic, Allium canadense, grows in meadows in Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as in southern Ontario and Quebec in Canada. It has fewer flowers than Field Garlic and only grows to 30–45 cm (1–1½ ft) in height.


Commercial growers

Two countries produce the bulk of commercially grown Garlic, namely the United States and China. Other countries also produce large amounts, but primarily for their own needs with only a small quantity reserved for export.

Soil requirements

Although Garlic will grow almost anywhere, it thrives best in well-drained soil, preferably sandy or silty loam that is rich in organic matter. Ideally the pH should be neutral or slightly acid. This type of soil is particularly suitable because it enables Garlic to establish a good root system, producing roots that can grow down for 60–90 cm (2–3 ft) and draw up plenty of moisture and nutrients. These nutrients are invaluable to the plant: they ensure that Garlic is rich in vital vitamins, minerals and other important plant chemical constituents.

A History of Healing

Probably one of the oldest 'cure-alls' in the world, Garlic was used by ancient cultures in many of the same ways as it is used today, to combat coughs, colds and a host of other infections.

Names and folklore

One of Garlic's common names is poor man's treacle. 'Treacle' derives from the Chaucerian word theriac, meaning 'heal-all', and so 'poor man's heal-all' sums up Garlic's cheap and all-round healing properties.

The Anglo-Saxons called the plant garlic or garleac, based on a visual description of the leaves: gar means 'spear' or 'lance' and lac means 'plant'; leac means 'potherb'. Ajoene, one of Garlic's chemicals, takes its name from the Spanish for Garlic, ajo.

Traditional uses

Garlic has a long history of medicinal use. Archaeologists found evidence of the herb in Egyptian tombs dating back to 3750 BC, and slaves in Egypt were given Garlic as part of their daily food ration. Garlic is not, however, mentioned in the records of Chinese medicine until 500 AD. 

The ancient Greek scholar and herbalist Pliny listed 62 medicinal uses for Garlic, and Aristotle recommended it as a treatment for rabies. Other historical uses for Garlic include the treatment of leprosy, scorpion bites, scrofulous sores, smallpox and anthrax.

The Vikings and Phoenicians put Garlic in their sea-chests before starting long voyages, and in Romany lore it is one of the five healing foods (the others are onion, lemon, chilli and honey).

Garlic's anti-infective properties have long been put to good use. In medieval times, the famous French 'Four Thieves' Mixture' which contained Garlic, is said to have enabled grave robbers to plunder graves without contracting the plague. In World War I, sphagnum moss, which has antimicrobial properties, was soaked in diluted Garlic juice and bandaged onto wounds to help control infection and assist healing. During World War II, the Russians practised the same methods.

Syrup of Garlic was for many centuries used to treat respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, colds, asthma, coughs, tuberculosis and whooping cough.

Garlic is a traditional worming remedy. In India and the West it is added to milk and drunk to expel intestinal worms. In India, Garlic has been used in a variety of other ways, in particular to treat diabetes.

In the past, Garlic was used to treat skin disorders such as acne, as well as high blood pressure, low blood pressure and a range of heart complaints including angina. Garlic has also been a circulatory remedy since Roman times.

Anatomy of Garlic

The Garlic bulb is used medicinally. Other parts of the plant have the same constituents, but to a lesser degree. Generally the leaves, flowers and stems are not used medicinally, although they are a healing food and can be used in summer (leaves and flowers) in a salad.


Garlic bulbs can vary tremendously in size and colour, according the species and the soil in which they have been grown.

The Allium sativum bulb, when fresh, is held together by several layers of whitish to pinkish-purple skin (the colour depends on the species). Inside the skin lie a number of cloves, of varying sizes and shapes. These plump, half moon-shaped cloves are enclosed in membranous white coverings. After being peeled for consumption, the cloves inside are smooth and pearly-white in colour.

Chemical constituents

Garlic's main active constituent is alliin, which is contained in its volatile oil. When crushed or chopped, alliin converts to allicin. Other constituents include minerals such as zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and trace minerals; vitamins (mainly A, B, C and E); and enzymes, carbohydrates, essential oils, fatty acids, sterols, flavonoids, nucleosides, anthocyanins and more than 200 sulphur compounds. Garlic also contains 17 amino acids, which include lysine, arginine and cysteine.

Stems and leaves

Similar in appearance to grass, the leaves of Garlic are long, narrow and flattened. The leaves form a point and at their base they wrap around the stem until one side of the leaf meets the other. Garlic stems, leaves and flowers have some of the same constituents as the bulb and may be eaten as a healing food and enjoyable salad addition.

Flowers and seeds

The flowers, which bloom in the summer, are located at the top of the stalk, which rises straight from the bulb. The flowers are grouped together in a spathe, which is a rounded globular head with a translucent whitish-green cover that resembles a pixie hat. The delicate flowers come in a variety of white and cream shades, although occasionally they are lilac or pink. The flowers look pretty in salads and are a useful tonic food. Alternatively, they can be left to bloom and seed for decoration well into the autumn, or can be used dried in floral arrangements. However, allowing the plant to flower will result in a degree of loss of 'vigour' for the bulb.

Garlic in Action

Garlic is one of the most popular and well-established healers in the herbal repertoire. In Germany, Garlic preparations outsell all other herbs, and so important is the plant that one pharmaceutical company even made a bid to patent some of its constituents. Among its many actions, Garlic reduces blood cholesterol, stabilises blood sugar levels and is an important natural antibiotic. It also helps people with allergies by clearing allergens and heavy metals from the body.

How garlic can help

Eating garlic regularly can help to ease circulatory and heart complaints, ranging from high or low blood pressure to angina. Heart disease can arise for many different reasons, but one common cause is excessive amounts of cholesterol in the blood, which build up into plaque deposits that block the coronary arteries. These can cause angina, a severe pain that indicates the heart is not receiving sufficient blood.

The Nobel Prize winner Dr Arther Stoll proved that Garlic is an important antimicrobial agent. It can treat a variety of disorders from whooping cough and colds, to candida and salmonella infections, worms and other parasitic infestations, dysentery, diarrhoea and constipation. Old remedies abound for using Garlic to treat respiratory problems varying from the common cold or sore throat, to emphysema, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

  • Regular ingestion of Garlic can help to lower blood cholesterol levels significantly. This in turn can drastically reduce angina and in some cases may even help to prevent heart attacks.
  • Garlic is able to improve the quality of the blood by raising the level of haemoglobin and the red blood cell count – this is very helpful for people with anaemia.
  • Garlic appears to block the formation of cancer-causing compounds, preventing their ability to form tumours. Statistics show that in countries where Garlic is eaten frequently, the immune system of indigenous peoples is generally more active in fighting off cancer; in particular, fewer deaths from stomach cancer are recorded.
  • Particularly now that overuse of antibiotics is becoming increasingly common, Garlic is most useful as a natural antibiotic.
  • Garlic is helpful for diabetics too because it helps to stabilise blood sugar levels and encourages the pancreas to produce insulin.
  • t is also a fine anti-allergy food that helps to ease hay fever, asthma, allergic rhinitis and food allergies.
  • Garlic seems to normalise the metabolism and it also helps to detoxify the body's systems by binding with heavy metals and other harmful pollutants.

How Garlic affects the body

  • Antibacterial remedy: Garlic is a natural antibiotic. It can destroy a range of invasive microbes, including the bacteria that cause anthrax and tuberculosis. It also helps to fight infections of the digestive tract.
  • Effective anti-parasitic: Garlic helps to rid the body of parasitic infestations such as Giardia lamblia and Entamoeba histolytica. These organisms are sensitive to the sulphur compounds (particularly allicin) in Garlic.
  • Circulation improver: Some of Garlic's healing abilities are due to its fibrinolytic action, which increases the speed at which blood flows around the system, making it less likely to clot (anticoagulant) and resulting in faster circulation and better metabolism of oxygen. The compound in Garlic that achieves this is ajoene.
  • Immunity enhancer: Garlic has the ability to improve the number of 'helper cells'. It also increases the levels of globulin (protein from which antibodies are made) in the blood and stimulates macrophage activity (scavenger cells that destroy bacteria).
  • Antifungal agent: Partly as a result of its antioxidant properties, Garlic also has effective antifungal properties. In the case of the candida fungus (which causes thrush), Garlic attaches itself to the fungus and destroys it.
  • Digestive remedy: The healing compounds in Garlic can both soothe an upset stomach and activate bowel movements by encouraging peristalsis (the wave-like action of the gut that propels food through it). Garlic destroys a range of bacteria, viruses and fungi infecting the gut and boosts levels of beneficial intestinal bacteria, making it a good remedy for all-round digestive health. 
  • Cancer preventative: Garlic is protective against nitrosamines (toxic compounds found in food and the environment) by stopping them from binding to healthy cells. Garlic also stimulates liver enzymes that are thought to be partly responsible for anti-carcinogenic reactions.
  • Heart health and blood pressure: Allicin (a sulphur compound) accelerates the liver's ability to break down lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides), which can otherwise build up on the inside of artery walls and result in heart disease. As mentioned above, Garlic also contains anticoagulants that thin the blood and thereby reduce high blood pressure.
  • Lung tonic: The sulphur compounds in Garlic work together to give the herb an expectorant action. Garlic reduces excessive mucus levels in the lungs, thus alleviating many bronchial disorders such as chronic catarrh and bronchitis.
  • Degenerative diseases: Garlic contains minerals and other constituents that act as antioxidants. They mop up free radicals (harmful particles) that would otherwise damage the body and can eventually lead to degenerative diseases. 
  • Male sexual dysfunction: According to Peter Joshling, author of The Complete Garlic Handbook, studies have shown that Garlic in certain forms can stimulate the production of nitric oxide synthase, which is primarily responsible for the mechanism of penile erection.
  • Adrenal gland support: Garlic increases production of monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzymes that are responsible for breaking down and excreting adrenaline and other harmful chemicals from the blood. In this way, Garlic supports the systems and organs of the body, helping them to work efficiently.


Garlic should feature regularly on everyone's menu. It benefits a wide range of metabolic, cellular and chemical processes in the body. In particular, it helps the digestive, circulatory and immune systems to function at optimum level and it destroys harmful bacteria and free radicals. Truly, Garlic deserves its ancient reputation as a 'cure-all'.

When to avoid garlic

Most people consume large amounts of Garlic without problem – it is a very safe herb. However, because of its stimulating qualities, practitioners of some forms of yoga are warned against eating it. Garlic can also occasionally damage blood cells and lead to anaemia in some sensitive cases or where a person already suffers from ill health. Bernard Jensen, the renowned American healer and herbalist, warns that eating more than one clove of raw Garlic a day on a long-term basis can irritate the bowel wall in some people. He also cautions that raw Garlic can cause heartburn, stomach ulcers and wind.

People suffering from colitis may wish to try small amounts of Garlic first to make sure that it does not cause irritation.

When chopping very large quantities of Garlic, take care not to let it remain in contact with the skin for any length of time, because it can burn. In small amounts, however, Garlic oil penetrating the skin will have a beneficial effect in the body.

Energy and Emotion

With an ancient history and remarkable properties, Garlic engenders a range of emotions and has an important place in folklore. Garlic is unparalleled in its strength, enabling the body to protect itself and taking over when the body is too weak to look after itself. It has long been believed that Garlic can ward of evil and in some cultures it has been adopted as a good luck amulet.


Hot, spicy Garlic has a central place at the heart of cuisines all over the world. Its powerful taste has always exerted an important influence on the emotions. In Chinese medicine, Garlic is viewed energetically as hot and spicy, with a particular affinity for the lungs, kidneys, spleen, stomach and colon. It is a very stimulating, powerful, tonic food that benefits the whole digestive system from mouth to bowel.


Many people find the smell of Garlic unpleasant on the breath. Country, family and social rituals must be taken into account when considering opinions on the odour of Garlic, but suffice to say that many Europeans are extremely relaxed and happy with its sulphurous smell.

The chemicals that give Garlic its smell also impart its healing properties, so 'odour-free' products do not work as well as raw Garlic. It is possible that just inhaling Garlic's odour can help in the cure of some diseases, for example tuberculosis.

In traditional folklore, Garlic is held to protect against vampires, bats and dark forces. It represents redemption from terrifying, otherworldly powers. Any truth in this reputation lies in the fact that Garlic helps to guard against physical, emotional and mental disturbances. In some parts of the world, for example South America, Garlic is used to repel vampire bats, and it is fed to horses, cows and other livestock to protect them against attacks from bats.

Flower Remedies

Garlic flower essence is very purifying and works on a subtle level. It may be taken orally or sprayed in the house. It imparts strength, is empowering and gives confidence; it calms fears and anxieties and prevents the individual from being overly influenced by outside forces, be they good, bad or indifferent.

Garlic flower essence is said to have a special ability to keep away disturbing spirits who seek to integrate with the living – causing harm, unrest or a reduction in vitality and energy. It fortifies the immune system and restores wholeness, strength and harmony to mind and spirit.

To make a flower essence – standard quantity

  • Use approx.. 350 ml (1½ cups) each of spring water and brandy and 3–4 fresh garlic flowers, carefully chosen and freshly picked.
  • Submerge the Garlic flowers in a glass bowl of shallow spring water. Cover the bowl with clean white cheesecloth.
  • Leave the bowl in sunshine for several hours or next to a window if indoors. Try to ensure that the flowers have at least 3 hours of continuous sun. If the flowers wilt sooner than this, they can be removed earlier.
  • After 3 hours or so remove the flowers, using a twig to lift them out of the water.
  • Measure the remaining liquid and add an equal amount of brandy to preserve the essence. Pour into dark glass bottles and label these carefully.

Recommended dosage:

Adults: 4 drops under the tongue 4 times daily or every half hour in times of crisis.

Children: Over 12 years, adult dose. 7–12 years, half adult dose. 1–7 years, quarter adult dose.

Plant spirit energies

The spirit of the Garlic plant is different from the flower essence, which derives mostly from the flowering aspect of the plant. The spirit of the whole plant enables every part of it to share its energy with us.

Garlic is a supreme healer with a great ability to purify. These qualities are reflected in its white colour.

It has a great capacity to renew itself – even garlic bulbs that are 6 months old have the ability to regenerate themselves. This is reflected in its strong anti-ageing properties, which come from its antioxidant components. 

Garlic is therefore an empowering plant for people both mentally and physically. It is a plant that benefits not just humans and animals but also other plants; it is a wonderful companion plant and can help neighbouring plants to resist disease and infection.

Take Garlic when a sense of wholeness, purity and empowerment is needed.

Growing, Harvesting and Processing

Growing your own Garlic is easy and satisfying. It is a hardy plant, and whatever your soil type, given at least medium levels of fertility, you should be successful. Bernard Jensen, who is famed for his medicinal Garlic, insists that planting two days before a full moon will stimulate hardier, more bountiful growth. I have used moon cycles to grow Garlic and other plants and agree that it does make a difference.

Types of Garlic

As long as Garlic has a reasonable amount of sun, it will grow successfully in all temperate regions. Commercial growers do not always use Allium sativum but you should choose this because it is a good medicinal variety. The braided Garlic sold in many European markets often has a purple tinge or flush to it, which indicates an increased presence of anthocyanins – flavonoids that provide antioxidant support. It also has a very long, flowering stalk that is easy to braid. Some commercial growers for the food industry pick non-bolting or non-flowering types and varieties grown in the United States include California Early, California Late, Roja and Creole. There is also Elephant Garlic (Allium ampeloprasum), which is related to the leek; it produces enormous easy-to-pick cloves.


Choose large bulbs and divide them into cloves. Plant the cloves 5 cm (2 in) apart at a depth of 2–5 cm (1–2 in) with the pointed end upward. Plant in November, but in really cold areas wait until spring.

Garlic will produce the plumpest cloves if grown in medium, fertile soil with a range of nutrients including minerals and trace elements. Sandy or silty loam with a pH of acid to neutral often produces good results. Do not use chemical fertilisers – instead try well-rotted manure, leaves or other organic fertilisers. Keep the area well weeded, ensuring you do not damage the surface roots. Between March and May weeds are very active and can rob Garlic of local nutrients. Some natural mulch, such as hay or straw, will help to keep the moisture in. If it is very dry during May and June, water the Garlic, allowing the cloves to plump up before harvesting. Some people suggest that if the soil has dried out, Garlic should be watered to a depth of 60 cm (2 ft) every 8–10 days. Stop watering 4 weeks before harvesting to allow the plants to dry out. Do not allow the plants to flower or seed because energy will be drawn away from the bulb.



Bulbs are uprooted by teams of labourers and spread out on slatted shelves in a cool, dry shed.

Humidity levels are kept below 70 per cent to ensure that bulbs are not infected with fungal spores or become mouldy. Tops and roots are cut off within a few days and the extraneous mud is gently removed. Some Garlic stalks are left so that they can be braided.


Harvesting usually takes place around the end of July for the main crop. However, in March and April you can crop the odd small bulb of Garlic, if required. The signal for harvesting Garlic is when the top foliage starts to die down and shrivel. If it is a wet summer, harvest quickly if you spot any fungal spores on the leaves. In very hot weather, the papery skin of the bulbs can split. This is not a problem, but an intact skin will protect the bulb and allow for better storage.

To harvest a bulb, hold the top then gently pull while easing the bulb free with a fork. Immediately chop off any withering leaves or those that have fungal spores on them. This will prevent fungal infections from taking hold, or reduce their spread – surprisingly Garlic can be particularly prone to them. Leave the roots and mud on; you can shorten the roots and knock off the dead mud later.



During final storage and shipment, growers must keep their Garlic in the same careful conditions as when just harvested. A certain amount will be braided into ropes, known as ‘Ristras’, while other bulbs will be carefully placed into wooden, slatted boxes. Each box of organically grown Garlic will be clearly labelled as such.


Leave the Garlic stalks on because they are useful for hanging up the bulbs, but if fungal spores appear, you should chop off the stems immediately. Once the leaves have been removed, store the Garlic in a dry, cool area, preferably on slatted wooden shelves. Try not to knock the bulbs because they will bruise and consequently will not store well.

If they are stored properly, Garlic bulbs should last beautifully through the winter and organically home-grown bulbs always keep better than the commercial ones that have been grown with pesticide and chemical fertiliser. Remember that it is vital that the bulbs are stored somewhere that is well ventilated and well protected from frost. For long-term storage, try putting Garlic into a paper bag and keeping it in the refrigerator. This will be especially useful during February and March when there is usually no outdoor-grown Garlic available and will take you through to the new crop.

Preparations for Internal Use

Garlic cloves can be enjoyed cooked or eaten raw and are delicious in salad dressings. As well as adding Garlic to most recipes, it is possible to take it in a variety of medicinal preparations including tinctures, capsules, syrup and fruit or vegetable juice.


This is one of the most convenient ways to take herbs but in the case of Garlic, you would not readily wish to ingest the tincture on its own, because it is not particularly palatable, but added to other herbs in a composite formula, or turned into syrup, it is invaluable for treating a wide range of conditions.

Garlic tincture is made by soaking crudely chopped, un-skinned cloves in alcohol to kill any germs and extract the active constituents. You should only make Garlic tincture from organically grown Allium sativum bulbs, because Garlic that has been treated with pesticides is not suitable for medicinal use.

The tincture is easy to make and will last for many months if stored in dark glass bottles. For everyday use, you can decant the tincture into a small dropper bottle that will fit easily into a purse or pocket.

Note: It is important to use utensils that have been cleaned in boiling water – and for the best results, try adding 1 or 2 drops of essential oil, such as lavender, thyme or tea tree to the water you use to clean your equipment.

To make a tincture – standard quantity

  • Use 225 g (8 oz) of dried Garlic or 310 g (11 oz) of fresh Garlic, with a total of 1 litre (4 cups) of vodka and water mixture. For the vodka, standard 45 per cent proof is effective, but 70–80 per cent proof is better. Proportions of vodka and water used will depend on the strength of the vodka: if using 45 per cent proof, you will use 80 per cent vodka and 20 per cent water; if using 70–80 per cent proof, you will use 40–50 per cent vodka and 50–60 per cent water.
  • Roughly chop the Garlic cloves but do not remove the skins because they will impart important chemicals. Place the cloves in a blender or food processor and cover them with vodka (the correct proportion of 1 litre, as above). Liquidise the ingredients – the mixture may be stiff and hard at first, making it difficult for the blades to turn, but persist.
  • When smooth, pour the mixture into a large dark glass jar with an airtight lid. Shake well, label the jar carefully, and store in a dark place.
  • After 2 days, measure the contents and add the water to make up the rest of the litre of liquid. Shake well.
  • Leave the mixture for at least 2 weeks, but preferably up to 4 weeks. Shake the jar daily to aid the extraction process.
  • At the end of the allotted time, strain the tincture through a jelly bag, preferably overnight, until you have the very last drop. For best results you can use a wine press.
  • Pour the thick liquid into dark jars and label clearly. Store in a cool, dark place. For personal use, decant into a 50 ml (2 fl oz) tincture bottle.

recommended dosage:

Adults: ½ to 1 ml one to two times a day. Do not use on an empty stomach.

Tinctures and the moon's phases

Herbalists sometimes time the production of tinctures to coincide with the gravitational waxing and waning of the moon. Start the process when the moon is new, then strain and bottle the tincture at the full moon.

Tincture syrup

Garlic tincture is not especially palatable but when it is combined with honey or maple syrup it becomes much easier to take. 

To make tincture syrup – standard quantity

  • Use equal quantities of Garlic tincture and cold-pressed organic runny honey or maple syrup, plus 1 drop of peppermint essential oil per litre of tincture syrup (4 cups).
  • In a glass jar, mix the Garlic tincture and honey or maple syrup. 
  • To give the syrup a minty flavour, add the peppermint essential oil.

Recommended dosage:

Adults: 2.5 ml (½ tsp) 3–6 times daily.

Children: Over 12 years, 2.5 ml (½ tsp) 1–2 times daily. For use in children under 12 years, consult a qualified herbalist.


Kyolic capsules, tablets or liquid

The famous and rightly celebrated natural healer Paavo Airola learned of a novel way of taking Garlic when he toured Japan in the 1970s. He discovered that the Japanese had developed a Garlic supplement known as Kyolic (Kyo-Leopin in Japan and Leopin in Canada) that ‘retains all the traditional well-known medicinal and nutritional properties of raw Garlic without Garlic’s odour’. He describes a special process that involves curing organically grown Garlic in huge vats for 20 months. No heat is used, which ensures that the Garlic retains its healing properties, yet the fermentation process allows its odour to be driven off. Kyolic Garlic is a good option for those people who are embarrassed or put off by the smell.

Recommended dosage:

Adults: 3–4 capsules twice daily or 2–3 tablets 3 times daily.

Children: Over 12 years, adult dose. For use in children under 12 years, consult a qualified herbalist.

Odourless capsules (non-Kyolic)

These capsules are also effective but they have not gone through the very gentle and natural fermentation process for removing odour from the Garlic and, therefore, in my experience, they are not as effective as the Kyolic supplements. If Kyolic capsules are unobtainable, you can certainly substitute other capsules but remember that fresh Garlic, raw or cooked, is always better.

Garlic in the kitchen

The best way to benefit from Garlic’s healing properties is to eat it on a regular basis.

Whole bulbs may be cooked with the skin left on. This is traditionally done all over Europe, especially in Greece, Spain and Italy. Unpeeled cloves or even bulbs are added to stews, casseroles and other dishes that take a while to cook. Slow cooking allows the goodness and the mouth-watering aroma to seep out gradually.

When Garlic cloves are chopped or crushed, several important sulphur compounds are released. This does not happen when cloves are cooked whole. Chopping, mincing or pressing garlic and then allowing it to sit for 10–15 minutes before cooking allows the alliinase and alliin to interact and form allicin.

A quick way to process a large amount of Garlic is to liquidise it with olive oil. The resultant paste can then be stored in an airtight glass jar in the refrigerator for use in various dishes during the week. This is convenient because it reduces preparation time and encourages more liberal use of Garlic.

Some health food stores sell Garlic presses, and non-stick presses have recently become available – these extract the juice and many people find them useful. Long before mechanical juice presses were made, Garlic juice and wild thyme were used in combination as a preventative for snake bites.

Garlic soup

This is a great way to eat Garlic and is very common in the Latin countries of Europe. The quantity of Garlic is a matter of taste, but the more the better. To serve four, try 450 g (1 lb) potatoes (unpeeled if organic), 1 litre (4 cups) spring water, 4 medium sized onions (peeled), 3–9 cloves of Garlic (peeled and chopped) and any other culinary herbs desired.

Chop the potatoes into cubes and cook in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile chop the onions and fry in a little olive oil. Add the Garlic and any other herbs. Blend the mixture and return to the heat. Season to taste.

Fighter ‘hooch’

Garlic ‘hooch’ is a mixture of powerful kitchen foods that enhance immunity.

  • Fill a large Mason jar one-quarter full with equal parts of chopped fresh Garlic, chopped fresh white onion (or the hottest onion available), freshly grated ginger root, chopped fresh horseradish if available and chopped cayenne peppers (again, the hottest available, such as African bird pepper). You can also liquidise the ingredients instead of chopping them. 
  • Top up with organic apple cider vinegar and shake vigorously. 
  • Leave for 2 to 4 weeks (4 weeks is preferable), stirring or shaking occasionally.
  • After the allotted time, filter most of the mixture through cheesecloth or a fine sieve and reserve the liquid. Leave some of the mixture un-sieved and use it as a delicious hot relish with food.
  • Keep in the refrigerator for up to 12 weeks. (If you wish, you can make this formula on the new moon, and then strain it on the full moon.)

Recommend dosage

Adults: 15–30ml (1–2 tbsp) 2 or 3 times daily. Gargle and swallow.

Children: Over 12 years, adult dose. 7–12 years, half adult dose. Under 7 years, quarter teaspoon 2 or 3 times daily. It can be added to a bit of runny manuka honey to sweeten. 

Case study – arthritis

David Marshall, age 65, had very bad arthritis and suffered with pain in almost all his joints; in particular he had severe lower back pain. A friend suggested he take 3 lemons squeezed into spring water every morning and then consume a huge dose of raw garlic during the day. At first he ate only 3 cloves daily. He bravely mashed these into a little banana to help him consume them, half a clove at a sitting. After just one week his pains felt so much better that he was moving as he hadn’t done for years. David soldiered on with this regime for a further month, before cutting back to a maintenance dose of three cloves a day.

Garlic juice

To make Garlic juice you will need a juice extractor that is able to process bulky vegetable and fruit matter. Some extractors are combined with a general food processor. When you make the juice, there is no need to peel the bulbs, simply put them whole into the juicer. You will need a great many bulbs to produce a small amount of juice. However, you can also try adding just one or two cloves of Garlic to other vegetable or fruit juices – it greatly enhances the taste and health benefits. For instance, Garlic juiced with apple makes a superb combination drink to enhance the immune system.

Do not let the extracted juice touch your skin since it will irritate it. Wear plastic gloves while processing Garlic.

Garlic leaves

The leaves of Allium sativum have a pleasant taste that is much milder than the bulb. The leaves are very rich in vitamins A and C and make a healthy addition to stir-fries. Ramsons leaves (British wild Garlic) are delicious. Collecting bunches of them in the late spring for use in salads and stir-fries is a seasonal joy.

Garlic powder

Powdered, dried Garlic is very useful for quick and convenient cooking, but always purchase organic powder with a strong aroma. Very versatile, Garlic powder can be mixed with olive oil or stirred into a wide variety of dishes. Do not let the powder get damp because due to its essential oil content it will clump together and become difficult to use.

Garlic powder is not just beneficial for humans; it is good for the health of many animals too. It has been shown to sweeten the breath of dogs and make their coats shine, for example.

Garlic snuff

Herbal snuffs are useful for treating nasal congestion and infections. They decongest and drain the sinus cavities and may even remove infected debris that has been blocking the cavities for many years.

To make Garlic snuff – standard quantity

  • 1 part Garlic powder, 1 part Cayenne powder (optional but excellent), 1 part Mustard powder.
  • Mix together all the ingredients and store in an airtight tin.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 2–4 pinches, 3 times daily. 

Place a minute amount on the back of your hand and close one nostril. Snort up the snuff into the open nostril. To keep the snuff in the back of the nasal cavity, hold the head back for as long as possible. Repeat on the other side.

Caution: Consult a doctor or herbalist before taking snuff. Do not take it if you have asthma.

Preparations for External Use

A wide range of conditions can be treated when Garlic is applied topically, but care must be taken that its effect is well buffered by applying it with other substances, so that the skin is not irritated in the process.

Garlic ointment

An ointment containing Garlic is useful for bites, cuts and wounds, although the smell means it is not for everyone! It can also make a very safe cure-all ointment for animals (with the permission of your vet) and I have used it to treat cuts on horses, dogs and cats.

To make an ointment – standard quantity

  • Use 350 ml (1½ cups) of olive oil, 225 g (8 oz) dried, powdered Garlic and 5 g (¼ oz) beeswax.
  • Pour the olive oil onto the powdered herbs and mix together.
  • Place in a closed container (ovenproof if you are using the oven method) – choose stainless steel, earthenware, un-chipped enamel, or ovenproof glass.
  • Put the container into an oven preheated to about 38°C (100°F) for 2 hours, or stand in the sun or other warm spot for a week. During the allotted time, occasionally stir the mixture with a sterilised fork.
  • If using the oven method, the mixture can be strained directly after the 2 hours if you need the ointment quickly, or you can also leave it to stand for a week to encourage a greater extraction of the active components.
  • On completion of slow cooking or soaking, strain the mixture through a large plastic or stainless steel colander lined with muslin, or use a jelly bag and hang it up to drip overnight.
  • When you have strained the mixture, melt 5 g (¼ oz) of beeswax over a very low heat in a double boiler or heavy-bottomed pan, then add the herbal olive oil mixture and combine.
  • Put a little of the mixture into a glass jar and put it in the refrigerator for 2 minutes to test the consistency when cool. At the right consistency, it should stick to your fingers without being too hard or too runny. If it is too runny, add a little more beeswax; if too hard, a little more oil.
  • Pour the mixture into dark glass jars and label carefully.

Garlic compress

A compress is a piece of cloth soaked in Garlic decoction and applied to the affected part of the body. Garlic’s powerful chemicals can get to work immediately at the site of the problem. Apply a compress to the nose or chest for respiratory infections. It is wise to take Garlic internally as well as externally for best results.

To make a compress – standard quantity

  • Use 1 Garlic bulb and 750 ml (3 cups) spring water.
  • Using a darning needle, pierce a Garlic bulb all over to make many little holes. This ensures that the active ingredients will be released into the water. Alternatively, peel the cloves and use them together with the skin.
  • Place the bulb, or the cloves and skins, with the spring water in a saucepan or a double boiler. Simmer the decoction on a very low heat for about 20–30 minutes. During this time the liquid will reduce down by about one third.
  • Remove the decoction from the heat and let it cool thoroughly.
  • When the decoction is cool, strain it through a sieve into a pitcher.
  • Soak a soft, clean cloth (cheesecloth is ideal) in the cooled decoction and wring out the excess liquid.
  • Place the compress on the affected area and leave it in position for no longer than 5 minutes. Inhale the Garlic aroma deeply for best results. This compress can be very useful for the lungs if there is a stubborn infection or congestion.

Dr Christopher’s ear drops

This formula is ideal for problems ranging from ear infection to more chronic issues. It is also useful for preventative purposes, e.g. when swimming, where infection can occur. It was used for more than 50 years with great success by Dr Christopher (1909–1982). It has been used by Dr Christopher’s students since then.

To make Dr Christopher’s ear drops – standard quantity

  • 2 parts Vervain tincture, 2 parts Black Cohosh tincture, 2 parts Skullcap tincture, ½ part Lobelia tincture, and Garlic and Mullein oil (see below) in a ratio of 2–4 parts per 1 part tincture combination.
  • Combine the tinctures. Mix one part of the combined tinctures with 2–4 parts of Garlic and Mullein herbal oil. Pour into a sterilised, dark glass dropper bottle.
  • Leave the mixture in a warm place for 1 hour before each use.

Recommended dosage:

Adults: Put 6–8 gently warmed drops in both ears at night and plug with absorbent cotton. In the morning, flush ears with ½ part gently warmed water and ½ part cider vinegar.

Children: Over 12 years, adult dose. 7–12 years, 3 drops per ear. Under 7, 1 drop per ear.

Note: Sadly Lobelia is only available from qualified herbalists. You can omit the Lobelia when making the ear drops or ask a herbalist for the formula.

Garlic and Mullein herbal oil

To make Garlic and Mullein herbal oil – standard quantity

  • Use 10 Garlic cloves, 250 ml (1 cup) extra virgin olive oil and 15 ml (1 tbsp) powdered dried Mullein.
  • Puree the Garlic and olive oil in a blender. Place in a covered, ovenproof container in an oven at 40°C (104°F) for half a day.
  • Remove from the oven, add the Mullein and mix well. Allow to macerate for 3 days, then strain, bottle and label ready for use.

Note: You can vary the amount of Garlic and Mullein oil you add to the ear drops – reduce the quantity for those who are sensitive to Garlic’s smell.

Caution: Consult a doctor for acute or persistent earache, particularly for children under 12.

Case study – cradle cap

At 5 months old, Mary had persistent cradle cap. It was not unhealthy but it looked unsightly and Lucy, her mother, wanted to remove the thick flakes of skin covering her baby’s scalp so that the fine skin underneath could ‘breathe’. Lucy had heard an old wives’ tale and decided to try it. The simple remedy had only two ingredients and involved mixing one clove of crudely chopped Garlic with a cup of olive oil and leaving the mixture overnight in a warm place. In the morning Lucy removed the Garlic and massaged the infused olive oil into Mary’s scalp. Some of the thick scales came away immediately and Lucy continued the treatment for just over a week, after which time all the cradle cap had disappeared, revealing the soft skin below.

Whole Garlic pessaries and Garlic douches

Treating vaginal infections with Garlic has been practised for many centuries. It is a very useful home remedy to know about and women still use it frequently. The antiseptic properties of Garlic are very powerful. The herb can help to treat vaginal conditions such as candida (thrush) and leukorrhea.

  • Choose a very large, single clove of Garlic, at least half the size of your thumb. It is important to use a very large clove because small cloves can get lost in the vagina.
  • Do not peel the garlic clove, but make a tiny sharp piercing with a knife in one place so that some of the juices seep out.
  • Place in the vagina. Note: if you feel itching or burning, remove the clove straight away.
  • Replace every few hours or simply use one a day for 2 hours at a time. You can repeat this procedure over a span of 3–7 days.
  • Alternatively, break open a Kyolic Garlic capsule and apply 2 drops of oil onto a tampon. You can leave it in place for a maximum of 1 hour. You can also use douches to support the treatment. (The Kyolic garlic will not smell or sting.)

To make a vaginal douche – standard quantity

  • Use 1 medium-sized clove of Garlic, 750 ml (3 cups) water, 60 ml (4 tbsp) apple cider vinegar and the juice of 1 organic lemon or lime.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a food processor, then strain through a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth. Use as normal for a douche, following the instructions that come with the douche kit. (Douche kits are available from some health food and nutrition stores as well as pharmacies.)

Garlic poultices

A poultice is a healing remedy for wounds or cuts where disinfecting is important. Garlic is a prime antiseptic agent.

To make a poultice to aid healing – standard quantity

  • Use 6 parts Slippery Elm powder, 3 parts Comfrey root powder or 2 tbsp Aloe Vera gel, 1 part Garlic powder, and enough Aloe Vera juice and olive oil or St John’s Wort oil (in equal parts) to make a paste. (If using Aloe Vera gel instead of Comfrey, substitute the Aloe Vera juice with more oil.)
  • Mix together the dry ingredients and moisten into a clay-like consistency using equal parts of Aloe Vera juice with either olive oil or St John’s Wort oil. 
  • Smear a thickish layer carefully onto the clean wound. Wrap or cover with a bandage.
  • Once or twice a day, remove the bandage and apply more poultices. Only ever put more poultices on the wound; never remove the previous application.
  • The poultice should only be removed when the wound has healed. When showering or bathing, cover the affected area with plastic wrap to keep it dry.

Garlic paste

This is a very old remedy used by generations of herbalists and households from the 1920s onwards. It has never been completely out of favour, although its popularity has dwindled. The famous herbalist Dr John Christopher used it a great deal.

Fresh Garlic paste is smeared onto the soles of the feet and left for several hours, or overnight. Garlic is an antiseptic herb. Used in this way it can treat fever and some bronchial and respiratory disorders, particularly if they are stubborn and long-lasting.

To make the paste, peel 12 Garlic cloves and place them in a blender with enough olive oil to make the blades turn.

Before applying the Garlic paste, you should coat the feet up to the ankles with olive oil, to prevent any of the Garlic from making direct contact with the skin of the feet or ankles. Then divide the resulting Garlic paste in two and using your hands protected by plastic gloves, smear a deep layer of the paste onto the soles of the feet. Cover the entire foot up to the ankles with plastic wrap, ensuring that the toes are also covered, then cover with old socks.

If the Garlic paste does not contain enough olive oil, or if not enough protective olive oil is used before applying, then garlic will easily burn the tender skin on the soles of the feet, which is painful. If you experience hot, burning or tingling sensations at any time, remove the paste and apply Aloe Vera gel. The Garlic paste is best applied and left on for 1–2 hours during the day but seasoned users can keep it on overnight. It may be smelled on the breath 20 minutes after the paste is applied, showing how quickly it can enter and travel around the body.

To use – summary:

  • Coat the feet up to the ankles in olive oil.
  • Smear the soles of the feet with Garlic paste.
  • Cover the entire foot up to the ankles with plastic wrap, ensuring that the toes are also covered.
  • Cover all with old socks.
  • Sit for 1–2 hours with your feet raised up; do not walk around.
  • People who have used the paste before can do this overnight.

Natural Medicine for Everyone

Garlic is a safe herbal remedy for everyone to use as a food. However, if you find that it upsets you, follow your body's warning signs and omit it from your diet, or try Kyolic Garlic.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Garlic can be enjoyed safely as a food throughout pregnancy. It promotes good health in general and in particular it boosts the digestive and immune systems. It is sometimes not advisable to prescribe antibiotics for pregnant women and in these cases Garlic is a natural antibiotic alternative.

Research has shown that Garlic has a growth-promoting effect on the placenta, an action that can help prevent or lessen the effect of some pregnancy complications. By improving the functioning of the placenta, which nourishes the foetus, Garlic is believed to help prevent low birth weight, so if you cannot give up smoking, adding Garlic to your diet may alleviate some of the effects.

Garlic can also reduce other placental problems, such as pre-eclampsia (raised blood pressure and protein in the urine). Some of Garlic’s effectiveness appears to be due to the reduction of activity of key enzymes that are produced in abnormal pregnancies.

For use of other forms of garlic preparation in pregnancy and breastfeeding, consult a qualified herbalist.


If all children eat Garlic from an early age, they will accept it as a normal part of life, as children do all over the world. Garlic keeps children in good health. In particular it is a natural antibiotic and will make them less prone to coughs, colds, flu and other common infections. This is of great importance now that doctors are reluctant to prescribe antibiotics. Cooking with Garlic is safe for children of all ages, but consult a herbal practitioner before giving children under 12 years medicinal doses of Garlic. If children (over 12) do not like garlic but need the antibiotic-like attributes, then they can use Kyolic Garlic capsules, either swallowed or opened up and mixed with juice (as the liquid does not taste of garlic).

Elderly people

The immune, circulatory and digestive systems all become weakened with age. The elderly can benefit from using Garlic both in cooking and medicinally, to help slow down or reverse this effect. Now that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are commonplace, Garlic has a great role to play as an antibacterial. It is also an excellent remedy for heart health and can help to reduce blood pressure and atherosclerosis.


If you are taking prescribed medication, or have any long-term or serious health conditions, consult your doctor or a qualified herbalist before using Garlic in medicinal preparations. 

Herbal Combinations

Garlic is a profound healer in its own right but it can be combined with other herbs, either to buffer its sometimes ‘piercing’ effect or to produce a wide spectrum of actions. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a serious medical condition, or are taking prescribed medication, you should consult your doctor or qualified herbalist before trying these combinations.

Cleansing and detoxifying the colon

This capsule formula is helpful for reducing overgrowth of candida (a fungus that is naturally present in the gut), unfavourable bacteria and parasites. It can also quickly help to relieve symptoms of any overgrowth, including bloating, wind and constipation or diarrhoea. 

Garlic, Cloves and Ginger are all excellent antimicrobials. Ginger helps most specifically with the day-to-day symptoms such as bloating. 

Formula: 3 parts very finely chopped fresh garlic, 1 part Clove powder, 1 part Ginger powder. 

Mix the powders and then add the fresh garlic. Scoop the mixture into an empty capsule (you will need the largest size capsule available – 000). The capsules are best prepared fresh on a daily basis due to the content of fresh Garlic. 


Adults: Take 1 capsule per day, increasing to 2 capsules if you do not experience unpleasant symptoms such as headaches. 

Caution: Do not take this colon formula if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or suffering from haemorrhoids, colitis or kidney disease.


Garlic helps to treat diabetes by reducing the amount of sugar in the blood and stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin. Garlic’s benefits for the circulation and immune system also help those with diabetes, even when the disease is so severe that the circulation has become impaired.

To support the work of the Garlic, you can use Fenugreek, Burdock and Cinnamon, all of which are renowned for balancing blood sugar levels. Finally also take Siberian Ginseng, which is a herb that helps improve the body’s overall energy levels. This formula is also a tonic for the endocrine system, of which the pancreas is a part.

Please consult a qualified herbalist to advise further on this formula.

Liver flush

This gentle liver flush improves liver function. It can help to treat jaundice, hepatitis C, constant nausea and sickness, chronic indigestion and premenstrual syndrome. It can be used for between 1 and 5 days, but always start with a 1-day cleanse: this will demonstrate any strong (but useful) reactions and allow you to judge whether you can undertake a longer cleanse. Longer cleanses can be undertaken if reactions are minimal. Those with stronger reactions can take a rest and repeat and eventually move on to longer cleanses. Seek professional help before starting a cleanse because the powerful effects need monitoring.

The lemon juice in the formula cleanses the digestive tract and, although it is acidic before digestion, becomes alkaline when metabolised by the body. It also emulsifies the olive oil and creates a fresh, palatable flavour. Olive oil has a cleansing action and Ginger is a well-known digestive stimulant. 

Formula: 1–2 freshly squeezed lemons, 225 ml (1 cup) freshly-squeezed apple juice, 225 ml (1 cup) spring water, 1 crushed clove of fresh Garlic, 15 ml (1 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil, and 5 mm (¼ in) peeled, chopped fresh Ginger root (use a smaller amount if your liver is hot or inflamed).

Liquidise all the ingredients until smooth.


Adults: The aim is to drink the whole dose first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. You may need to start with a small quantity and build up gradually. If you have headaches or feel unwell, do not repeat for a week. Follow with organic apple juice if desired and 15 minutes later drink a cup of hot Peppermint tea (preferably made with fresh leaves) or Dandelion coffee flavoured with Cinnamon sticks, Cardamom seed, grated Ginger or a little Liquorice.

Children: Seek professional herbal or medical advice before beginning this cleanse.

Side effects: When the liver clears out, headaches, rashes and other side effects can occur, which are a sign that the detoxification process is under way. Emotional reactions can also arise and you may feel depressed or angry. Stop the cleanse if symptoms are intolerable but, if bearable, repeat the next morning. Drink lots of water and eat as normal all day (wholesome, healthy food, rich in vegetables or fruits, raw and cooked). Do not fast during the cleanse because the effects will be too intense.

High blood pressure

Note: Not for those not taking prescription medications.

High blood pressure may be caused by extreme stress, but there can be other contributing factors and causes including high cholesterol levels and hardening of the arteries, sluggish kidney function, blood that is too thick, and hormonal changes after menopause in women. This formula can help with all of these situations. Garlic, Ginkgo and Hawthorn improve circulation and reduce blood cholesterol levels, which otherwise build up on coronary artery walls, pushing up blood pressure. Dandelion has a diuretic effect and reduces the overall volume of fluid in the body, which helps lower blood pressure. Hawthorn relaxes and dilates the coronary arteries (among many other effects), allowing blood to be pumped more easily around the body. (See e-book ‘Hawthorn’ in this series by Jill Davies.)

Formula: Equal parts of tinctures of Hawthorn leaf, berry and flower, Ginkgo leaf, Dandelion root, and Garlic clove (or freshly juiced Garlic).

Mix the ingredients and store in sterilised, dark glass labelled bottles. If using Garlic juice, add just before taking.


Adults: 5ml (1 tsp) 3–4 times daily. In addition, consume 3 raw Garlic cloves a day or take 2 Garlic capsules 3 times a day. Drink 1 litre (4 cups) of spring water a day to flush out the kidneys.

Caution: Always seek professional advice for high blood pressure.

How Garlic Works

Garlic has nearly 20 known major chemical actions in the body, all with profound effects. To date, 33 sulphur compounds have been found in Garlic, the largest quantity so far discovered in a plant. Each of these has different roles. Among sulphur's many attributes is its ability to break down cholesterol – good news given the high fat diets that so many people indulge in today.

Garlic includes the following active components:

  • Alliin: A sulphur compound from which allicin is made when garlic cloves are crushed or chopped. Alliin can kill a wide spectrum of unfavourable microbes and bacteria.
  • Allicin: Responsible for Garlic’s odour, allicin contributes to the plant's effectiveness as an antibacterial agent. Allicin also has anti-inflammatory abilities, which makes it useful for many autoimmune diseases. Allicin is activated only when the cloves are cut or crushed (it eventually becomes diallyl disulfide, in a series of natural reactions).
  • Allithiamine: Formed when vitamin B1 (thiamine) in Garlic reacts with alliin. Vitamin B1 naturally contains sulphur.
  • Biotin: Another B vitamin found in Garlic which also contains sulphur. Vitamin B1 and biotin both nourish the nervous system and brain. This happens partly because the sulphur they contain can force lecithin (needed for brain chemistry) into the brain and nervous system. They also help prevent cholesterol from depositing in the arteries.
  • Essential oil: Lowers cholesterol and lipid (fat) levels in the blood. It has an extremely strong, long-lasting odour, which is not necessarily a bad thing because the odour also heals the body.
  • Selenium: A useful trace mineral that has antioxidant properties. Selenium may help inhibit cancer formation. It also helps prevent heavy metals from damaging the body.
  • Germanium: A trace mineral with a number of positive attributes, one being that it is a powerful antioxidant.
  • Gurwitch (or Gurvich) rays: Emitted by Garlic, these are an unusual type of ultraviolet radiation called mitogenic radiation. The rays have growth-stimulating capabilities and can rejuvenate the whole body.

Case study – gallbladder

Mark, an engineer in his 40s, suffered from extremely bad heartburn that left him in pain for hours at a time. It was particularly bad at night, preventing him from sleeping. Mark had had his gallbladder removed two years previously, and at the time his herbal practitioner had warned that his liver and stomach would need special care because they would be taking over some of the work that his gallbladder had been doing.

One night, Mark happened to eat a pasta dish that contained ample quantities of Garlic. That evening his heartburn did not appear. He told his herbalist, who suggested that he continued to eat plenty of Garlic and explained that the herb can help the digestive system metabolise fats. Mark started using Garlic liberally in cooking and his heartburn vanished. To date, it has not returned.

Main Effects

Garlic has the following effects

  • Thins the blood, increases the circulation and reduces blood platelet clumping and stickiness.
  • Destroys fungi, viruses, bacteria and parasites.
  • Normalises blood pressure whether high or low.
  • Helps lower high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Balances high and low blood sugar levels.
  • Helps neutralise and remove heavy metals from the body.
  • Assists the immune system in many ways, partly by calming and repairing the entire system.
  • Helpful for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, where there is excessive inflammation and immune system imbalance.
  • Antioxidant action helps to reduce the degeneration that is a feature of many chronic diseases, and slows down the ageing process.


  • Louis Pasteur was one of the first people to discover Garlic’s remarkable properties – he found that it has a very similar antibiotic effect to penicillin. Currently scientists are researching Garlic’s antibacterial and antifungal qualities and investigating it as a remedy for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Japanese research, for example, shows that Garlic is rich in germanium, a trace mineral that can help treat and prevent low blood sugar, diabetes and cancer.
  • Researchers in the United States and in Oxford, United Kingdom, have found that Garlic supplements help to reduce high blood cholesterol levels. In trials a reduction of 12 per cent was achieved after 4 weeks. Garlic also significantly lowered triglycerides (potentially harmful blood fats).
  • Research by Dr Paavo Airola, in Kerala, India, showed that Garlic reduced lipid (fat) levels in the blood and in the liver. Dr Airola also reported on clinical trials on 114 patients in Germany that proved Garlic can reduce high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis.
  • A German study also found that Garlic reduces blood sugar levels, finding an 11 per cent reduction in blood sugar levels in those people taking Garlic.  
  • Research in the United States showed that Garlic releases 15 different kinds of antioxidant chemicals.
  • Research has shown that the plant also improves male fertility and libido levels and can help to strengthen or induce erection.
  • Taking Garlic during pregnancy may cut the risk of pre-eclampsia. Research at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London also found that if pregnant women regularly ate Garlic, they were less likely to have a low birth weight baby.
  • A Russian electrobiologist, Professor Gurwitch, discovered that Garlic emits a type of ultraviolet radiation called mitogenic radiation. Now referred to as Gurwitch (or Gurvich) rays, they have a growth-stimulating capability and a generalised rejuvenating effect on the body.
  • Bernard Jensen at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that Garlic extract retarded the growth of skin cancer cells.


Amino acids

Chemically simple substances of which proteins are composed.


A condition in which there is too little haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying pigment of red blood cells.


An infectious disease that is caused by Bacillus anthracis, a rod-shaped bacterium. This disease attacks the skin and lungs and can be transmitted from farm animals to humans by contact with animal hair.


Fights bacterial infections.


Reduces inflammation.


Destroys or inhibits the growth of microorganisms.


Substances that prevent oxidation or damage to cells and tissues.


Promotes urination.

Entamoeba histolytica

Bacteria that causes amoebic dysentery. It is contracted from contaminated water or food.

Endocrine gland

A gland that releases a hormone directly into the bloodstream to act on other parts of the body.

Endocrine system

A collection of glands that produce hormones. It includes the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, and pineal glands.

Fatty acids

Substances found in foods that contain fats and oils.


Breaks down fibrin, the major component of blood clots. 


Compounds in plants responsible for a wide range of actions, including antioxidant activity, reducing inflammation, fighting fungus and improving the circulation.

Giardia lamblia

A microscopic parasite that lives in the intestine. It can cause chronic diarrhoea and malnutrition because of malabsorption of food.

Immune system

A collection of specialised cells and proteins in the body that fend off foreign bodies, such as fungi, viruses, and bacteria.


Excessive vaginal discharge.


A serious condition that can occur in the second half of pregnancy. Symptoms include high blood pressure and protein in the urine.


A steroid alcohol. Sterols found in plants are known as phytosterols.


A mineral that is a component of many vitamins and proteins, especially muscle proteins. In plants it is essential for growth.


A disease that affects the lungs. 

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