Abundant Optimism

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Saving Money on Colds and Flu

by Tamara Martfeld

I would like everyone to be healthy this year (as well as all the years to come). Today I am sharing with you a trick I use which is cheaper than any medicine out there, at least in my corner of the world. It works so well for me that the only cold/flu medicine I buy now is an expectorant when I have a cough to get all the garbage out of my lungs quicker. Some state that it is only working as a placebo, and they could be right. The science is not there to back up the medicine. However, whether it is working because it is truly effective or as a placebo, the fact is that it works for me and for many other people. My trick is raw garlic.

Whenever I know I have been exposed to a virus or flu I take one clove of garlic, cut it into pieces I can swallow, then use water to take it like a pill – no chewing involved. When I have symptoms of a virus or flu I take two cloves of garlic instead of one, then repeat the treatment a few times if the symptoms do not leave. Cutting the garlic is important as the chemical in garlic which kills the virus must be exposed to air to be activated. Eating it raw is important as heat will kill the effects of the chemical. I have not been able to find data as to whether cold hurts the chemical and my experience suggests that it does not. I buy the garlic in large quantities (cheaper in bulk) and then separate the cloves and freeze it with the skins on in a glass jar. The frozen garlic has worked as well as fresh.

When I know I have simply been exposed I generally do not get whatever the other person has. When I take it very early after getting symptoms whatever I have generally will reverse itself and I am well within 24 hours without the symptoms getting any worse. If I cannot take the garlic soon I generally do not get as sick as those around me with whatever is going around. For whatever reason, this works great for me. There is anecdotal evidence to back up the medicine, but I know of no clinical trials.

Garlic is the only substance found (per my information) which will kill a virus in a test tube. I have found no clinical trials or other scientific data to imply that this has ever been tested inside a human. However, given the information that it will kill a virus in a test tube I started using it with success. A few weeks ago I had all the symptoms of a cold coming on which were recognized about 5 in the evening. The symptoms of a cold for me are a throat that is starting to get sore, runny nose, sneezing, and a general achy feeling. I took two cloves of garlic and the symptoms were gone by morning.

Two years ago I had been exposed several times to the flu and treated myself with the garlic. I got the flu but did not realize it until the end of the day the symptoms were so mild. I went through the symptoms of chills, sneezing, runny nose, etc. as I sat at my desk working. But it was more like a short shiver which lasted less than a half hour and is common in my office with the poor heater/air conditioning system, a sneeze or two, my nose running 2-3 times, etc. I was not until one hour before the end of the day that I even realized what had happened. I did not really feel sick, just very slightly under the weather.

I have never found a maximum safe limit for garlic. This does not mean it does not exist, only that I have not found it. So far it looks like you can eat as much as you want. Obviously, if you are allergic to garlic don’t eat it. The only anecdotal bad side effect I have ever heard about is a headache one person had after eating three heads of garlic. For those who are not familiar with the terms, a head of garlic is the clump of garlic you will usually find in the produce section of the grocery store about the size of a baby’s fist. A clove of garlic is a single unit of the clump, about the size of the tip of an adult finger. The only other side effect I think everyone is aware of is that if you eat enough garlic you will smell like garlic. I leave it to you to decide if this is good or bad. It you want to be left alone it can be a very good side effect.

No one has been able to tell me if the properties of all garlic cloves are equal, that is if a large clove is equal to a small clove. I usually consume the volume of a medium-size clove and call it a clove when using it medicinally just in case. Elephant garlic is not real garlic according to my research and I do not know if it has the same medicinal properties. For cooking, the cloves of elephant garlic are about equal to that of non-elephant garlic flavor-wise, it just looks bigger (no additional flavor for the extra volume in my opinion).

Garlic has been recognized for years as an anti-biotic. It is called “Russian Penicillin” because it was used as an anti-biotic in one of the World Wars by the Russians when they did not have the penicillin. For this reason I will use garlic for a few days if I think I have a mild infection before I go to the doctor (another expense saved). If whatever I have does not clear up or gets worse I will then see a doctor. I stress the importance of this step: There are many deadly infections out there and if what you have is serious you can die without proper treatment. I only use the garlic if I think the infection is mild and I am not aware of being exposed to something specific. If I am exposed to something specific, such as strep throat, I will take the garlic as explained previously and watch for symptoms. I usually do not get any symptoms, but on the few occasions I do, I see the doctor and let them know I was exposed. Use care when dealing with infections because they can be very serious.

Garlic has been used for centuries as a medicine. Science has identified some of the components which are effective and has admitted that it can help with helping the body’s immune system. There is also information out there stating that eating garlic regularly can help prevent some cancers. Unfortunately, I doubt you will ever hear that from a medical professional. I am aware of one study of less than 20 people which was testing garlic as a treatment for AIDS. The only ones not helped in that study were the ones who could not handle the dose of garlic being used and quit before the end of the study. The study was done to determine if a larger, scientifically sound study was justified (they knew the sample size was too small). Other than the results of that first study I have not found any information on what steps those researchers took, but I understand that AIDS patients are using garlic to help their immune systems.

I do know a few people who have tried garlic and it did not work for them. There are also medicines out there which do not work for everyone, so the fact that this does not work for everyone does not mean it will not work for you. Try it a few times (unless you are allergic or know you react poorly to garlic) and see if it works for you. If it does you may be able to avoid the cost of any cold or flu medicines you usually take and some doctor visits.

As with any treatment for any disease, use your common sense and your best judgment. I am not a doctor or health professional and my suggestions cannot be taken as medical advice. I give you the information regarding garlic as a suggestion of a natural remedy to try which has been used successfully by many people. Take the information as anecdotal and do your own research. Whether you try it is up to you and you take any risk involved. If you do try it do so with common sense – do not substitute it for doctor’s advice, prescribed medicine (especially anti-biotics), or required medical treatment. Again, I am not a health professional of any kind and this article’s contents cannot be taken as medical advice.