Over the past couple of decades, Garlic has gained a main-stream reputation for its ability to help the body manage cholesterol, blood pressure, and reverse plaque build up in the circulatory system. If you look at the energetic nature of these conditions, it’s easy to see that Garlic is a Hot, Spicy or Moving garden physician. A bit of heat or the energy to move stagnant or stuck tissues, fluids, and matter is exactly what’s needed to counteract the forces in play when the circulatory system suffers from plaque build up or atherosclerosis or from hypertension or hypotension.
In Ayurvedic practice, these are all conditions where Kapha has become deranged, causing obstruction or constriction of Pitta within the system. Garlic, who’s Ayurvedic name Rasoon means “lacking one,” helps to reduce and clear Kapha while boosting Pitta and balancing Vata. (Khalsa, p 133-136). The complex layering of Garlic’s tastes, including sweet, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent, hints at why Herbalists like Galen referred to garlic as a panacea; Garlic does so much more than support Heart Health and heal Heart Disease.
Using Garlic to Treat Cancer
Many if not all Cancers are viewed as a stagnation by many herbalists who work with Energetics as a tool for understanding diseases and health within the body. Using the language of Ayurveda, cancer is an inappropriate pooling or collecting of Kapha energy that has moved into or become a state of extreme ama resulting from imbalance in the doshas and other aspects of the individual. Traditional Western Herbalism talks about many cancers as being states of cold and depression in which tissues are undernourished and hypo-functioning while there is not enough energy available to properly remove accumulating toxins.
In Chinese Medicine, cancer is addressed within the context of the whole system, as it is with Ayurveda and Traditional Western Herbalism. The patterns typically recognized by TCM practitioners include build-up or toxins or stagnation of energies, depletion of Qi or Yin or Yang energies, and patterns of cold. Regardless of the approach you take to understanding cancer, Garlic addresses the essential energetic and tissue states created by cancer just as it addresses ailments of the circulatory system.
Tastes of Garlic
Garlic is a hot and spicy herbal remedy. It helps fire up the body’s systems, giving them the energy they need to return to a state of proper and healthy functioning. The tastes Garlic covers include Sweet and Salty, which point to Garlic’s tonifying or building properties; Pungent, which points to Garlic’s immune system supportive nature and detoxifying nature; and Bitter/Astringent, which points to Garlic’s ability to discriminate between what belongs and what needs to go. Taken together, they show us how Garlic helps the body to recognize what needs to go and what needs to stay, to rebuild damaged tissues, and to kick out or vanquish invaders of all types, including those of a purely energetic nature, such as the Mental-Emotional challenges that come with a disease as destructive as cancer. As a cancer remedy, Garlic has been known to work powerful healing, including helping some individuals to fully recover even from what was diagnosed as terminal cancer. (Khalsa, p 135).
Addressing Mental-Emotional Challenges: Ayurvedic Advice
One of the keys to using Garlic effectively to remedy cancer is to address the mental and emotional states that have contributed to or been uncovered in connection with the disease. Ayurvedic practitioners recognize the power of our mental and emotional states to create balance and imbalance within the body. When the treatment plan includes space and support for closely examining one’s emotions, thoughts, and Spiritual experience alongside use of garlic and other herbs or treatments, which most certainly can include treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, the patient greatly increases the potential for healing and recovery.
Garlic’s spicy, moving nature helps on an emotional and energetic level to clear away the debris that results from the kind of intense examination needed to heal from cancer. Additionally, garlic helps the body’s waste-removal systems to do the same, supporting the work of the liver, kidneys, and intestinal tract. The more intense the cancer has become, the more intensely garlic is often used within the treatment plan.
Garlic as a General Detoxifier
Garlic’s benefits in supporting the body’s detoxification systems extends well beyond healing from cancer and heart disease. Although Garlic’s single missing taste, sour, is one of the key supporting tastes for the liver, Garlic is one of the Liver’s strongest allies. The heating, clearing nature of Garlic stimulates the digestive system and through that the liver, helping to balance the microbiome there and supporting healthy liver function.
Garlic’s Affect on the Microbiome
Garlic’s unique combination of building, or sweet and salty properties, combined with its slightly bitter nature help the body make proper choices about which wastes or substances need to go and which are beneficial, making Garlic an intelligent choice for cleansing and healing the microbiome of the digestive system. Garlic can actually help the body differentiate between the helpful and harmful bacteria or microorganisms then make the right choices about who stays and who goes (Wood 72). Folks with stomach ulcers, for instance, may well find great relief and powerful prevention in taking a daily dose of Garlic. A daily dose of Pesto or Roasted Garlic in Olive Oil are enough to offer up Garlic’s healing and preventative properties (Tierra 86).
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Garlic’s affinity is for the Lung, Spleen, Large Intestine, and Stomach meridians. Rather than offering direct support to the Liver, Garlic supports the systems that work with the Liver by stimulating the metabolism and digestion. It’s warming and clearing energy helps move wastes through the system and thus freeing the Liver’s energy to work in other ways, like breaking down cholesterol and processing it out of the body and supporting a healthier and more stable production and use of insulin in the digestive process.
Garlic for Prevention
As a preventative, garlic has been used for centuries to keep the digestive system and waste management systems clean and moving harmoniously. In areas where parasites are common, a daily clove or two of garlic has long been a powerful preventative for worms, most particularly hookworms, pinworms, and ringworms, as well as for scabes. In areas where microbial germs, such as bacteria and viruses, are more prevalent, the same daily clove or two of garlic has offered similar preventative protection against colds, flus, and similar infections. In both cases, the invading organisms tend to thrive in and create a relatively cold and either excessively dry or excessively damp climate.
Garlic and Traditional Western Herbalism
Traditional Western Herbalism classifies Garlic as being warm and moistening with a pungent, slightly sweet and slightly salty taste. Matthew Wood recommends garlic for use with tissue states that include atrophy and depression. That recommendation no doubt stems from the tonifying or gently building nature of Garlic’s energy.
Garlic helps to support weakened or damaged tissues by warming them, which is to say offering them a little energy boost, while balancing the potential for dryness with a little inherent dampness. This helps tissues build and repair while still being able to clear waste from the area. Wood reports using garlic to good effect on conditions including those that activate the sympathetic nervous system to excess. Garlic helps ease the body and digestive system back into balance, allowing for rest and recovery. Digestive symptoms such as colic, bloating, gas, poor appetite and absorption, and general inflammation of the digestive tract can all potentially be connected to a sympathetic system excess and may be helped by garlic (wood 72).
Herbal Properties of Garlic
Properties Traditional Western Herbalists attribute to Garlic include stimulant, diuretic, diaphoretic, alterative, carminative, expectorant, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, and anticoagulant. Garlic is also a notable anti-parasite agent, helping to expel a variety of parasites ranging from microbial to fungus, worms and bacterial invaders.
Garlic and TCM
Traditional Chinese Herbalists (TCM practitioners) consider Garlic or Da Suan to be hot and spicy with an affinity for the Lungs, Spleen, Large Intestine, and Stomach. They use garlic for a variety of damp, cold conditions, particularly when dispersing and decongesting is needed. This includes conditions ranging from the common cold to more complex respiratory ailments, amoebic dysentery, staphylococcus or Staph infection, streptococcus or strep throat infection, leukorrhea and menstrual disorders and dis-regulation, fungal and yeast infections, lower back pains and joint pains, circulatory problems, nervous disorders, cramps and spasms, and UTI or urinary tract infection or genitourinary traction disorders. The range seems almost incredible, until you consider Garlic’s ability to encourage the body to clear waste, tone tissues, and fire up its systems. From a TCM perspective, Garlic helps move Yang without disturbing Yin or Qi.
Garlic for Cold and Flu
As a cold and flu remedy, garlic is taken internally or applied topically to the neck and chest to help prevent a build up of lymph and similar wastes. Lesley Tierra writes that Garlic is particularly helpful in acute conditions when mucus is present, especially what the mucus is clear or white in color indicating a cold-damp conditions as opposed to the yellow to yellow-green color often present in hot-damp conditions. Conditions including walking pneumonia, bronchitis, colds, flus, asthma, strong and damp coughs are all potential jobs for Garlic. For intense and acute conditions, intense intervention using Garlic can work surprisingly quickly. A few teaspoons of raw garlic juice taken every few hours can reputedly clear conditions like Walking Pneumonia within a matter of a few days (Tierra 86). Although this strategy is not guaranteed, for folks suffering from respiratory ailments, it may well be worth a try.
Garlic and Ayurveda
Ayurvedic practitioners of old, much like their Traditional Western Herbal counterparts, have drawn on Garlic’s healing and preventative properties as one might a panacea to handle a wide variety of complaints, including fungal complaints, heart disease, diabetes, dysentery, colds and flus, bronchitis, asthma, and bacterial infections. They classify Garlic as a hot, drying herb that balances Vata while boosting Pitta and reducing Kapha through use of all but one of the tastes, sour being the one not attributed to Garlic.
This complexity of taste and action is what makes Garlic suitable for all tissues, from an Ayurvedic perspective. Traditional Ayurvedic practice has used Garlic to help ease varying conditions, including sluggish digestion, poor libido, asthma, ear infection, edema, malabsorption and intestinal infection, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart diseases, and stomach ulcers. More recently, Garlic has been used to support the immune system in general and specifically to help AIDS patients.
Modern scientific study backs many of these uses, but doesn’t adequately explain how Garlic works. From the Ayurvedic perspective, the action is fairly clear. Garlic helps when Kapha as slowed the system excessively, creating a climate where Ama can collect. By supporting Pitta without disturbing Vata, Garlic helps the body clear that excessive build up of Ama from the body, allowing Kapha to return to a state of balance and harmony within the system.
Cautions for Garlic
Ayurvedic practitioners recommend caution with garlic when an excess of Pitta or insufficient Kapha is present. TCM practitioners recommend caution with Garlic when states of deficiency are present, particularly Yin deficiency, Blood deficiency, or Qi deficiency. Traditional Western Herbalists caution that Garlic can aggravate Hot conditions. While Garlic can be useful for treating children, begin with a lower dose and work up slowly as Garlic can cause nausea and vomiting when taken in excess. Garlic can also induce diarrhea when taken in excessive quantities. Some people may develop gas or bloating as a result of taking Garlic, so caution and lower doses are advised if that is the case.
- TCM Approaches to Cancer Treatment
- The Earthwise Herbal, Volume I: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants
- Healing with the Herbs of Life
- The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs: A Contemporary Introduction and Useful Manual for the World’s Oldest Healing System
Roasted Garlic in Olive Oil Recipe
This recipe offers a lovely and easy way to get a little garlic into your life daily. Although Raw Garlic is better if you need to heal, the heat won’t damage too many of Garlic’s Healing Properties to make this significantly less a valuable preventative herbal remedy.
There are two ways to roast garlic, in a pan or in the oven. In this recipe, I offer you the pan version. The oven-style works well, too, if that’s your jam. I’ve done both, and I admit that the pan is just a nip easier for me because I don’t have to work as hard to get the cloves out of their shells afterward.
- 1 head Garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Bread for serving
- Break your Garlic into cloves. Do not waste time removing the skins. You’ll want those on to protect the cloves from burning.
- Heat a cast iron skillet or similarly heavy skillet on medium heat or over a fire.
- When the pan’s hot, drop your Garlic cloves in.
- Let the Garlic cook in the pan, stirring occasionally, until you notice the cloves are starting to pick up blackened bits and flecks of black. If you gently press on one of the larger cloves, you should notice a little give, indicating that the clove has softened.
- When the largest cloves have a little give to them when pressed, remove all the cloves from the skillet and turn the heat off.
- Set the roasted Garlic aside to cool.
- When the Garlic is cool enough to handle, remove the skins. I like to gently squeeze the base end of the clove, which usually splits the skin and causes the clove to pop right out.
- Add the skinned cloves to a bowl.
- Roughly chop or mash the cloves with a fork, then stir in the olive oil.
- Pour the whole lot into a pretty serving dish. Serve with bread or crackers straight away or let it stand on the counter to infuse for a few hours. Store the left-overs, if you have them, in the refrigerator.