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Modern antibiotics and medicines are some of the most effective ways of curing illnesses and infections, but that wasn’t always the case. For a long time, garlic was one of the main medicinal herbs used by doctors. Today, garlic tincture is still an effective means to get rid of some types of ailments.
Garlic tincture is a mixture of macerated garlic and distilled water, organic vinegar, or alcohol. This extract preserves the medicinal properties and makes it easier to administer. Garlic tincture has a wide range of positive health effects and has been used as an antimicrobial and antibacterial for thousands of years.
Any survival kit needs to have some garlic tincture, or at the very least, a recipe for it. Garlic tinctures can go a long, long way for survival, no matter if you are camping out in the middle of nowhere, or you find yourself lost in the woods. Historically, garlic tinctures have been believed to have antibiotic effects.
Of course, they aren’t going to be as effective or efficient as modern medicines that you can get at the doctor, but when it comes to survival, having a garlic tincture is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. You should make the garlic tincture at home first to get the hang of it. Once you’ve made it, it is incredibly easy to make again.
Common Names: Camphor of the Poor, Poor Man’s Treacle, Rust Treacle, Stinking Rose, Russian penicillin
Description/Taxonomy: Garlic is a bulbous perennial herb in the Liliaceae/Allicaceae family, closely related to the onion. It has a tall, erect flowering stem that reaches 2-3 feet in height with pink or purple flowers that bloom in mid to late summer. Its leaves are long, narrow, and flat like grass. The bulb (the only part of the plant that’s used) consists of numerous bulbils or cloves, grouped together between membrane-like scales or sheaths and enclosed within a whitish, papery skin that holds them together like a sac (5). Garlic is propagated by separating and planting individual bulbs.
History, Ethnobotany, and Folklore: The name Allium sativum is derived from the Celtic word all, meaning burning or stinging, and the Latin sativum meaning planted or cultivated. The English name is derived from Anglo-Saxon gar-leac, meaning spear plant (in reference to the shape of its leaves). Spiritually, garlic was prized as a protective agent. This is perhaps the origin of our common association with garlic as a deterrent to vampires. It was one of several plants in ancient Greece that was worn to guard against illness and negative energies, including theft and possession by evil spirits. Both sailors and soldiers were known to wear protective gloves, both for spiritual protection and in case of sickness.
Garlic is one of the most ancient healing plants and has been prized for its culinary, medicinal, and spiritual benefits for millennia. In fact, its history and timeline as a cultivated plant are so vast that it’s hard to pinpoint its era or country of origin. It is thought to be native to China and has been esteemed in the medical tradition of that country for thousands of years.
We do know that it has been cultivated in the Middle East for over 5,000 years, making it one of the earliest known cultivated plants. Ancient Egyptians used it as a form of currency, and hieroglyphics of its medicinal benefits have been found transcribed on ancient temple walls and on papyrus dating back to 1500 BC. Arabian herbalists used garlic to respond to abdominal pain, infantile colic, diarrhea, diabetes, eye infections, snakebites, and even tuberculosis.
African herbalists used garlic to treat respiratory and helminthic infections, as well as garlic oil in drops to respond to childhood ear infections. In North America, Native Americans used garlic for a variety of healing purposes and consumed it on a regular basis. In China and Europe, garlic was used against plagues and infectious diseases as well as lung complications. In the 1800’s America, it was common for physicians to recommend garlic inhalation as a treatment for TB. During World War I, garlic poultices were used to prevent wound infections, and by WWII the plant had a reputation as “Russian penicillin.” Physicians in many Western Countries including American actually relied on garlic specifically as an antihypertensive agent up until the late 1950s when potent pharmaceuticals became more widely available.
Garlic tincture has many medicinal uses. Garlic tincture can be used to treat the following:
- Viral Skin Infection
- High Blood Pressure
- Kidney Problems
- Bladder Problems
- Respiratory Issues
This list isn’t all-inclusive but it represents the uses that are most widely accepted as being effectively treated with garlic tincture.
According to WebMD, red blood cells turn certain compounds from digested garlic into hydrogen sulfide which causes blood vessels to relax and lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Garlic tincture is antibacterial, but garlic also has more than 40 other healthy compounds such as arginine, oligosaccharides, flavonoids, and selenium. All of these compounds combine to make it great for treating a wide range of ailments.
Creating a tincture with garlic is one of the few ways to preserve all of the compounds that garlic contains. Once you start heating or cooking garlic, many of the health benefits of garlic are reduced or completely eliminated.
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List of medicinal compounds found in garlic:
- Sulfur-Containing Amino Acids and Peptides
- S-ethyl cysteine (SEC)
- N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)
- allyl sulfinates
- methyl allyl sulfinates
- Sulfides, Diallyl Sulfides, and Polysulfides
- hydrogen sulfide (H2S)
- diallyl sulfide (DAS)
- diallyl disulfide (DADS)
- diallyl trisulfide (DATS)
Back before modern medicine, garlic tinctures were used in a number of ways. The most common usage was as an antibiotic. In the days of the pioneers, they would use the garlic tincture for ailments such as the flu, colds, high blood pressure, strep throat, viruses, skin infections, and several other ailments.
Keep in mind that it might not be extremely effective for these ailments, but at the same time, the pioneers continued using this tincture, so there were some positive results.
The recommended dosage for garlic tincture is just 4 or 5 drops per day. Add the drops to an 8 oz glass of water and drink. Follow it up immediately with another 8 oz glass of water.
When you plan on taking the garlic tincture, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, if you take too much, you can feel dizzy, nauseated, and you can sweat excessively. If you have an anti-coagulation disorder or are on blood-thinning medicines, you should consult your doctor before taking this tincture.
For women, it can also cause menstrual changes. Again, as with any other supplement, you should talk to your doctor before you start taking it.
The safety characteristics of the various garlic preparations likely depend on their specific chemical composition. Aged garlic extract — the only water-based garlic supplement — showed a safe profile in toxicity studies and exhibited no undesirable side effects when combined with anticoagulants (warfarin), antiplatelet (aspirin), cholesterol-lowering (statins) drugs, or anticancer drugs (doxorubicin, 5-fluorouracil, methotrexate) in clinical settings. Safety and toxicity data are lacking for lipophilic (hydrophobic) garlic preparations, but some of their constituents have been shown to interfere with drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters.
You’ll need enough garlic to get one cup of chopped garlic. Additionally, you will need two cups of one of the following:
- Distilled water
- Pure grain alcohol
- White rum
- White whiskey
- Unfiltered organic vinegar
All of these liquids have the same properties that you need for the garlic tincture, and it is up to you which one you want to choose. However, you will just need to make sure that you have two cups of your chosen liquid.
You will also need some equipment as well. You’re going to need a strainer, a funnel, a spoon, and a mason jar. A blender works great for chopping the garlic, although you can also use the mortar and pestle if you don’t have access to one.
How to Make Garlic Tincture
Preparation tip: Breaking, crushing, and bruising garlic before consuming are necessary to activate allinase, the enzyme that converts alliin to allicin, an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial compound found in garlic. Allow a few minutes to transpire after crushing for the activation process to take effect (ideally 10 minutes or more). Heat can inactivate allinase and since certain forms of allicin-like compounds are present only in the raw state and some therapeutic properties are dependent on the use of raw garlic.
First, you will either want to use the mortar and pestle or the blender to chop the garlic bulbs. Go through enough garlic bulbs until you have at least one cup of garlic. Once you have this cup of garlic, you will want to add the liquid that you chose earlier to the garlic.
Next, pour the mixture into a clean mason jar. Write the date on the lid of the mason jar with a marker so you know when you made the mixture.
Let the mixture rest for two to three weeks. Every day, gently shake the jar. Continue with making the tincture after two or three weeks have passed.
Using the strainer, you will want to strain the garlic from the liquid. With all the garlic on the strainer, use a spoon to press down on the garlic as much as you can so that you can get all of the liquid out of the garlic and into the mason jar. At this point, the tincture is ready to use.
Your garlic tincture can last up to a year if you store it in a cool dark place. Either transfer it into a container that will keep out light, or wrap the mason jar in cloth or paper that will keep light out.
Your tincture should be thrown out if the liquid starts to turn green or grey.
Other Garlic Home Remedies
Massaging garlic oil onto your feet can be a powerful way to break through congestion in the lungs and sinuses. As the garlic constituents are absorbed through the skin they travel through the bloodstream to the lungs where the active principle is excreted. By doing this garlic brings its stimulating expectorant and anti-microbial properties where it is needed.
For something to be able to be absorbed through the skin it must follow what is referred to as the “500 Dalton Rule”, which means that any molecule with a molecular weight of up to 500 Daltons is readily absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream. The molecular weight of allicin (an active constituent of garlic) is 162.26 g/mol, which is equivalent to 162.26 daltons; therefore, it is easily absorbed into your bloodstream and throughout the body!
Caution: Do NOT ingest the garlic oil by mouth. There is a risk of botulism when combining fresh garlic and olive oil.
Peel and finely mince the garlic. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Place the garlic in a small jar. Barely cover garlic with olive oil.
Let this infuse for a minimum of 30 minutes, up to 12 hours. Strain really well.
To use: Just before bedtime, rub the oil onto the feet. Immediately cover feet with an old pair of socks, and then another pair of wool socks. Wear this throughout the might. Repeat as necessary, making a fresh batch of oil for each application.
Garlic Nasal Irrigation
Garlic syrup: is a great way to reap the benefits of garlic and is fantastic to take in cases of asthma, coughs, chronic bronchitis, and other various conditions of the lungs.
Preparation: Pour a quart of boiling water over a pound of fresh-cut cloves, and allow to stand in a covered vessel for twelve hours. Reheat, adding honey until a syrupy consistency is achieved.
Optional: Caraway and bruised fennel can be heated for a short time in vinegar and added to the garlic syrup, to cover some of the pungent smell and add some extra expectorant benefit.
Garlic Poultice: The antibiotic and antiviral sulfur compounds of the garlic, when applied directly over the lungs, in the form of a poultice, will ease inflammation, loosen and break up hardened mucus, and help expectoration.
- Fresh garlic, 2 or 3 cloves
- Knife, fork or garlic press
- Cheesecloth, large washcloth, or other thin fabric
- Warm water (not boiling)
- Optional: bandage (to keep poultice in place at awkward angles)
- Olive oil or non-petroleum jelly
Method: Crush the garlic to release all of its juice. You can do this with the back of a fork, a garlic press, or cut with a knife.
Layout the cheesecloth and double it over. For children triple-fold cloth to be sure no raw garlic is coming into contact with their sensitive skin.
Place crushed garlic into the middle of the cheesecloth.
Fold up the cheesecloth like a burrito, folding two opposite sides over the garlic and then the two other sides over the top of that.
Place poultice in a bowl of warm water and leave for a few seconds.
Squeeze out the excess water and lay poultice on the desired spot; generally on the chest or bottom of feet. It is a good practice to apply some olive oil or another well-tolerated oil to the skin before applying a garlic poultice (helps protect the skin from irritation).
Garlic Tea: Another simple and easy way to ingest garlic’s medicinal benefits
- Crush 4 cloves of garlic-let stand at least 10 minutes
- Add cloves to pot with roughly 32 ounces of water and bring to a boil. Can add 1 in nub of grated ginger (if desired) for increased taste and immune benefits
- Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes
- Strain, add honey, lemon juice, and a pinch of cayenne (if tolerable) for flavor enhancement
The benefits of nasal irrigation are: removing mucous, dirt, pollen, and other allergens from nasal passages. Increases the flow of mucous, allowing sinus passages to clear. Pulls out fluid, shrinking swollen mucous membranes. Improves breathing, as swelling resolves. Prevents sinus infection. The addition of garlic to the nasal rinse provides a direct route for the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of garlic to the tissue.
16 ounces of water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 clove of garlic
Take one clove of garlic, peel, crush, chop, and put aside for at least15 minutes (15 minutes are needed for garlic to release its active compounds). In the meantime put water in a pan, add one teaspoon of salt. Bring water to a boil. Take the chopped garlic and put it into a strainer, pour the boiling water over the strainer with garlic. Put the fluid into the Nety pot and wait for it to become lukewarm. Once cooled, use the Nety pot to flush your nose over the sink (the water enters one nostril and exits the other nostril). Do once per day. Make sure you do not use hot water, and no pieces of garlic are in the rinse.
Garlic tincture is an antimicrobial and antibiotic extract that can treat things like the flu and even reduce the chance of heart disease!
If you keep the tincture in a cool dark place you should have a medicinal garlic supplement that you can use for up to a year to treat all kinds of illnesses, even in a survival situation when modern medicine may not be available.
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