This is the second in a three-part series on The Herb Trinity, which comprises three potent roots: onions, garlic, and ginger. The trinity herbs serve as essentials to the modern yogi''''s diet, and are actually "survival" foods for the stressful and polluted world we live in. This month, the topic is ... Garlic,
The Stinking Healer!
Garlic is one of the most ancient remedies in the history of humankind. This beautiful, potent herb is used by many cultures, for everything from bringing good luck and a long life, to curing the common cold. Used as both a medicine and a food, garlic is known as an effective treatment for digestive disorders, high blood pressure, and immune strength. No wonder it has been called the king of the vegetable world!
Sexual Performance Enhancer? Many believe that garlic is helpful to maintain male potency. In yogic terms, garlic promotes the production of semen (ojas) and increases sexual energy. Some traditions, which believe in celibacy or sex only for procreation, forbid the use of garlic because of this increase in sexual energy. However, in other yogic teachings, garlic is purposefully taken just for this reason. It is this same potent energy that can be focused for creativity and, through the practice of Kundalini Yoga, drawn up to the higher chakras (energy centers) for greater spiritual awareness.
Ayurvedically speaking, garlic effectively fights many bacteria and viruses. Scientists today have found garlic to have natural antibiotic qualities. Unlike pharmaceuticals though, garlic does not destroy the good flora in your intestines and create conditions for yeast overgrowth. Instead garlic works to balance bacteria in the colon and small intestines. It is helpful in treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, septic poisoning, typhus, and even cholera.
How to take garlic... It is best taken raw. It has quite a bite and, if you are not accustomed to it, there are ways to help get it down (see below). Although not as effective, it can be taken cooked. Odorless garlic capsules are available in natural food stores and many drug stores. These are also effective, and are odorless.
Now, about bad breath... For "garlic breath," try chewing on a few cardamom pods (or just the seeds), some parsley, or fennel seeds. You can make a little mixture of cardamom and fennel seeds and just take a pinch or two to chew on. Swallow it or spit out after chewing (it's up to you).
and body odor... When you eat a lot of garlic, it doesn't just affect your breath. It comes out through your pores, in gas that is expelled, and in your perspiration. And the more toxic and polluted your body is, the worse you will smell. Don't worry about that smell. Just remember that this is taking care of the smell INSIDE your body. I have experienced many an odoriferous morning in group meditation, when we all ate a lot of garlic all the time. This provided the best environment for meditating! All of the body odor filling the room really made us focus on the mantra and meditation, just so we could separate ourselves from that smell!
A long time dear friend has been eating raw garlic nearly everyday for thirty years. She must go through a pound of garlic every week. She has baskets of garlic hanging in her kitchen. She practices Kundalini Yoga every day. She is a living radiance. And with all that garlic and all that exercise, she never smells like garlic. She keeps herself pure and healthy with her simple practice of yoga and yogic diet.
Here are some easy ways to enjoy garlic and some yogic remedies that use garlic:
How to Peel and Chop Garlic
Look for garlic bulbs that are firm and plump all around. (A bulb is the whole thing, the size of a small onion, with lots of little parts under the flaky skin. A clove of garlic is one of the little parts. Depending on the size, a clove of garlic will yield about 1/2 to 2 tsp. of chopped garlic.) Soft or crunchy spots indicate it is not fresh, and likely has some rotted cloves. To easily peel, first remove the outermost flaky skins. These come off pretty easily. Then separate the cloves and discard the inner stem. Put the cloves on your chopping board. Using the broad side of a large chopping knife, smash the cloves. You can do this by whacking them (but they will likely fly!) or just place the flat side of the knife down on the cloves and press down hard until they squish a bit. The skins will easily come off. With a paring knife, simply cut off any tough little stem ends. The more the garlic is squashed, the easier it is to chop. Sometimes I will chop a whole lot of garlic at a time in my food processor. Some I will use right away, some I mix with olive oil and keep in the fridge, and some I put in little freezer Ziplocs to use another day (just cut off a piece; it slices fairly easily when frozen).
Chopped Garlic in Olive Oil
Peel a bulb or two of garlic and chop well, either by hand or in food processor. Put the garlic into a glass jar and add enough extra virgin (cold-pressed) olive oil to cover. It will keep for weeks in the fridge. This makes a fantastic spread for crackers or bread, and is handy for easy use in salads, cooked foods, sauces, spreads, salad dressings, and sandwiches.
Mash an avocado and add 1 or 2 teaspoons of chopped raw garlic and 1-2 tsp. lemon juice. Enjoy on toast, rice cakes, or crackers, with a slice of tomato, or with chips.
Feeling a cold or bug coming on? At the first sign of symptoms take this drink a few times a day: 2 cloves garlic chopped, 1/4 tsp. cayenne (more or less according to your tolerance), juice of 1/2 lemon, 12 oz. water, and 2 tsp. honey. Whiz in blender at high speed for 1 minute. Drink it down! This is actually quite tasty.
Garlic Cleanse with Hydrotherapy
Boil 15-20 whole black peppercorns for 20 minutes in 3 cups water. This should reduce to about 1 cup or so (add more water if too much boils away). After 20 minutes, strain it (straining is optional; I eat the peppercorns too) and add one bulb of chopped garlic to the pepper broth. Cook it just a minute longer. Add 2 tsp. tamari soy sauce (to taste). Drink the whole thing, chewing the garlic cloves. Now, take a hot apple cider bath (add 1-2 cups apple cider to the bath water), as hot as you can reasonably stand, with water up to your navel. Sit in the hot bath for at least 15 minutes with the water up to your navel (don''''t lay down yet!). Then you can relax in the bath until the water is approximately body temperature. Once you are laying down in the tub, use your hands to gently swish the water around. This gives a nice massage to your belly area to stimulate elimination. The whole bath should be about 25-30 minutes. Now, wrap up in a blanket so you are nice and warm and go to sleep.
To Come Out of Sickness
Eat 3 cloves of raw garlic, three times a day, morning, midday, and night. Drink lots of water with it. To help eat the raw garlic, try it on rice cakes chopped with some olive oil. If you toast the rice cake, toast them before you add the garlic. Also, try the raw garlic with avocado, or just put the garlic with a piece of bread or toast. Your other food should be light and easy to digest.