Garlic & Honey Medicine
A DIY, beats-anything, all-natural medicine from ingredients you probably have in the kitchen right now...
BTW: if you just want the recipe, scroll to the bottom :)
I've known a lot about garlic for a looong time, and I never hesitate to shout about it from the rooftops round here. But it wasn't until Christmas of 2012, when my kids (all 3 of them) got Whooping Cough that I really started taking this stuff seriously. My two boys didn't fare well, but much better than my daughter, and it was because of her condition at the time that I threw together my first batch of this medicine at 4am on the 22nd of December... While waiting for a call back from the out of hours medical service that didn't happen until around 7am... Just as I was falling asleep, of course.
My husband was on night shift and although my (then 2 1/2 year old) daughter had taken a full prescription of antibiotics; which was the wrong type, I was told at the call back the following morning; she was still presenting with high fevers and not only was her cough getting worse, her breath had turned putrid. All of these were clear indicators to me that there was something more afoot than just the Whooping cough. So at about 2am, after I had called the docs, I sat with her propped up against my shoulder, with the window open to combat the heat coming off her, and googled complications of Whooping cough.
PLEASE NOTE: I DO NOT ADVOCATE GOOGLE AS A DIAGNOSTIC TOOL, ONLY AN INFORMATION SOURCE WHILE YOU WAIT FOR PROPER ADVICE!!
I found some information on the NHS Direct site that indicated she was heading for Bronchitis or even Pneumonia and at that point, frightened enough to feel the edge of panic sliding in (I was also, amongst all of this, preparing for our first Christmas with everyone at our house!) I searched for herbal remedies to combat infections. Guess what the first ingredient was that came up? Yup, garlic. Here's a little excerpt from one of the pages I found by Jon Barron, who talks about how antibiotics only attack from one direction and how garlic works in hundreds of ways (read the rest here):
"Take garlic for example.
For a long time, many people thought there was only one active component in garlic, allicin (in fact, many companies still promote that concept). It was believed that raw garlic had very little biological activity, but when you "damage" garlic cloves - by slicing, cooking, or chewing them - the enzyme alliinase immediately converts non-active alliin into the active ingredient, allicin.
As I mentioned, it was once thought that allicin was garlic's principal active ingredient. However, researchers now know that allicin is rapidly oxidized. In the process of oxidation, allicin breaks down into more than 100 biologically active sulfur-containing compounds. While allicin may still serve as a general marker of garlic's potency, research increasingly points to S-allylcysteine and other compounds as the most therapeutically active ingredients in garlic.
So how many possible pathogenic defense combinations can you get from garlic's 100 biologically active compounds? A whole bunch!! Thousands and thousands and thousands, in fact! The formula for finding the number of combinations of k objects you can choose from a set of n objects is:
n! n_C_k = ---------- k!(n - k)!
With 100 objects/compounds to work with and possible combinations ranging from any 2 of them to any 99 of them, the complexity is just far, far, far too much for simple pathogens to evolve around.
And that's the secret. But it gets even better.
When you combine several natural substances in one formula, the combinations of compounds are beyond counting.
Quite simply, microbes cannot evolve around them."
Now, I can't do that kind of maths, but what this told me was that not only was I right about garlic being the best, but that I was way more right than I ever realised! (Score!) I had never read anything as in-depth or scientific as this in the short months I'd been self-studing herbalism at that time, but as an avid fan of biology I not only understood the implications of such excellent information, I saw it as a lifeline and a means to forego the unpleasantness of allopathic antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. And we have managed to achieve just that ever since, besides once incidence (which I'll get to in a sec).
Along with the other ingredients he speaks about, and information from other herbalist websites, I formed a rough list of good things to put together and how they were best prepared, put my then (thankfully) sleeping daughter down on some propped up pillows and headed for the kitchen to see what I had.
This is what I pulled out the cupboards:
2 bulbs of organic garlic that needed using up since they were sprouting
Last few drops of Apple Cider Vinegar, about a tablespoon
powdered ginger and turmeric
Some vitamin C powder (I no longer recommend vitamin c in the form of ascorbic acid, see here why - I use dried rosehips instead as I include in the instructions*)
2 jars of honey
Some old medicine bottles and a jar (my husband really hates my jar collection, but I prove its use time and again!)
Cold water sterilisation liquid
I won't get into the health benefits of honey here; I'm sure many of you know just how amazing it is and that it's great for just about everything! But here is a good post for those who want to know a little more.
So I set to work on the garlic first, peeling, flattening with the blade of the knife and coursely chopping each clove, while the kettle boiled. This gave the garlic some time to oxidise before I even started cooking it. These days I don't bother peeling each clove, I just crush them with a knife blade so they're good and flat!
Next, I put the bottles and jar with their lids in a solution of the sterilising liquid and put them aside. I just used a washing up tub for this.
Then I added 500mls of the boiled water to a small pot, added a tablespoon of the turmeric, 2 tablespoons of the ginger and then the garlic. I set it over a low-medium heat and put the lid on.
*Becuase I don't use vitamin c powder anymore I now add half a cup of whole dried rosehips (use 1/6 cup if they are crushed) and preboil them, covered, for about 15 mins and then use that liquid as the water base, as you'll extract more of the beneficial compounds in the skins. To find out more about rosehips, check out my post here. You could also use rosehip tea bags of course, cut them open and empty them out to fill about 1/6 cup with the contents.*
I juiced up the lemons and added the last of the apple cider vinegar. I now use about 3 tablespoons per recipe since it's so good for so many things and the kids don't mind the sourness.
Once the garlic decoction had simmered gently for about 10mins I took it off the heat, and put the pot in an icebath to cool it down a little quicker, stirring occasionally, for about another 10mins. Then I strained it through a fine mesh strainer (a coffee filter would work, but you may find it gets clogged up by the spices) and added the lemon juice.
I measured the total amount of liquid and added half as much honey (I had about 600mls of liquid and added 300mls honey). After a good stir, I was ready to bottle it up. I took the bottles out of the sterlising solution, gave them a good shake off and filled them up to the brim, occasionally stirring the mixture in the jug. Sealing them tightly with the childproof lids, I took the last tiny bit, which was about 2 teaspoons, and gave it to my daughter, who had woken up just a few minutes before I finished.
The effect was nearly immediate. I gave her the medicine, a small drink of water, and within about 15 mins she was asleep again. I, however, did NOT sleep; I was too busy warily watching her for any signs of a reaction (not that I expected one, but you never can be sure, especially with babies) and/or improvement. As the night wore on, I noticed that she was breathing much easier, that she was sleeping deeply and that she was sweating (Hallelujah!). I just started dozing off when the phone rang and the doctors wanted to know if I wanted to bring her in for observations. I politely declined and promised to ring if I needed to.
But I didn't need to. When she finally woke up about 11am, she was thirsty, HUNGRY and her fever was all but imperceptible. It was the first day in about 2 weeks that she ate anything and kept it down, despite still having the odd coughing fit (when I'd give her another teaspoonful). She'd lost a lot of weight, though thankfully she was a chubby bubby and could afford it, so I was especially relieved when I saw her eating and drinking freely again.
This medicine just works, and considering the cheap and freely available, all-natural ingredients, and the little time and effort it takes to make, you really can't afford to not give it a go! As a bonus, it lasts for over 3 months if kept sealed in a dark cool cupboard, and you should keep open bottles in the fridge where they last at least a week. I have noticed that after 3 months it starts to lose potency a little - it doesn't go off, just doesn't work as quickly or as well anymore.
That said, this stuff has worked for just about everything I've thrown at it; the only thing it didn't work for was for an anaerobic bacterial ear infection Leon had, which we did end up resorting to ear drops for after three weeks of no-joy. And besides that one ear infection, none of us has had to go see a doctor for anything infection-related since. I'd call that "conclusive", wouldn't you?
This was taken a month later :)
Here's a quick version of the recipe:
Garlic & Honey Medicine-for-Everything
2 bulbs fresh organic garlic
1 tbs turmeric powder
2 tbs ginger powder
1/2 cup whole dried rosehips / 1/6 cup ground dried rosehips or contents of tea bags
3 lemons (preferably organic/unwaxed)
3 tbs organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (preferably with the mother) but honestly any apple cider vinegar is better than none.
Honey (again, preferably raw and local, but I've found the recipe to work well with a good brand of honey from the supermarket)
Small glass bottles or jars such as honey jars
In a small pot, add 600mls freshly boiled water. Add the rosehips and set to simmer while you prepare the rest.
Get your bottles/jars into your sterilising solution. They probably only need about 20 mins but this way you know they're sorted and you won't forget about them.
Separate cloves of garlic and press them flat with a blade of a big knife (you may want to chop them up too, that's cool, get out your frustrations)
Measure out the spices and strain the rosehip liquid. Add 500ml of the liquid back to the pot and add the spices and the garlic. Cover and set to simmer.
Juice the lemons and add the juice to a heatproof measuring jug. Add the apple cider vinegar.
After the garlic decoction has simmered for about 10mins remove from heat and cool in the pot, covered, until it's cool enough that a pinky dipped in can stay in comfortably. Then strain it through a fine mesh strainer or muslin (it WILL stain!) and add the liquid to the measuring jug.
Add half as much honey as there is liquid, so for 600mls liquid, you want to add 300mls honey. Give it a good long stir. Keep stirring occasionally as you pour it out as it has a tendency to separate a little - not in a bad, you'll see what I mean.
Remove your bottles/jars from the sterilising solution / oven / micro-steamer, or whatever you used to sterilise them and line them up for filling.
Pour in the medicine right to the tippy-top to avoid air bubbles when you seal it. This helps it last longer I found. Mop up messes quickly, turmeric stains everything!
Seal the bottles/jars tightly and that's it, you're done.
Please do get in touch to let me know if it works as well for you!