Garlic isn’t just for keeping away vampires. In fact, the notion that garlic warded off vampires is centuries old and is connected to the fact that garlic is a natural remedy for cuts, mosquito bites, and coughs. Garlic can also be used for athlete’s foot, fishing, fighting infections, treating cuts and more.
So, while garlic might come in handy on Halloween for fighting the undead, it’s also important to know how you can use this incredibly resourceful plant for a myriad of purposes every day of the year. Here’s just a sampling of 10 great uses and health benefits of garlic.
Natural Mosquito Repellent
It’s not clear exactly why mosquitoes don’t like garlic, but it probably has something to do with the plant’s compounds being harmful. You can repel mosquitoes by either hanging fresh garlic cloves around your patio, deck or campsite, or by applying garlic extract (diluted in a carrier oil) to your skin.
Natural Garden Pesticide
The majority of commercial pesticides are quite harmful to humans, animals and the environment. Garlic on the other hand, is a natural pesticide and is just as effective as many commercial options. Mince three fresh garlic cloves, add them to a tablespoon of mineral oil, and then let mixture stand for 24 hours. Strain out the garlic and add the garlic-infused oil, along with a teaspoon of dish soap, to a pint of water and apply through a spray bottle to your plants. Shake bottle thoroughly before each use, and keep out of direct sunlight and store away from children and animals.
Natural Fish Bait
For you pescetarians out there, garlic makes for a easy-to-use fish bait. To use, toss a bunch of mini-marshmallows in a plastic container of garlic powder or crushed fresh garlic. Keep bowl tightly sealed until ready to use. When you go fishing, just apply the garlic-marshmallows to your hook and toss them in the water. The garlic-marshmallows is said to be especially attractive to bass and trout as well as other kinds of fish.
The juice of freshly crushed garlic can even be used as an adhesive. To use, apply the garlic juice to paper, costume jewelry pieces, craft projects and hairline cracks in glass, wipe away excess film, allow item to ‘cure’ for 24 hours, and your repaired item should be ready for use. This natural adhesive method has actually been used by Chinese people for centuries.
Natural Cough Syrup
Garlic is a tried-and-true potent cough suppressant and infection fighter. To make your own natural garlic cough syrup, boil a quarter pound of garlic cloves (minced to release the healing oils in the garlic) in 8 ounces of filtered water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add in 2-3 tablespoons of raw honey (do NOT use commercially processed honey) and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice from 1/2 of a fresh lemon. You can also brew a healing garlic tea by soaking a clove of garlic (cut in half) in a cup of freshly boiled water, and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes with a saucer on top of the cup to retain the heat and healing oils. After 10-15 minutes, remove the garlic pieces and add 1 teaspoon of raw honey and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Natural Athlete’s Foot Remedy
Garlic has potent natural anti-fungal properties, and you can use it to soothe the symptoms of athlete’s foot such as intense itching, red flaking skin and pain, as well as address the actual infection by debilitating the fungal microbes. Add 3-4 cloves of fresh garlic (each clove cut in half to release the healing oils) to a warm foot bath and soak your feet for 30 minutes. Do this daily during times of acute infection, followed by 3 times a week for a couple weeks after the infection has cleared, and once a week for preventative maintenance if you are prone to athlete’s foot infection.
Natural Disinfectant for Cuts and Abrasions
You can use garlic to effectively help heal cuts or abrasions. Gently wash the area of the wound with a natural liquid soap and water, and lightly pat dry with a clean cloth. Peel a garlic clove and bruise one side of it by slamming it on the table or an edge. Gently apply the bruised side of the garlic against the cut or abrasion for 5-10 minutes, allowing the oils to penetrate into the affected area. Garlic contains allicin, a powerful compound that inhibits the growth of several kinds of bacteria and protects against infection. The garlic oil will typically cause a light stinging sensation when applied to cut/abrasion, but it is generally tolerable. If it causes too much discomfort, remove and wash area with tepid water and allow to air dry without rubbing.
Natural Ear Infection Relief
For centuries, people have used garlic’s anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities to fight infections – including ear infections. Now, don’t chop up a bunch of garlic cloves and jam them down your ear. Instead, crush garlic cloves with a garlic press and stir into a teaspoon of warmed olive oil for five minutes. After 5 minutes, strain out the garlic and allow the oil to cool to room temperature. Using a dropper or tiny spoon, slowly drop 3 drops of the garlic-infused oil into the affected ear canal, which should be facing upwards towards the ceiling. Remain still for 5 minutes, then sit upright and gently wipe excess oil away with a soft cloth, but do not probe into your ear with a q-tip. For Children, use 1-2 drops per affected ear. It will feel like you have water in your ear for a little while afterwards, as the oil penetrates into the skin, but avoid rubbing, scratching or pulling at the affected ear. (NOTE: If symptoms persist or worsen, see medical attention immediately.)
Easy Splinter Removal
Splinters can be painful and often elusive to remove, especially fine cactus needles, fine metal splinters and various tree needles. If you cannot easily grab onto the end of the splinter with a pair of tweezers to remove, don’t try to ‘dig at it’, which will only send the splinter further into your skin, and increasing the likelihood of infection. Instead, place a thin slice of fresh garlic over the splinter and GENTLY hold it in place with a bandage. The garlic will help the skin work the splinter out within a few hours, to where you can then easily remove it with tweezers, while at the same time helping to prevent infection.
So, when purchasing fresh garlic for all your fabulous veggie dishes, be sure to keep extra garlic bulbs on hand for ready use in one of these amazing garlic remedies.
Bon Veggie Appetit!
Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews