​A vampire's worst nightmare

Posted by Elizabeth Forst in Life After Paralysis on February 29, 2020 # Health, Nutrition

The winter is upon us, the trees are bare; summer is a distant memory or better yet a future wish. It is snowing in the mountains here in Colorado it seems like every week, as winter is in full force. And with that, the cold and flu season takes its grip in our communities making us all nervous that a scratchy throat or an annoying cough will lead us right into bed or worse yet the hospital.

Recently, I have been investigating how to utilize food as medicine that might help decrease the chance of acquiring these nasty colds and flus proving quite dangerous for the paralyzed community. Our ancestors over thousands of years ago did not have access to chemical medicines and therefore lived off the land learning which vegetables and herbs harvested from their own farms would provide access to organic, natural medicine. And even though most people today lack an herb garden in their backyard of which to pull veggies and herbs for medicinal purposes, we certainly do have access to natural grocery stores where these food items are provided to us from the local farming communities. The trick is educating ourselves on which fruits and veggies are helpful for what and utilizing them in a safe and efficacious manner

On this line of thought, one very inexpensive food item boasting numerous medicinal qualities is garlic. Garlic powder probably lives in almost everyone's kitchen spice rack or even in pill form in the medicine cabinet, yet when garlic is pulverized down to its powdered form, it loses any chance of providing a medicinal quality to its user. So garlic powder or garlic pills would be considered a misnomer – yes garlic is good for you yet when aged for too long and broken down out of its raw form, the nutritional benefit is lost from the garlic. It is always best to eat the rawest form of a food item to get the most nutritional opportunity, yet this can be super tricky with garlic as it has a super potent taste and smell. "Garlic breath" is a real thing, and sometimes this extremely odiferous veggie can be an aversion for some, but it's medicinal qualities are so powerful that it should not be overlooked when meandering down the aisles of your local natural grocery store.

As I began to research this stinky weird little vegetable, I unearthed numerous published scientific articles boasting of the amazing benefits of garlic. Just to name a few, garlic has the ability to lower blood pressure and cholesterol therefore improving one's cardiovascular health, it is known to prevent various cancers, is anti-inflammatory, good for diabetics, and can even help with tick bites, ringworm, athlete's foot and jock itch. Most importantly, because of its antiviral and anti-microbial effects, it improves one's immune system; hence the importance of ingesting raw garlic during the cold and flu season. Amongst the numerous vitamins and healthy compounds within each little bulb of garlic, one of the most important components of garlic is its organosulfur compound called allicin. Allicin is a fascinating natural chemical that is the source of the potent odor of garlic; it releases from chopped or crushed raw garlic after 10 or 15 minutes of being opened. This is important to note as when utilizing garlic as a preventative raw food, letting it sit on the cutting board for a good 10 minutes is essential to boast the highest effect.

As previously mentioned, garlic can be a hard one to get down in its raw form due to its potent taste and odor. Most people would wrinkle their nose at even the thought of eating raw garlic, as it would certainly keep not only the vampires away but also friends and family that might be near you. Yet, one yummy way to utilize the medicinal qualities of raw garlic is to create raw garlic buttery toast – by simply finally mincing the raw garlic into minuscule pieces and smearing one cloves worth on a piece of toasted bread with butter. If this is still a difficulty, placing a pile of finely minced garlic in a spoonful of honey makes ingesting raw garlic more reasonable and sweet tasting.

Of course with anything there might be some unpleasant side effects including diarrhea, gas, heartburn, upset tummy, bad breath just to name a few. And because of its medicinal qualities, it is always important to check in with your doctor to ensure that ingesting raw garlic does not interfere with anything medical including medications, current health conditions etc.

Garlic might be a vampire's biggest nightmare, but it could be a helpful adjunct to your diet and overall health. It is easy to track down at the local grocery store, easy to prepare and very inexpensive to boot.

Keep on keeping on… Even if your breath stinks!

Elizabeth Forst is a Doctor of Physical Therapy educated and trained at Regis University in Denver, Colorado, and has worked primarily as an orthopedic travel physical therapist with licenses in California, New York, Hawaii, and Louisiana.