Vampires & Other Parasites Beware

by Jeanine Adinaro on July 27, 2010

in Chinese Culture, General Health

Garlic- it's good for what ails you

The other day a mommy friend of mine called me freaking out. She had received one of those emails that, while inevitable when you send your kid to daycare, still makes that primordial part of your brain go, “Eeeewwww!” The email subject line said simply, “****pinworm alert****”. Basically, one of the other kids at the daycare had been diagnosed and was being treated for pinworms, and toddler hygiene being what it is, the daycare center had taken the appropriate action of alerting the rest of the parents. My friend, whose child was showing no symptoms of pinworms incidentally, wanted to know if there were any good Chinese herbs she could dose her kid with, you know, just in case.

After consulting Chapter 17- Herbs that Expel Parasites of my extremely dog-eared and thoroughly annotated Chinese Herbology Student Study Guide, I found the copious notes I had written on raw garlic. The fabulous anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, and antibiotic properties of this pungent bulb were  detailed, with instructions for use either internally or as an enema.

The health benefits of garlic are certainly not unique to Chinese medicine. Simply consulting Uncle Google on the “health benefits of garlic” yields close to 1 million results, and sites of various reputability list benefits such as treating high cholesterol, parasites, respiratory problems, poor digestion, and low energy, as well as lowering blood pressure, controlling blood sugar and blood cholesterol, and boosting the immune system. Not to mention its anti-oxidant properties reducing the risk of various cancers. I have read reports of using garlic suppositories to control vaginal yeast infections. Even my virtual farm on FaceBook which now includes a Natural Remedy Shop, and have no doubt about it, the fact that my virtual farm has a Natural Remedy Shop amuses me to no end, processes raw garlic to make garlic tablets.

My herb text also includes my notes on a story my professor told the class. Growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution, things may not always have been as clean as his grandmother might have liked- tainted food and water were the norm. So every night, after dinner, she made him chew and swallow a clove of raw garlic. My professor went on at great length how much he hated chewing raw garlic- no kidding. But he also noted that growing up, he could not remember ever having any sort of intestinal infection. Probably the garlic had sufficient effect to prevent various bacteria and parasites from taking hold in his gut, weakening them enough that his immune system could prevent full blown infection.

When I came home from school that day and shared this story with my husband, he said, “Ack- there are so many delicious ways to eat raw garlic, why would she torture him like that?” Maybe that too was a byproduct of the Cultural Revolution.

I told my mom-friend that if she was really concerned about pinworms, a visit to the pediatrician was in order. But in the meantime, if she could convince her toddler to eat raw garlic (good luck with that) it might be helpful. Personally, I find chewing raw garlic to be a bit much.

I offered her my favorite salad dressing recipe which I will share here as well. I suspect the greatest benefit in this context is that the garlic should be sufficient to fight down the lingering microbes on lettuce and other raw veggies that just cannot be washed away.

California Caesar Dressing

  • 1 clove raw garlic, minced (more if desired to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine ingredients and allow to rest 15 minutes. Dress salad. Enjoy!

Photo by Felipe Gabaldón

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