Holiday Wellness Tip #4: Revel in the Stink of Garlic

‘Since garlick then hath powers to save from death, Bear with it though it makes unsavory breath.’ Salerno Regimen of Health (12th Century)

The story of garlic’s spiritual, medicinal and culinary uses spans thousands of years of human history. Remnants have been found in neolithic caves. It was consumed by the labor force of the Egyptian pyramids. It accompanied Roman & Mongol conquerors on the march and dispatched vampires, demons and werewolves in a no nonsense fashion. Those of us who love our garlic, love it a lot.


I don’t know how many of you have noticed this, but Pemberton soils grow amazing garlic. My mouth waters when I muse on the summer Greek salad feasts I have enjoyed of Lillooet tomatoes and Pemberton garlic. My autumn binges of soups and stews packed with Pemberton produce and redolent with local garlic are the stuff of legends.

However, I do understand that those who don’t love garlic, don’t love it a lot. The use of this odiferous plant as a food has traditionally been a debatable issue. Consider this quote from Amelia Simmons’ cook book penned in 1786:

‘Garlics, tho’ used by the French, are better adapted to the uses of medicine than cookery.’

She is not wrong about the prowess of ‘garlics’ as a medicine.

Garlic has proven to be an ideal herbal remedy that provides powerful treatment for many health problems. In Greco – Roman medicine Hippocrates, Galen, Pliny the Elder & Dioscorides all extolled its medicinal virtues as did the Chinese Materia Medica of 500 AD. According to a 3500 year-old Egyptian scroll, healers even then believed that garlic could help a person fight cancer.

Like many culinary herbs, garlic produces natural antimicrobial compounds that confer resistance to many pests and diseases and contribute to its reputation as a hardy and prolific crop. It’s sulphur-based antibiotic constituents are found in the volatile oil that, as we are all ruefully aware is excreted through the lungs. This makes consumption of the plant especially suited to the alleviation of lung and throat infections of all kinds including colds, flu, bronchitis, sinusitis, tonsillitis and ear infections. Digestive infections also respond well to garlic, including severe varieties such as dysentery and intestinal parasites. Garlic field dressings were routinely applied to battle wounds in WW I to combat gangrene.

Clinical testing of aged garlic has also demonstrated cardiovascular benefits. It has been shown to lower cholesterol, reduce deposition of arterial plaque, lower blood sugar and blood pressure and enhance thiamine absorption.

Does this mean that turkey stuffing with lots of garlic, sage and oregano will cure colds and lower blood pressure? Sadly, probably not because current wisdom suggests that heat destroys the medicinal action of herbs.  Feel free to launch your own clinical trial however. As for that Greek salad with three cloves of raw garlic and handfuls of home grown oregano however, well that’s a different story. Knock yourselves out my friends.

The snow has finally arrived and Christmas is around the corner. I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of you who accept me and support my passion for the work I do. I am so grateful to share a sense of community with all who live in idyllic little valley.

Blessings of the season to all of you.


Evelyn Coggins

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s