A photo of the echinacea plant
Echinacea is one of our top 10 herbal remedies because of its valuable immune boosting properties

Herbal remedies – 10 of the best

12 September, 2011

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Garlic – for healing infections

This tiny bulb is potentially nature’s most perfect nutriceutical. Garlic, which is rich in allicin and other sulphur compounds, has been used throughout the world and throughout history to treat a wide variety of conditions, especially infections.

In a review in the journal Medical Hypothesis as far back as 1983 it was found to be effective against a broad spectrum of bugs including bacteria, viruses, worms and fungi, including candida. It will also help to reduce catarrh in coughs, colds and sinusitis.

Garlic has been shown to thin the blood and raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol while lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats) thus making it useful in the treatment of heart disease and stroke. This fact was confirmed by an analysis of several research articles about garlic, which found that that taking the equivalent of ½ a clove of garlic daily could lower cholesterol levels by nearly 10%.

Research has shown that garlic acts as a powerful antioxidant and its sulphur compounds have anti-tumour activities. Recent analysis from China suggests that high consumption of garlic (and other allium-containing vegetables such as onions, shallots, leeks and chives) can reduce the risk of gastric cancer – though it is fair to say that garlic is not a cancer cure but more of a potential preventative.


The best way to take garlic is fresh, in your diet. Oil based capsule products are generally inferior to those made from the dried herb and which contain alliin and alliinase (which then produce the therapeutic allicin in the body). Commercial preparations with an alliin content of 8 mg content appear to be the most effective.  Follow the manufacturers instructions about daily dosage.

Take care

A standard dose of around 200mg daily – the equivalent of around 70 cloves – has no known toxic side effects. To produce toxic effects on the stomach and liver you would have to eat around 300 to 500 mashed cloves in one sitting.

Because of garlic’s low toxicity many people overdose on fresh garlic in the belief that it is good for them but keep it to one to two cloves at a time as eating four or more cloves of garlic in one sitting is likely to make you vomit. Garlic should not, be taken with blood thinning drugs such as heparin, warfarin and coumarin derivatives; and because of its blood thinning properties should not be taken before surgery where over use may lead to excessive bleeding.


  • Adapted from What Works, What Doesn’t: The guide to alternative healthcare by Pat Thomas. See here for details.