The Pathogen-Busting, Immunity-Boosting Power of Garlic

Just thinking about the smell of garlic in the pan makes my mouth water. A universal medicine, garlic is not only delicious, but also has an impressive list of health benefits. Ayurveda views garlic as heating, heavy, oily, and penetrating—meaning it can find its way into the deeper tissues.

Garlic is best known for its ability to ease gastric disturbances, including gas, parasites, candida, and even food poisoning. Like other heating herbs, garlic can also be used as a tonic for the respiratory system. The volatile oil found in garlic can help cleanse the alveoli and bronchioles in the lungs. It is also a decongestant. 

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the immunity-boosting power of garlic. Known as an “herbal antibiotic,” garlic has the unique ability to destroy pathogenic bacteria without jeopardizing the health of the body’s natural microbiome.

Garlicky Millet Mash is a lovely dish to make in the heart of winter. It’s warm and heavy, a perfect antidote to the cold and dry qualities of winter. Bonus: The extra garlic will keep your immune system in tip-top shape through cold and flu season.

In Ayurveda, every substance is seen as neutral, medicine, or poison. Thus, garlic can be beautiful medicine, but it can also wreak havoc on the system, especially if it’s consumed during times of emotional stress or excess environmental heat. Garlic is said to be rajasic, or stimulating, so if you’re feeling particularly agitated or edgy, eating excess garlic may exacerbate the condition. On lots of other days, though, it may be exactly what your body needs.

Lauren Gernady is the Academic Coordinator of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, and a 500-hour Kripalu Yoga teacher.

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