October 15, 2016 by unclespike218
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love what I should never have worried about in the first place.
So, when I was young, I remember being served lamb at dinner once. I loved it, partially because oooh! mint jelly! I mean, how often do you eat something like that? Random but delicious. But then I remember looking at something random, pale yellow and shaped like a tiny almond in the middle of my meat. I asked my mom what it was, and she warned me, very strongly, not to eat it at all. It was garlic. She put the fear of God in me. So I quickly pulled it out of the meat…actually, I think I used my fork and knife to wedge it out and not touch it, lest it touch my skin and burn me or something.
Years later, I’ve since learned better. You want awesome info about garlic? Recipes for good things with garlic? The interwebs is littered with posts and blogs that belong on Pinterest or any of its detractors, written by women for whom the likes of Eat, Pray, Love really spoke to them. Here’s my decidedly solipsistic story.
Last year, inspired by…oh, I don’t know. Inspiration comes at me from random places. Maybe a desire to heal my athlete’s foot a natural way? At any rate, I decided that since eating garlic on a regular basis for medicinal value could be trying, I’d go about it my way, and make a tincture out of garlic. No one seems to make it, let alone use it, because garlic is ubiquitous. But I decided to make it anyway.
The powers that be dictate that allicin, the major active antimicrobial and otherwise healthful component of garlic, is only released when garlic is chopped, mashed, or otherwise brutalized. And its concentration peaks at about 15 minutes after said damage is done. If you’re eating it, ain’t nobody got time for that. So I did said damage to a head or two of garlic, let it sit out and permeate the kitchen with its overwhelming scent, then with virtually no evidence on the interwebs one way or another about the efficacy of this next practice, I endeavored to preserve the allicin created thereby by plunging the whole mess into a bunch of vodka. And waiting three weeks, shaking it once or twice a day in the meantime.
What I didn’t expect was that the liquid, once clear or light yellow, would turn a bluish green just a few days in. Apparently, something to do with the copper content of garlic and how, once it’s reduced or oxidized, it turns that familiar verdigris color we associate with copper. That’s gotta be oxidized, right? I’m going with it. Anyhow, it stayed that color for much of the time the garlic was steeping. But by the end, the liquid had turned a beautiful vivid sunshine yellow.
Strained. Bottled. Then…tried. The taste was surpisingly mild, especially given its pungent smell. Due to a fear of intestinal issues driven home by the interwebs, I started off very slowly. And painful lower intestinal issues did indeed surface. As it turns out, I was also beginning my mornings with shots of cayenne in orange juice, and I thought maybe the combination was to blame, so I experimented with taking the garlic tincture after discontinuing the cayenne. Yep. That was the trick. No issues with garlic on its own. And to be especially safe, I took the tincture by adding drops to a Ritz cracker, then eating the cracker. But I couldn’t see any benefit at the time, so I discontinued the garlic tincture.
That was a year ago. Since that time, my athlete’s foot has mutated and excoriated my left sole and toes. My energy has dwindled. Some…um…warts? fungus of some sort? on my fingers have kept my cuticles a disaster area. (Granted, this has been ongoing since, oh, about 6th grade, but still.) I’ve suffered a rash of some sort over my chest and neck. And I’ve had some, uh, evidence that my testosterone ain’t what it used to be. On top of all that, my liver has been in a world of hurt for years and years, and I’m afraid that when the reaper comes to take what is his, my liver will be at least partially to blame.
But inspired by some web surfing and seeing just how very good garlic can be for the liver, I remembered the tincture, bottled, well-preserved, and still ready for action. So I decided to begin taking it again. Taste, dose, all still the same. But for a relatively mild-tasting tincture like garlic, this stuff is some powerful medicine – and with very few side effects. In the span of a week, taking only 5 drops at least twice a day (once up to 4 times a day), my chest rash is gone. My neck rash is dwindling quickly. Breathing has improved. My athlete’s foot is improving dramatically. Cuticles are still iffy, but that’s been going on for years, so I’ll be patient. But there’s something going on there, undoubtedly. And, uh, response below the waist to certain stimuli has improved as well. The nontangibles like liver function and cholesterol will have to wait until I get lab work done. But we are talking something as simple as five drops of a tincture a few times a day. And we’re also talking garlic, which rightfully earns its status alongside turmeric and ginger and cinnamon as desert island herbs (you know…the ones I would take with me if stranded, yadda yadda yadda…). So garlic tincture is my latest personal natural medicine score. And I’ll be sticking with this for a long time now.
Garlic tincture also happens to be my latest personal natural medicine damn…if only. Because as a kid, I suffered the slings and arrows of asthma, chronic bronchitis, the beginnings of a lifetime frustration with seborrheic dermatitis, and…well, that’s plenty, right? And those were all treated – poorly, I might add – with antibiotics, inhalers, and steroids, and with many side effects, the likes of which I’m still dealing with decades later. I would bet cash money – and LOTS of it – that a garlic tincture would have improved all those issues dramatically, for much cheaper, and laid the foundation for much better health down the road. But hey…better late than never.
(Incidentally, despite scouring the internet again, I still don’t know the answer to my big question. Allicin, despite being such a powerful medicine, is very quickly degraded into less powerful substances. Does alcohol adequately preserve it? And if so, at what concentration, and for how long? If it requires pure or nearly pure ethanol, I’m willing to invest in Everclear, and besides, 5 drops of Everclear a few times a day is not going to cause intoxication. But until that time, my vodka garlic tincture is doing me just fine, so I’ll stick with it.)