By Valerie Lull
Valerie B. Lull is a graduate of the herbalism program at the American College of Health Sciences. She has always had a passion for staying healthy, and for the health benefits of teas and the various ways they can be prepared. Her passion for tea started in childhood, when she experienced a traditional-style teatime with her Canadian relatives.
Surprising Facts About the Health Benefits of Garlic Tea
When I mention garlic tea, I usually get a response of surprise or even distaste. Garlic! Tea! Those things don’t go together! And I agree that at first glance, they don’t seem to be a natural pair, especially if your experiential vocabulary of tea centers on a china pot and a fancy cup, with sugar lumps and milk. But people who are interested in the health benefits of tea can gain a lot from expanding their definition of what tea is.
Of course, tea refers to the camellia sinensis bush, and the different leaves that are harvested from it. But in a broader sense, a tea can be thought of as a beverage created by infusing an herb, fruit, or vegetable in hot water. Herbal infusions have been an important part of natural health care for thousands of years. Hot water infusions release essential oils and compounds to create a suspension of beneficial properties that the body can easily absorb and digest. Garlic infusions – or garlic teas – can support your health in many ways. Garlic and green tea have both been studied extensively for their health benefits.
The medicinal uses of garlic can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who knew that garlic has antiseptic properties and improves the immune system. It is good for colds, flu, sinusitis, fungal infections, athlete’s foot, and atherosclerosis. It has been used for bronchitis, whooping cough, and asthma. Some suggest it as a treatment or preventive for cancer, because it is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals. It is also high in selenium, which enhances its cancer-fighting benefits.
Garlic is well-known for improving the circulatory system, and a lot of research has been done on the ways in which garlic can help to fight heart disease. It can lower cholesterol, and it can lower blood pressure by dilating (or expanding) blood vessels, which also helps to prevent blood clots.
The healing properties of garlic didn’t vanish with the ancient world. As recently as World Wars I and II, garlic was invaluable as an antibiotic when doctors in the field and at home ran out of drugs. The Russians used it extensively, earning it the nickname “Russian Penicillin.”
With all this, it’s easy to see that anyone can benefit from experimenting with garlic tea. One of the most enjoyable parts of exploring garlic tea is that, unlike traditional black or green teas, garlic infusions can be made specifically to your personal taste. There are all kinds of delicious combinations you can try: garlic with rosemary, garlic with lemon, garlic with ginger, garlic with pepper … just about anything you can think of! You can find lots of ideas if you put the enter “garlic tea” into a search engine on the Internet.
Here is a recipe for a garlic broth that I use a lot in the winter. Even if you don’t have a cold, winter air is hard on your sinuses; it’s harsh and dry. This broth allows you to breathe more easily, while protecting you against cold and flu viruses.
In a cup, place 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon chicken bullion, and cayenne pepper to taste. Add hot water. Allow the mixture to site for a couple of minutes, for the infusion to fully steep and flavors to mix. Drink and enjoy!
Once you start drinking garlic tea, you’ll also want to take a few simple measures to protect against garlic breath! Apples, parsley, and green beans will make the garlic smell go away. Rubbing your hands on a stainless steel spoon will remove the scent from your skin after you’ve peeled and minced your garlic. Of course, you can buy your garlic already minced at the store if you prefer.
You can learn more about the benefits of all different types of tea in my book, Ten Healthy Teas, available at http://www.outskirtspress.com/tenhealthyteas