The cold weather and winter season are quickly closing in on the Northeast, and this means that colds, germs, and illnesses affecting the immune system will be in full bloom among us.

When I was growing up, my grandmother, a registered nurse anesthetist, advised me to avoid medication as much as possible; only if I was on my deathbed was I to resort to prescriptions, painkillers or pills of any kind — she advised that there was always a natural way of helping our bodies get through it.  Even though she was in the field of ‘modern’ medicine, she still heeded the holistic, natural remedies of her own childhood. 

Whenever she visited our house around the holidays and noticed any of her grandchildren getting sick, she would have us take a steamy shower, followed by cup of warm herbal tea, which we used to swallow a clove of (raw) chopped garlic (drenched in honey to help it go down). 

To me, she was just my crazy Grandmother doing another one of her crazy things.  Turns out that she had something here!

This seemingly unconventional treatment actually makes sense according to various health-expert sources, including Dr. Andrew Weil, and a recent study mentioned in the New York Times. 

Garlic has shown to be a powerful natural therapeutic herb.  In addition to its ability to help lower cholesterol and high blood pressure and preventing heart attacks, it also has antibacterial and antiviral properties that make it a viable choice for treating the onset of a cold!


Garlic’s natural disease-fighting capabilities are attributable to allicin, a compound found in highest concentration in garlic, and in lesser concentration in other white vegetables (like onion).  (Allicin is also responsible for garlic’s pungent smell).  Note that garlic must be chopped and exposed to air for at least several minutes in order for allincin to be present and effective when the garlic is eaten.

I encourage you to try my grandmother’s method.  (She is still going at age 86, so she must have done something right!)

  • The next time you feel a cold coming on, think twice before you pop a pill.  First try garlic.
  • Chop up a clove or two of organic garlic and swallow when the onset of a cold first appears (using honey – trust me, you won’t taste a thing); alternatively, you can chop it up even more and add it to your foods.
  • Just make sure it is eaten raw; garlic loses its medicinal value when cooked.

Warning:  The pungent smell of garlic can come through your pores and breath and cause unpleasant odor.  If you expect to be in public, plan to wait at least 12 – 24 hours before going out, and definitely try to work out, sweat, and shower before doing so.  Also, eating parsley can naturally mitigate any bad breath caused by the garlic.