Natural Remedies from Your Kitchen
Garlic & Turmeric
By Dr. Michelle Decker, ND and Dr. Kyle Maynard, ND
To finish up our natural remedies from the kitchen, we will be discussing garlic and turmeric. These are two of the most powerful herbs you may have in you kitchen at can be used as natural remedies. If you missed out on Part One, we discussed fennel, ginger and cinnamon.
Again, here are a few of rules that are important to remember:
- Natural doesn’t mean healthy
- Natural doesn’t mean safe
- To be an effective medicine, regular dosing is required
- See a naturopathic doctor if:
- The remedies aren’t working for you
- You are relying on them too much or too often
- You have an adverse reaction (rash, heartburn, worsening of symptoms etc.)
Garlic (Allium sativum):
Most people know that garlic is really good when you are sick. What you may not know is that garlic has an influence on the cardiovascular system by lowering cholesterol, blood lipids and blood pressure. Topically, garlic can be used for toe nail fungus and as a suppository for yeast or bacterial infections.
How it works:
Garlic has sulphur-rich chemicals, including allicin and dialyl disulphide, that are strong anti-oxidants. These sulphur molecules bind metabolites which supports liver detoxification, and prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Molecules in garlic also relax the arteries, which lowers blood pressure. The volatile oils in garlic are directly toxic to bacteria and fungus to help during infections.
For heart health and immune support, you need at least two cloves per day. In order to get the full benefits of garlic, raw garlic must be chopped or crushed and left for 10-15 minutes before use. This allows the release of alliinase, an enzyme that converts alliin to the active form, allicin. Allicin is sensitive to heat, so when garlic is added at the beginning of the cooking process, there will be minimal active ingredient left by the end. So, if you want to add garlic at the beginning to develop the flavour, go ahead, but add more at the end of the cooking process to preserve the health benefits.
When using garlic as a natural remedy for toe nail fungus, crush 2 cloves of garlic and mix with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Apply this to the affected nails, cover with gauze or a bandage and leave over night. Wash it off in the morning with equal parts warm water and vinegar which will neutralize the garlic odor.
- 500 mL yogurt (soy, sheep, goat or other)
- 1 cucumber
- 5-10 cloves of crushed garlic
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 2 Tbsp dill
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Crush garlic and let sit for 10-15 minutes
- Peel (optional) and shred cucumber into a strainer with salt to remove excess liquid, let drain for 10 minutes
- Mix crushed garlic, drained cucumber, lemon juice and dill into the yogurt
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: Add sour cream (regular, soy or other) to thicken
Turmeric (Curcuma longa):
Turmeric is one of the natural remedies that is useful in a wide variety of conditions. It is best known for treating pain and arthritis. Topically, it is used in India to enhance complexion.
How it works:
The yellow colour of turmeric is due to a group of molecules called curcuminoids. These are very potent antioxidants that help support the liver with detoxification. Curcumin, the best studied molecule in this group, is a known COX-2 inhibitor which is the same mechanism that aspirin uses to block pain, swelling and redness.
The bioavailability of turmeric is limited. However, there are a couple simple tricks that increase the absorption. Turmeric can be paired with other herbs, like black pepper or ginger, to increase absorption. You can also make your own “liposomal” turmeric by cooking it in an oil or butter.
The required dose of turmeric that is needed ranges from 2-15g, depending on the person, the condition and the severity. A disadvantage of using the raw herb is that it is difficult to get consistent dosing and bioavailability will always be lower than a supplement. However, this may be a more cost-effective route.
An ancient Ayurvedic way of using turmeric is to make Golden Milk. This is a great way to incorporate turmeric into your diet and uses both of the methods of increasing absorption as it has coconut oil, black pepper and ginger.
We’d like to acknowledge the Shelbourne Community Kitchen who inspired this topic and hosted us for a talk on this subject. If there is any other kitchen herbs you are curious about, or any other topics you’d like a “naturopathic perspective” on, let us know!