Ready, Set, Grow! The Medicinal Side of Allium Sativum

Forgive me for being a little sneaky in an effort to get you to click on this particular blog post. Hopefully, my trick of using the Latin name for one of the most potent medicinal foods known got your attention! (Smile)

Why is it so urgent that we talk about Allium sativum right now? Well, because it’s September, and if you want this precious herb next year—and if you live in Colorado or some other area where there is a true cold winter season—you must plant it in early to mid-October.

Allium sativum is also known as the Stinking Rose. However, most of us call it by its common name, and as you may have already guessed, I’m talking about garlic! But what the heck is so exciting about garlic?

For starters, as garlic experts—including chefs, doctors, and herbalists—know, the health benefits of this herb are so great that if you’re not growing and eating a ton of it, then shame on you! (Smile) As you read on, I hope you’ll be inspired to start growing your own. Your health will benefit from all the goodness this ancient food can offer!

A Little Garlic History
“Garlic is an ancient cultivated plant which originates from the Central Asian Steppes. It was a valuable ancient Indian medicine. Both the garlic and the common onion (Allium cepa) found their way from the Far East to Egypt, where both plants were systematically cultivated by the Egyptians. This cultivation took away much of the plant’s pungency, and the Egyptians soon made garlic a regular article in their diet. The pyramid of Cheops would not have been built were it not for radish, onions and garlic; with the aid of these plants, the vast armies of people needed to build these structures were protected from exhaustion and infection. Priests, however, were not allowed to consume garlic, since the plant was considered holy, a gift of the gods, and, last but not least, as an aphrodisiac.”
—from (emphasis mine)

 The One Garlic Book That Will Blow Your Mind!

 While looking for more comprehensive information on this phenomenal herb, I came upon a wonderful book outlining the history, folklore, and medicinal properties of garlic (not to mention many other fascinating facts that were new to me). I’m convinced that we take garlic for granted, so I want to set the record straight and help you get to know this food on a deeper, more intimate, level…ooh la la. (Smile)

 I’m referring to The Book of Garlic by Lloyd J. Harris. Though paperback editions are currently available on Amazon, this is an older title (published in 1980), and it may become hard to find. I would never give my copy up, so if you’re interested, do buy it while there are still copies available.

The following is one of the many excellent passages from this book. Read on for some of the many other interesting tidbits I discovered as I intently read every page.

The Route of Garlic Through the Body
“Many researchers have pointed to garlic’s usefulness in digestive disorders. Not only does garlic kill pathogenic bacteria in the intestine, but it also stimulates digestive juices. Emile Weiss (1941) reported findings of an autopsy of an accident victim who had evidently eaten garlic prior to his accident. The examiner, Kretschmer, reported that the stomach and intestine were empty except for a few shreds of garlic. The gallbladder was filled with bile and entirely normal except that it had a strong garlic odor. Kretschmer concluded that garlic, after entering the oral cavity and flowing from the esophagus to the stomach, reaches the liver and gallbladder where it increases bile secretion. Kretschmer thought that at this point the garlic stimulates production of digestive ferments, and together with the increase in bile, affects growth of normal intestinal flora in opposition to pathogenic bacteria.”
— Lloyd J. Harris, The Book of Garlic, p. 138.

 Personal note: The information on bile was especially interesting to me. In a previous blog post titled “A Nutty Discussion,” I make it clear how critical bile is:
“In order to digest food properly and avoid many gastrointestinal problems, including constipation, it’s essential for the liver to produce bile. Bile is the detergent-like substance that we need to digest fat and break down gallstones into smaller particles…Once our gallstones are mostly broken down, the pancreas delivers lipids (an enzyme) that further breaks down the stones and fat for easy elimination (as bile also lubricates the colon). However, it takes cholesterol, which is found in animal fats like eggs, butter, lard, tallow, and other cholesterol-based foods, to produce bile.”

According to Kretschmer, I can now add garlic as an aid to increase bile production! Nutritionally speaking, this news will make that next garlic dish taste even better!

I simply can’t relay everything about the incredible healing properties of garlic that I learned from The Book of Garlic. All I can do in this blog post is offer you a teaser and hope you’ll read this book and/or eat 3–5 cloves or more of garlic every day—and I especially hope that you’ll consider growing your own organic garlic (read on to learn more).

As promised, here’s a teaser of some of the fascinating subjects The Book of Garlic covers in depth:

  • Garlic as a medical specific
  • A few properties of garlic: alliin, allicin, allinase, selenium, germanium, and vitamin B1
  • Garlic as a powerful aphrodisiac
  • Garlic and heart disease
  • Garlic and its effect on cancer
  • Garlic and colds, infections, and other pathogens
  • Garlic and its mystical powers
  • Garlic, the super herb and much, much more

The Best Book on How to Grow Organic Garlic

I started to grow organic heirloom garlic approximately five years ago, and I’m thrilled to tell you about the how-tos that I learned from a real expert. His name is Larry Stebbins, and he’s the founder and director of Pikes Peak Urban Gardens here in Colorado Springs, CO. Stebbins himself is a lifelong heirloom garlic grower and the author of Backyard Vegetable Gardening Guide. Along with a great chapter on growing garlic, the rest of the book includes a treasure trove of backyard gardening tips and processes.

Seems that I’m all about getting you to buy books, and believe it or not, I don’t make a cent if you do. So feel free to indulge, and have yourself a super winter as you watch and wait for your harvest in mid-July! Yep, it takes all winter, but what a thrill when you see your precious garlic. The following is my own step-by-step guide for planting garlic.

My Basic Garlic Planting Guide

  1. I have 3 small (4×6 feet) raised beds in my backyard. After planting, I use hoops to anchor plastic (or some other type of cover) to prevent the straw from blowing away.
  2. I refresh the soil in my raised beds yearly. Right before planting my garlic cloves, I use an all-natural fertilizer called Yum Yum Mix. For compost I use Back to Nature Cotton Burr. I also use worm casting from Ricks Garden Center.
  3. This year, I also plan to use some Liquid Fish Soil Rescue from Green Pasture (the same company that produces my favorite fermented cold liver oil). As I understand, Green Pasture will soon be making Liquid Fish Soil Rescue in smaller quantities for home gardens.
  4. Next, I till my soil well and water it down.
  5. The following morning, I plant my cloves about 6 inches apart and about 4 inches down. I then cover the hole lightly.
  6. I place a 3- to 4-inch layer of straw on top, water it down well, and place a grow cover over the raised bed hoops.
  7. Last but not least, I water the garlic whenever the temperature is 40°F or warmer. This is a must, so don’t put your hose away!
  8. For some helpful visuals on the entire process, visit Brown Thumb Mama.
  9. Last but not least, be sure to read about making garlic ropes here.

The Only Thing Left: A Few Garlic Recipes

I consider garlic so much more important than a simple salad dressing ingredient, which is mostly what many of us use it for. I add garlic to almost everything I eat. Below are two of my own homemade recipes: a honey-garlic remedy and my great midafternoon potato snack, which is a super relaxer and wind-down remedy/food combo.

High Potency Honey & Garlic Remedy
—A Traditional Cook original recipe. For the honey called for here, it’s important to use the best quality raw, unprocessed honey you can find.

25 organic garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1 pint raw, unprocessed honey (I use the extremely raw honey from Weil Farms)


  1. Mix garlic cloves and raw honey.
  2. Allow it to sit in a warm (not hot) area for several days.
  3. Use as needed when you feel a sore throat or cough coming on. This remedy may also be taken as a preventive for good health.

Sleepy Baked Potato Supreme
—A Traditional Cook original recipe. This makes a calming late afternoon snack that supplies healthy carbohydrates and probiotics. Additionally, it makes for a great night’s sleep—however, I don’t recommend eating this right before you go to bed.

For making your own yogurt sour cream, I recommend this recipe from Loving Our Guts. For making crème fraiche, I recommend this recipe from Plan to Eat.

1 medium organic brown potato
Lard, tallow, or coconut oil (for rubbing potato skin)
½ cup yogurt sour cream, or crème fraîche
3 tablespoons raw or organic butter
3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed well
2 teaspoons organic fresh (preferred) or dry dill weed
1 teaspoon kelp flakes (or to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash and dry potato. Rub the skin with lard, tallow, or coconut oil.
  2. Bake in an uncovered pan till a knife goes in easily.
  3. Remove from oven. Split potato open and slightly squeeze on either side.
  4. Mix yogurt sour cream or crème fraîche with butter, garlic, and dill. Spoon mixture over the potato. Add kelp flakes, salt, and pepper to taste.

“Baked potatoes should be pricked or broken open as soon as they are removed from the oven to let the heat and steam escape. This prevents them from becoming soggy. It is a good idea to insert a stainless steel skewer through the potato while baking; this conducts heat into the center and thus less baking is required.”
—“The Use of Raw Potatoes,” Dr. Royal Lee, SRP Historical Archives

Afterthoughts from the Traditional Cook
“The human body, when it freezes in eternal silence, is said to be worth about ninety-eight cents. The body of an ordinary south European, if we could devise the means for extracting the garlic from it, would be worth a bushel of gold.”
—Angelo Pellegrini, The Unprejudiced Palate (1948)

Note from Maria: I am a Certified Natural Health Professional, CNHP, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or claim to prevent, mitigate, or cure any human diseases. Please see your medical doctor prior to following any recommendations I make in my blogs or on my website.

Images from iStock/MementoImage (main image), alicjane (planting garlic), CLFortin (garlic and honey). 

Maria Atwood, CNHP

Maria Atwood is a semiretired Certified Natural Health Professional and Weston A. Price Chapter Leader in Colorado Springs, CO. Visit her website at Also check out Maria’s Cook Your Way to Wellness DVD (also available as an e-learning course) and be sure to follow her Tips from the Traditional Cook blog.
Products by Maria Atwood

Related Topics

books on nutrition | natural remedies | organic gardening

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