Tis the season for sneezings, wheezings, coughings, and nasty little infections like strep throat. Strep is barreling through my family (yes, it got me) and lots of the other families in the area. Talk about no fun at all. I looked up strep on Web MD because my baby daughter had a 'mysterious illness' with rash and high fever two days apart from having a 'mysterious allergic reaction' and she's on steroids for that. I knew that steroids lowered the immune response and I also knew we'd been exposed to the highly contagious strep.
The good news, if there is any, is that strep is bacterial and so can be treated to some extent with antibiotics. The bad news is that the antibiotics only shorten the illness by about 16 hours but the really good thing is that they cut the time that you're contagious to 24 hours as opposed to about 2-3 weeks spreading the joy without them.
Bottom line for me to get better was going to take time, about 3-7 days worth of time, and possibly garlic, ginger, and busloads of vitamin C.
Common comforts for a nasty sore throat are salt water gargles, honey/lemon tea, and popsicles. The salt water gargle is especially soothing and this time around I decided to amp it up and try to make it more effective. Hence adding garlic!
Garlic's 'Magical' Compounds
Garlic purists will only use fresh garlic, peeling off cloves from the papery bulb and smashing the clove with the side of a chef's knife or squeezing it through a garlic press. When the garlic clove is cut, smashed, or squished it sets into motion a complex conversion process in which allicin is formed before spontaneously breaking down into a group of odoriferous compounds.* Garlic is said to have many medicinal benefits, among them antibiotic and antiseptic properties. I figured if I was stuck with strep anyway, it was worth a try!
Now there are reported ways to eat raw garlic, such as with an apple to coat your mouth with the pectin so that the garlic doesn't burn on the way down or putting the minced fresh garlic into some yogurt, applesauce, or sour cream. I have to say, I tried a couple of these tactics and they didn't work very well. Maybe I was doing them wrong (is there a wrong way to put minced garlic into applesauce? It was very garlicky applesauce.) Please keep in mind that if you decide to eat the raw garlic do so only in moderation, it's pretty strong stuff and can cause a rash of problems if you overdo it, so don't overdo it, okay?**
I've digressed, haven't I? On to what I actually did do.
My Killer Salty Garlic Gargle
Oooh, with a name like that you just have to try it, don't you? Come on, people, there are partiers out there who drink stuff with worms in it which sounds pretty bad to me. This way you don't have to eat the raw garlic which gets a thumbs-up from me. You can hack a little garlic gargle unless you mind smelling like salami. Which you probably will but when your throat hurts every time you swallow it's not that big of a deal. Some people LIKE salami!
Here's all you need:
Clove of garlic
1/2 tsp to a tsp of salt (I like sea salt so that's what I have for everything)
a mug,, bowl, garlic press or chef's knife and a fork, and a strainer
Pour the salt into a coffee mug or glass, set aside. Smash the garlic clove with the side of a chef's knife and peel the papery outer cover off before mashing the garlic with the fork in the bowl. Or those who are lucky enough to have a garlic press, squish the clove into the bowl. Cover with about 1/2 C. hot water and stir around, encouraging the compounds from the garlic to go into the water. Strain the garlic water into the mug with the salt and stir. Your gargle is ready.
I've been using water that's just on the point of boiling, probably destroying too much of the beneficial compounds, and yet I'm still tasting the garlic and feeling it burn a little on my miserable throat, burning the bacteria that's causing this, I imagine. Ahhhh. And I was feeling a bit better yesterday and still a bit better today so maybe it's on its way out.
Now I may be able to really enjoy the popsicles that I had my husband pick up last night for me!
One of my other favorite soothers is a small departure from the Honey/lemon tea idea. I'll try to post that one tomorrow. Do you have any good ways to soothe a sore throat? Post them in my comments! They'll show up once they're approved, sorry but we're getting mostly spammers in the comments so far. All you real blog readers, please speak up!
*This information thanks to Bottom Line's Secret Food Cures by Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen.
**Caution:Do not eat raw garlic or take garlic supplements if you have a bleeding disorder or ulcers, or are taking anticoagulants.