The old saying, “April showers bring may flowers,” still rings true throughout the Appalachian Mountains. Yet, for many the rain also brings the sniffles too. Just like old mountain-living folklore, many home remedies are also passed down through the generations. Because early spring weather can create an environment where a cold is easy to catch, is it not so surprising to find that many families still practice the same traditions that have worked to cure colds for centuries. With the rainy season on its way, be sure have plenty of garlic stocked up in your kitchen cabinet; it’s a famous Appalachian cold remedy!

Healing the Sick Before Modern Medicine

Before contemporary medicine, there were not nearly as many choices when it came to treating sickness and disease. Most Appalachian people resorted to nature, spirituality, or often both. Depending on the severity of the condition, families would attend church or invite a pastor into their home and practice prayer for healing. They would also turn to old folk remedies that had been passed down from their elders for both minor and major ailments, many of which are still used today.

Garlic: An Appalachian Cold Remedy

Although garlic is originally thought to come from China, it quickly worked its way around the world as both a flavor enhancer and as a medicine. Garlic has a long history of use dating back to the ancient Sumerians. It can even be accounted for when the Black Death swept through Europe in the 14th century. Inhabitants would hang a pungent string of garlic on their front doors as a desperate attempt to thwart the spread of the plague into their home. At the time, this practice may had been no more than a simple rumor or religious belief, but modern science has proved that this idea was closer to fact than fiction.

Garlic harbors powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties and is commonly used for colds and flus. It is an antioxidant that has been utilized in the treatment of sore throat, cough, earache, sinus congestion, headache, gout, internal parasites, and rheumatism.

There is only one trick to using garlic for medical purposes. Garlic is good for you, but the real magic happens when it is cut or crushed, that is to say damaged in some way. This allows a chemical reaction to happen, creating the compound responsible for its renown health benefits. So, when using garlic, it is essential to first chop or crush the bulb and let it sit for up to 15 minutes.

How to Use Garlic as an Appalachian Cold Remedy

Garlic cloves can be crafted into syrups, teas, extracts, and tinctures, or eaten immediately. If you choose to eat it as is, herbalists generally recommend starting with half a clove at a time, but no more than 3 cloves a day. Following it up with milk or yogurt can ensure that sensitive stomachs won’t become upset. When eating a clove of raw garlic, always be sure to let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes for the beneficial chemical reaction to take place. Keep in mind that garlic is a blood thinner, much like aspirin.

If you want to be prepared for the cold season, consider making this amazing recipe!