Chippewa Herald * August 27, 2003

Maybe the miracle cure is right under your nose?

by Tom Arneberg, Community Columnist

This summer marks my one year anniversary of a big change in my life. No, I haven't had to go through the pain of sobering up or quitting smoking, but the effect on my body may be as beneficial. What I started doing one year ago was eating raw garlic, and the results have been amazing.

Why would an otherwise sane person do something so strange? A year ago, I was ready to try anything to stop being sick. During the preceding year, I had hit a new health low. That fall, I had one of those horribly bad coughs that lasted SIX WEEKS. Those of you who have had extended coughs know how bad it can get -- I was on strong antibiotics, cough suppressants, and even my first inhaler, week after week. I thought it would never end.

Then only six months (and a few common colds) later, I started getting the same sinking feeling. That time, it was full-fledged pneumonia, lasting another three weeks. I was beginning to think that my old age had started, and that I was entering a stage of life when I'd always be sick. (I am now firmly in my forties, after all.)

Meanwhile, my friends had been nagging me about the health benefits of garlic. One friend, Darin Thomas, is a triple-threat: not only is his last name the same as my first name, but he's a fellow engineer at SGI, a fellow church leader, and a fellow leader of our Boy Scout troop. So I see him a lot, and he is always "on message." Another friend, Bev Krizan, has been helped dramatically by garlic.

I normally don't pay much attention to health matters, and I'm a natural skeptic of "home cures." But my friends were persistent, and I was getting to the point where I'd try anything. When yet another friend of mine, Jim Haley, a genuine medical professional, said that even HE takes garlic pills ("everyone knows about the antioxidants"), I knew I had to give it a try.

At first I tried slicing the garlic cloves and putting them on food like Darin does. But raw garlic is quite strong, and I didn't particularly enjoy the experience. I settled into the practice of chopping up a clove, putting it on a spoon, and simply swallowing the whole spoonful, with water already in my mouth. This was tasteless, painless, and quick.

I did learn one lesson -- do NOT do this on an empty stomach! I made this mistake twice, and it's not an experience I want to go through again.

Unlike many garlic aficionados, I do not eat it every day. But any time I am unusually tired, or feel a very slight sore throat coming on, I eat a clove or two of chopped garlic.

The results have been stunning; too good to be a coincidence. Despite having five kids at home who get normal colds, I was surprised to sail from last June to the middle of winter without getting sick one time!

In fact, I have now made it an ENTIRE YEAR with only one minor cold. And even that one setback has an explanation -- we were invited to friends' house for dinner, and my wife, Beth, caught me trying to sneak some garlic cloves in my pocket since I felt a scratchy throat coming on. She banned garlic from our visit due to the odor, and sure enough, by the time we got home later that night, I had sunk into my first cold in nine months. After that lesson, I no longer let any excuse get between me and my garlic when I think I might be going downhill.

Beth does have a point, though -- ingesting raw garlic is not exactly the best way to prepare for a date. Darin's bride, Carolyn, calls garlic "wife repellent." I can vouch for that, as I have had to endure eight hours in a backpacking tent with Darin on a Boy Scout campout when he was eating it by the bulb! But my wife says she'd rather have a husband who smells funny than one who is sick all the time.

What is the scientific basis for the healing power of garlic? Garlic is a natural antibiotic that kills infecting bacteria. The forefather of antibiotic medicine, Louis Pasteur, acknowledged garlic to be effective, and later studies have shown activity similar to a more modern antibiotic, chloramphenicol.

Unlike modern antibiotics, garlic needs no prescription. And it's cheap, so we don't even need universal health care to partake. There are many other purported health benefits of garlic, regarding cholesterol, blood pressure, and so on. But for me, it's worth it even if the only advantage is getting sick less.

I hate to defy my ancestry and upbringing by eating something so spicy -- after all, Garrison Keillor explains that when Minnesota Norwegians really go out on a culinary limb, they try Lipton Onion Soup. Nevertheless, I am now a True Believer in garlic. The miracle cure was "right under my nose."

You can reach Tom at

Links: [Tom's column archives] | [] | [] |

This page is maintained by Tom Arneberg (
(Last modified: $Date: 2004/09/14 15:39:36 $)
            Unique visitors as of 05/27/2011:   Hit Counter by Digits