Guru Kate: What’s so healthy about garlic and onions?

Many naturopathic practitioners have supported the alternative remedy of garlic and onion supplementation. Some suggest that merely leaving sliced onion on the counter will keep sickness at bay.

Even the Moldovan army bolstered its soldiers with rations of garlic and onion during the H1N1 flu outbreak of 2009, due to beliefs that the foods had a direct impact on the soldiers’ health.

In an essay published in the Journal of the National Medical Association, Dr. Tariq Abdullah calls for supplementation of Echinacea (an herb shown to have anti-germ properties) and garlic to the typical regimen of flu vaccinations and hand-washing to prevent the next major flu epidemic.

Species in the genus Allium— which include garlic and onion, which are related—are credited for this successful alternative therapy. Also within the Allium genus is elephant garlic, shallot and chives.

According to Kyu Hang Kyung of Sejong University in the Republic of Korea, members of the Allium genus possess the biochemical ability to inhibit the growth and proliferation of most bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. These plants can even work against antimicrobial-resistant strains of bacteria and can work with standard antimicrobials, such as penicillin, to increase germ-fighting power. That is some serious scientific evidence to back up this naturopathic remedy.

After establishing the viability of this alternative therapy, there remains the question of how to put it into use. Many people don’t like the taste of raw onions and eating pure cloves of garlic leaves you stinky for a week.

One option is to make a soup. Stew five white onions in a pot with a clove of garlic and simmer down with your choice of broth. Dash in choice herbs and spices (my favorites are oregano and sage) and serve while warm.

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There is one indirect effect of eating garlic and onions. Their lingering odors keep people from getting too close to you, and proximity to your peers is directly related to the contagion of sickness.

If you can keep people from being constantly cozied up to you, then the chance of avoiding the common cold or flu are significantly raised

Now back to that old wives’ tale of leaving a cut onion in the house to prevent the flu, mentioned in the beginning of the article.

The story goes that if you cut an onion and leave it on your counter, it’ll absorb the bad air and germs to prevent you from breathing them in. Proponents of this notion say that when the onion turns brown or black, it is from absorbing all of the bacteria and fungus.

This is totally false. The brown and black colorations are a sign of the natural decay process, which can occur without human-hosted germs. The myth originates from the age of the Bubonic plague, and if an onion could have stopped that from spreading, history would be quite different.

Not only will leaving cut onions on your counter not trap viruses or bacteria, but it’ll stink up your kitchen and no one will come visit you.

However, if you roast a clove of garlic and put it on a pizza, you’ll have people come and wait hours to eat your food. Just ask Moose’s Tooth.