Allium sativum: Practitioner interviews

by Paul Bergner

Medical Herbalism 7(1-2):15-16

The following pages are adapted from The Healing Power of Garlic: The Enlightened Person’s Guide to Nature’s Most Versatile Herb by Paul Bergher (Prima Press, Fall 1995). We start with a series of clinical interviews with some of the leading herbal clinicians in the country.

Chris Deatherage, ND

Chris Deatherage, ND, Deatherage lives and practices in rural Missouri, and consults with fifty patients a week. He favors traditional nature cure in his practice, using water, fasting, diet, and herbs as his methods of choice. Garlic is one of his top medicines.

“I really like to combine garlic and hydrotherapy for acute illnesses,” says Deatherage. “I find that combination works as well as anything else for conditions like pneumonia or strep throat.” He often combines garlic with fever therapy. He uses hot water baths to create a fever of 102 degrees in the patient for twenty-five minutes. Along with this he gives a tea of the herb echinacea, and gives raw garlic blended in carrot juice. “If the patient is real sick, we’ll give three cloves every two hours in 4-6 ounces of carrot juice,” he explains. Otherwise he gives three doses a day for a total of nine cloves. He says he has seen serious conditions like abscessed mastitis — a serious infection of the breast normally requiring antibiotic treatment —cured with this method quickly and permanently.

Deatherage also combines garlic and other herbs with fasting. He recommends fasting on weak lemon water for seven to ten days, taking herbal teas as appropriate, and taking garlic in carrot juice, or else alone “chewed up real well.” He also regularly uses garlic to treat parasitic infections, giardia, roundworms, pinworms, scabies, colds and flu, vaginal infections, hemorrhoids, atherosclerotic diseases, and in veterinary medicine. Deatherage advocates a vegetarian diet, but says: “If you insist on eating meat, at least eat garlic with every meat meal.”

Jill Stansbury, ND

Dr. Jill Stansbury is Associate Professor of Botanical Medicine at National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. She also has a private practice in nearby Battleground, Washington. She teaches the following uses of garlic to sixty to eighty new National students each year:

- to kill germs and viruses in bronchitis or gastrointestinal infections.

- to kill yeast in systemic candida infections.

- combined with other lung herbs like yerba santa or coltsfoot to ease coughs.

- as a diluted off for ear infections.

- in dietary, tincture, and/or capsule form for high cholesterol or blood pressure

- for severe athlete’s foot.

- internally, along with other herbs, and as part of a skin wash, for acne

Stansbury teaches the use of many forms of garlic, including raw or cooked in food, as part of a tincture formula, or in commercial capsules. Some commercial naturopathic vitamin and herbal formulas also have garlic as a constituent.

Jane Guiltinan, ND

Jane Guiltinan, ND, is Chief Medical Officer at the Natural Health Clinic of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. Bastyr University began as the John Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1978. Over the last ten years, it has added schools of nutrition, oriental medicine, management, and several other disciplines, and obtained university status in 1994. Naturopathic physicians at Bastyr have conducted formal research into natural treatments of AIDS and HIV infection since 1989, and Dr. Guiltinan has been the primary clinician for the research. In 1995, Bastyr won a three-year, $840,000 National Institutes of Health grant to found the Bastyr University AIDS Research Center. The center is the leading research site for natural treatments of AIDS in the Western world.

Guiltinan suggests garlic for all her AIDS patients that can tolerate it. “I most often prescribe garlic in food form rather than capsules or extracts,” says Guiltinan. “I have them eat as much as possible, either raw or cooked.” At least one clinical trial has shown that garlic can improve the clinical status of AIDs patients. Guiltinan says that garlic gives general immune support for AIDS patient, and also helps keep the intestinal tract healthy. AIDS patients commonly get parasitic fections, and Guiltinan suggests that such infections contribute strongly to the general deterioration of health in AIDS.

Guiltinan also uses garlic for patients with worms, high cholesterol, risk of stroke, colds and flu, or sinusitis. “If people object to the smell,” she says, “I try to impress on them the wonders of garlic. If a partner objects, I suggest that the partner take it too.”

Mary Bove, MNIMH, ND, LM

Dr. Mary Bove, of Brattleboro Vermont, is one of the most highly trained herbalists in the Western world. Already a competent practicing herbalist in 1984, she moved to England to study herbalism more formally, and obtained her membership in the National Institute of Medical Herbalists in 1988. She immediately moved to Seattle, where she spent another five years obtaining a naturopathic medical degree, and a license to practice midwifery. While studying for her institute exam in Britain, Bove had the chance to experience the healing power of garlic herself. She was eight months pregnant with her first son and contracted pneumonia. “I was studying so hard that I ignored the fact that I didn’t feel well,” she said. Soon she had severe pneumonia with pleurisy, a complication of that causes pain with each deep breath or cough. Her doctor gave her antibiotics, but she was hesitant to take them at her stage of pregnancy. She tried garlic treatments instead.

“I ate six to ten chopped raw garlic cloves a day,” she relates, “swallowed with water or juice.” She also took echinacea and thyme in a tincture, and applied garlic to her feet. She also applied poultices of ginger and garlic directly over the spot that was painful from the pleurisy. Finally, she took yarrow baths — a pint of strong yarrow tea put into the bath water. She also received osteopathic treatments called a lymphatic pump that promotes the circulation of lymph in the chest area.

“I was out of crisis within two days, and had a full recovery in two weeks,” she relates. “The doctor never had a clue that I didn’t take the antibiotics.” Bove subsequently has used this treatment for other patients, and for herself during another bout of pneumonia while studying naturopathic medicine in Seattle.

Bove uses garlic for other respiratory problems as well. “Garlic is really great for the lungs, especially combined with warming aromatic herbs like thyme and hyssop,” she explains. She sees a lot of children in her medical practice in Vermont, and uses a garlic syrup for most respiratory formulas. For adults she mixes the syrup with tinctures such as lobelia, hyssop, or cramp bark. For children she uses glycerites of the herbs instead of tinctures. The glycerine has a sweet flavor that children like. She used these formulas for dozens of cases of whooping cough, which is common in Vermont each fall and winter.
  Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner  

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