Apr 8, 2008

The wonders of garlic

Warning: This is a long rambly post about health complaints. The upshot is that garlic-infused olive oil has successfully treated bacterial infections (like boils) and glue ear in our house. Keep reading if you're a sucker for too much detail...

Miss4's body has always seemed to be badly affected by stress. Even as a wee baby she would come out in eczema whenever teething, and her immune system would just collapse - ringworm and earache etc etc just from the usual teething routine that every child goes through.

When I took her to the doc to confirm the ringworm, he looked sadly at her and said "that is one stressed child!", before waltzing out of the room to do something else. Which made me feel like a terrible mother - babies shouldn't be feeling stressed! Fortunately we had a very stable living arrangement, a rock solid daily and weekly routine and very loving home relationships. I shudder to think what the poor child's body might have done if anything else had been going on.

Which brings me to more recent developments. With the return to kindergarten (in New Zealand, kindergarten is like a preschool which kids may attend when they're 3 and 4 years old), Miss4 has started pulling out her hair again. This is a sure sign of her being overtired and overstressed - it happened for several months when we moved to the South Island, and it happened again for a couple of months around the time my mum died in November last year. Her immune system has also packed a total sad. A month ago we were dealing, simultanously, with candida, boils and warts - yep, fungal, bacterial and viral infections. At the same time.

Now, I am a biochemist by training, but even without all those years at varsity, I would probably still know that if you treat the boils with antibiotics then your thrush is going to get worse. And the thrush wasn't responding to the anti-fungal creams we tried anyway.

If we let the boils run their course, they became large and painful and lasted over a week before bursting and draining of their own accord. All the modern literature advises not to burst or lance them yourself - to let nature take its course. But she was in pain and feeling miserable the poor thing, so I wanted to find something to do to help.

So. What to do?

Last winter, when dealing with glue ear and a child who was stone deaf for several weeks, I infused some olive oil with garlic, to try dripping some warm oil into her ears (I was desperate - 2 months of antibiotics was achieving a big fat nothing and my baby couldn't hear). A friend swore by warm garlic oil drops, the internet seemed to give it the cautious nod (apparently it's a very common treatment in Europe), so I tried, three times a day - By day 2 she could hear! This was the child who if you stood right behind her and shouted her name, would give no indication of having heard you. She had a hearing test at kindy - a tympanometry - flat-lined. And two days after starting olive/garlic oil drops she was hearing again. I was ecstatic.

The olive/garlic oil has been sitting in readiness ever since.

In thinking about the candida infection, I had a vague recollection of advice to try oil, even just as a soothing agent while the body caught up with the infection (we had tried topical yoghurt, but Miss4 said it was too stinging and flatly refused to cooperate. She already eats a pottle every day). So I tried the olive/garlic oil - just to see - it could hardly make the situation any worse. And while I was at it, I anointed the two boils that were on the increase at the time.

The thrush is an ongoing thing. The oil seems to help keep the irritation down, which is good, and things are improving, but slowly. But the amazing thing was the boils! By the next evening, they were less red and angry looking and Miss4 reported on them being not as sore. I continued to oil the boils twice a day and within 5 days they were what I would call 'healed' - they hadn't progressed and burst, on the contrary they had just gotten smaller and gone away. I kept the oil treatment up for another 3 or 4 days, and all is still well!

Yay for garlic. Good for ears, good for bacterial infections, good for cooking! Could there be a more perfect food :) I will definitely keep this one in mind and see how it works on things like infected hang-nails and that sort of thing.

p.s. We have dropped the number of days that Miss4 is enrolled at kindy. 5 whole mornings is clearly too much for her, so during the winter terms at least, she will be at kindy for 3 mornings and home for the other 4 of the week. A 4 year old should not be desperately hanging out for the holidays!

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