Food as medicine – Onion family

Onion family or Allium family includes the onion, garlic, chives, scallion, leek and shallot and hundreds of wild species including Ramson (also known as Wild Garlic or Bear Garlic) which I have found grows in Hampstead Heath Park.

I’m sure all of the above mentioned members of Allium family are known to us through cooking. And their use and cultivation history go back as far as Bronze Age. Archaeological finds and written texts about onion and garlic are found from ancient Egypt, Greece, China, Rome and India; each prescribing medical applications.

Nowadays we know Garlic for its antibacterial and antiviral qualities, making it a favourite old-time remedy for coughs and colds.

When you have a blocked nose you can chop up one glove of garlic, wrap it in a piece of bandage and inhale it til your sense of smell returns. Tried and tested on myself – it works!

One other trick I did mention in my previous article was very thin slices of raw garlic on toast. Little butter, little salt and voile – simple but effective kick to boost your immune system when you are already feeling a bit under the weather.

I prefer raw rather than cooked, as cooking and heating will lessen the potency.

And last, but not least, garlic breath is a well-known repellent, and not only against vampires…

Unassuming Onion, suitable for use in savory dishes more often than not, come in many types and sizes. Southern grown onions, Spanish onions for example are sweeter in flavor, and suitable for raw dishes and salads; Northern grown, such as yellow and white onion give more of a kick. For centuries onion has been used to reduce inflammation and heal infections. Rich in Vit C, B6 and Iron, onion also has ‘tear-gas’. Or in better terms, when you cut an onion, enzymes get released which mixing with your tears, forming a sulphuric acid. Sulphuric acid burns, stimulating your eyes to release more tears to wash the irritant away.

Shallots are often considered a gourmet food, but they’re very simple to grow in the home garden. They add a delicate, distinctive flavor to salads and cooked dishes but they don’t keep as well as onions. Besides just being a tasty bulb-vegetable, they are rich in Vit A, Iron and Manganese. Overall Shallots have better nutrition profile than onions.

Ramson (Allium Ursinum), is protected species but can be gathered in moderation and it makes a great salad or pesto. A word of warning – the leaves look very similar to Lily of the valley, which is poisonous. Wild garlic is distinctive though – crush the leaves between your fingers and the distinct smell of garlic will confirm if it’s the right one.

Addressing the coffee lovers

Those creamy and gentle cappuccinos, soft like butterfly kisses or those smooth, tall and dark, Italian or French, kick in the backside morning brews topped with flawless caramel colored crema, have often woken the poet in us to sing odes to this heavenly perfection.
I’m sure I speak for everybody when I say that Milk and Coffee are the perfect pair, unless of course your religion is strictly Tea or you have an allergy to milk…
When mucus related problems exist – such as discharges from the nose or other parts of the body, frequent colds, asthma, allergies, sinus problems, tumors, cysts, constipation, colon trouble, profuse growth of Candida albicanis, excess weight or thick tongue coating – dairy users might want to consider using better quality and/or less dairy products. That includes milk, all cheeses, yogurts, kefir and buttermilk.
This ‘retaining’ property of dairy applies to all animal milk, although most of the preceding discussion on dairy has referred to commercial cow’s milk. Goat’s milk however, has different properties. Those with excess mucus would still want to be cautious in the use of goat’s milk, but it forms far less mucus than cow’s milk as the fat structure in their milk is much more digestible than that of cow’s milk.
And because goats that graze freely enjoy a large variety of leaves, grasses and herbs, their milk contains rich amounts of nutrients not found in cow’s milk. For this reason goats milk is universally prescribed as a superior product for many types of deficiency, from youth to old age. When animal product nutrition is needed, raw goats milk is usually a good choice.
When caffeine is taken in excess, any of several symptoms usually result: anxiety, nervousness, insomnia or light sleep patterns, various types of heart disease, stomach and intestinal maladies, and moodiness. When consumed regularly, as little as two cups of coffee can initiate these symptoms.
Coffee is warming, stimulating, diuretic and purgative. It has also been considered a mental stimulant, helping the user through periods of sluggishness from toxic overload. Coffee also purges the bowels in individuals who are commonly constipated from heavy fatty diet.
The acid in the coffee eats away the villi of the small intestine, reducing their effectiveness in supporting nutrient assimilation – most heavy coffee drinkers are deficient in calcium and other minerals.
Assuming that you have decided to give up coffee, withdrawal from it can be difficult as with most intoxicants. When coffee is stopped abruptly, headaches and constipation may result as well as drowsiness and moodiness. Lots of water and drinks made from barley or wheat grass juice powders help detoxify in any withdrawal program.

If I have inspired you to take a closer look at your health, there is a book I recommend you start with – ‘Healing with Whole Foods’ by Paul Pitcford. It is a written from both Asian Tradition and Modern Nutrition point of view, providing the essential information for becoming skillful in healing through diet.