Hello Sprout readers! This is Molly Kay, the Urban Herbal Girl, and I’ll be contributing to Sprout once a month with herbal remedies and facts. Herbs can easily become a part of your daily diet and are an affordable way to both heal and prevent illness. It can also be a pleasant way to reconnect to nature, even when you live in the urban jungle of Chicago!

Did you know that adults in the U.S. spent $14.9 billion on natural products, such as herbal remedies? It’s only natural that people turn to plants for their health, as herbalism reaches back to the age of the Neanderthal. In fact, herbal medicine is the oldest form of therapy practiced by humans, who, by trial-and-error and instinct, discovered helpful and harmful plants. To this day, scientists have found that our ancestor’s choices in plant medicine were right-on. Herbalists now rely on both science and lore to form what we know as herbal medicine today.

Tuning into your body’s cravings, warning signs, pains, and sensations of well-being are the first steps towards using herbalism. I encourage you to take note of your own state, whether it is taking mental note of how you feel during the day, or by starting a daily journal about your habits and the foods that you eat. You never know what you’ll learn about yourself with some self-awareness.

Also, please note that I’m not a professional herbalist. I have gathered information from my mom, who is a certified herbalist, as well as through books and my own trial and error. Herbalism is not recognized or regulated by “official” health organizations. However, it is an art that has been passed down through the people who practice it. More importantly, it is a practice that is accessible to everyone. Please note that if you need advice for serious, life-threatening ailments or injuries, please seek professional help from a doctor or certified alternative medicine practitioner.

For today, I’ll share a favorite remedy for the onset of a cold. All you need is one peeled garlic clove and some honey. Place the peeled clove on a tablespoon, cover it with honey, and eat it, three times a day, morning, noon, and night.

It sounds crazy, but it’s not as bad as it sounds! It actually reduces the longevity of my colds. The honey is essential for coating your digestive tract and protecting it from irritation. If you aren’t into honey, you can also crush the clove into a tablespoon of yummy salsa. Just make sure to eat the garlic at least 3-4 times a day to make it effective, but also don’t overdo it as garlic can irritate the stomach.

As you may know, garlic is a wonderful in any form, but it is most effective when eaten as fresh as possible.  Garlic contains an antimicrobial compound called allicin, which is destroyed by cooking or drying garlic. But when it’s fresh, it kills bacteria and microbes that can harm garlic.

Any comments or questions are welcome! You can find more frequent posts about herbal remedies on my own blog, Urban Herbal Girl. Now, go and try a clove of fresh garlic. You’ll thank me when you start to sniffle!