When I was a little girl my natural immune system was very weak and was ill very often. Because popular medications and antibiotics were in very short supply (I grew up in Communist-era Poland) I got to consume many home remedies for cold and flu. One of my most hated medicines, but the most effective one at the same time, was my mom’s garlic milk remedy. Back then, I would be unwell from all sort of respiratory illnesses pretty much every 3rd week. As soon as I recovered from one a new nasty cold would get its claws in me again. Serious mould issues in the property we used to live in was not helpful in keeping me well or helping me recover from chronic chest infections either.
Luckily, I’m much better these days. My natural immune system strengthened as soon as I went to school and started to mix with other kids. Nevertheless, any cold or flu would still lead to bad sinus infections and a recovery would take for up to a month.
In recent years I am much, much better, especially since I started to eat garlic intentionally and on a regular basis. I talked about my journey to health with the help of garlic in this now very popular post: How to roast garlic and stay healthy all year.
My childhood experience taught me a lot about what works and what doesn’t in the world of natural remedies and mom’s garlic milk remedy with honey will always be one of the ones to go to if necessary.
Garlic milk remedy is not tasty, but it works
I never liked the flavour of garlic milk drink and I will not be lying to you saying that it tastes like lemonade. It tastes as unpleasant today as it used to when I was a little girl. I know my mom was doing her best to get me better though and as soon as I’d finished my cup of garlic milk remedy, she’d reward me for taking the revolting tasting stuff with a spoonful of raw honey. When I grew up a bit I learnt that spoonful of raw honey was more than just a reward in this road to recovery ritual of ours as raw honey has very strong antibacterial properties.
Be mindful here: Heat kills all that’s good in both honey and garlic!
As soon as honey is exposed to the pasteurisation process or a heat over 95F/35C, which is just below a healthy human’s body temperature 98.6F/37C, most of its health benefitting properties are destroyed. The same applies to garlic. Allicin, a compound responsible for most health benefitting properties of garlic, collapses and gets destroyed in pretty much the same temperature as honey.
When I started spending more time in the kinder-garden and mixing with the other kids my immune system improved. Nevertheless, garlic milk remedy earned its place in my recipe book as one of the best natural, homemade cold & flu remedies. I also see it as a preventative measure, for when I feel that one of them is trying to creep in.
However off-putting it might seem every ingredient of this simple recipe has a good reason to be a part of this drink for cold, flu and sore throat. Garlic and honey have strong antibacterial properties, milk and butter soothe irritated throat and help to rest and sleep. Don’t be ignorant, follow the recipe as it might just help you to get over your cold fast, maybe even overnight!
Ingredients list includes milk, butter, honey and garlic. It would be easy just to mix it all up and drink fast, but to actually make this cold potion do its job, it is important to pay attention to the order of things in the recipe.
To maximize the power and get the best out of garlic milk remedy recipe:
- Crush garlic about 5 minutes before it is added to milk. A compound called allicin, which is responsible for garlic’s antibacterial properties, needs time to develop. It gets partly stabilized when added to a liquid (milk).
- Milk cannot be hot as it will destroy garlic’s antibacterial and antiviral properties (high heat kills allicin). So, after you dissolved the butter in it wait until the milk becomes close to room temperature before adding the minced garlic to the mixture.
- Drink one glass, right before bedtime; when you feel you’re about to go down with something or you already know you have a cold or flu. Milk will help you sleep better too.
- 1 glass of milk (200ml)
- 2 tbsp of raw honey
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tsp of butter (unsalted)
- Place butter in milk and warm it all up just until butter melts. When done set aside so the milk comes back to room temperature.
- Mince the clove of garlic and leave to sit aside for 5 minutes (This is to allow antibacterial compound called Allicin to developing.)
- When milk reached room temperature add the minced clove of garlic and honey, stir well and drink straight away.
Published March 2015. Updated December 2017.