Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garlic Mustard as a Wild Medicinal

In my last post I babbled on about how to cook with garlic mustard, but there is the other side of this plant too.  Like garlic, that distinctive flavor that can only be described as garlicky, comes from sulfur.  Sulfur is one of the best natural anti-microbial out there.  The thing about sulfur is that it dissipates very quickly with heat, so cooking with it may make it more palatable but it renders it useless as a medicinal.  Because of this garlic mustard is often a better medicinal than garlic itself. 

Garlic does have more sulfur in it than garlic mustard but many people can't stand the taste of this much sulfur.  They try to mellow the taste by roasting or sauteing the garlic, dissipating the sulfur.  Garlic mustard isn't as strong of a sulfur (garlic) flavor and can be eaten raw in salads quite easily, getting that sulfur to where it needs to be, in the body instead of in the air making that delicious smell.  Raw garlic mustard salads are great for when you feel a cold coming on.

Garlic mustard leaves can also be bruised and wrapped over a wound to kill off any microbes in the wound and to act as a barrier to keep others out.  It is also an anti-inflammatory to it can be wrapped around sprains and bruises.  It is used to combat rheumatic aches and pains just like many of the cabbage family can be used.  Wrap the leaves around the sore area and then add heat in the form of a heated rice pack or heating pad.  It is used this way for neuralgia and strained backs as well.

The roots can be added to fire water or fire vinegar as it is often called.  This is a simple and well used tincture where garlic, onions, grated ginger, horseradish, and hot peppers are covered with apple cider vinegar and let sit for several months.  Adding garlic mustard root just gives it that much more of a kick.  Take a couple tablespoons of this in 8 ounces of water at the first sign of a cold.  It will either knock that cold right out or shorten it considerably.  People use fire water for so many different ailments it warrants a post all its own.  

Even a garlic mustard root/apple cider vinegar tincture on its own will help with bacterial and viral infections.  A steam of the leaves and roots can help loosen chest and sinus infections as well as warm up people who have a chill from being out in the cold too long without the proper gear.

So there are some more reasons to go out and harvest this plant.  You don't have to worry about over harvesting it like other medicinals because, a) that would be almost impossible and b) it would be good for the environment if you actually could.   A nice edible and medicinal...Now if it only would not be as darn destructive as it is, we could get to like this green invader.


  1. Garlic Mustard was ALL over the place back in Illinois, technically an invasive plant. We ate / cooked what we found in our yard. But now that we're out in the country and a bit farther south, I haven't seen a lick of it anywhere!

  2. Just checking in! Haven't heard from you in a while, hope all is well and you're just busy with spring planting! :)