Garlic Poultice

Cold season is well underway, causing many people to miss work, school and the pleasures of daily life. It is reported that adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year; however, I’ve noticed adults being sick much more often in the past 5 plus years than ever. Children are unfortunate in that they tend to be sick on a frequent basis, as compared to adults. 

Though the rhinovirus is the main culprit of the common cold, there are additional ones that cause colds such as the respiratory syncytial virus, the human parainfluenza virus, and the human metapneumovirus. The primary method of becoming infected is from the respiratory secretions of a sick person. This means shaking their hand or touching common items that carry the virus and then touching your nose, eyes or mouth. The side effects of colds are a pain: runny nose, sore throat, coughing and sneezing.

Growing up, I remember taking antibiotics a lot when I was sick; it seemed to be quite a common prescription during 1980’s and 1990’s. Now you can hardly get a prescription for them, which is a good thing considering they don’t work for the following infections:

  • Cold
  • Flu (influenza)
  • Bronchitis
  • Most coughs
  • Most sore throats
  • Some ear infections
  • Some sinus infections
  • Stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis)

Our first reaction is to run to the medicine cabinet to make it all stop. But what is our body doing really? Well, it’s doing what it should in order to rid our bodies of the virus. Rather than stopping these symptoms, why not help our body to effectively remove the virus quicker and easier?

One excellent aid comes from Allium sativum; commonly known as garlic. Garlic is wonderful in that it has antibacterial and antifungal properties as well as being a stimulant and it helps to loosen congestion. Throughout history, mankind has used garlic topically to reduce colds and congestion. 

Garlic Poultice

  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • Paper towel
  • Hot water
  • 1 Teaspoon olive oil
  • Hand towel


  1. Smash and peel the cloves and place them in the center of the paper towel (Use no more than one clove for a child)
  2. Fold the paper towel into a square to keep the garlic in
  3. Run the paper towel through hot water to moisten, squeezing out the extra
  4. Apply olive oil to the chest and place the square on top once the heat has reduced 
  5. Lay the hand towel on top to keep in the warmth for no more than a half hour (Leave on for less time if desired)
  6. Afterwards, remove the square and wash the skin with soap and water

If any discomfort or excess heat should occur, remove the square of garlic and wash the area with soap and water immediately. Garlic has warming properties and caution should be taken with children and those with sensitive skin. Be sure to lift the square of garlic often to check for any signs skin irritation. Considering the strength of garlic, it would not be advisable to use a poultice more than once per cold infection.

Remember, home remedies do not take the place of a doctor. Contact your primary care provider should a temperature exceed 100.4˚F, if symptoms last more than 10 days or if the symptoms are severe or unusual.

Until next time, discover the power of your kitchen cupboard.


Antibiotics: Misuse puts you and others at risk. (2014, December 12). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved  from

Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others. (2016, February 8). CDC. Retrieved from

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