Garlic, today’s super food, has enjoyed a long and colorful history grounded in myth and folklore. Ancient Egyptians use of garlic has been found etched into walls of temples, and written on papyrus, as well as clay sculptures of the herb dating back to 3200 B.C. Although the Egyptians believed strongly in it’s healing powers , they considered garlic, sometimes referred to as “The Stinking Rose”, too pungent too eat. However, they so revered garlic for its mystical healing powers that they often tried to take it with them to the after life.
Dried garlic was found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb along with other treasured herbs and spices. Indeed, Garlic did not become popular in America until the 19th century, when immigrants flooded in from other countries. However, it is the very powerful smell of Garlic that inspired the myth and superstitions that have surrounded it for centuries.
Throughout the ages, and in all parts of the world, Garlic has been revered for it’s healing abilities, and used as a talisman against evil spirits. Everyone is familiar with the old legend of garlic as a vampire repellent, but the folklore concerning this versatile herb does not stop there. You may be surprised to to find what other Old Wives tales there are referring to garlic.
Myths, Truisms, and Fun facts About Garlic
- In the Middle Ages garlic was thought to ward off vampires, evil eye, and witches. Families would string it together and hang it in the archways of their doors to prevent evil spirits from entering their house.
- During The Black Plague, people ate raw garlic daily to ward off the disease.
- In Balkan countries, Garlic juice was rubbed on to doorknobs and window frames in an effort to keep vampires out as well.
- In Korea, Six Clove Black Garlic was given to women in the hopes of endowing them with supernatural powers and immortality.
- In colonial times, garlic was tied to the feet of Small Pox victims in an effort to ward off death.
- In 17th century England, it was considered unfit for a Lady, or any gentleman courting her, to eat garlic.
- There is a proverb that says “Garlic makes men wink, and drink, and stink”
- Greek Battalions were given garlic to give them courage and promise of victory.
- In ancient Greece and Rome, garlic was used to repel scorpions, and to treat dog bites, leprosy and asthma. Garlic has been proven to have anti fungal, antiviral, anti bacterial and anti parasitic properties.
- In World War 2 Garlic solutions were used by the British to heal wounds when they ran out of sulfur.
- Garlic was often used to cure the common cold. Recipes can still be found explaining how to make garlic and onion soup, as well as garlic cough syrup.
- There are still Old Wives Tales circulating about garlic’s ability to ward off evil spirits and ailments, such as tie a clove of garlic around your neck to ward off a cold.
- Garlic is still used today for wart removal. It is recommended that a raw clove of garlic should be sliced and applied to the wart. After being bandaged for 24 hours, the wart will supposedly dry out and fall off in a few days.
- Garlic has also been said to cure ear infections. Actually, the home remedy calls for 100% pure garlic oil dropped into the affected ear. After lying still for 15-30 minutes, it said that you will feel your ear start to itch, which is the garlic drying up the infection. Within 24 hours, the infection will have gone away.
The folklore surrounding garlic is endless, as are the types of ailments it is said to cure, both proven and UN proven. The uses of garlic not only span thousands of years, but they also span thousands of miles around the world. From Ancient Arab herbalists who said that garlic gives strength, and beatifies the complexion, to Louis Pasteur, who documented that one millimeter of garlic juice is equivalent to 60 milligrams of Penicillin in 1885, to recent studies that have shown garlic as a remedy for hypertension, the uses of its “super food” are endless.
While some people still find this herb pungent and repulsive, hence the name “The stinking Rose”, you may be surprised to hear some of the other names that garlic is referred to around the world.
Other Names For Garlic
- Bronx vanilla
- Italian Perfume
- Camphor of The Poor
- Nectar of The Gods
- Poor Mans Treacle
So, what it is about garlic that has made it such a subject of myth and fantasy? It is the compound Allicin, contained in garlic, which gives it such a strong smell, and provides this herb with all of its healing qualities. It contains enzymes, flavenoids, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and selenium.
It is the selenium that really gives this herb it’s punch as this antioxidant alone has the power to boost the other vitamins containing Garlic, which include Vitamin A (Thiamin). Vitamin B2( Riboflavin), along with Vitamin and B6. With all of these essential vitamins and minerals packed into one small clove of garlic, it is no wonder that the benefits of this herb are known far and wide around the world.
So what has been proven to be true about the healing properties of garlic and what belongs restricted to the ream of myth and folklore? While many people will continue to believe in Grandma’s garlic and onion soup for a cold, or the old wives tale of stringing a clove of Garlic around you neck to ward off a cold, studies have actually been done to prove whether garlic is efficient as a medicine in this area, and exactly how much you should take.
The Truth About Garlic
- Garlic has been proven to reduce high blood pressure, and reduce heart attacks by actually lowering the levels of blood fats including tryglicerides and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, while raising the levels of HDL (“good”) cholesteral. In Germany, garlic supplements are licensed a prescription drugs for the treatment of arteriosclerosis.
- Several studies have also indicated that garlic can boost immunity levels, and that it is the second only to Echinacea as the most common herbal supplent bought on the market today
- Garlic has also been shown to be a helpful supplement to those who suffer from Diabetes as it balances the blood sugar. The main compound Allicin combines with Vitamin B to stimulate the pancreas to release insulin.
- Because of garlic’s anti- fungal properties, scientists have proven that garlic functions as an anti parasitic to get rid of intestinal worms, as well as other fungal infections, such as thrush.
- Studies dating back to the 1960’s have shown garlic’s benefits in treating cancer patients. New research, such as a study put out in 2002 by The Journal of the national Cancer Institute suggests that men who eat plenty of garlic and onions could have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. Inter
- Stutudies have shown that garlic, because of its value as a natural blood thinner, to be very useful in the treatment of varicose veins, and blood clots. However, people should also be advised that eating large amounts of Garlic prior to surgery or dental procedures could cause heavy or spontaneous bleeding. Also people taking Warfarin, Coumadin, or any drugs meant to treat HIV/AIDS virus should consult with their doctors before taking any type of garlic supplement, as it can be contraindicated with these drugs. .
- People suffering from Intermittent claudication (poor circulation of the legs) have also found this her b useful.
- Studies published in the American Journal of Hypertension have shown that when volunteers took garlic supplements on a regular basis, their blood pressure was reduced by 1-5%.
- Because of the antioxidant properties of garlic, it has also been shown garlic is also useful for slowing down the aging of the liver, and combating the harmful effects of smoking.
- It has been proven that garlic, indeed, is suitable for treatment of the common cold. Because of the potency of this herb, the body is stimulated to perspire when garlic is consumed, which means that eating garlic during a cold will speed up recovery by making you sweat the toxins and bacteria out of your body.
- Ayervedic herbalists suggest rubbing a slice of raw garlic on pimples as a cure for acne. They say that removing pimples this way will not result in scars.
With the benefits of garlic so far and widespread throughout the body, it is no wonder that the sale of garlic supplements is one of the top 5 in America. Many questions remain, however, as to what dosage of garlic is required to benefit from this herbs healing effects. Also, as much as this herb has crossed cultural lines in Cuisine for Italian to meditterean to Chinese, many people benefit from the herb my simply using it as a spice in cooking. The question remains, however, is taking supplements the same as eating cooked garlic? And to take it a step further, is eating cooked garlic as beneficial as eating it raw? Many health excerpts have confirmed that eating raw garlic is more beneficial to eating cooked garlic or supplements.
The crushing and chewing of garlic release the compound Allicin, which gives garlic its healing properties. However, many people are unable to eat garlic raw at first because when not used it, consuming large amounts of raw garlic can be very irritating to the stomach.
It is suggested to start off slow, and chew one clove of garlic a day. For people who cannot stomach the taste of garlic raw or cooked, there is the option so supplements, some of which include the compound Allicin.
A ratio of powdered supplement to raw garlic equates to an average dose of 1500mg of powdered garlic to ½ clove of fresh garlic.
In order to fight infection 3-4 chopped, crushed, or chewed cloves should be consumed per day, or in supplement form 600-900miligarams a day 2-3 times a day. Read labels of specific supplement for more precise dosing.
Another aspect of the benefits of garlic is its helpfulness to the home gardener. Garlic oil has been shown to repel slugs and snails when a barrier of it is put up around favorite plants and vegetables. Also garlic’s benefit as a companion plant has been utilized for hundreds of years as well. It is a well-known fact that planted in between roses; garlic will provide you with beautiful healthy roses for years to come.
Companion planting comes from the notion that if the proper plants and herbs are grown together, natural pest control will occur. Garlic, when planted alongside cabbage and lettuce repels and kills Aphids, Spider mites, and white flies, all dangerous pests to your plants. Growing garlic is not difficult, and is actually a good way to get kids involved in gardening.
How To Grow and Harvest Garlic
- Plant a clove, not a bulb, in the dirt, about an inc below the surface in an upright position. Garlic can be sown in rows of 18 cloves, or simply pushed in the dirt of plants you would like to protect.
- Keep it watered well, but not over watered.
- One clove of garlic will produce one plant, which will produce one whole bulb of garlic.
- It is time to harvest your garlic when the plants foliage starts to turn brown and looks dead.
- When taking garlic from the ground, do not yank it out by the stem. Gently loosen the dirt around the bulb, and then remove it from the ground.
- Garlic must be dried properly if it is going to be of any good use. Hang the bulbs upside down by the stems in a cool dry place such as a gardening shed or barn. The curing process takes about two weeks. Large bundles of garlic can be braided together and hung upside down as a bunch. It is suggested to wait until the garlic is completely dry until trimming the stems off. Once they have dried, they can also be strung together with flowers, dried grasses and ribbon and used as a decorative piece for your kitchen.
- Garlic should be stored at room temperature. It can either be hung in the kitchen pantry, or kept in a brown paper bag on your pantry shelf.
As you can see, garlic is one versatile herb! Straight from the garden to tour belly, this herb will benefit you for years to come. Whether eaten raw, cooked, or taken in supplement form garlic is rated high on the list of foods to eat for longetivity and well being. The possibilities are endless as to what you can do with this herb. Whether using it for hypertension or as a slug repellant in the garden, the uses of garlic still abound. Remember, however, that as good as garlic is for the body to always check with your physician before starting to take large amounts of garlic, especially if you take medication for blood thinners on a regular basis.