The medicinal uses of garlic have been recorded throughout history. Way back in ancient times, garlic was consumed as food and used as medicine in different cultures around the world. Garlic is considered to have been first used in the mountains in Central Asia as flavoring for food.
Garlic in Greek, Roman, and Egyptian History
Many ancient cultures believed that garlic can increase strength and stamina. Greek and Roman soldiers were fed with garlic before and during battle. Slaves from ancient Egypt were fed by garlic to increase their stamina during the creation of the great pyramids. In the tomb of Tutankhamen, garlic clay models were found. Indeed, garlic was worshiped by the Egyptians back then. Folklore holds that the uses of garlic were different. Garlic was used to repel vampires and ward off evil spirits. The ancient Indians firmly believe that garlic is an aphrodisiac that warms the body, cures different illnesses, and prolongs life.
Garlic in European History
Throughout history, different uses of garlic have been noted. In the attempt to protect and cure themselves from deadly diseases, the Europeans ate garlic daily during the years of plague in Europe. During the great world wars, soldiers used garlic for effectively treating the wounds. As adequate antibiotics were not available back then, garlic was the best substitute they had. In 1958, the antiseptic properties of garlic were verified by Louis Pasteur. Raw garlic was proven to be a potent natural antibiotic, antifungal, anti-parasitic and antiviral in numerous studies.
Garlic in Asian Traditional Medicine
The medicinal uses of garlic were widely used and recognized in South Asian traditional medicine. In India, the juice of the garlic was extracted and taken orally to relieve cough and flu like problems. Garlic was also applied topically to prevent skin conditions such as eczema and scabies. Garlic was also applied to the nose in attempt to calm down hysterical girls. In Pakistan extracts from garlic bulbs was taken orally to relieve stomach ache, reduce fever, and treat cough.
Garlic in Western Medicine
In western medicine, the uses of garlic for medicinal purposes are now scientifically recognized. The garlic releases enzymes when crushed, which eventually combines with amino acid to create a new compound called allicin. Allicin has phytochemical properties which can inhibit viruses and bacteria including salmonella and staphylococcus. Other uses of garlic were eventually discovered in vitro studies on allicin. Allicin was proven to have anticancer properties in which the invasion and metastasis of human colon carcinoma cells were inhibited.
Garlic contains vitamin C, which helps lower the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Garlic can also make modest improvements in blood pressure by increasing the flow of blood to the capillaries. With an improved circulation in the small blood vessels, harmful buildups and blockages are prevented. But caution is advised to those taking blood thinning medications (such as warfarin or coumadin), as garlic may increase the risk of bleeding.
Garlic has been used as food and food flavoring throughout the years. It can be bought in different forms; fresh, powder or oil. There are some gardeners who used garlic as a pest repelling plant. It is best grown among flower and root vegetables as a protection.
Indeed, a myriad of different uses of garlic have been discovered throughout the years. This strongly aromatic bulb crop has remarkable culinary and medicinal uses that have been proven throughout history.