The annals of alternative medicine are filled with descriptions and studies of the healing power of herbs, spices and vegetables. But, one species in the onion family seems to get more attention than any other: garlic. Since early times, garlic has been prized for its powerful curative powers. But, it wasn’t until modern times that researchers figured out what gave garlic its healing punch.
What do we know about the incredible health benefits of garlic down through the ages? Plenty. Check out these Top 5 Things To Know About Garlic’s Health and Nutritional Benefits. Sure to provide you with added reasons to include garlic in your daily health and wellness routine.
Garlic Fact 1. Cultivated in the Middle East for more than 5,000 years, garlic is looked to for its medicinal properties as well as its sensational taste as a culinary herb. Ancient tombs display clay models of garlic bulbs. The ancient Egyptians, in particular, considered garlic a powerful medicine and dietary supplement.
Garlic Fact 2. Traditional Chinese Medicine relies heavily on garlic for its healing and curative properties. One study found that Chinese men, who eat a tremendous amount of onions, shallots, leaks, garlic and related vegetables, have the lowest rate of prostate cancer in the world. Garlic, in particular, is prized by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine for its versatility and medicinal applications.
Garlic Fact 3. The sacred books of several world religions, including the Holy Bible and Talmud, mention cultivation and use of garlic. Several world philosophers, like Hippocrates, Galen and Pliny the Elder, write about garlic’s healing properties for a host of ailments, including parasites, respiratory problems, poor digestion and, even, low energy. Athletes competing in the Ancient Greek Olympic games ingested garlic to enhance their performance. Later, Greek soldiers were fed garlic to embolden them on the battlefield and assure victory.
Garlic Fact 4. In the mid 19th century, noted French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur studied the antibacterial properties of garlic. Reportedly, Pasteur placed cloves of garlic in a bacteria-filled Petri dish. Several days later, much to Pasteur’s surprise, the area around each garlic clove was found to be bacteria-free. Pasteur was the first to discover garlic’s antibacterial properties.
Garlic Fact 5. In World War I, British doctors reportedly used garlic as an antiseptic against infections, such as gangrene and sepsis. During World War II, Russian doctors, likewise, used garlic on bandages and supplemented soldier’s diets with garlic, thereby coining the phrase, “Russian penicillin.” At the same time, researchers identified the important medicinal properties in garlic (allyl sulphur) that give this species in the onion family its remarkable healing and curative powers.
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE RESOURCES
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Natural Solutions Magazine
Garlic (Allium sativum L.)
Drugs and Supplements from Mayo Clinic
Plant Cultures: Exploring Plants and People
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Garlic: Effects on Cardiovascular Risks and Disease, Protective Effects Against Cancer, and Clinical Adverse Effects. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 20. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), 2000.