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Facts about Garlic

By Edited May 17, 2014 5 8

Garlic - an ancient food

7,000 years of history


Photo credit: Muffet on Flickr

Garlic, allium sativum, part the onion family, was mentioned as far back as 7,000 years ago in the ancient writings of Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, and the Indus Valley.[5451]  Garlic originated in central Asia, where it grew wild. The ancient Sumerians cultivated it as a crop in the city of Ur.[5455] Ancient Babylonians warehoused thousands of bushels of garlic.[5455] It was an important commodity for the ancient traders, the Phoenicians, who probably introduced the pungent bulb to the Egyptians. [5455] The Egyptians fed garlic to the slaves who built the pyramids.[5452] They believed it gave greater strength. Heroditus, the ancient Greek historian, reported that the Egyptians revered garlic as a god.[5455] The Indians thought it was an aphrodisiac.[5452]

Garlic as medicine

Its use in herbal medicine

Chinese Medicines

Photo credit: oceanaris on Flickr

Garlic has been used since 2000 BCE as medicine. In Chinese medicine, it has been used as a sedative,[5455] for respiratory illnesses,[5455] and as a blood thinner.[5451] Hippocrates, the ancient Greek who is called the Father of Medicine, used garlic to treat cuts, infections, and digestive troubles.[5455] Pliny in his Natural History listed more than 60 medicinal uses for garlic. The Romans issued it to soldiers to shore up strength. [5455] Medieval monks used it to treat leprosy and baldness.[5455] In 1858, Pasteur showed its antibacterial properties.[5461] It was used in both World Wars I and II as an antiseptic to disinfect open wounds and prevent gangrene in the soldiers.[5452]

Modern Research

Garlic's benefits are confirmed

Desktop Blood Test

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Modern scientific studies confirm many of garlic's touted benefits. Garlic contains a whole slew of nutrients: vitamins A, B, C, and folate; minerals such as calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and selenium;[5452] and biologically active sulfur-containing compounds.[5461] Studies have shown that it lowers total cholesterol[5461], specifically lowering LDL (the bad cholesterol) and raising HDL (the good cholesterol) within 12 weeks of regularly taking it.[5452] Thiosulfanates, the sulfur-containing compounds in garlic, are the active ingredients - as antibacterial agents, in inhibiting blood clots, and in lowering blood lipids.[5461] The NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that garlic slows atherosclerosis.[5451] Garlic is as effective as some pharmaceuticals in lowering lipids. Population studies show that garlic may even reduce the risk of stomach and colon cancer. To get some of these health benefits, especially the heart-protective ones, one or two cloves of raw garlic each day seems to do the trick.[5461]



Nov 4, 2012 8:04pm
Organic foods are best for sustaining a healthier life.Garlic is one.People need to use more garlic to lower cholesterol,a cause killer.I love garlic.Good article.
Nov 5, 2012 3:40am
Thanks for the compliment. I, too, have always loved garlic.
Nov 4, 2012 8:04pm
This comment has been deleted.
Nov 5, 2012 7:32pm
Impressive article. I grew up in Europe where garlic is basically in almost every salty dish ... and not just little of it.

Thumbs up!
Nov 6, 2012 3:33am
I would love that - garlickly salty goodness!
Nov 6, 2012 12:08pm
Hi--I really loved your articlefor two reasons--The first is I thought it was well written and informative but the second is that it took me back to my childhood where I was raised with garlic enthsuaists--My dad ate so much garlic you could smell it through his skin...my mom and grandmother both gooked with. Anyway, great piece and 2 BIG thumbs from me.
Nov 6, 2012 5:29pm
Wow, I loved garlic before, but now I even have more of a reason to eat it. Thanks!!
Nov 8, 2012 12:56pm
love garlic! tasty, and great for you, too! love to saute it with a bit of crushed garlic, along with some diced ginger, good article
Dec 4, 2012 11:06am
I love garlic, and i am always looking for ways to use it in my dishes. I wonder if the pre-chopped garlic sold in the little jars suffers any loss of benefit?
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  5. E Tattelman "Health Effects of Garlic." American Family Physician. 72 (2005): 103-106.

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