An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.
Garlic - Allium sativum (Allium controversum) - family: Amaryllidaceae (Lily Family).
This perennial plant produces cloves that have been used by man as a food source for at least five thousand years. It has been used as a culinary spice and as a medicinal herb since the times of the ancient Egyptians, ancient Greeks and Romans. It grows to about three feet high. It has long narrow leaves. In the summer it produces globes of small pinkish flowers which are followed by small dark seeds. The edible cloves or bulbs are located below ground level just above the roots. Traditional folk use of Garlic in Southeastern Europe as a protection against the incursions of vampires. Traditional use of bulbs by ancient Egyptians and Romans as a folk aphrodisiac. Under the name Lashuna, Garlic has been used as an Ayurvedic medicinal herb. Bulbs used as a traditional European folk remedy for controlling diarrhea and hepatitis. Peeled bulbs have been traditionally used in Europe as a poultice for acne, earaches, other skin irritations and wounds. Bulbs (Da Suan) used as in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a remedy for asthma, bronchitis, coughs, diarrhea, indigestion, intestinal parasites and tuberculosis. Modern American folk use for cold sores, genital herpes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, immune system support, prostate problems, urinary tract infection and prevention of heart disease and stroke. Modern American folk use of cloves in the possible prevention of prostate cancer and other cancers. Modern Japanese (Kampo) use of bulbs in the medical treatment of some cancers. Modern European folk use of cloves as a remedy for bronchitis, colds, coughs, fever, flu, fungal infections, high cholesterol, hearing problems, hoarseness, nasal congestion and sore throats. Approved by German Commission E as a remedy for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Bulbs are currently used internally in North America as a remedy for allergies, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, hay fever and shingles. Also used as an external remedy for shingle and warts. Sometimes crushed bulbs also used in a poultice or a lotion for acne, although this may smart a little. Modern American folk use of Garlic oil as a remedy for athlete's foot and intestinal parasites. Reputed to have an anti-inflammatory activity. This plant is no longer found growing in the wild. Reputed to have a significant effect of lowering blood glucose levels, most effective in raw, uncooked state. Reputed to also lower blood pressure. Note: Garlic may increase the anti-blood-clotting effects of aspirin and other drugs; it is probably not advisable to ingest Garlic when taking aspirin or anti-coagulant (blood thinning) drugs. Note: do not take if using blood-thinning drugs. Listed in the United States Pharmacopoeias from 1820 to 1890. Native to Europe and Asia. Cultivated as a food crop in North America. Several cultivars exist.
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Web page last updated on 21 May 2003.