By: Monica Oldenburg

Garlic is a famous member of the onion family. It is one of the most common additions to food worldwide. The name is Anglo Saxon meaning gar (a spear) and lac (a plant) in reference to the shape of the leaves. It is native to the southwest desert region of Siberia and is able to grow in extremes of temperatures. There are over 300 varieties of garlic and it grows in cloves.

Over 250 million pounds of garlic are consumed in the U.S. alone. California is the largest producer in the United States growing greater than 500 million pounds annually. Americans also spend in excess of than 5 billion dollars on garlic supplements each year.

Garlic may be found in varying preparations such as the fresh herb or clove, liquid oil, powder or capsule. There are also odorless garlic supplements. Allyl sulfur compounds are the major active constituents.

Garlic Trivia

The longest continuous string of garlic is 123 feet. It is found in Catsfield, England.

Supposedly, stuffing a clove of garlic in your nostril when you have a stuffy nose will help in the healing process. But don’t fall asleep as you may inadvertently suck the clove down your throat and choke.

Due to the unavailability of vampires, the bloodsucking leech was used as a stand-in to determine if garlic does repel bloodthirsty creatures. Unfortunately, it instead seemed to attract them. The leeches used an average of 14.9 seconds to attach themselves to a hand covered with garlic, while it took them 44.9 seconds to start sucking blood from the clean one.

History Of Garlic

While best know as a deterrent to vampires, garlic has been used by much of the world for centuries.

The King of Babylon grew garlic in his gardens in the 8th Century B.C. It is mentioned in the Chinese Shih Ching which is supposedly authored by the famous Confucius. The Chinese also seasoned sacrificial lambs with garlic to make them more pleasing to the gods.

Garlic was worshiped as a god by the Ancient Egyptians. The slaves that built the pyramids lived on a diet consisting mainly of onions and garlic.

The Vikings and Phoenicians always sailed with their supply of garlic. Garlic is thought to have been introduced to Europe by the Crusaders.

The ancient Greeks believed garlic had great value. Aristophanes thought that athletes and soldiers would benefit from consumption of garlic in an enhancement of courage. Virgil claimed that garlic improved and sustained the strength of the farm workers.

Garlic is claimed to ward off evil. When hung on a wreath, garlic on the door supposedly repels witches and vampires. Hungarian jockeys sometimes place garlic cloves on the bit of their horses for luck in winning the race. Spanish bullfighters protect themselves from the horns of the bull by wearing a clove of garlic around their neck.

Benefits Of Garlic

In the past garlic was used to treat leprosy, wound infections, parasites, hemorrhoids, typhus, dysentery, plague, whooping cough, epilepsy, tuberculosis, asthma and smallpox.

There are currently claims that garlic may aid in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, treating atherosclerosis, arthritis, boosting the immune system, fighting infections such as colds and flu, helping treat AIDS, and in prevention of some types of cancer. It is claimed to heal ear infections when put in the ear canal. It is alleged to be a powerful anti-oxidant. Wine of garlic is supposed to be a good stimulant lotion for baldness of the head.

Side Effects Of Garlic

The most well known side effect of garlic is a distinctive odor to both the eater’s breath and body.

There have also been reports of allergic reactions, stomach disorders and diarrhea. Other possible side effects that have not been proven include: a decrease in the serum protein and calcium levels, flatulence, contact dermatitis, rhinitis, asthma, bleeding and myocardial infarction. There have been two reports of patients taking Warfarin that had an increase in their INR level when they took garlic supplements. Topical exposure to raw garlic may cause contact dermatitis, skin blisters and ulcero-necrotic lesions.

GARLIC RECIPES

Garlic Shrimp

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. shallots, minced 1/2 cup butter
The juice of two large lemons Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup parsley, minced

Sauté garlic and shallots in butter. Remove from heat; add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and parsley. Stir. Add shrimp. Marinate for 20 minutes. Put shrimp on skewers. Grill for 6 to 10 minutes or until done…or broil for 10 min.

Roasted Garlic

Cut the top off of one or more garlic bulbs. Place on a shallow baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with favorite herb(s), if desired. Bake at 325 degrees for about one hour or until soft. Use as a spread for bread or use your imagination.

PLEASE feel free to email comment, questions, or suggestions to the author at mjmartin@creighton.edu

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