Garlic, Allium sativum, is the best known of the garlic family. You want to eat this powerhouse regularly, because – in addition to numerous targeted medicinal uses – it has general health benefits due to the nutrients it contains.
That is why many culinary traditions which are considered healthy use copious amounts of garlic. It is a powerful inhibitor of inflammation, bacteria and parasites. So, by eating garlic, you help your immune system keep unwanted visitors out.
But that is not all. Garlic contains a lot of sulphur, which helps your liver and kidneys to function properly. As a result, it is a powerful cleaning aid. Your liver and kidneys are an indispensable part of your detoxification system. Eating plenty of garlic therefore helps to detoxify your body so that it is ready for more taxing times. And there is loads more to be told, as you will see in the Medicinal properties section.
Given the protective effect of garlic on the body, it is not surprising that protection is counted among the most important magical functions of garlic. Protection against disasters, evil and sorcery: for garlic it is all in a day’s work. Consequently, we often stumble upon it in folk tales when so-called evil life forms must be stopped. Think of vampires, for instance.
Garlic has more purposes, such as safe travel, but in the end they usually all come down to some form of protection. Something worth mentioning is the protection it provides against lust. One may wonder whose lust – one’s own or that of a third party? – but the sources are not clear on that. Could the smell of garlic have anything to do with this application?
Strangely enough, this plant is mentioned as an ingredient of witches’ ointment. I eat quite a bit of this delicious herb myself, but I have not experienced any hallucinogenic effects yet. It may well be in the recipe for its protective properties. After all, the liver gets a lot to endure when one uses an ointment like that.
The bulb is located above a flat root base and is composed of 5 to 20 cloves, surrounded by a papery white or purple casing. The plant has up to 60 cm long, flat leaves, which are about 2.5 cm wide.
Garlic flowers in summer with greenish white to pink spherical umbels of about 5 cm in diameter. Sometimes garlic forms bulbils. The fruit is trilocular with black seeds. Reproduction happens by means of bulbils and the new cloves that the plant forms underground.
Garlic has spread from Central Asia to just about the entire world. It is rarely seen in the wild these days, but is cultivated everywhere.
Its documented medicinal properties go back more than four thousand years.
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