Garlic, Allium sativum, is the prototype of the garlic family. You really want to eat this powerhouse plant regularly, because – in addition to numerous medicinal applications – it has general health benefits because of the nutrients it contains. This is why a lot of garlic is used in many cuisines which are considered healthy. It is a powerful inhibitor of inflammation, bacteria and parasites. So by eating garlic, you help your immune system keep out unwanted visitors.
But that is not all. Garlic contains a lot of sulphur, which helps your liver and kidneys function. It is therefore a powerful cleaning aid. Your liver and kidneys are an essential part of your detoxification system. By eating a lot of garlic, you therefore help detoxify your body, so that it is ready for taxing times. And there’s loads more to be told, which you can see in the Medicinal properties section.
Given the protective effect of garlic on the body, it is not surprising that protection is one of the most important magical functions of garlic. Protection against disaster, evil and sorcery: for garlic it’s all in a day’s work. It’s, therefore, not surprising that we often come across garlic in folk tales where so-called evil life forms must be stopped. Just think of vampires. Garlic has many more purposes, such as safe travel, but ultimately they all come down to some form of protection.
Something that might be worth mentioning is the protection against lust. One might wonder whose lust – one’s own lust or that of a third party? – but the sources are not very clear about this. With the smell that garlic can produce, we can imagine how this usage came to be. Strangely enough, it is also mentioned as an ingredient of witch ointment. I eat quite a bit of garlic myself, but I haven’t experienced any hallucinogenic effects yet. It’s well possible that it’s in the recipe for its protective properties. After all, the liver will be burdened a lot when using witch ointment.
The bulb is located above a flat root base and is composed of 5 to 20 cloves, surrounded by a paper-like white or purple casing. The plant has up to 60 cm long, flat leaves, which are about 2.5 cm wide. Garlic blooms in summer with white-green to pink spherical umbels about 5 cm in diameter. Garlic sometimes forms bulbils. The fruit contains black seeds. Reproduction is provided by bulbils and the new cloves that the plant forms below the soil.
From Central Asia garlic has spread all over the world. It is rarely seen in the wild, but can be grown practically anywhere. Its documented medicinal effect dates back no less than 4,000 years.