Garlic the natural remedy, Past and Present
If you believe that history has anything at all to offer, we ask you this question: could the diverse ancient cultures of Egypt, India, China, Korea, Greece and the Romans all have been wrong about the medicinal value of Garlic? ….. Unlikely. Its use as a natural remedy has been seen throughout history.
Humans have cultivated Garlic since the beginning of recorded time. It was used as a culinary and medicinal plant in ancient times and spread to the Mediterranean region and beyond. Used in Egypt by 3000 BC, it was also known by the advanced ancient civilization of the Indus Valley, a Bronze Age civilization, in what today is Pakistan and northwest India. From there it spread to China. The Portuguese, Spanish and French brought it to the New World.
Garlic appears not to have evolved in the wild as is the case for many herbs but from cultivated Wild Garlic (Allium longicupis), which does grow naturally in Central Asia. It dates back to at least the time when the Egyptian Pyramids were being built. Egyptians are possibly the first to farm garlic, where hard working slaves received a ration of garlic each day to improve their strength and keep illness at bay. Preserved bulbs of garlic were found scattered around King Tut’s tomb over 2000 years after his burial.
Garlic is mentioned in the Bible and the Talmud. Hippocrates, Virgil, Galen, Pliny the Elder, and Dioscorides all mention the use of garlic for medical conditions, including respiratory problems, poor digestion, parasites and low energy. Its use in China was first mentioned in AD 510.
Natural healers and modern medicine researchers alike have been drawn to the little bulb. It wasn’t until 1944, however, that the potent antimicrobial qualities of a sulfur compound were identified and Allicin was discovered. Allicin is naturally produced by the garlic plant to protect itself from insects and funji. Garlic contains over 30 sulfur compounds including wide ranging, stable medicinal agents.
In 1984, Eric Block, Ph.D. discovered ajoene which along with dithins and diallyl disulfide, are among the stable and powerful agents exhibiting an array of demonstrated biological characteristics including anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, anti-platelet, anti-lipidemic, anti-tumorigenic, anti-mutagenic, anti-thrombotic and. These compounds are being actively investigated with new medical applications being found.
The future of garlic and its contribution to man’s health and wellbeing is not yet clear but looks remarkably promising. Not bad for a pungent little bulb!
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