What is garlic?
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a member of the Amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae), which also includes leeks, onions, and shallots. It is a perennial with an underground bulb (head) composed of pungent bulblets commonly called cloves. Approximately 90 percent of the garlic grown in the United States is grown in California. California Early and California Late are the two major commercial varieties. California Early has white skins and is planted in December for harvest in July and August. The largest garlic variety, Elephant Garlic, has a very mild-flavored clove and is a close relative of the leek. The pungent flavor of garlic is caused by a chemical reaction that occurs when the garlic cells are broken. The flavor is most intense shortly after cutting or chopping. This chemical reaction cannot occur after garlic is cooked, which is why roasted garlic is sweet rather than pungent. BOTULISM WARNING Regardless of its flavor potency, garlic is a low-acid vegetable. The pH of a clove of garlic
Besides keeping vampires away, garlic is useful as a plant medication. The human cultivation of garlic (Allium sativum) goes back at least 5000 years, and today this herbal medicine can be found almost everywhere in the world, from Polynesia to Siberia. In the first century A.D., Dioscorides, Hippocrates, and other ancient Greek physicians recommended garlic for many conditions including respiratory problems, parasites, and poor digestion. Garlic is principally used to prevent and treat heart disease, hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, and high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
An herb is a plant whose leaves, seeds, or flowers are used for flavoring food or in medicine. Other uses of herbs include cosmetics, dyes, and perfumes. The name derives from the Latin herba, meaning “green crops.” Garlic (Allium sativum) is from the Alliaceae family like its close relatives chives, leek, and onions. The edible herb most commonly associated with the name garlic is the bulb of garlic cloves that is found underground, below the leafy, scallion-like growth. Hardneck and softneck are the two basic varieties of garlic. One key difference is that hardneck garlic sends up a flower stalk, called a scape, which is another edible portion of the garlic plant. The scape is less well known in the U.S., possibly because most garlic grown for commercial use is softneck. History. Garlic has a long history of popularity and was used in Ancient Egypt, as evidenced by its discovery in King Tut’s tomb. It has been used for culinary and medical purposes throughout history, and also has a
The use of garlic in cultural and traditional settings may differ from concepts accepted by current Western medicine. When considering the use of herbal supplements, consultation with a primary health care professional is advisable. Additionally, consultation with a practitioner trained in the uses of herbal/health supplements may be beneficial, and coordination of treatment among all health care providers involved may be advantageous. Garlic is also known as rocambole, ajo, allium, stinking rose, rustic treacle, nectar of the gods, camphor of the poor, poor man’s treacle, and clove garlic. Back to Top What are the possible side effects of garlic? Although uncommon, allergic reactions to garlic have been reported. Stop taking garlic and seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives. Other less serious side effects have also been reported.