Garlic has a 5000 year history as an indispensable part of ancient and modern civilizations’ medicine, cooking, religious traditions, and folklore. From the Chinese to the Vikings, medieval barbers in Europe to Native Americans, World War I soldiers to Egyptian nobility, garlic was valued for its antimicrobial properties before microbes were discovered. Ancient legends of its arousing, fortifying, and life-giving effects are increasingly corroborated by modern scientific evidence that shows how garlic improves cardiovascular health. When Hebrew slaves escaped Egypt, they complained to Moses about how much they missed the garlic that their captors fed them. The history of garlic is a rich history.
For many thousands of years, garlic has been prized for its myriad health benefits by civilizations ancient and modern. Garlic, a member of the lily family and cousin to other alliums, such as leeks, onions, and shallots, has been used medicinally by diverse cultures ranging from the Ancient Chinese to the Vikings. Doctors in Medieval Europe as well as Native Americans used garlic as a medicine. The ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome used it to fortify athletes and manual laborers. Garlic was even considered an aphrodisiac in Ancient India and Ancient Japan.
Garlic was prescribed to remove poisons from the body, prevent plague, support respiration, aid digestion, treat diarrhea, and control worm infestations. The fragrant herb was used to treat fatigue, headache and insomnia. It may have been used as a treatment for depression and to improve male potency (Moyers 1996).