The Magickal Universe

Where Magick is a way of life!

Herbalism - Garlic

  • Common Names: Garlic
  • Scientific Names: Allium sativum (note: While botanists classify garlic under the umbrella of the species, Allium sativum, there are also two main subspecies.
    • Ophioscorodon, or hard necked garlic, includes porcelain garlics, rocambole garlic, and purple stripe garlics.
    • Sativum, or soft necked garlic, includes artichoke garlic, silverskin garlic, and creole garlic).
  • Folknames: Ajo (spanish), poor man's treacle, stink weed,
  • Gender: masculine,
  • Planet: mars
  • Element: fire
  • Deity: Hecate
History: Garlic is related to the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and rakkyo. With known human usage dating back over 6,000 years, garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent seasoning in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
 
It was known to Ancient Egyptians, and has been used throughout its history for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Garlic is mentioned in the Bible and the Talmud. Hippocrates, Galen, Pliny the Elder, and Dioscorides all mention the use of garlic for many conditions, including parasites, respiratory problems, poor digestion, and low energy. Its use in China was first mentioned in AD 510.
 
Garlic was rare in traditional English cuisine (though it is said to have been grown in England before 1548)
 
Folklore: Garlic has been regarded as a force for both good and evil. According to Cassell's Dictionary of Superstitions, there is an Islamic myth that considers that after Satan left the Garden of Eden, garlic arose in his left footprint and onion in the right. In connection with the odor associated with garlic, Islam views eating garlic and subsequently going to the mosque as inappropriate because the smell from the mouth will irritate the fellow worshippers.
In Europe, many cultures have used garlic for protection or white magic, perhaps owing to its reputation as a potent preventative medicine.
 
In Greece, Germany, Scandinavia and India, the smell was used to protect against evil. It repelled hungry vampires and was also hung as a bouquet to ward off the devil. It was also used widely in charms and spells

Central European folk beliefs considered garlic a powerful ward against demons, werewolves, and vampires.

In some Buddhist traditions, garlic - along with the other five "pungent spices" - is understood to stimulate sexual and aggressive drives to the detriment of meditation practice.
 
Cultivation: Garlic is easy to grow and can be grown year-round in mild climates. While sexual propagation of garlic is indeed possible, nearly all of the garlic in cultivation is propagated asexually, by planting individual cloves in the ground.
 
Harvest: Bulbs should be plump, hard, full and with no dis-coloured spots which may be bruising or decay.
 
Storage: Garlic has a storage life of up to nine months. (does vary according to variety). Domestically, garlic is stored warm [above 18 °C (64 °F)] and dry to keep it dormant (so it does not sprout). It is traditionally hung; softneck varieties are often braided in strands called plaits or grappes. Peeled cloves may be stored in wine or vinegar in the refrigerator.
 
Preparations: Garlic Oil: Get 15 cloves of garlic and blanch for a good minute. Drain, then pound in a mortar until they become a fine paste. Add one and a third cups of olive oil. Strain through a fine sieve or muslin cloth.

Garlic Powder: Put your peeled garlic cloves in an oven on low heat. When they are dry, pound them in a mortar and put back in the oven to dry again. Pound again until they are reduced to a fine powder. Pass through a sieve and then pound the pieces left in the sieve again and then sift again.

Natural Uses: Planted next to vegetables or fruiting plants galic helps in repelling insects. May also be added to water and chilli as a natural insecticide. Good for pest control in the garden, particularly aphids. Soak it with some hot chillies in water for two weeks, then strain it, and apply it as a spray. Can be planted as a companion plant with roses, cabbages, eggplants, tomatoes and fruit trees.

Culinary Uses: Garlic is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor as a seasoning or condiment. The garlic plant's bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant. With the exception of the single clove types, garlic bulbs are normally divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves. Garlic cloves are used for consumption (raw or cooked) or for medicinal purposes. They have a characteristic pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking.

Other parts of the garlic plant are also edible. The leaves and flowers (bulbils) on the head (spathe) are sometimes eaten. They are milder in flavor than the bulbs,and are most often consumed while immature and still tender. Immature garlic is sometimes pulled, rather like a scallion, and sold as "green garlic

Medicinal Uses: It has been claimed that one raw clove a day guards against high blood pressure, heart disease and fungal and bacterial infections.

Garlic has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity (it was used as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene during World War I and World War II) . In 2007, the BBC reported Allium sativum may have other beneficial properties, such as preventing and fighting the common cold. This assertion has the backing of long tradition in herbal medicine, which has used garlic for hoarseness and coughs.

The Cherokee also used it as an expectorant for coughs and croup. Garlic is also alleged to help regulate blood sugar levels. Garlic cloves are used as a remedy for infections (especially chest problems), digestive disorders, and fungal infections such as thrush

Garlic is also claimed to help prevent heart disease (including atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure) and cancer.

Garlic is used to prevent certain types of cancer, including stomach and colon cancers (countries where garlic is consumed in higher amounts, because of traditional cuisine, have been found to have a lower prevalence of cancer).

Studies have also shown that garlic - especially aged garlic - can have a powerful antioxidant effect. Antioxidants can help to protect the body against damaging free radicals. There are claims that fermented black garlic contains even higher antioxidant levels than normal cloves.

Ritual Uses: Garlic was was eaten on the festivals days to Hecate and it was left as a sacrifice to her name, placed by the ancient Greeks on the piles of stones at crossroads, as a supper for Hecate (Theophrastus, Characters, The Superstitious Man). A similar practice of hanging garlic, lemon and red chilli at the door or in a shop to ward off potential evil, is still very common in India. According to Pliny, garlic and onions were invoked as deities by the Egyptians at the taking of oaths. The inhabitants of Pelusium, in lower Egypt (who worshiped the onion), are said to have had an aversion to both onions and garlic as food.Magickal Uses: protection, healing, exorcism, lust and anti theft

'Other' Uses: The sticky juice within the bulb cloves is used as an adhesive in mending glass and porcelain in China.

Warning Contraindications: Garlic is known for causing halitosis, as well as causing sweat to have a pungent 'garlicky' smell, which is caused by allyl methyl sulfide (AMS). AMS is a gas which is absorbed into the blood during the metabolism of garlic; from the blood it travels to the lungs (and from there to the mouth, causing bad breath) and skin, where it is exuded through skin pores. Studies have shown sipping milk at the same time as consuming garlic can significantly neutralize bad breath

Some people suffer from allergies to garlic and other plants in the allium family. Symptoms can include irritable bowel, diarrhea, mouth and throat ulcerations, nausea, breathing difficulties, and, in rare cases, anaphylaxis. Garlic-sensitive patients show positive tests to diallyl disulfide, allylpropyldisulfide, allylmercaptan and allicin, all of which are present in garlic. People who suffer from garlic allergies will often be sensitive to many plants in the lily family (Liliaceae), including onions, garlic, chives, leeks, shallots, garden lilies, ginger, and bananas.

Garlic can also cause indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and diarrohea. It thins the blood (as does aspirin); this had caused very high quantities of garlic and garlic supplements to be linked with an increased risk of bleeding, particularly during pregnancy and after surgery and childbirth, although culinary quantities are safe for consumption.

Several reports of serious burns resulting from garlic being applied topically for various purposes, including naturopathic uses and acne treatment, indicate care must be taken for these uses, usually testing a small area of skin using a very low concentration of garlic. (on the basis of this it is not advised to apply garlic directly to the skin).

Garlic may interact with warfarin, antiplatelets, saquinavir, antihypertensives, calcium channel blockers, quinolone family of antibiotics such as Cipro,and hypoglycemic drugs, as well as other medications.

Members of the alium family might be toxic to cats or dogs.

Sources and Resources