Garlic in ancient medicine


Garlic is ones of world’s oldest medicines that have been employed not only for flavoring but also as a medical herb for its prophylactic and therapeutic actions.  It is truly an ancient medicine, being used by more cultures and over a longer time period than any other medicinal plant.

It was an important medicine to the ancient Egyptians listed in the medical text Codex Ebers (ca 1550 BC), especially for the working class involved in heavy labor. The Codex Ebers contained over 800 medical formulations, 22 of which contained garlic.

The earliest recorded use of garlic was in about 3000 BC by the Sumerians of Mesopotamia and by people of ancient India.

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There is evidence that during the earliest Olympics in Greece garlic was fed to the athletes for increasing stamina. The Greek physician Hippocrates was a strong proponent of the use of garlic for treatment of infections, parasites, pneumonia and cancer.

In ancient Chinese medicine, garlic was prescribed to aid respiration and digestion, and most importantly, for treating diarrhea and worm infestations.

Three ancient medical traditions in India, i.e., Tibbi, Unani, and Ayurveda, made an extensive use of garlic as a central part of the healing efficacy of plants.

The Roman also extolled the virtues of garlic. Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist, describe in his Historia Naturalis how garlic could be used for gastrointestinal disorders, dog and snake bites, scorpion stings, asthma, madness, convulsion and tumors.

The anticancer properties of garlic also have been recognized since ancient times. The ancient Egyptians used garlic externally for the treatment do tumors and Hippocrates and physicians in ancient India are reported to have used garlic externally for cancer treatment.
Garlic in ancient medicine

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