MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: Was garlic used in binding wounds in World War I?

Date: Tue Jan 30 17:12:58 2001
Posted By: June M. Wingert , RM(NRM),Associate Scientist
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 979255079.Me

Not only was it used in World War 1, it is supposed to be the 2nd oldest 
medicine. Check out the following referenced articles.

Mars owns this herb. This was anciently accounted the poor man's treacle, it being a remedy for all diseases and hurts (except those which itself breed)...Its heat is very vehement...; therefore let it be taken inwardly with great moderation; outwardly you may make more bold with it."

Culpeper Garlic is generally considered to be the world's second oldest medicine (after ephedra). Evidence of garlic has been found in caves estimated to have been inhabited more than 10,000 years ago, and prescriptions of the plant were found chiseled into a clay Sumerian tablet that was more than 3,000 years old. The entire ancient world loved garlic - particularly the Egyptians, who used to swear on garlic in much the same way as we swear on the Bible today. Egyptian slaves were given a daily ration of garlic, as it was generally believed to ward off illness and to increase strength and endurance. During the reign of King Tut, fifteen pounds of garlic would buy a healthy male slave. Indeed, when King Tuts tomb was excavated, there were bulbs of garlic found scattered throughout the rooms. Garlic was a prominent inclusion in the world's oldest surviving medical text(1), and when Moses led the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt (around 1,200BC), they complained of missing the finer things in life - fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. The Greeks had ideas of their own on the virtues of garlic(2). Greek athletes would take copious amounts of garlic before competition, and Greek soldiers would consume garlic before going into battle. It became custom for Greek midwives to hang garlic cloves in birthing rooms to keep the evil spirits away. As the centuries passed, this ancient custom became commonplace in most European homes. Hippocrates (300BC) recommended garlic for infections, wounds, cancer, leprosy, and digestive disorders. Dioscorides praised it for its use in treating heart problems, and Pliny listed the plant in 61 remedies for a wide variety of ailments ranging from the common cold to leprosy, epilepsy and tapeworm.

During World War 1, the Russian army used garlic to treat wounds incurred by soldiers on the Front Line. Although Alexander Flemming's discovery of penicillin in 1928 largely replaced garlic at home, the war effort overwhelmed the capacity of most antibiotics, and garlic was again the antibiotic of choice. The Red Army physicians relied so heavily on garlic that it became known as the "Russian Penicillin". Contemporary herbalists recommend garlic for a wide variety of pathological conditions including elevated cholesterol, colds, flu, coughs, bronchitis, fever, ringworm and intestinal worms, and liver, gallbladder, and digestive problems. References
1. The Ebers Papyrus
2. In Homer's Odyssey, Ulysses ate garlic and found it gave him strength against the sorceress, Circe.
The Politics of Plants Ancient Garlic Did You Know? Quotable Quotes Romance and Folklore Horse Racing Legacy GarlicCulpeper*

Allium sativum
Adrienne Drapkin, Director
Peer Review Status: Not peer reviewed

Name, Habitat and Appearance Garlic is a member of the Liliaceae family, which also includes the onion. The plants in this family are noted for their penetrating, pungent odor. Common varieties of Garlic are: Crow Garlic, Ramson's, Field Garlic and the best known, Common Garlic. The name is Anglo-Saxon. It describes the long, narrow spear-like shape of the leaves. Gar (a spear) and lac (a plant). The bulb consists of several smaller sections known as cloves. These are used for medicinal and dietary purposes.

In a treatise entitled The Origin of Cultivated Plants, Swiss botanist de Candolle suggested that garlic was native to Southwest Siberia, gradually spreading southward. Many believe it originated in Central Asia and spread rapidly, even to the Americas, in ancient times.

Gathering and Preparation Garlic is cultivated in narrow rows. It is usually planted in very early spring and harvested in August and September. The pungent odor perfumes the air for miles around when large fields are harvested.

Legends and Folklore
Few plants have more legends than Garlic. A Mohammedan legend related that "when Satan stepped out from the Garden of Eden after the fall of man, Garlick sprang up from the spot where he placed his left foot, and Onion from that where his right foot touched." In Europe, it was believed to be protection against the "evil eye" and to make witches and vampires disappear at its very sight. Racers who chewed a bit of garlic thought they could not be beaten. Hungarian jockeys attached a piece of garlic to their horse's bits to prevent the competition from winning. In Bram Stoker's Dracula, a doctor strewed the room with garlic and hung a necklace of garlic around a woman's throat in the belief that garlic would repel vampires. During the Dark Ages, people believed it could ward off the plague and wore garlands of it as protection. In fact, as recently as 1917 and 1918, Americans wore garlic garlands in public during influenza epidemics.

The Egyptians worshipped it. It was fed to the laborers who built the Great Pyramid of Giza about 3000 B.C.E. An inscription on the pyramid states the exact cost of the garlic, radishes and onions consumed during its construction. The Greeks detested it. The Romans ate it with delight. It was included in the rations of Roman soldiers to make them strong and heroic. Galen (2nd century C.E.) used it as an antidote to poisons. Pliny the Elder said it was good for toothache, ulcer and asthma-not to mention stimulating to sexual and gustatory appetites. Mohammed, prophet of Islam, extolled its use for scorpion and snake bites. In Shakespeare's time, the smell of garlic was considered vulgar. It has been used as a diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant and stimulant. Alexander Neckham, a 12th century writer, claimed it relieved heat exhaustion in field laborers. It was also thought to prevent anthrax in cattle. Garlic has been used to fight leprosy, smallpox and the plague. During World War I, garlic was in much demand as a natural antiseptic; garlic juice was diluted with water and applied to wounds. Syrup of garlic is believed to combat asthma, hoarseness, coughs, difficulty of breathing and other disorders of the lungs. Eleanor Roosevelt was said to take 3 chocolate-covered garlic pills each morning on the advice of her doctor in order to improve her memory. Today, Gilroy, California calls itself "Garlic Capital of the United States." The French Garlic Capital is in Arleaux, north of Paris, in the fields where World War I took place. There they produce over 200 million pounds of garlic a year. Modern medicine recognizes its antibacterial qualities due to its many organic sulfur compounds. Many doctors believe in its ability to break down fibrin, possibly reducing the effects of heart and blood diseases. Garlic has also been used in cooking throughout the world, its distinctive flavor enhancing many foods.

Historical Uses To treat wounds, infections and tumors Intestinal parasites To lower cholesterol and blood pressure To stimulate the immune system To increase T-helper cell activity Upper respiratory viral infections To clear mucous from the lungs Antioxidant

Modern Medicinal Uses The Egyptians used garlic to treat wounds, infections, tumors and intestinal parasites. Modern scientific research confirms some of these ancient uses for garlic. Garlic's sulfur-containing compounds, which lend the herb its pungent aroma, are responsible for many of its healing properties. Specifically, the compound Allicin inhibits synthesis of fats. Allicin has antimicrobial, antiyeast and antifungal properties; it inhibits the growth of parasites in the intestines, including amoebas which cause dysentery. The compound Allicin can be transformed into Ajoene, which has anticlotting properties. Garlic's sulfur compounds, in addition to selenium-containing compounds, are also potent antioxidants acy/GarlicPlant/Garlic.html

June Wingert Associate Scientist Lexicon Genetics Texas

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