Perhaps best known for warding off vampires, garlic, also known as Allium sativum, is part of the onion genus. There are many types of this popular herb grown around the world including “crow garlic”, “field garlic”, “meadow garlic”, “wild garlic” and “wild onion”. Native to central Asia, garlic is used for culinary, medicinal, religious and spiritual purposes, and can be grown year-round in mild climates. The cloves of garlic can be planted, and the resulting scapes which grow out of them can also be consumed, and feature a milder flavor than that of the bulbs themselves (source).
With its pungent, strong taste, garlic is used to add flavor to various African, American, Asian, European and Middle Eastern culinary dishes. In addition to flavoring breads, stir-fries and various pickled dishes, garlic cloves can also be placed in oil for a period of time, creating garlic-infused oil which has many uses of its own. Roasted garlic can also be created by cutting the top off a garlic bulb, drizzling with oil, wrapping with foil, then roasting in the oven until garlic is soft. This creates a whole new dimension of flavor excellent for a variety of dishes (source).
Currently one of the highest-selling herbal supplements, garlic is used to prevent and treat various ailments, the most common being your typical cold. Garlic has a variety of medicinal uses which date back to 3,200 B.C. More recently, however, garlic was used in World War I to cure dysentery, and in World War II to treat battle wound infections when antibiotics were not available. Multiple studies have shown that garlic can lower cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure, cure Athlete’s Foot, reduce some ear infections, and possibly even aid in the reduction of colon and stomach cancers (source).
In some European cultures, garlic has been used for protection, with some believing it to ward off evil entities. The Hindu and Jain cultures believe that the consumption of garlic increases ones desires, and therefore often avoid it. In addition, some Buddhists also avoid consumption of garlic as they believe it stimulates aggressive and sexual drives (source).
Raw garlic is a very good source of Manganese and Vitamins B6 and C, and a good source of Calcium, Phosphorus and Selenium. In addition, 1 cup raw garlic provides 17% of your recommended daily protein and 13% of your daily iron intake (source).