Garlic, a member of the lily family with its distinctive odor and taste, has been used throughout recorded history because it was considered to have beneficial properties. The earliest known record of its use is in Sanskrit records from 3,000 B.C.
It was used as a medicine in Ancient Egypt, where it was used to cure twenty-two different ailments. It was also fed to the slaves who were building the pyramids because the Egyptians believed that, in addition to keeping the slaves healthy so that they could continue to work, garlic would make the slaves stronger so that they could work harder.
The ancient Greeks and Romans found even more uses for garlic than the Egyptians had. In addition to using garlic to cure illnesses, as the Egyptians had, the Greeks and Romans believed that garlic had magical powers, that it could ward off evil spells and curses. Garlic was also fed to soldiers because it was believed to make men more courageous.
Quite a few seafaring cultures have also used garlic because they believed that it was beneficial in helping sailors to endure long voyages. Homer used it on his odysseys, the Vikings always carried garlic on their long voyages in the northern seas, and Marco Polo left records showing that garlic was carried on his voyages to the Orient.
Finally, even as late as early in the twentieth century, it was believed that garlic could fight infections. Because of this belief, garlic juice was applied to soldiers’ wounds in World War I to keep infection at bay and to prevent gangrene.