Allium sativum. Garlic.
Nat. Ord. — Liliaceae. Sex. Syst. — Hexandria Monogynia.
Description. — This is a very extensive genus, including over sixty species. The Allium Sativum is officinal ; it is a perennial plant, bulbous. The bulbs are numerous, and inclosed in a common membranous covering, from the base of which the fibers that constitute the proper root descend. The stem is simple, and is about two feet high. The leaves are long, acute, flat, distichous, glaucous, channeled above, sheathing the lower half of the stem. At the termination of the stem is a cluster of flowers and bulbs mingled together, and inclosed in a calyptriform, horned spathe, which opens on one side and withers. Umbels bulbiferous. The flowers, if any, are pink, red, or whitish, rather longer than the stamens and appear in July. Perianth, deeply six-parted, segments mostly spreading, permanent, equal ; ovary angular ; stigma simple, acute ; capsule three-lobed. It is a native of Sicily, but cultivated in various sections of the country.
History. — The part employed is the bulb, which is usually dug up, with a portion of the stem attached, and after having been dried in the sun, are tied together in bunches. They lose nine parts in weight by drying, while their sensible properties are but little diminished. They possess a disagreeable, pungent odor, and an acrid, bitter taste, both of which are owing to the presence of an essential oil which is very volatile. The oil is of a yellow color, exceedingly pungent odor, and strong acrid taste; is heavier than water, contains sulphur, and irritates or even vesicates the skin when applied to it. Water, alcohol, or vinegar, extract the virtues of garlic.
Properties and Uses. — Stimulant, diuretic, expectorant, and rubefacient. Used as a medicine, and for culinary purposes. When taken internally, the active principle is speedily absorbed, and, penetrating the system, becomes sensible in the breath and various secretions, and is said to produce the same effects, when applied externally. Taken internally, garlic quickens the circulation, excites the nervous system, promotes expectoration in a debilitated state of the vessels of the lungs, produces diuresis or diaphoresis according as the patient is kept cool or warm, and acts as a tonic and carminative to the stomach. It has been beneficially used in coughs, catarrhs, hooping-cough, hoarseness, worms, and calculous affections during the absence of inflammation. It is very useful in the nervous and spasmodic coughs of children. The juice, given in the dose of a few drops, is said to check nervous vomiting ; and mixed with olive or sweet-almond oil, is recommended in atonic deafness. Garlic juice, sweet oil of almonds, and glycerin, of each, equal parts, mixed, and dropped in the ear, has cured several cases of deafness. Externally, the bruised bulbs, applied as a poultice above the pubes, has restored the action of the bladder, in cases of retention of urine, from debility of that organ. In the same shape, it may be applied to the spine and chest of infants in pneumonia; to the feet and legs, as a revulsive, in disorders of the head, and febrile complaints of children ; and has been employed as a resolvent in indolent tumors, stimulating the absorbents to action. It may be taken whole, or the juice may be administered mixed with sugar. The dose of the fresh bulb is from half a drachm to two drachms ; of the juice, half a drachm. If used too largely, or in excited states of the system, it is apt to produce flatulence, gastric irritation, hemorrhoids, headache, and fever.