Chew on This: April 19 Is National Garlic Day!

Russian penicillin. Italian perfume. The stinking rose. Whatever you might call it, the pungent Allium sativum – commonly known as garlic – certainly has a long and fascinating history. It’s been hailed as a divine cure-all and a protective charm to ward off vampires. It’s been cursed and associated with the very footsteps of Satan himself. And now, though no one seems to know how or why it began, it even has its own day. In honor of National Garlic Day – held annually on April 19 – let’s take a look at the wonders of one of nature’s most fascinating plants.

The Peculiar History of Garlic

Among the first plants ever put to use by humans,garlic has been around for virtually all of recorded history. The pungent, fleshy bulbs have been found in ancient Egyptian pyramids and Greek temples. Soldiers, warriors and athletes from Rome to China were even known to consume rations of garlic in an effort to boost their strength and vitality. Even as recently as World War II, garlic was sometimes used to treat wounds and as a substitute for penicillin – hence the “Russian penicillin” nickname.

Bad Breath, Better Health

A few thousand years ago, you might have been prescribed a healthy dose of garlic for a whole assortment of medical maladies. Your doctor probably won’t write a prescription for a clove of garlic today, but the medicinal value of garlic is far from forgotten. In fact, modern medicine has confirmed many of the properties first recognized by our ancient ancestors. In particular, garlic has proven to be an excellent ally for oral health. The stinking rose might give you a serious case of bad breath, but allicin – the compound responsible for “garlic breath” – is also a powerful antifungal and antimicrobial substance. It promotes a healthy mouth by preventing the decay of teeth, attacking gum disease and inhibiting the growth of all sorts of problematic microbes.

Using Garlic for a Healthy Mouth

Taking care of your teeth is one of the most important things you can do, and garlic is a powerful oral
health aid. If you’d like to use garlic to protect your teeth, you’ve got a few different options. You can simply incorporate more garlic into your normal diet, or you can even eat garlic by itself if you enjoy the flavor. You can also find garlic supplements that offer many of the same benefits without the powerful odor. In addition to oral health, consuming more garlic may also lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and boost your immune system’s ability to fight off various diseases and infections.

National Garlic Day

Considering its long and fascinating history, not to mention its many health benefits, it should come as no surprise that the humble garlic plant has earned its own day of celebration. Though no one seems to know who first created a national day to celebrate the stinking rose – or why it falls on April 19 – there’s no question our odorous little friend is deserving of recognition. Whether you’re seeking out its medicinal properties or you simply enjoy the taste, why not put a little more garlic in your life? Go ahead and take a bite – a healthy mouth awaits!

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