Sex. Syst. Hexandria, Monogynia.
History.—This plant was well known to the ancients. The Greeks called it σκοροδον; [Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. lib. vii. cap. iv.; Dioscorides, lib. ii. cap. 182.] the Romans Allium. [Pliny, Hist. Nat. lib. xix. cap. 31, ed. Valp.] It was used by Hippocrates. [De victus ratione in acutis, p. 404, ed. Foesii.]
Botany. Gen. Char.—Flowers umbellate, with a membranous spathe. Perianth six-parted, permanent, equal. Stamens inserted into the base of the perianth; filaments either all alike, or every other one tricuspidate, with the anther on the middle point. Style subulate, stigma simple. Capsule usually obtusely three-cornered or three-lobed, depressed, three-celled, bursting into three valves through the dissepiments, and containing two or one black angular seed in each cell. (Lindley.)
Sp. Char.—Bulb surrounded by smaller ones. Leaves linear, entire. Umbel bulbiferous, globose. Spathe ovate, rounded. Segments of the perianth ovate, obtuse. Pistil and stamens exsert. [De Candolle, Bot. Gall.] Stem about two feet high. Flowers whitish.
Hab.—?South of Europe. ?Egypt. ?Persia. Cultivated in kitchen gardens. It flowers in July.
Description.—The bulb (bulbus allii) is composed of cloves (spicae vel nuclei allii), each furnished with its proper envelopes. Its odour is strong, irritating, and characteristic; its taste is acrid.
Composition.—Cadet [Gmelin, Handb. d. Chem. ii. 1336.] analyzed garlic. He found the constituents to be acrid volatile oil, extractive (a little), gum, woody fibre, albumen, and water. The ashes contained alkaline and earthy salts. Bouillon-Lagrange has detected, besides these, sulphur, starch, and saccharine matter. [Journ. de Pharm. t. ii. p. 358.]
Oil of Garlic (Oleum Allii) is a sulphuret of allyle, AllS=C6H5,S (see vol. i. p. 253). According to Wertheim, [Ann. d. Chem. u. Pharm. Bd. li. S. 289, 1844; Pharmaceutical Journal, vol. iv. p. 325, 1845.] oxide of allyle, AllO=C6H5,O, also exists in the crude oil. Oil of garlic has a very acrid taste, a strong smell, and a yellow colour. It is heavier than water, and is soluble in alcohol. As it contains sulphur it produces, in burning, sulphurous acid. According to Cadet, 20 lbs. of garlic yielded only six drachms of essential oil; Wertheim obtained between three and four ounces from 1 cwt of garlic. It strikes a black colour when rubbed with oxide of iron. It is a powerful irritant, and when applied to the skin causes irritation. The Hindoos, according to Dr. Ainslie, [Materia Indica, i. 151.] prepare a stimulating expressed oil from garlic, which they give internally in ague, and use externally in palsy and rheumatism.
Physiological Effects.—Garlic is a local irritant. When swallowed, it operates as a tonic and stimulant to the stomach. Its volatile oil becomes absorbed, quickens the circulation, occasions thirst, and is thrown out of the system by the different excretories, the activity of which it promotes, and to whose excretions it communicates its well-known odour. Large doses occasion nausea, vomiting, and purging. Puihn [Quoted by Wibmer, Die Wirk. d. Arzneim.] says the expressed juice has proved fatal.
Uses.—Employed by the cook as a flavouring ingredient in various made-dishes, sauces, &c. Rarely used by the medical practitioner. Internally, it has been exhibited as a stimulant and stomachic in enfeebled digestion; as an expectorant in old chronic catarrhs; as a diuretic in atonic dropsies; and as an anthelmintic. Externally, it has been employed as a resolvent in indolent tumours; as a local irritant or rubefacient applied to the feet to cause revulsion from the head or chest; as an antispasmodic liniment (composed of oil and garlic juice) in infantile convulsions; as a remedy for some cases of deafness, a clove or a few drops of the juice being introduced into the ear.
Administration.—A clove may be swallowed either entire, or, more conveniently, cut into small pieces. The dose of the fresh bulbs is one or two drachms. The expressed juice mixed with sugar, the infusion of garlic, and a syrup, are sometimes employed.
[SYRUPUS ALLII.—Take of fresh Garlic, sliced, six ounces; diluted Acetic Acid a pint; Sugar two pounds. Macerate the garlic in the diluted acetic acid in a glass vessel for four days, then express the liquor, and set it by that the dregs may subside. Add the sugar to the clear liquor, and proceed in the manner directed for syrup.
This formula was adopted upon the recommendation of Mr. Daniel B. Smith, of Philadelphia, who demonstrated the futility of the old method of preparing syrup of garlic, of which formula (Journal of Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, No. 1, p. 50) it is a modification. Dose, ℨi.]
The Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Vol. II, 3th American ed., was written by Jonathan Pereira in 1853.