Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

    Allium sativum

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    Allium sativum L.


    The first element in English garlic means "spear" (cognate of Gothic gaar and archaic German Ger, which appears in many German first names) and refers to the pointed leaves. It is closely related to Old Irish gae "spear" and Latin gaesum "heavy javlin", which is often thought a Celtic loan. Other related words include Greek chaîos "shepherd's crook" and maybe Sanskrit hesah "weapon"; a possible Indo-European root to account for all forms is GHAISO- "javlin". There may be a remote connection with the verbal root GHEI- "set something in motion" (Sanskrit hetih "missile", Langobard gaida "point of an arrow"). The element -lic is derived from leek and has plenty of cognates in other Germanic languages (German Lauch, Swedish lök, Dutch look); there are also loans to non-Germanic languages (Russian luk, Finnish laukka, Lithuanian lukai). The common explanation derives these words from from an Indo-European verbal root LEUG- meaning "bend" or "turn", probably again referring to the leave's shape; cf. Greek lygízein "bend" or Lithuanian lùnas "flexible". In the German name of garlic, Knoblauch, the first element knob- is sometimes explained as meaning "knot" (because the leaves of garlic are frequently tied together to improve growth of the subterranean parts), but it seems more probable to relate it to a verb stem klieb-, meaning "split" (cf. engl. cleave), which is also the origin of the english term clove (of garlic); deriving from Indo-European GLEUBH- "cut, carve, peel", it is related to Greek glyphís "notch, mark" and Latin glubere "peel". The second element -lauch is, of course, equivalent to English leek. Similar remarks apply to the Dutch name knoflook. Swedish vitlök and Norwegian hvitløk again contain an element cognate to English leek; the first part of the name, however, means "white"; in Swedish, the name of onion is formed by prefixing the -lök root with an adjective meaning "red". A completely analogous usage is found in Indonesian (putih "white"). The French name Thériaque des pauvres (Theriac of the poor) reflects the medical value of garlic. In the Middle Ages, an expensive and complicated mixture of mostly very exotic ingredients called "theriac" was believed to be extremely powerful against every kind of illness (snake bite, bone fracture, plague, ...). The genus name Allium is the Latin name of garlic, which also gave rise to garlic's name in Romance tongues (Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese). The botanical species name sativus means "cultivated".


    Traditional name

    English: Garlic

    German: Knoblauch

    Used parts

    Tincture from the fresh bulb.


    Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Monocotyledonae; Liliiflorae / Liliidae; Asparagales; Alliaceae - Onion Family


    Original proving

    Petroz and Teste 1852

    Description of the substance

    The leaves are long, narrow and flat like grass. The bulb (the only part eaten) is of a compound nature, consisting of numerous bulblets, known technically as 'cloves,' grouped together between the membraneous scales and enclosed within a whitish skin, which holds them as in a sac.

    The flowers are placed at the end of a stalk rising direct from the bulb and are whitish, grouped together in a globular head, or umbel, with an enclosing kind of leaf or spathae, and among them are small bulbils.

    To prevent the plant running to leaf, Pliny (Natural History, XIX, 34) advised bending the stalk downward and covering it with earth, seeding, he observed, may be prevented by twisting the stalk.

    The Common Garlic a member of the same group of plants as the Onion, is of such antiquity as a cultivated plant, that it is difficult with any certainty to trace the country of its origin. De Candolle, in his treatise on the Origin of Cultivated Plants, considered that it was apparently indigenous to the southwest of Siberia, whence it spread to southern Europe, where it has become naturalized, and is said to be found wild in Sicily. It is widely cultivated in the Latin countries bordering on the Mediterranean. Dumas has described the air of Provence as being 'particularly perfumed by the refined essence of this mystically attractive bulb.'

    In England, Garlic, apart from medicinal purposes, is seldom used except as a seasoning, but in the southern counties of Europe it is a common ingredient in dishes, and is largely consumed by the agricultural population. From the earliest times, indeed, Garlic has been used as an article of diet.

    The ground should be prepared in a similar manner as for the closely allied onion.
    The soil may be sandy, loam or clay, though Garlic flourishes best in a rich, moist, sandy soil. Dig over well, freeing the ground from all lumps and dig some lime into it. Tread firmly. Divide the bulbs into their component 'cloves' - each fair-sized bulb will divide into ten or twelve cloves - and with a dibber put in the cloves separately, about 2 inches deep and about 6 inches apart, leaving about 1 foot between the rows. It is well to give a dressing of soot.

    Garlic beds should be in a sunny spot. They must be kept thoroughly free from weeds and the soil gathered up round the roots with a Dutch hoe from time to time.

    When planted early in the spring, in February or March, the bulbs should be ready for lifting in August, when the leaves will be beginning to wither. Should the summer have been wet and cold, they may probably not be ready till nearly the middle of September.