Garlic and onions: An eastern tale

Ekşi G., GENÇLER ÖZKAN A. M., Koyuncu M.

Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol.253, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 253
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.jep.2020.112675
  • Journal Name: Journal of Ethnopharmacology
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, EMBASE, Index Islamicus, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Keywords: Allium, Ethnobotanical uses, Food as medicine, History, Turkey
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: No


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Garlic and its wild relatives have a long tradition of use world-wide dating back to the early ages as food and medicine. This exceptional group deserves to be taken into consideration to rethink its potential health effects in light of its cultural and historical background, as well as ethnobotanical practices. Aim of the study: Garlic, onion, and other related vegetables have been indispensable for Turkish daily life. This review focuses on the wild, as well as cultivated, Allium species from the broad historical perspective of Turkish culture. Its goal is also analyze how food and medicine have been perceived as closely connected entities in a specific cultural sphere. Methods: A comprehensive literature survey was conducted on these species by referencing scientific databases such as Google Scholar, Science Direct, PubMed, Elsevier E-Book, Scopus, ISI-Web of Science, and E book Central (Ebrary). Results: The integration of historical and ethnobotanical data have enabled us to understand the unique position of Alliums in a specific human geography. Garlic and onions have been used in this region as food and for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. The perceived health benefits of consuming garlic and onions are well documented in the literature. There are more than 200 Allium species naturally distributed in Turkey, and around 30 of those have been widely used for various purposes by local people as a vegetable, spice, condiment, and medicine. Conclusions: The desire for good health and wellness has been traced across many cultures throughout history. Healthy foods like garlic were and will be a critical component of maintaining good health.