Garlic is a plant in the Allium (onion) family.
It is closely related to onions, shallots and leeks. Each segment of a garlic bulb is called a clove. There are about 10–20 cloves in a single bulb, give or take.
Garlic grows in many parts of the world and is a popular ingredient in cooking due to its strong smell and delicious taste.
However, throughout ancient history, the main use of garlic was for its health and medicinal properties (1Trusted Source).
Its use was well documented by many major civilizations, including the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese (2Trusted Source).
Scientists now know that most of its health benefits are caused by sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed.
Perhaps the most famous of those is known as allicin. However, allicin is an unstable compound that is only briefly present in fresh garlic after it’s been cut or crushed (3Trusted Source).
Other compounds that may play a role in garlic’s health benefits include diallyl disulfide and s-allyl cysteine (4Trusted Source).
The sulfur compounds from garlic enter the body from the digestive tract and travel all over the body, where it exerts its potent biological effects.