Flickr user, Jon Bunting

Among the artifacts discovered in the tomb of Egypt's Tutankhamen - objects meant to ease the boy king into the afterlife - were 3,000-year-old bulbs of garlic. Giving as well as receiving, Tut supplied daily rations of garlic to his pyramid-building slaves, for endurance and health. Garlic is a fabulous heart helper: its blood-thinning and anti-clotting abilities may slow down atherosclerosis and lower blood pressure.

Flickr user Mark Robinson

Ever since nomadic tribes helped spread wild garlic from Central Asia to far-flung parts of the globe, garlic has helped humans fight microbes. Louis Pasteur recognized its antimicrobial power, as did doctors in WWI and WWII battlefield hospitals, where injured soldiers were given garlic to prevent infection and gangrene. Today's warnings of a "post-antibiotic" future mean garlic's power may turn out to be handy as drug-resistant bacteria become widespread.

Evening Primrose

Apr 18, 2014

4/19/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:"  There's an important acid in the seeds of evening primrose: gamma linolenic acid, or GLA, which is an essential fatty acid. From EFAs, our bodies manufacture chemicals responsible for many basic functions, and EFA deficiency may contribute to arthritic inflammation, menstrual problems, eczema, and more.


Jan 17, 2014

January 18th, 2014: Elderberry is an immune-booster, an antioxidant more potent than vitamin C, a stress reducer, and a powerful anti-viral. As they say in Austria:  “Tip your hat to the elder.”


Jan 4, 2014

January 4th, 2014: From old wives' tales to pharmaceutical. Compounds in digitalis treat atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure, restoring the heart's ability to process fluids. Lanoxin - from the species, Digitalis lanata - remains one of the top cardiovascular drugs in the U.S.

Willow: Tree Bark That Begat Aspirin

Dec 6, 2013

December 7th & 9th, 2013: Willow, the original source of aspirin, is still prescribed by herbalists, particularly for urinary tract infections and muscle pain.