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Garlic chives: more than a garnish

Allium tuberosum, or garlic chives, may be used for your health far more than on your table.
Allium tuberosum, or garlic chives, may be used for your health far more than on your table.
VL Jackson

Imagine an herb that not only adds a tasty kick to your meals, but has the capacity to bolster your health in many ways. If you thought of the garlic chive, you’d be correct. Not garlic, but with the zesty flavor and many beneficial qualities of that plant, this member of the chive family (Allium tuberosum) is a step apart from the traditional green strands people commonly chop up and add to dips and salads. Garlic chives are an old, long-used part of the arsenal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is known for its herbal treatments as much as acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion, etc. Whether used internally as in tinctures, infusions, or just food, as well as topically, the leaves, flowers and bulbs all share equally in their value.

For quelling hemorrhages and treating anemia that may follow (as in heavy menstrual flow), internal consumption of garlic chives can help by virtue of its Vitamin C, iron and especially its high Vitamin K content. Vitamin K is known to aid in coagulation of blood. Along this line, many users of the plant consider it also important to restore energy, as it helps build up the quality and quantity of the body's blood again.

Garlic chives are also well-known in many countries’ herbal traditional medicine repertories for their effects on the immune system. By their ability to lower stress, also, and combat digestive complaints, plus give a boost to the functions of the liver and kidneys, they aid those using this plant. Vitamins A, B1, B2, plus a good deal of potassium, calcium, many other minerals, and fiber help the body to maintain good health and renew itself. As with any green plant, additionally, the anti-oxidants fight off aging and help prevent cancer.

This herb can be used externally when there are problems with skin eruptions such as insect bites or other toxic conditions. Application of a poultice made from the leaves are known to alleviate the effects of insect venom, skin infections and irritations. The odor of the fresh leaves, in fact, can keep many insects at bay, whether in the garden or when rubbed on the skin. (Not being actual garlic, of course, there’s no guarantee it will fool vampires. The little winged blood-suckers, however, are more likely to back off.)

A good idea is to have at least a couple of these plants around in your garden or indoors in a planter (although it is far more apt to thrive outdoors). Keep some of the herb handy for adding to your meals, and just as much for your herbal medicine purposes.