Today, I’d like to talk to you all about garlic.

We all know in literature vampires tend to hate garlic. It is touted as a way to protect oneself from becoming dinner for a hungry vamp, and it is also said to be able to destroy the creatures. It also is a tell-tale for a vampire posing as a human.

But, why?

close up photo of three garlic on wooden surface
Photo by Engin Akyurt on

Bram Stoker introduced garlic as part of the vampire myth in his novel, Dracula. In it, the pungent plant was used as both defense against and destruction of vampires.

People in some countries counted on garlic to prevent vampires from coming to their homes or feasting on their livestock because of garlic’s known healing properties and its supposed ability to ward against the black plague.

Those ideas while widespread and well-known still tend toward the mythology. But is there any science behind its use?

Turns out, there is.

Porphyria is the general name for a group of rare diseases with symptoms that are similar to those of people suspected of being vampires. The main linked symptoms are extreme photosensitivity, with severe damage done to skin exposed to sunlight; erythrodontia and receding gums, so teeth look red and fang-like; and an instinctive desire to drink blood to alleviate symptoms (which wouldn’t work). Garlic comes into play here because it is known to exacerbate many of these symptoms causing extreme pain to the person afflicted. Someone who is a vampire would want to steer clear of garlic or risk having their secret exposed.

In our house, we love garlic. So, I guess maybe it’s a myth after all.


Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. Detroit: Visible Ink, 1994 (Section: Garlic, pp. 248-249)

Porphyria. (2013, April 3). Retrieved May 19, 2020, from

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