Four Theories About Why Vampires Hate Garlic
You can make an argument for stakes and crosses, but why garlic?
Vampires are one of the world's most feared supernatural creatures. These cunning predators have only one desire; to feast on the blood of humans. And, Twilight notwithstanding, they're terrifyingly good at it.
Fear not, dearest readers. We humans are resourceful critters, and there's a standardized kit for keeping vampires at bay.
Vampire Protection Kit
One wooden stake
Four gallons holy water
Two standard crosses (silver if possible)
18 cloves garlic, peeled
Looks good, right? Nice and logical. Stakes make sense; weapons are obviously a must. Vampires are creatures of the night, so religious relics like crosses and holy water tend to keep them away. And garlic...why garlic? What do vampires have against this delicious, pungent culinary feature? There are a couple of theories.
1. Garlic smells bad.
The simplest explanation for why vampires hate garlic is that it stinks. Vampires are assumed to have heightened senses due to their condition, so things with strong smells would naturally repel them. But this explanation doesn't tell us why garlic specifically gives vampires the heebies—if it were just a strong smell, I could fend off vampires with a bottle of perfume, or my dog after he's eaten some cheese.
Another offshoot of the smell theory is that garlic is known to repel bloodsucking insects (mosquitoes, ticks, etc) because it acts as a form of deodorant; many bloodsuckers track their prey by smell, and garlic covers up the scent of blood that they so crave. Some insect repellents are made from blended garlic extracts exclusively, so powerful is the stinking rose at keeping crawlies away. However, a vampire isn't exactly a mosquito, and not all bloodsuckers are repelled by garlic. Studies have shown that leeches are actually attracted to the scent, and will attach to a hand covered in garlic oils 30 seconds faster than they will to a clean hand.
2. Garlic could cure vampirism.
In all vampire lore (excluding Russian lore), vampires are created by a blood infection that requires a victim to feed on the blood of others—one of the side effects happens to be immortality. Garlic is a super-strong natural antibiotic, and if used properly, it can kill most infections. Before the invention of modern antibiotics, garlic reigned supreme as a way to cure infections. So, logic time: if you were infected with something that made you immortal, would you want it cured? I think not.
3. Evil spirits HATE garlic.
Garlic is known worldwide as a powerful charm against all types of evil spirits. In China and Malaysia, children have their foreheads smeared with garlic for protection against evil. In the West Indies, garlic doubles as protection against the activities of witches and sorcerers. Garlic has even been used in the Christian church in ceremonies to banish evil. So the idea is that vampires are evil, so they follow the rules and are repelled by garlic.
4. Garlic helps open the third eye.
The third eye is said to be our doorway into the spiritual world. Many religions have this concept, and that being in-tune with the spirit world helps one ward off evil spirits. Some Eastern and earth-based religions believe that garlic can detox the body and decalcify the pineal gland in the brain, which is generally accepted as the source of the 'third eye'. So wearing the garlic might not help you, but eating a bunch might ensure that you and your third eye are alert enough to stop vampires in their tracks.