Does garlic protect against vampires?

Is that … garlic? (Bela Lugosi in the 1931 film, Dracula. Photo via Wikipedia)

Given the number of haunted houses and other Halloween-related festivities on The Five-Year-Old’s calendar this weekend, it seems like a good time to review the literature on a crucial question: Does garlic protect against vampires?

According to a 1994 study by Sandvik H, et al, which Daddyo found via PubMed Mobile, the answer is a rather disconcerting no. Garlic may in fact have the opposite effect. Let’s go to the abstract:

Vampires are feared everywhere, but the Balkan region has been especially haunted. Garlic has been regarded as an effective prophylactic against vampires. We wanted to explore this alleged effect experimentally. Owing to the lack of vampires, we used leeches instead. In strictly standardized research surroundings, the leeches were to attach themselves to either a hand smeared with garlic or to a clean hand. The garlic-smeared hand was preferred in two out of three cases (95% confidence interval 50.4% to 80.4%). When they preferred the garlic the leeches used only 14.9 seconds to attach themselves, compared with 44.9 seconds when going to the non-garlic hand (p < 0.05). The traditional belief that garlic has prophylactic properties is probably wrong. The reverse may in fact be true. This study indicates that garlic possibly attracts vampires. Therefore to avoid a Balkan-like development in Norway, restrictions on the use of garlic should be considered.

So parents, if you’re looking to protect your kids (or yourselves) from vampires this Halloween, it’s probably best to skip the garlic-infused face paint.

Happy haunting!

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
This entry was posted in Funny Stuff My Husband Says, Out and About and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Does garlic protect against vampires?

  1. silver price says:

    Of course, the $64,000 question is: does it actually work against vampires? Would it really protect us from the undead?


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