Cure it with Garlic!

By Linsey Knerl on 15 August 2007 27 comments

I am married to a garlic lover. Not that my husband craves the pungent flavoring in his meals, but rather is insistent on eating it to ward off any impending sickness. I know when he is feeling a little under-the-weather by merely getting within a few feet of him. I am immediately assaulted by the strong odor of the garlic clove, and I can guess that it is not a good time to ask for any large sums of money for the new laptop I’ve been ogling. While it is inconvenient and a little offensive, I have to admit that my husband’s brave attempts at self-healing most often times really work! And after doing further research on the matter, I have found that garlic is a proven strategy for kicking most any health affliction right where it counts.


Dating as far back as 3500 BC, when the Egyptians were thought to have made it popular, garlic has been used in ancient healing recipes for everything from tumors and worms to heart disease! Famous French scientist Louis Pasteur discovered that garlic could be used specifically as an antibiotic. (In fact, one ml of raw garlic juice has the strength of 60 mg of penicillin!) Garlic’s effectiveness lies in its more than 33 active sulfur-containing substances known to fight against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The famous ingredient Allicin, garlic's warrior against bacteria and inflammation, is also what causes the horrible smell. While I don’t recommend replacing old-time garlic cures for serious illness or the advice of a physician, there are some very basic garlic remedies you can use at home that are safe, effective, and very inexpensive. For example:


  • Rubbing a clove of crushed garlic over cuts, burns or other external infections ensures rapid healing.
  • Smashing up raw garlic and mixing with water to make a fine paste makes an effective topical treatment for yeast infections, ringworm, athlete’s foot, and jock itch. Simply apply to the affected area regularly for a day or two.
  • Garlic is one of the most effective and common medicines for the common cold. The best way to eat it is in hot soup, however another great way is to sprinkle raw garlic flakes over hot toast. It helps clear up the nasal passages, as well as decongests the chest.
  • While no substitution for physician prescribed blood-pressure medication, regular ingestion of fresh garlic is suggested to aid in the treatment of high blood pressure.


Garlic has so many uses, that it is pretty much a guarantee that it can help with most any illness. By simply chewing a peeled clove of raw garlic in the mouth, (making sure to chew it sufficiently into small pieces), you will absorb the healing garlic juices immediately. You can spit out the pieces without swallowing them, once the juice has been absorbed.


NOTE: Because the chemicals in garlic are strong, some people may not want to take garlic without first talking to their doctor. Women experiencing hot flashes, patients wanting to avoid thinning blood, and those with certain stomach sensitivities may want to avoid garlic. Garlic can also interfere with a person’s concentration, so it is advised that you familiarize yourself with your own reactions to garlic use before engaging in activities that require extra focus.


While it is not usually viewed as a popular choice for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, many people would give up perfect breath for relief or prevention of common ailments. World cultures that incorporate fresh garlic into every aspect of their diet are now seeing a larger percentage of their population living well into their late nineties. So you may offend some people with your new dragon breath, but you might quite possibly outlive them anyway.

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Guest's picture

May I suggest the highly entertaining documentary on garlic "Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers":

Andrea Karim's picture

Great post, Linsey. I know that garlic is hugely popular in other countries for its medicinal qualities.

When I get sick, I make a 3G tea - garlic, ginger, and ginseng. Tastes a little gnarly, but it usually helps me get over the common cold a lot faster.

Guest's picture

Be serious. I'm constantly amazed at the amount of misunderstanding and ignorance of the standards of evidence. The question is: do you keep a log of how sick / well your husband feels, with and WITHOUT garlic?

If you do and can demonstrate this to a wider audience under controlled conditions with MANY people, then you'll be eligible to publish the results in a real medical journal.

If not. Please stop spreading anecdotal "evidence" as reality.

Gee... I know that every time I sacrifice a goat during an eclipse, the sun comes back. Goat sacrifices work right?

Linsey Knerl's picture

Whether I'm published in a medical journal or not, it doesn't negate the fact that garlic does work for many things. I don't have to keep a log to know that my husband's symptoms clear up within a day or two, or that garlic is a proven antiseptic that is effective against many skin conditions.

While many of the studies on the benefits of garlic have been inconclusive, there are some very recent ones that have shown positive results:

"The herb garlic has a long history of use for treating or preventing colds. However, up until 2001, there was no scientific evidence that it actually works for this purpose. A U.S. study reported in that year does provide meaningful preliminary evidence that garlic might possess cold-fighting powers. In this 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 146 people received either placebo or a garlic extract between November and February.

The results showed that participants receiving garlic were almost two-thirds less likely to catch cold than those receiving placebo. Furthermore, participants who did catch cold recovered about one day faster in the garlic group as compared to the placebo group.

A study performed in Russia also reported benefits."

*Josling P. Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey. Adv Ther. 2001;18(4):189–193
*Andrianova IV, Sobenin IA, Sereda EV, et al. Effect of long-acting garlic tablets "allicor" on the incidence of acute respiratory viral infections in children. Ter Arkh. 2003;75:53-6.

But I really don't have to go into a long quoting of case studies to share my personal and widely-received findings on garlic's health benefits. Something that has been used for generations by so many world cultures doesn't need a "study" for me to "suggest" to readers. And while your Institute report was interesting reading... the 4 paragraph reference to garlic mentioned just as many positive case studies FOR garlic as it did "inconclusive" ones. With the internet being an easy tool to gain access to "findings", I imagine one could discredit any medical practice in the world as a "myth." The report did find that garlic was not proven effective for high-cholesterol, and only moderately useful as a cancer-prevention tool. But I didn't claim anything about those two afflictions in my article.

I love the connection you made between eating 3 whole raw garlic cloves and goat sacrifice... it really proves that you are a scientifically-inclined person who can draw comparisons in an intelligent manner.

Thanks to everyone for their comments. I'm off to finish performing some unscientifically proven rituals now: praying, dancing, and hugging my children! :)

Myscha Theriault's picture

Sorry someone inappropriate chose to blast your post, Linsey. I think it's a good one, and the medical benefits of garlic are well known. We use it a great deal for many of the reasons you listed. I've even heard of turning the minced raw stuff into a salve with vegetable shortening and keeping it in the fridge for use as a chest rub for small children.

Keep up the good work.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Don't worry, Myscha.. "Guest" comes on Wisebread to discredit our authors quite often. LOL

Guest's picture

Being critical of a dubious claim is hardly a 'nastygram'. Claims require evidence. While I understand that herbs can have medicinal effects (that's where drugs originally came from), it is the effectiveness that I'm questioning.

Here is a report from the Institute of Food Technologists Expert Panel on Food Safety and Nutrition.

Please feel free to read the section on Garlic on the fifth page. While there is marginal evidence for garlic in some cases, there is also opposing evidence that it doesn't do anything. In any case, you can't make a recommendation on garlic, when the studies are inconclusive.

Guest's picture

Garlic cures ear infections too. Here's how to do it and make garlic oil:

Linsey Knerl's picture

anyone wishing to research garlic further based on scientific studies can access this list:

Over 100 clinical trials, and 20 case studies are mentioned. The results seem to favor garlic, even if only by a marginal amount in some instances.

Guest's picture

I will add my input to your discussion. I have been sick since June with yeast infection have felt TERRIBLE. I have been through 3 rounds of Diflucan and 1 Round of Nystatin. None of which did a thing. However just two days ago I start the dubious garlic approach and I will list what has gone away in two days that did not go away with traditional meds. Closed sinuses, clogged chest, splitting headaches, poor bowels just to name the most obvious in my case. In addition with all natural and unsweetend yogurt and I am doing so much better that my MD has asked me to come in on his dime!

Guest's picture

i had the same problem...the worst yeast infection EVER!! omg i thought i would never stop itching...although i knew about the garlic clove treatment i didn't want to deal with the terrible dragon breath after a garlic clove tampon. however, after a month of trying every over the counter med you can think of for a yeast infection and nothing worked...i resorted to what works for everything else...GARLIC. I had no more itching almost immediately accompained with a slither of aloe from a fresh leaf. Not even an itch after 24 hrs and no symptoms after 48 hrs. and cured completely after 3 days. I am also the only person in my household who has not been sick in the last dad had pneumonia, daughter had the flu 2x, gf had 2 rounds of a bad cold over the last 8 months....I have not been sick once. They don't want the garlic because of the smell but they eat it up like candy when they do get sick and they did not stay sick for very long. Lastly, of course no company remotely associated with pharmacuticals in any way will say anything fantastic about the curing properties in garlic...they would go out of business. It's only .79 at the grocery store in comparison to the hundreds of dollars for "man made" drugs. Saying that garlic works and everyone should take it instead of penicillin doesn't get the drug companies paid.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Now that is what's important! Some people are feeling much better... I'm so happy to hear that you are on the up-and-up!

Andrea Karim's picture

I think the Guest has a point, even if it sounded a little harsh - there are lots of herbal "cures" that really don't do anything. I've found that my tea appears to decrease the lenght of a cold, but then again, I can't PROVE it because I have no way of knowing how long a cold would necessarily be WITHOUT the tea.

It does have antibacterial and antifungal qualities, though.

Guest's picture

Thank you Andrea. My point is that saying that the reason that someone got better because they took garlic is not useful unless there is a control. There could be a dozen reasons someone got better. Just because they used garlic at the time is not a good test because the other possible explanations were not ruled out. Her husband could be genetically pre-disposed to be more resistant. Others taking garlic may be experiencing the effects of another food! How do you know it's the garlic, in particular, unless you've done a controlled test?

Correlation is not causation.

This is the reason for the invention of the double-blind test. And yes, it does matter if your garlic has evidence or not. If this could benefit 1000's of people, why wouldn't you want to submit this to a test? Don't you want this made well known and tested so that people will use it and doctors will prescribe it? That attitude has the hallmark of pseudoscience. Read all about the earmarks of pseudoscience here:

Science doesn't claim jurisdiction on hugging etc., and that charicature of science and scientists is a bogus deflection from the matter at hand. As for 'prayer', allow me to point out that you and millions can pray all they want for the sick, but no amount of prayer could get 'god' to heal an amputee. Why is that I wonder?

Myscha Theriault's picture

My issue is not so much with criticism and disagreement as it is with manners and basic human courtesy . . . something "guests" are usually assumed to have. I agree there is a time and a place to be agressive about something you feel passionate about. But jumping in to attack hard working people when a polite "point of information request" will do . . . I'm sorry. I have a real problem with this.

And it isn't because I can't take the heat. Trust me, I've taken my share of heat in my time. I've just learned that this behavior does nothing but give away your personal power, and in my opinion is only a sign of someone insecure with themselves anyway.

That being said, I think it's time to get off my soap box and finish my coffee. Have a great day, everybody.

Guest's picture

I mean, come on. Guest is right. How dare you push your garlic-loving ways on us. You are clearly part of the whole garlic establishment trying to sell us this expensive and dangerous "wonder drug" for an obscene profit.

Just because the quacks at WebMD make dubious claims like

doesn't mean we have to stoop to their level of incompetence.


Jessica Okon's picture

I'm down the guest regarding most herbal cures, not all, but most. The worst case scenario with garlic is that you'll have bad breath and no friends, but with some other purported remedies, I say heed caution. Personally, I have good luck with garlic in conjunction with, not in lieu of cold medicines.

Considering the industry is not regulated,merely self regulated, you are generally taking a big chance that there is even the herbal supplement you've purchased is in your tablet. But, then, of course, you are taking a big chance if you put a bib on your baby these days.

PS. Consider Quackwatch your Snopes for medical bs.

Guest's picture

1) Garlic needn't be expensive. Grow your own. One clove and a crack in the sidewalk is all that is needed (per plant, or course). Our garlic is much stronger than that wimpy store bought pit run too. Whoa nelly.

2) How does one administer a placebo for garlic? I mean, everyone in the study would know who got the real deal. Wouldn't they?

3) Guest, do we have a reference to a properly conducted controlled study supporting your claim on the ineffectiveness of millions of prayers on behalf of amputees? Well do we, Guest? Your conclusion may seem plausible; however, I know we're not making unsubstantiated claims directly after such a troll's rant on the same.

Jessica Okon's picture

CatWhisperer--I had one growing on my windowsill this past winter, I just used the sprouts like chives per a friend's advice. They were quite pungent.

Sadly, I neglected my plant one week, and when I took the pot outside to dump out the dirt, omg that was the most foul, foul odor ever.

Guest's picture
Guest Lyn

Hi, I would just like to say that I liked your article. I have been using garlic to remove warts on my finger. I take a clove and cut in slices and rub it over the wart. After a week of doing this when I remember to do it, I have noticed that the wart is dissapearing. My neighbour has two small children that had ring worms, the mother had tried every thing to get rid of the ringworms after two months of no success in getting rid of the ringworms with all the treatments prescribed by the doctor and spending over $100.00 on oitments and antibiotics and her young daughter not being able to attend school while she had these ringworms. I had mentioned it to a woman my partner was doing some maitnance work for around her house. She told me about the garlic treatment which I passed onto my neighbour. My neighbour tried the garlic and the following week her daughter was back at school, no more ringworms. When you have tried just about everything that the doctors prescribe and the exspense with prescibed medication with out any sucess. Then who are these people to critisise such a simple method of cure using garlic. As for the wart problem I have a planters wart under my foot and I will be trying garlic on that soon. If it works then well and good. if it doesnt no harm done. Have a wonderful day.

Guest's picture

thanx for you good work. the works of garlic are soo amazing. its natural,no side effects, affordable. it worked for me.

Guest's picture

hello, i would just like to say that, when i take a cold i really take a floors me for days which i can't really afford to take off. so the other day whilst out shopping i picked up some garlic bulbs just to try out...(as i had symtoms of an on coming cold) i went home and made some homemade soup and added the garlic. Although, the first day of the cold hitting me was bad, i have to say that i felt much more comfortable the following day. I can only assume that the garlic has helped as ever since i was a child i have suffered from aggressive colds. From now on, i will be keeping garlic in my fridge for the next bout of the cold. As my youngest child also suffers like me, her siblings bounce back quicker whilst she is in bed with no energy the same as me for a week. Thanks for your advice! xx

Guest's picture

just found out that my grandfather years ago would eat a clove a day. no wonder he lived to be 94 and was never sick! he died of old age.

Guest's picture
SnowBlind Infinity

I know this article is a bit old-ish, but just wanted to say that the benefits of garlic are not just "Old wives tales". My family has used garlic in our diet for generations back and we rarely get sick. The body's pH is altered by garlic, and that has the effect of killing off viral and bacterial infections. A large dose of fresh crushed garlic (as much as you can tolerate) taken at night can help detoxify the body and restore healthy function and normal cellular pH. Also it is a fact that bacteria and viruses are aerobic and anaerobic, and garlic will kill they by making the human body inhospitable to them. Sudden change in pH can kill many parasitic organisms. With all the deadly bacterial and viral infections going around these days, it is a safe bet to add fresh garlic to the diet.
The big Pharmas do not want us healing ourselves anymore as it is not profitable, and have gone to great length to kill the truth of these wonderful and natural healing substances, including passing laws to prevent their growth, sale and use, disinformation and negative propaganda, genetically modified substitutes, and so much more. I can tell you from my own personal experience that many of these natural substances were in world wide use before the "drug lords" took over and sold us their toxic and often useless "cures".

Guest's picture

I had read that garlic is good for arthritis and general pain so I tried it and can attest it works better than over the counter drugs like Ibuprofen and Tylenol. I also felt a surge of engergy after taking a large clove. The way I take it is to grind a clove or two in a smail blender and they brush the small pieces out with a small brush into a small glass. I then add a little orange juice and drink it. Works great and I am a firm believer in it's healing benefits.

Guest's picture

Can you provide a reference as to where did you learn that garlic can affect concentration? What is the mechanism that leads to that? I have never heard anything like it.

Guest's picture

garlic has done tremendous wonders inside my body. I take a clove chewed up daily now for 1 year. I take it to lower cholesterol, but i noticed i dont get colds and flu anymore. My intestines seem to act better, and my cholesterol levels have gone down according to doctors tests. The only thing i dont like is the bloating in my stomach/intestines ...i have not found out how to fix that.