How to Use Garlic As a Medicine

How to Use Garlic As a Medicine
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Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes in many cultures for thousands of years and to prevent and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases. There have been lots of claims about using garlic as a remedy for many conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, heart attack, atherosclerosis and various types of cancer. Most of the health benefits of garlic come from the sulphur containing compounds it contains – the most notable is allicin.

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Some of these uses are supported by science, but even science itself has sometimes conflicting results or mixed evidence. Some studies are better than others, or larger and more comprehensive than others, and some studies have been conducted on animals but not on humans.

Even when researching the medicinal benefits of garlic, I encountered many medical websites whose claims regarding the medicinal properties of garlic were not exactly the same. Some of them used the words “possibly effective” or “more evidence is needed”, but still there are medical areas in which garlic shows a promise potential:

Cancer prevention

Daily intake of garlic has been found to lower risk of many types of cancer. Some people use garlic to prevent colon cancer, rectal cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer and lung cancer. Some findings require further studies to be carried out. And indeed garlic is one of the top 14 foods that protects against cancer development. You can also read more about the research published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research that found that garlic intake can reduce the risk for lung cancer.

Fungal skin infections

Several studies report that a garlic gel applied to the skin, may treat ringworm, jock itch, and athlete’s foot. To Make your own garlic topical application, mince a clove of garlic and mix it with aloe vera, coconut oil or olive oil and apply to the affected area. Don’t apply neat (undiluted) garlic as it can burn the skin.

Antiseptic properties

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Garlic is most well-known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties that help control bacterial, viral, fungal, yeast and worm infections. There is some evidence that fresh garlic is thought to play a role in preventing food poisoning by killing bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella enteritidis, etc. It is also used for building the immune system.

According to a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, a compound in garlic called diallyl sulfide was 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics in fighting one of the most common bacteria of intestinal infections, showing that this compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply. In studies, garlic has been found to be almost as effective as penicillin. You can also read my previous article about these 6 common mistakes when using garlic ss an Antibiotic.

Cardiovascular protection

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There is a mixed evidence about garlic to prevent heart disease and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), but some studies suggest that garlic may help prevent heart disease, may slow atherosclerosis and slightly lower blood pressure. Garlic also seems to be a blood thinner, and thus may help prevent heart attacks and strokes by helping in preventing the formation of blood clots in the body. As for lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, most recent high quality studies didn’t find evidence that garlic can significantly lower cholesterol or triglycerides. Read here about other foods to prevent clogged arteries.

Common cold

There is some early evidence that garlic consumption may decrease the frequency of colds in adults. Those who took garlic had fewer colds than those who took placebo, and when they did get a cold, their symptoms went away faster than those who took placebo.

How to consume garlic and how much to take

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Consuming more garlic is one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health. The University of Maryland Medical Center website mentions the amount of 2-4 grams per day of fresh, minced garlic clove (a clove of garlic may weigh up to 5 grams, but of course this all depends on the size). The garlic has to be cut or minced in order to release the allicin which is the active component of garlic.

It is best to consume raw garlic, as obviously cooking fresh garlic can destroy some of the healthy sulphurous compounds. But if eating raw garlic is not your cup of tea – all is not lost. During the cooking process other sulphur containing compounds are formed that still have health benefits. But don’t microwave garlic – microwaving garlic will completely kill the allicin and its therapeutic effects.

Here is a great tip when cooking garlic to preserve its maximum healing benefits: crush the garlic and then wait 10 minutes before cooking to maximize health benefits. Allowing the crushed garlic to stand for 10 minutes before cooking further enhances formation of allicin, ensures the maximum synthesis of allicin, and also makes it more stable and resistant to the heat of cooking. Then cook it on low or medium heat for a short period of time (up to 15 minutes).

If you consume garlic supplement, there is a lot of variation among garlic products sold for medicinal purposes. The amount of allicin depends on the method of preparation, and not all garlic supplements contain the same amount of active ingredients, so it is important to read the label carefully.

Garlic is a true superfood that is also featured in my e-book about superfoods which is part of the Natural Health Revolution Program. This program will help you to achieve your health, nutrition or weight loss goals.

If you are interested to learn more about garlic, as well as other herbs, and on how to use herbal medicine to effectively to heal disease and illness then you should check my e-book The Herbal Remedies Guide.

Read my other related posts:
1. 6 Common Mistakes When Using Garlic As an Antibiotic
2. Natural Garlic syrup for chest infections
3. Reduce the risk for lung cancer with garlic

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96 Responses to How to Use Garlic As a Medicine

  1. Tandu Wibowo says:

    usefull information….
    I have following your web in FB…..
    keep update and thanks for the generousity….
    Tandu.
    Bali – Indonesia

    • Nimo O'Connor says:

      I have been eating raw garlic for the past four days and i find it tasteless and as for the smell on the third day it seemed to be less pungent on the breadth and am going to continue this and just after few day days i find i do not get any night cramps and so far have not had any complains about gaelic breath.Thank you Jenny!Does pickled garlic have the same benefits?

      • Jenny says:

        I have read that pickled garlic is also beneficial although it is possible that some “good” chemicals in the garlic may be lost with the pickling process.

        • Rita says:

          Santa Barbara olive co. Sells hand stuffed garlic cloves in green olives I’m on baby asprin can I take 3 garlic stuffed olives? only ingredients olives garlic water sea salt vinegar

          • Jenny says:

            Hi Rita, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there have been reports of a possible interaction between garlic and blood thinner medications such as warfarin and aspirin. It is recommended not to use garlic supplements unless you are under the supervision of a doctor. I’m not sure what about consuming garlic in normal food quantities (and not as a concentrated form such as a supplement), so I think it’s best to consult with your doctor (I’m not a doctor) to be on the safe side of things and avoid any unnecessary risks.

    • NATY RAPANUT says:

      ty..keep update

  2. omolara says:

    This is really good and educative,i av really learnt something from it.keep it up

  3. Bernard Ofosu-Appiah says:

    Very very educative and enlightening. Kudos.

  4. Sankar.k says:

    Very useful Tips

    Thank you very much for your kind service.

  5. anwar says:

    Very useful information. In fact in Bangladesh our daily food constitutes all these kinds of veges and spices. There is one medicine company named ” Hamdard” who claim to manufacture herbal medicine.Raw garlic causes gas in stomach and bad smell in mouth.Can it be boiled/baked?

  6. David King says:

    Sorry but you have a few issues with this article. There is a time period after mincing that you have to leave the grlic. I think it was three minutes. I actually come to this article to get that information. Also you mention putting garlic in hot water with honey. Hot water will turn the honey toxic. I think too that you will cook the garlic in the hot water.

    • Jenny says:

      As for leaving the garlic after mincing it – it’s true if you are going to cook it and expose it to heat, but when you chew it, you don’t expose it to heat. If you crush or chop garlic and then wait 10-15 minutes before exposing it to heat, a phytochemical called allicin is formed which helps to fight many diseases. Allicin is created in a chemical reaction between a component called alliin and the enzyme alliinase. When the garlic is whole, the alliin and the alliinase are separated, but when chopping or mincing the garlic it makes them mix together and create allicin. So before exposing the chopped garlic to heat, it’s best to wait because heat destroys the enzyme alliinase, so let the enzyme do its job for a while before cooking the garlic. But when you mince it and consume it raw, there is no issue of heat that destroys the enzyme.
      As for hot water – hot water doesn’t turn the honey toxic. And as for cooking the garlic – of course it’s best to consume it raw, but many people will be put off by the taste, so garlic tea is a good option for them.

    • Jessie says:

      If hot water turns honey toxic then why is it so commonly used in tea? This sounds like BS to me

  7. Marie says:

    We also peel and pickle garlic in manuka honey from our home in New Zealand. Very easy to do: peel the garlic, put into a clean jar with a good fitting lid, fill the jar with honey. Put on the lid and sit on a window sill. Turn the jar upside down each day and you can start using it from day 10. If you can’t get manuka honey (or it’s too expensive where you are), just use a good honey that hasn’t been diluted with syrup or sugar water.

    Our children have grown up with this and it has prevented so many flu season problems, sore throats, colds… I have been experimenting with it not just as a cough remedy either. Here are some of the more common uses:
    – Mix the honey into a vit. e cream for a face cream;
    – Apply a slice of garlic onto the beginning of a cold sore (I haven’t had a cold sore in 15 years now);
    – Apply some of the honey to a cleaned scrape or cut to aid healing and prevent infection.

    • Jenny says:

      Thank you very much Marie ! One thing to note about manuka honey is that not all Manuka honey is the same – you obviously know about it but I would like to mention it for the benefit of my readers:
      Manuka honey has long had a reputation as a healing honey and there is a factor that can be measured to figure out which batch of honey has the best healing factor. It must say UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) followed with a number. If you want to get what you are buying it for buy UMF labeled manuka honey.

  8. tgink says:

    Interestingly enough, my son had ringworm and I didn’t know what to do so I sliced garlic and cellotaped it to the ringworm patch, I repeated this for three days, not sure how, but it seems to have done the trick.

  9. Dr.waguih tawfik says:

    Thank y so much. however I cannot tolerate the smell & taste of raw garlic at all as wellas in cooking. is there any method tohide its smell&taste COMPLETELY. However , we have here in Egypt tablets&capsules of garlic ; I wonder if they are of any use ; I do not know as it will be not fresh . a tried mixture with anythibg&the method of preeparationb will be appreciated . we do not have this particular honey . pls investigate the matter to best hide its smell&taste but not destroy its benefit . thasnks

    • Jenny says:

      Your question is very important – are garlic supplements effective? there are many garlic capsules that are available on the market, but unfortunately not all are effective. Livestrong website wrote about few ways to determine which garlic capsules are best – http://www.livestrong.com/article/216492-the-best-garlic-capsules/
      You may also want to have a look at the comparison between various types of garlic supplements here – http://www.allicinfacts.com/garlic_supplement/

      • Jean says:

        I have one solution to your concern about the bad smell of fresh garlic. I cut and drink 3 cloves of fresh garlic with water then I immediately eat 2 fresh apples. It really works and it’s backed by scientific research. Google the effects of apples and lettuce on garlic smell. What I don’t know is if apples neutralize the garlic smell without hindering its health benefits. But try it. I did it and it works.

    • Jean says:

      Eat 2 apples immediately after swallowing garlic. You will have no garlic smell on you. I do it and it really works

  10. Ed says:

    Are odourless garlic tablets still effective, as my work causes perspiration and I do not wish to reek of garlic?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Ed, I’ve read that there is a lot of variation among garlic supplements. The amount of allicin, the active ingredient and the source of garlic’s distinctive odor, depends on the method of preparation. Allicin is unstable and changes into a different chemical rather quickly. Some manufacturers take advantage of this by aging garlic to make it odorless. Unfortunately, this also reduces the amount of allicin and compromises the effectiveness of the product. Some odorless garlic preparations and products may contain very little, if any, allicin. Also Livestrong website recommends to stay away from odorless garlic supplements, see here – http://www.livestrong.com/article/216492-the-best-garlic-capsules/

  11. Wildfire says:

    Great info thanks! Will garlic from the jars of crushed garlic do the same thing?

    • Jenny says:

      The advantages of using crushed garlic in a jar is that it is convenient and usually has a long shelf life. However because allicin is so unstable, once it is generated it readily changes into other compounds. Therefore, processed minced garlic loses most of its antioxidant function and anti-inflammatory benefits. Also some processed minced garlic can contain additives. According to allicin.com, two studies of garlic preparations showed that allicin decreased to non-detectable amounts within one to six days, and research conducted at the Chemistry Department of the University of California showed that commercial garlic products on the market all contain an undetectable amount of allicin.

  12. aashima mathur says:

    I take raw garlic(cut into pieces) in the morning ;empty stomach. Then i take tea .is it ok to have tea after 10 min of taking garlic?

  13. Musa Ademu says:

    I love this article! Can garlic have any negative effective on pregnant woman and is it okay to be taking it on regular basis?

  14. Gianluca Torracca says:

    Council method (Bruschetta: Italian food) rub garlic on well-toasted slice of bread, olive oil, and sea salt and thyme

  15. Anni says:

    Seems a good way of eating raw garlic is having a lot of it finely chopped and raw in tabouleh with parsley another good herb for health and tomatoes. Also making your own hummus and incorporating it with the chick peas, olive oil, lemon and tahini (ground sesane seed also very good for you). Both are very yummy

  16. Cindy Mullins says:

    What about garlic powder?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Cindy, for maximum nutritional benefits, it is recommended to purchase fresh garlic. Although garlic in flake, powder, or paste form may be more convenient, some of the health benefits are generally reduced.

  17. JAI DEWAN says:

    Dear maam,
    Can one take raw cloves of garlic with honey in warm water in empty stomach in morning?Please answer.

    • Jenny says:

      It can cause an upset tummy for some people, so some people prefer to have a piece of toast to help their stomach with the garlic. Don’t forget to mince or chop the garlic before consuming it.

  18. Jackie says:

    Hi Jenny,
    I do follow your fantastic articles on FB. I would love to buy your books.Do you have any in printed material.
    I have always been very healthy but as I age (66) i notice things are not working quite as well. (sigh)
    I love what you are doing as I’m all about natural

    Thank you

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Jackie, the books only come in an e-book format in order to reduce cost and keep the price affordable.

  19. Lorna Trinidad says:

    Im taking also 1 capsule per day,ill take in the morning, almost 3yrs i take this kind of food suplement,have an ingredients are 3herbs like garlic,ginger & gotu kola

  20. ogunbanwo oluwabukola says:

    Nice article its helpful

  21. sani says:

    Thank you for the share. Please tell me some other remedies to cure forbreast cancer. and is garlic intake enough for this?

  22. MrsLevise says:

    I use raw garlic cloves as an enema to keep my colon in good health and vaginal to keep my ph levels balanced,just wanted to know if I could do it too much or is daily ok?

    • Jenny says:

      According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, side effects of eating too much fresh or dried garlic include upset stomach, bloating, bad breath and body odor. If you don’t have these side effects than this is fine. Also note that garlic acts like a blood-thinner, so eating too much garlic can increase your risk for bleeding during or after surgery, and it may also interact with blood-thinning medications. The website also recommends that people with ulcers or thyroid problems should ask their doctor before taking garlic.

  23. rubylyn says:

    I would want to share this to my husband because his highblood pressure is always high and I would want to know if how many to be taken daily?…..thanks!

  24. Yvonne Hoffpauir says:

    I’m looking to buy garlic capsules. Is mcg the same as mg? Also, what about garlic oil?is it about the same?thank you in advance. Yvonne

  25. carlo says:

    hi jenny,, is it ok if i mix garlic with ginger, lemon tea?

  26. Bhupinder Singh says:

    Mam, if we take garlic clove as it is without cutting it or mincing it then Allicin is formed or not

  27. gina says:

    i enjoyed the topic.is very educative.but i want to know how it will be used to treat liver disorders?

  28. arko says:

    Can I sallow raw grlic clove with a glass of water? Is it effective with swallowing with water?

    • Jenny says:

      You can swallow with a glass of water, but you need to mince the clove first (don’t swallow it as a whole) – Crushing or mincing the garlic further enhances the formation of allicin, and ensures the maximum health benefits.

  29. Shiwangi says:

    Hey Jenny loved this article. I am a garlic n but I can’t have it raw or even as a tea. Is it useful to have it as a chutney? Or roast it in a few drops of oil? Also will it be equally useful to swallow with water or it is important to chew it?

    • Jenny says:

      Cooking garlic is completely acceptable if you are using it to spice up your food. However cooking destroys the garlic’s active ingredient – allicin. Allicin is one of the sulfur-containing compounds found in garlic, and it gets activated when raw garlic is chewed, chopped or crushed. But it gets deactivated by heat, so that is why cooking garlic lowers its healing potential. What you can do when cooking garlic to preserve its maximum healing benefits is: Crush the garlic, then wait 10 minutes before cooking to maximize health benefits. Allowing the crushed garlic to stand for 10 minutes before cooking further enhances formation of allicin, ensures the maximum synthesis of allicin, and also makes it more stable and resistant to the heat of cooking. Then cook it on low or medium heat for a short period of time (up to 15 minutes).

  30. Mafuli says:

    I like this article, I chew garlic whenever I have flue or cough, usually at night before I go to bed. is this ok?

    • Asoda says:

      HI,
      Thank you for very useful recomendations about garlic. But when to consume it? In the morning, afternoon, or evening? Before the meal or after the meal? Can it be taken before going to bed?

      Thank you beforehand

  31. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this super article. It was actually my Mother in Denmark who send it to me (I live in Quebec, Canada) yesterday when I harvested my Garlic! It’s was my first time ever growing garlic and out of 190 planted last year I have 180 super big and lush bulbs.
    This make’s me wanna continue growing! thanks again.

  32. alecia says:

    can the garlic be applied directly to the skin or affected area like a cold sore? How long should you leave it on? If you use it to treat viral infections. How many days should one allow to see if there is change?If you have it as tea, must the chopped garlic rest for 10 minutes then put it into the hot water?How much water for one clove?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Alecia, don’t put raw garlic on the skin. Garlic is a strong compound and can cause some burning sensation when applied on the skin undiluted. In medical experiments they used garlic oil or garlic gel, but not raw garlic. You can take garlic cloves and crush them to extract the juice and then mix it with aloe vera or water so it is well diluted. For cold sores you can read my article about the best home remedies for cold sores. Allow several days to see if there is any improvement, otherwise visit your doctor. As for garlic tea – heat destroys the active ingredient allicin, so if you want to cook or heat garlic, you need to crush/chop garlic, then wait 10 minutes before cooking/heating to maximize health benefits. Read more in my article about 6 Common Mistakes When Using Garlic As an Antibiotic (see the first one). To make garlic tea allow i crushed clove of garlic per 1 cup of water.

  33. hephzibah says:

    Hi, I blend garlic and ginger together and mix with lime and warm water to drink first thing in the morning, how about that?

  34. Suresh says:

    I have been using Nutrilite Garlic supplement which has a coating which does notnot resolve in stomach acids and goes directly to intestine giving required benefits to blood. Nutrilite is d oldest n latest producer of food supplements derived from organic farming.

  35. Kimberly says:

    Can garlic be used to treat a bladder infection and if so, how much garlic is needed?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Kimberley, if you refer to urinary tract infection (UTI) then read my article about How to Treat Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Naturally. Otherwise garlic can be used to fight infections. The daily recommended intake The University of Maryland Medical Center website mentions is 2-4 grams per day of fresh, minced garlic clove (a clove of garlic may weigh up to 5 grams, but this all depends on the size). The garlic has to be cut or minced in order to release the allicin which is the active component of garlic.

  36. Caroline says:

    Hi,I normally grate my clove of garlic and mix with a little grated ginger and then take it with a teaspoon of manuka honey mixed with some lemon juice in the morning on an empty stomach.is that ok?

  37. Diana says:

    I cannot chew raw garlic because it gives me really bad heartburn, so what I do is cut up garlic cloves into very small pieces and than swallow whole with water. Is this ok to do, or should I try to chew the garlic pieces instead?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Diana, Herbalists David Winston and Merrily A. Kuhn, RN, PhD, suggest mincing the cloves and letting them stand for 10 to 15 minutes to allow enough time to the allicin to form. Then, swallow it with water as you do, or mix the garlic with yoghurt, applesauce, honey, or some other carrier agent that you find easier and tastier to ingest.

  38. Agah Nugraha says:

    Good article. thanks. Now I know, it turns out that a healthy garlic is in a raw state, but almost every day I eat garlic, after cooked ..he..he . Well thus I was misinformed, I used to read, he said the garlic must be cooked first. however thank you for giving good information.

  39. Theresa says:

    An old time remedy of a garlic enema will rid the body pinworms. I raised 4 boys and know this works. Sounds awful, but it does work

  40. Ede Emmanuel Chimezie says:

    hi,how can I use garlic and ginger for stubborn infection like e.coli and staph

    • Jenny says:

      Ginger and garlic are one of the natural antibiotics that are mentioned in my article about 13 Powerful Antibiotics That Don’t Require a Prescription. Because your infection is stubborn and because staph infection can cause serious complications (if staph bacteria invade your bloodstream, you may develop a type of infection that affects your entire body and can be life threatening), I think the best thing to do is to consult with your doctor. It’s best to be on the safe side of things.

  41. frieda says:

    i have been with a vaginal infections for four months.. The doctors use to prescribe some antibiotics but they can’t help… Can i use garlic to see if there will improvement

  42. Linda says:

    Can I blend garlic and keep for weeks without it getting spoilt ?

  43. Harry says:

    I did chewing raw garlic after read this article, but it’s taste awful >_<

    • Jenny Hills says:

      You can mix it with a little bit of honey or alternatively mince the garlic, wait several minutes for the alicin to form, and then swallow it with a glass of water.

  44. Edward says:

    Good morning Doc. My chest x-ray result says i have left hillar fullness. Im afraid im getting a lung cancer. Can you give me some advice what herbal medicine is good for me..

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Hi Edward, I am not a doctor and I’m unable to give a specific advice. You will need to consult with a professional health practitioner for a proper medical advice.

  45. stella says:

    I cant chew garlic is it ok to cut it into small pieces and swallow like tablets

  46. Tiffany says:

    Since garlic causes such a harsh reaction with skin, I’d like to know what it could be mixed with to dampen its burn factor. It would be great if you had possibilities for both wet and dry ingredients, but anything to reduce the burn is helpful.

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Usually garlic is mixed with oil (such as olive oil / coconut oil or any other carrier oil), aloe vera or honey.

  47. Isaac says:

    can I get rid of hepatitis virus in my blood if I consume garlic. my doc says I have the virus but for a year now I’ve not seen any symptoms of the disease

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