Garlic Benefits, Research, Usage, Side Effects

By – Dr JV Hebbar
Garlic is an anti aging spice. It is hot, cleansing, cardiac tonic, digestive, good for eyes, improves hair strength and quality, useful in cough, asthma etc. But it needs some precautions during administration.

Botanical Name- Allium Sativum Linn.
Family- LILIACEAE

Allium Sativum Linn

Useful in mercury poisoning

Beta Mercaptans of garlic are known to bind and chelate the mercury and help to eliminate it out of the body through urine.
Garlic offers more hepatoprotective effect to cadmium followed by mercury and least protection to lead through the processes of uptake, assimilation and elimination of these metals. (research)

Ayurvedic textbook mentions using of for the purification of mercury. This is a way to use only the very micro dose of mercury and to eliminate all the unnecessary high toxic quantities of mercury out of the body.

एकेन लशुनेनापि शुद्धो भवति पारद: ।
पिष्टो लवणसंयुक्तो सप्ताहं तप्तखल्वके ॥ आयुर्वेद प्रकाश १:१:६५
ekena laśunenāpi śuddho bhavati pārada: |
piṣṭo lavaṇasaṃyukto saptāhaṃ taptakhalvake || āyurveda prakāśa 1:1:65

The mercury is made into paste with equal quantities of garlic and rock salt. This paste is grinded over a hot pan for seven days. This is one of the methods to purify mercury.

The ancient Ayurvedic masters were using garlic along with mercury to eliminate the mercury out of the body, through the chelation action, once after the medicinal components attached to the mercury were delivered to the target organs.

Garlic bulbs

Chemical constituents

Allium sativum chemical constituents
Volatile oil – 0.06-0.1%
Alliin; Carbohydrates(arabinose, Galactose etc) Vitamins (folic acid, Niacin, Riboflavin, thiamine, vit c); Amino acids (arinic , Asparagic acid, methionine etc); enzymes (allinase); volatile compounds (allylalcohol, allylthiol, allylpropyl disulphide etc. Thioglycosides(Scordine, Scordinine a1, A2, & B etc. prostaglandins A2, D2, E2 and F2; allylmethylselenide, Ajoene proteorubosiside B.
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna VIjnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)

Garlic inflorescence

Medicinal properties

Raw garlic is one of the very ancient spices used in Ayurveda. Even Sushruta has appreciated the benefits of raw garlic. Sweet, salt, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent are the six tastes according to Ayurvedic belief. Garlic is one of those rare herbs which has five tastes except sour.

Rasa (taste) – Madhura (sweet), Lavana (salt), Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter), Kashaya (astringent)
Guna (qualities) –
Snigdha (oily),
Guru (heavy),
Teekshna (strong, piercing),
Sara – induces mobility, causes diarrhea, purgation, relieves constipation
Snigdha – unctuous, oily
Teekshna – strong, piercing
Vipaka- Katu – Undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion.
Veerya – Ushna – Hot potency
Effect on Tridosha – Balances Vata and Kapha. Increases Pitta Dosha.

Part Used- Bulb, oil

Spices, garlic powder

Rasa – sweet, salt, pungent, bitter, astringent
Guna – unctuous, heavy, piercing, sharp
Veerya – hot
Vipaka – pungent
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Kapha balancing
Pitta increasing

Dosage

Kalka – Paste 1-6 g in single or divided dose per day.
Swarasa – Juice extract – 5 – 10 ml, once or twice a day.
Garlic oil 1-2 ml in single or multiple dose per day

Garlic pearls

Garlic benefits

क्रिमिकुष्ठकिलासघ्नो वातघ्नो गुल्मनाशनः|
स्निग्धश्चोष्णश्च वृष्यश्च लशुनः कटुको गुरुः||१७६||
krimikuṣṭhakilāsaghno vātaghno gulmanāśanaḥ|
snigdhaścoṣṇaśca vṛṣyaśca laśunaḥ kaṭuko guruḥ||176|| Charaka Sutrasthana 27

Jantujit, Krumighna – Relieves worm infestation, useful in infected wounds
Kushtaghna – useful in skin diseases
Kilasaghna – useful in spreading type of skin diseases
Vataghna – useful in treating disorders of Vata Dosha imbalance  such as neuralgia, paralysis, constipation, bloating, etc
Gulmahara – useful in abdominal tumors
Vrushya – aphrodisiac, improves vigor

Garlic benefits

Medhakrut – Improves intelligence
Svarakrut – improves voice tone and quality
Varnakrut – Improves skin tone and complexion
Akshikrut, Netrya, 
Chakshushya – improves vision, good for eyes, useful in eye disorders
Bhagna Asthi Sandhanakara – causes quick healing of fractured bones
Bruhmana – Though lahsun being pungent, because of its nutritive values, it is also nourishing.
Pachana – Digestive, relieves Ama Dosha
Pittakrut – Increases Pitta Dosha
Asrakrut – Causes or worsens blood vitiated disorders
Keshakrut – improves hair quality and quantity
Hikkahara – relieves hiccups
Kasahara – useful in cough and cold
Jwarahara  – useful in fever
Shwasahara – useful in treatment of asthma and chronic respiratory disorders.
Kushtahara – useful in skin diseases
Mehahara – useful in urinary tract disorders and diabetes
Amahara – Relieves ama – a product of indigestion and altered metabolism.
Peenasahara – useful in running nose, sinusitis
Shwitrahara – useful in treating leucoderma – vitiligo
Arshahara – useful in piles, hemorrhoids
Shoolahara – relieves abdominal colic pain
Shophahara – relieves swelling, edema, anti inflammatory
Rasayana – anti aging, causes cell and tissue rejuvenation
Balya – improves strength and immunity
Jeernajwarahara – relieves chronic fever
Kukshi Shoolahara – relieves abdominal colic pain
Vibandhahara – Relieves constipation
Aruchihara – useful in relieving anorexia

Garlic uses

Garlic for blocked channels

Lahsun for relieving Avarana – blocking:
Excluding Rakta (blood tissue) and Pitta Dosha, for all types of Avarana (blocking of channels, covering of channels), Garlic is very useful. Because of its pungent and piercing qualities, it helps to clear and open the body channels. Because of its hotness, it is not useful in Pitta and Rakta conditions.

Garlic root is pungent, leaves are pungent, stalk is astringent.

Garlic in arthritis

Garlic arthritis: Garlic is used in treatment of fractures, and to strengthen bones. Garlic is known to assist in regeneration of bone mass. Hence raw garlic is useful in rheumatoid arthritis and osteo arthritis.

Maha Kanda

Maha Kanda/ Grunjana – Allium ascalonium Linn.
It has similar properties of Garlic.
Madhura – sweet in taste
Katu – pungent
Stalk is astringent, leaves are bitter

Garlic and dietetics
It is good to have non vegetarian food, sour foods, drinks and alcohol with garlic.

Garlic with milk

To counter the spiciness and hotness of garlic, it is boiled with milk and the milk is consumed. This is especially beneficial for people with Pitta body types. This also has many other benefits. Read more – Garlic Milk remedy

External application

Applying garlic paste improves blood circulation, relieves pain and inflammation.
Hence, its paste is applied over joints to relieve pain and stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis, osteo arthritis and sciatica.
It is also useful against insect bites and itching skin disorders.

Garlic for heart, cancer, cold

Hrudya – acts as a cardiac tonic, congenial for heart.
It stimulates heart, improves blood circulation, reduces cholesterol deposition inside the blood vessels.

Effect against cancer:
American Institute For Cancer research enlists garlic as a potential spice useful in cancer prevention. Its key ingredients  quercetin, allixin and a group of organosulfur compounds – allicin, alliin and allyl sulfides have shown effect against growth of tumors in prostate, bladder, colon and stomach tissue.

How to use garlic for cold?
Q: Kindly advise suitably about the use of garlic in case of cold. Is it proper to swallow two three cloves with water or it can also be baked in ghee.
Answer: Dear sir, during cold, it is best to swallow 2 garlic pearls or make a paste of garlic pearl, to it, add a pinch each of turmeric powder and black pepper powder and have it with water. This will be more effective in cold, than frying it in ghee.

Research on Garlic

Anti-diabetic effect
antihelmenthic activity
virucidal effects
Anti oxidant activity
Anti bacterial activity

Garlic side effects

Limit the amount of garlic intake during summers.
Not suitable for people with Pitta body types.
It is better to avoid hot Sun exposure, exercise, anger, drinking water, milk with jaggery, soon after eating garlic.
It is safe for children, pregnant and lactating mothers.
Garlic may cause or worsen bad breath problem.
For women suffering from heavy menstrual bleeding, it is advisable to stop using garlic 5 days before the onset of periods till it stops.

Allium Sativum

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Garlic as Tamasik food

Garlic a Tamasika food with health benefits
Garlic has Rasayana properties – It means, if you take it for a long period of time, it has anti aging effects on your health. But garlic is a Tamasik food. Tamas means darkness. It means that it is not suitable for those seeking celibacy and spiritual success.
However, if you have any disease, the concept of Tamasik food does not apply to you.
The benefits of garlic outweigh its Tamasik side effects. Unless you are a very serious spiritual seeker, you may continue enjoying immense health benefits of garlic.

How to consume garlic?

For those who can tolerate its offensive smell and taste, they can remove the skin of garlic pearls and consume it readily, after food in the morning.
People with Pitta imbalance can fry garlic in ghee or boil 1 – 2 garlic pearls in milk and then consume it.
For regular use, the best method is to use it as a part of ingredients to prepare food items.
Its extracts are also available in the market.

References, synonyms, classical categorization

Traditional reference of Garlic
References regarding garlic are available extensively in Gouthama Dharmasoothra, Manusmruti, Yajnavalkasmruti, Mahabharata, Sushruta Samhita and Charaka Samhita.

Sanskrit Synonyms
Mlechagandha, Ugra Gandha – Having strong pungent odor
Yavaneshta – Liked by western countrymen
Lashuna,  anda
Mahoushadha – Great medicine having immense health benefits
Rasona – Rasa + Una – having all the six tastes, minus one (sour taste) – Garlic has all the five tastes, except sour.
Arishta, Mlecchakanda, Mahakanda
Vatari – Balances Vata Dosha
Sheetamardhaka – relieves cold
Deerghapatraka – long leaves

Names in different languages
Hindi name- Lahasum
English Name- Garlic
Kannada name – Bellulli
Telugu Name- Vellulli, tellagadda
Bengali Name- Rasuna
Marathi Name- Lasuna
Tamil name – Puntu
Arabic name – Saum
Assamese name – Naharu
Chinese name  – Suan, Ta Suan
Dutch name – Look
French – Ail
Tamil name – Vellapundu
Urdu name – Lashun
Marathi name – Lasun
Malayalam name – Velluli
Hindi name – Lahsan
Bengali name – Rashuna
Gujarathi name – Lasna
Punjabi name – Tuma

Classical categorization
Charaka Samhita – Harita Varga – group of vegetables
Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Oshadhi Varga – group of medicinal herbs
Vedanasthapana – PV Sharma

Ayurvedic medicines, indications, references

Ayurvedic medicines with Lahsun as ingredient:
Lashunadi Vati –
used in diarrhoea, dyspepsia and such other stomach and intestine related diseases.
Rasonadi Kashayam –
used in Ayurvedic treatment of bloating, vomiting, nausea, cough etc
Lashunadi Ghrita – Herbal ghee used in abdominal disorders, neurological conditions, etc
Vettumaran Gulika –  used in Ayurvedic treatment of fever, vomiting, abdominal colic pain

 RogagnataReferences
1.Vacha lashunadya tailaKarma roga, karma srava.Sahasrayoga, Taila prakarana.
2.Hingu triguna taila.Gulma, udara, antra vraddi.Astanga hrudaya,Chi.14;39
3.Vishatinduka tailaSupta vataroga, kusta, vata rakta.Bhaishajya ratnavali,Vata raktadikara;76-77.
4.Lashunadi vatiAjeerna, atisara.Vadyajeevanam, Ksaya rogadichikitsa.;13
5.Kottam chukkadi tailamVata roga, amavata.Sahasrayoga, taila prakarana;12.
6.Lashunadi ghritaGulma, vataroga.Astangahrudaya,Chi.14;22-25.
7.Vranaraksha tailaNadivrana, vicharchika, kusta, Mamsavruddi.Bhashajya ratnavali,

 

vranashothadikara;69-69 ½.

Properties of rasona as per Bhojana Kutuhalam

According to Bhojana Kutuhalam, Rasona is devoid of amla rasa(sour taste), it is heavy to digest and hot in potency and alleviates kapha and vata dosha. It treats anorexia, intestinal worms, cardiac diseases, edema and acts as rasyana.

The another variety of rasona are called by the names mahakanda, grnjana, dirghapatraka, prutupatra, sthulakanda, yavanesta and vilohita.

According to the wise men, the bulb of rasona is sweet and pungent, its stalk is astringent, its leaves are bitter and its scape is salty.

Varieties of garlic

Kashyapa mentioned two varieties –
Girija – Garlic grown in mountains and
Kshetraja – cultivated in lands.

Nighantus mentioned two types –
Lashuna  – Allium sativum and
Maha Kanda/ Grunjana – Allium ascalonium Linn.

Distribution

Cultivated throughout India, mainly in Ludhiana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh, U.P and Gujarat

80 thoughts on “Garlic Benefits, Research, Usage, Side Effects”

      • I have been eating garlic for a couple of years and have tried a variety of ways: peel in the evening for eating in the morning – bite for a minute and swallow with water, wrap in a inch of bread piece and chew before swallowing but the best is take garlic paste kept in a refrigerator in a spoon and down it with water preferably warm. After swallowing chew a pasty sort of biscuit or a small piece of rusk. No smell, no ill feeling or taste. q

        Reply
  1. Sir,

    I would like to introduce as a regular eater of raw garlic. From net I got your id. I have some quarry, as garlic is having some property for thinning the blood, and in net I read that as Garlic can also thin the blood so caution is advised to people with blood disorders. So does intake of raw garlic cloves every day for a longer duration have any effect/create any chance for creating blood cancer among human population?

    Personally I experienced two such instances, where persons suffered and ultimately died from blood cancer, were regular consumer of raw garlic when they were normal.

    So, Sir, my question is that did you ever found any scientific finding regarding this. What is your personal comments/opinion/suggestion on this, regarding garlic consumption and blood cancer..

    Do you suggest me to continue consuming raw garlic cloves (2cloves) every morning in empty stomach? if so how many cloves in a day for a normal person.Pl also inform whether intake of raw garlic is better or garlic pearls?

    Hope to have your kind suggestion in this regards

    Thanking you,

    With personal regards,

    Dr. J. Roy
    Jabalpur 482003 (M.P.) India

    Reply
    • Dear sir,
      If two people get blood cancer and were drinking water everyday, that does not mean that they got cancer due to water.
      In contradiction, garlic has anti-cancer effect.
      But still how those two got cancer? may be genetical predisposition with other factors overcame the good effects of garlic.

      Raw garlic is better than garlic pearls. Why drink apple juice extract, when you can get apple in the market 🙂

      Two garlic pearls are fine, if you are accustomed to it. However, for others it may be a little too hot. So, normally one garlic pearl or garlic milk home remedy is quite sufficient to enjoy full health benefits. – Here is how to make garlic milk remedy – https://www.easyayurveda.com/2011/07/04/milk-garlic-home-remedy-for-stomach-abscess-and-fever/

      Reply
    • Sir
      kya garlic ko bina khush khye le skte hai.koi side ifect to nhi hai.agr hai to kaise khana chahiye.

      Reply
      • Garlic ko bina kuch khaye agar le to kabhi kabhi gastritis problem aa sakta hai. Isiliye, khaane me garlic ko use kar lena chahiye.

        Reply
    • In some cases of vertigo, raw garlic is helpful, but in some, it may worsen it.
      Garlic is useful in controlling BP.
      Because it has got anti inflammatory effect, it is also useful in osteo-arthritis.

      Reply
      • Dear Dr,
        I have used in a complex combination in a patient having skin black skin ,fungal nail,with corns, inflamed skin.
        With Yoga Therapy + aloe gel + garlic + turmeric .
        The miracle regenerated the skin and fungus was gone in 3 days …In 15 days it was miracle from God. I did not charge him , he was so poor…

        Sunny Harjani
        Yoga Therapy
        [email protected]
        Kathmandu-Nepal

        Reply
  2. sir, i would like to know how to consume raw garlic in the morning…. simply chew it or gulp the crushed garlic paste with water?? i would also like to know how to use garlic as a remedy for hair thinning or hair loss,,should it be directly on scalp(cut into half and rubbed on scalp), as various sites suggest or should it be mixed / crushed with some kind of oil,, then apply on scalp and then rinse hair in the morning…… please reply soon.

    Reply
  3. Sir, I eat 3, 4 cloves of raw garlic everyday (anytime). I dip them in salt and swallow with water, so there is no breath in my mouth. But, there is a garlic smell in my sweat and on other parts of body. How do I avoid this smell?

    Reply
  4. Sir, thanks for your reply. You mean that I shall put some 3,4 garlic cloves in 1 cup milk, boil it and then drink it? And can it be done anytime in a day?

    Reply
  5. Dear sir

    I am a paitent of a high cholestrol
    Everyday in the morning when i take 2-3 cloves of garlic with water then as its result i get
    irritation in chest and pain in my stomach for 5 minutes.
    SO should i continue taking it or how should I take it??

    Reply
    • 1. Try frying a little with ghee before taking it.
      2. Or boil it in a cup of milk and eat it along with the same milk. This reduces the burning sensation.

      Reply
    • Dear Dr Hebbar.

      Some of the discussion on garlic suggests it has blood thinning properties. Does that mean garlic has the potential to replace blood thinners like warfarin as a natural alternative?

      Kind regards
      Lindsay

      Reply
      • Hi, it is not as strong as warfarin in its blood thinning effect. It is milder and safer.

        Reply
  6. Hi, direct swallowing of garlic pearl may not be comfortable. Better to at least make it a paste / small pill and swallow it. There are also many garlic oil capsules available in the market. Daily 1 – 2 garlic pearls can be consumed, better to do it in the morning.

    Reply
  7. I have one query, lasun shirpak can be taken in gastritis, as milk with its cooling effects countered on pitta. But same lasunshirpak is advised for scitica pain or any fibroid which vaataj n kaphaj. Plz elaborate on this. For how many days to consume lasunshirpak, for scitica disorder.Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi, Lashuna ksheerapak is administered in sciatica / fibroid, as it is an excellent remedy to balance Vata Dosha.
      It can be consumed in the above conditions for a period of 2 – 3 months.

      Reply
  8. SIR , mujhe stomach problm he. doctr said to me,,liver me garmi he. i have always stool loose ..kya garlic better for me??

    Reply
  9. Dear Doctor Hebbar,
    My main dosha is Urdwaga raktha pitta and subdosha is vatha raktha. Is it ok for me to take steamed/well cooked garlic? Or will it aggravate pitta? Due to allergy,I can’t take dairy products and cook garlic in it. Many thanks in advance doctor.

    Reply
  10. There is something snow mountain garlic/ kashmiri lehsoon. Whats are informations in ayurvedic texts regarding this? What are the use?

    Reply
      • 1) Are these Girija variety – Garlic grown in mountains as described above by Kashyapa?
        2) When to choose Kshetraja variety (cultivated in lands) & when to choose Girija (grown on mountain) variety as medicine?
        3) Also among common lehsoons, there comes two variety- Single bulb & multiple bulbs. Which one has more medicinal properties as mentioned in ayurvedic texts?

        Reply
    • Not commonly used. But it is a good antibacterial and anti inflammatory. Use it as part of your diet.

      Reply
  11. Thank you Mr. Hebbar for such nice article, I have one question, it is recommended to take garlic with empty stomach for its best effect, I take warm glass of water after I wake up, and eat the raw garlic after 5 to 10 minute. does it have same effect as desire or should I eat Garlic immediately after getting up, wait for 1 hour and drink water ?, which method will work best for Garlic maximum benefit ?

    Reply
    • Hi, there is no rule that you need to eat garlic as soon as getting up. You can wait for 5 – 10 minutes.
      You can drink water soon after consuming garlic.

      Reply
      • Dr. Hebbar: Am I reading this correct … it is better to eat Garlic and then drink the water?

        At this point, I’m doing exactly what Hash says, I drink two glasses of room temperature water after waking up, wait about 30 mins, and then chew two to three cloves of garlic in honey.

        But, if you feel it is more effective if these steps are reversed, I will try that.

        Thanks,

        Pratap

        Reply
  12. Does taking garlic paste on empty stomach cause any GI bleeds. Pl clarify me, I am a post CABG person.

    Reply
  13. Thank you for reply, another question sir, will aged garlic extract give same benefits as raw garlic? Because of work I can’t smell like garlic, also I don’t drink milk.

    Reply
  14. Dr Hebbar, I just want to say Thank You for all your efforts here, especially for not leaving any question unanswered.

    Reply
  15. Hello Sir, namaste, there are lot of controversial articles on garlic –some favoring it strongly for health and some totally against its consumption(esp. for its effect on mind/brain); a laymen like me is always confused ; i wish to ask if garlic extract capsules are safer that raw garlic as they claim that there is not any odor associate with them; any research on garlic extract capsules vs raw garlic that adverse effects on sattvik life style/brain are less with garlic extract capsules or what is your experience regarding the same.
    thanks and regards.

    Reply
  16. Hello sir, since last month I have been diagnosed with tb and last week I was thromblyzed for unexplained clot in the lung. Now back home with daily dose of tb n blood thinners. What is your suggestion, should I consume garlic or not?

    Reply
  17. Dr. Hebbar, please confirm if I can consume garlic empry stomach in the morning followed by a glass of warm turmeric water

    Reply
  18. Sir, iam hvng allergy and GERD problem. …due to GERD iam feel like a anything strckd in my throat…when I split that its like ..kapha…and doctor told me it is not kapha and it is a acid reflux fluid …and kindly tell me sir..for me very good ayurvedic treatment. Kindly reply me sir.

    Reply
  19. I heat ghee and add the chopped garlic to it till it emits the garlic flavour in odour (i do not fry), then add milk and mix a tbsp of honey. Is this good for me to take at night before bed? I have fibromyalgia, insomnia and all sort of probs from the condition fibromyalgia. Pls advise

    Reply
  20. Pls also advise if i shud fry the garlic in ghee or not. Which way will be good for me? Apart from fibromyalgia and its associated symptoms I have vitiligo as well.

    Reply

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