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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 (Rasona Kula)

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)


Allium sativum is a perennial plant growing from a bulb. Stem is erect and grows up to 3 feet tall. Short hard stem above the bulb give rise to 6 – 10 long dark green leaves. Leaf blade is flat, linear with acute apex. The bulb is odoriferous, white in color consisting 10-20 edible bulblets called cloves. Whole bulb is covered with membranous skin. Flowers are greenish white or pinkish in color.

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


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

Garlic is a potent herb used widely in Ayurveda. A Milk – Garlic home remedy is explained which is highly effective in multiple conditions. This milk garlic home remedy can be prepared in about 5 minutes.  



Materials required –
1. Garlic pearls – 5 grams
2. Milk – 40 ml (roughly 1.5 oz)
3. water – 40 ml (roughly 1.5 oz)

Method of preparation

How to do it? 
Remove the husk from the garlic. Pound it to make a paste.
Take milk and water in a small vessel. Add garlic to it.
Boil this mixture keeping the lid open, in mild heat,  with continuous stirring, till only 40 ml (1.5 oz) of liquid remains in the vessel.
Filter the content.


10 ml for adults two times a day. Just before food, or after food.
Once prepared, this recipe should be finished within 10 – 12 hours.


This garlic milk remedy is useful to relieve
– abdominal bloating, feeling as if gas is filled in stomach
– constipation
–  chronic fever
– abscess, unhealed wounds.

Because of its potent action against pain and inflammation, this a good home remedy for back pain related to sciatica / slip disc.

Here, the fat and water soluble active principles are transferred into milk media.

Milk being a coolant in nature, reduces the hotness and pungency of garlic.

For those who can not tolerate hotness and pungency of raw garlic, this is the second best method to enjoy garlic benefits. 

No bad breath with this remedy – Another advantage of this remedy is – this will not cause any bad odour of garlic to stay in your mouth. Because, according to researchers from the department of Food Science and Technology at The Ohio State University, a study published in 2001, in the Journal of Food science revealed that drinking milk while eating garlic-heavy food can reduce the bad breath problem associated with garlic consumption.

Lashuna ksheerapaka Shloka

Charaka Chikitsa 5/94-95 – Lashuna Ksheerapaka

4 Palas of Dehusked and dried Lasuna is boiled by adding 8 times of milk and water and reduced to the quantity of milk.
This medicated milk immediately cures
Vata- Gulma,
Udavarta – upward movement of wind
Gridhrasi – sciatica
Vishama Jvara – Recurrent fever
Hrid rogam – heart disease,
Vidradhi – Abscess and
Shotha – oedema. [94-95]

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.

Hitahara (Conductive) during Lasuna sevana

Madhya – Alcohol
Mamsa – Meat
Amla dravyas – Sour substances

Ahita (Non conductive) during Lasuna sevana

Vyayama – Exercise
Atapa – Sunrays
Atinidra – Excess water
Paya – Milk
Guda – Jaggery

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

Botanical classification

Kingdom – Plantae
Subkingdom –
Superdivision – 
Division –
Class –
Subclass –
Order – 
Family – 
Genus –
Allium L.
 Species –
Allium sativum L.

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

 Rogagnata References
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.

Ra. Ni – 4 types
Rasona, Sweta Rasona, Grnjana, Rakta Rasona


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

Systemic Action (Sthanika Karma)

External – External application of its paste relieve pain, edema. Being hot in potency it reduce vatadosha. It disturb rakta and pitta dosha. It has Anti poisonous action. External application with its paste can be applied in Sciatica, Joint pain, hemiplegia, low back pain, pain in flanks. Also beneficial in insect bites, skin disorders, etc. Its oil is good for ear ache.

Nervous System – It has pain reliving action. good for brain, Indicated in Neurological disorders, hemiplegia, Sciatica, diminished functioning of brain, diminished vision

Digestive System – act as appetizer, increase digestive fire, relive colic pain, indicated in loss of appetite, anorexia, constipation, hemorrhoid’s, phantom tumor, indigestion, helminthiasis.

Circulatory System – Being hot it stimulate heart and circulatory system, reduce oedema due to circulatory issues.

Respiratory System – Indicated in cough, breathing difficulty, Tuberculosis, Hoarseness of voice especially for weak patients. Helps to expel the phlegm, good for throat. good for lungs to regain its strength and vitality

Excretory System – Induce urine production indicated in vatika mootrakrichra

Reproductive System – Improve semen production, stimulate menstrual bleeding, indicated in dysmenorrhea

Skin – As it contain Sulphur, it is indicated in skin disorders.
Satmikarana – Helps to regain body strength, It has fracture healing action so indicated in bone fracture.
Tapakrama – Indicated in fever (Jirna jvara). Its regular usage help to prevent diseases like Typhoid, Diphtheria etc.

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