Functional Food Facts: Garlic does not cure COVID-19, but it does have other benefits


By Janet Colston, PhD

The internet is full of misinformation, like boiled garlic will “cure” the novel coronavirus. 


Uncertainty creates fear.  And in this uncertain time fear will lead to grasping onto a hope that anything will help and that there may be a magic cure out there. It’s important to note that we all are experiencing fear and anxiety during this uncertain time.  We all (at times) feel helpless against things, especially new and invisible things like the new disease COVID-19.

So first, lets focus on what we do know:

The CDC recommends the following measures in regard to COVID-19

  1. How to protect yourself
  2. What to do if you are sick

Disclaimer: We are not doctors and do not prescribe this blog as a medicinal alternative to bona fide medical advice should you contract seasonal flu or Coronavirus.

As we retreat to our homes, fearful of catching this new virus, we want to help people to gather information on a wide range foods that can boost the immune system. Over the coming weeks we will continue to dive into what we know about different plants and their ability to impact our health.


Latin name Allium Sativum – Bulbus (Liliaceae) belongs to the Allium family which also includes onions, leeks and chives. Native to Asia, garlic is widely used in western cookery as a common seasoning but did you know about its multiple medicinal properties?

Vasodilator, Decongestant, Anti-cholesterol, Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-viral.

Garlic remedies including raw garlic, commercial powders, oil and extracts have been used for millennia, and are popularly thought to be effective against the common cold [1].  Garlic contains allicin, a sulphur-containing phytonutrient, likely to be the source of its antibacterial and anti-viral properties [2][3].

Traditionally garlic was used as a herbal remedy for gastric disturbances, cleansing the lining of the gut and stimulating liver detoxification. Volatile oils prepared from the bulbs can also act as a decongestant and soothe the bronchioles and alveoli of the lungs clearing unwanted mucous [4]. However, care should be taken to avoid excess as unwanted side effects including gastric bloating and aggravated irritable bowel syndrome have been observed [5].

Cardiovascular protection

Multiple in vitro studies have shown garlic lowers blood cholesterol, and reduces platelet aggregation [6], blood pressure [7] and angiotensin-converting enzyme [8].  Despite clinical evidence suggesting garlic may have a role to play in either preventing or delaying cardiovascular disease, there are variances in the efficacy of different types of garlic extract [9].

Boosting the immune system

Healthy food and a healthy lifestyle (while it will not protect you from catching Coronavirus) will prepare your body to fight off a virus should you contract one. Garlic provides a great boost to the immune system with added fiber, Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron, Manganese, Vitamin B1, B6 and C, Selenium.

If you can’t get any garlic bulbs in the supermarket why not try its wild cousin, Wild Garlic or Ramps that also has a nutritional value with added phytonutrients and is found growing along riverbed streams.

Wild Garlic (Ramps) 

Growing at home

Growing garlic could not be simpler than splitting the cloves of the bulbs and potting up in a warm sunny position in well-draining soil. Typically it can take 9 months to mature outdoors but if you can’t wait that long give it a go in hydroponics but remember its roots can be extensive.

Janet Colston PhD is pharmacologist with an interest in growing ‘functional’ foods that have additional phytonutrients and display medicinal qualities that are beneficial to human health. She grows these using a range of techniques including plant tissue micropropagation and controlled environmental agriculture to ensure the highest quality control.


  1. Hi Janet. Gypsy here.
    Just a note on garlic. White garlic is not the same as red (also called purple) garlic.
    I once got a “standard” fever and the only garlic I was able to get my hands on was the white variety. Consequently, I was still crook 14 days later. On two other occasions I contracted a flue, (one of them was rather severe). On both occasions I made a full recovery after taking two cloves of uncooked garlic three times a day, for three days. But on both occasions I used red garlic. Again; On both occasions I started taking the garlic within 24 hours of first feeling unwell. (I suspect the benefits of taking garlic will diminish
    after the 24 hour period). I’m also very aware that heating the garlic will render it useless. NB: I’ve been testing red garlic for the past 25 years.
    Does this help?

  2. I totally agree with gypsy over the value of garlic. For the last 25 years Ive been likely to get urinary infections and found garlic sorts them every time. Just as interesting though was the anti- viral effects. ordinary colds disappeared and when zi did feel one coming on ‘ a clove and a bit’ Got rid of it. So when I caught …you know what…at 68?…I took the garlic and had the symptoms but no cough just a very sensitive throat after Nearly a week then it was finished.
    How I take garlic is crushed and marinated in olive oil with chilli and rosemary. As gypsy says don’t heat it much for best benefits. And then for evening meal I have it crushed with mayonnaise …which makes a nice piquant sauce with steamed food …eg veg and fish.
    As a final point the efficacy of garlic would be disproved if any of the five highest garlic consuming countries in the world had high covid death rates. Actually their average ( reported) deaths is one in 1.6 million. As a contrast in the UK it is one in a thousand. Yes lots of other factors could explain this but no one yet has DISproved the efficacy of garlic.

  3. I believe I had Covid19 during April. It was a mild form but each night for about a week I felt strong weight and throbbing sensations in my chest. I ate a clove of raw white garlic each night and these sensations were markedly reduced.

    As far as I’m concerned, this plant does offer significant benefits for for the symptomatic management of this disease. I tell everyone how it helped me.

    • Hi Alan,
      That is awesome! So glad you have been able to stay healthy. Thanks for sharing with us how garlic helped you through! Stay well

  4. I have been taking Dr. Zhou’s garlic pills fir two years. I got a case of covid toes in April. It was my only symptom and I am 69. I saw a doctor on you tube who said people who have only covid toes have higher level of inteferon. Garlic raises inteferon levels

  5. Where is your scientific evidence proving that garlic does not cure this. Have you run tests with control samples or have they even considered trying this. I guarantee a control group of people eating raw garlic vs anything else would show increased rates of survival. Same scenario- my mom was sick with this for a week and a half- i made her garlic chicken soup- at least 4 whole heads of garlic i put in and started giving her 2 pieces of raw garlic and she got better almost instantly.

    They have run experiments on other coronaviruses in the past and proved that garlic does have anti-viral properties. Nothing can cure a virus but with the use of garlic- it can inhibit the spread and give your immune system the help it needs to actually stage off the effects. I would be willing to bet $1000 that people who eat raw garlic once infected by covid will have a higher survival rate compared to people who do not eat garlic.

    So- as a cure it may not cure it- but it most certainly has anti-viral properties and that help control and decrease the the spread of the virus to give your immune system a fighting chance to stage it off. The cardiovascular benefits of garlic are enormous- also id be curious to see if garlic extract would inhibit the virus.

    Garlic is also a great way to social distance from others- You eat this stuff raw and nobody wants to come 6 feet from you- So in effect it absolutely reduces your chances of coming in contact with the virus. Win- Win. I ate like 6 pieces one day and my brother could smell me over 15 feet away. Now- if they can smell through the pours of your skin that strong, it is a possibility that it does have anti-viral properties- definitely anti-microbial properties as i have never seen mold grow on garlic- then it may very well have potential to fight off virus.

    Getting the right dosage would be the main thing- but i would say the more you eat- the better your chances are at survival. Everyone is dying from this covid- what else do they have to lose- maybe a lot of money on pharmaceuticals.

    Bet some special interests not so happy with this post- but dont you guys worry- Americans are so unhealthy already 65% of people overweight- you guys have nothing to worry about. People dont care about themselves enough to eat healthy and exercise so there will always be the need for you.

    If you havent tried eating raw garlic before- give it a shot and see how good your blood starts flowing within seconds/minutes and how much better you start to feel. It is very difficult to get accustomed to. It is best to eat with a piece of cheese, ritz cracker and honey to help cut down the potency- piece of kale/olive/cheese//carrots/artichoke and mayo good combo too.


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