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

EatThis Functional Food

By Janet Colston, PhD

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

THIS IS DEFINITELY FALSE.

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.

Garlic

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 a 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.

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

  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?

    1. Hi Gypsy,

      Thank you for your comment. It is extremely interesting! We will keep in mind the red garlic.

    2. Just a few comments on the Garlic. I have never had red garlic, no idea what it is or where to find it. I will look for it. While I have had cooked garlic, I limited that experience to the flavor for cooking. All of my medicinal garlic has been raw. I first came across the value of garlic from my priest. He used it on a daily basis. It is hard to judge many of the effects of Garlic, but I will say that consuming one or two cloves of garlic when I have cold symptoms will slam those symptoms. I take crushed garlic with on a table spoon with honey. That makes the garlic go down much easier, and honey has many other benefits as well. My honey is from a local supplier, none of that made in China brown water colored with caramel.

      1. Two huge thing that I have seen. IN VIVO. Has been almost 95 percent of the times I have tooth abscess and swelling follows and pain. I eat a clove of fresh and chew it well and later that day or next day abcess has reduced drastically or subsided entirely. And secondly. Growing tomatoes in soil. The sprouts would appear grow an inch and wilt over an die. All of them. When I crushed a clove added a few pieces to water. Shook it and added it to new seedlings in. SAME soil. Seedlings from same batch as the ones that died. The new growths grew super strong. Didn’t wilt a bit. Super healthy. And got a harvest later that year. I repeated this experiment several times. Always same results. It managed to kill the Damp Off fungus in soil and the germs causing abcess in my teeth or cavity. Giving me much time to get it pulled. Raw chewed Garlic works wonders

        1. I concur with your garlic assessment, I’m an herbalist/nutritionist with frequent dental problems, incl abcesses — I eat raw garlic DAILY and rinse my mouth (spit out the first clove/water) then chew a couple more, making sure it contacts all my teeth. It seems to keep the infections at a minimum and I know it’s killing a lot of bacteria too. I have cancer and difficulty finding a dentist to treat me so I rely on garlic and herbs for most infections & viruses. I’ve read it’s equal or even better than antibiotics in some cases 👍 Just one note: it’s possible for botulism to occur in honey/garlic mixtures if kept too long… I recommend always using fresh bulbs. I also supplement with a garlic product from Moss Nutrition a combination of white and black fermented garlic — there’s also a product I believe called DEFENSE available online with high quality garlic (plus another ingredient) Eat Garlic every day!!!!

          1. Hi! I love garlic, fresh garlic. Oh I’m not speaking of the taste, no way. But I love how it makes me feel when I swallow it that I’m literally boosting my immune system.
            Another thing. Earlier this year ( like Spring), I tested positive for COVID19. Yes I was completely floored!! But I decided to literally increase my consumption of fresh garlic (including Echinacea and Golden Seal), and guess what? I now have antibodies, I mean ANTIBODIES!
            Will I get the vaccine? Still just thinking about that. But my fresh garlic consumption along with my Echinacea and Golden Seal consumption? It will never end, especially the garlic.

    3. You’re right Alan. Which is why I believe that I have antibodies now since being COVID19 diagnosed during the Spring.
      Garlic literally boosts the immune system.

  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.

    1. Hi Mark,
      Super interesting! I’m glad garlic has helped you overcome so many moments. Thanks for sharing!

    2. Yes, garlic is known to be an anti-virus agent.
      I eat it raw though by grating a piece into a cup, then swallow it with some water and follow it quickly with a piece of bread because of the taste.

  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.

    1. 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

      1. Hi. Another garlic wonder.
        A friend of mine chew 3 clov fresh garlic a day for medical reason. One day his wife got a fever and literally diagnost. She and her 6 years daughter got positve cov19 and later isolated. Interestingly my friend was negative even after the 2nd swab. He was really amazed not knowing why cov19 didnt got him.
        Now I am learning to consume garlic.

    2. Garlic is also very useful for cardiac problems in general, and vascular disease. Garlic and Vit D are the only things I’ve read about so far that I consider positive or (almost) conclusive as far as helping with Covid. I hope someone is doing some research on this somewhere 🙏

    3. Ye I had breathing problems I crushed garlic rubbed it in my hands it did relieve it considerably but that’s just me

  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.

    1. Thank you so much for your comments. As you yourself said, nothing can “cure” a virus, but garlic is definitely a helpful ingredient for recovery and improving the immune system.

    2. I agree with everything you say about garlic. I disagree about Americans not eating right and not exercising. I am European who has been living in US for 20 years and the only person that doesn’t exercise is me. I also see everyone around watches their diet. But back to the topic. Garlic does help and taken in the beginning raw helped me get well in 4 days after I got the virus

      1. I don’t know where in the US you are located (I’m in MA) but I’m very skeptical of your comment @ Americans exercising and eating healthy 😉 🤔 Frankly, I look around for example the national news on tv, and over half of the population is overweight. It’s become a cottage industry with tv shows like my 600 lb sister, or 1000 lb siblings! I know there’s a small part of the population into “health foods” and/or regular exercise, but it’s definitely the minority, all you have to do is look around. I see a country of unhealthy, sedentary children and adults most of whom eat too much junk food & fast food. It’s not just the US anymore either, other countries with fast food outlets everywhere and an absence of healthy fresh food stores available for poorer populations have led to obesity & heart disease in England and other European countries who will soon look as bad as we Americans… it’s very unfortunate! This is our future — diabetes, cancer & heart disease — in addition, many ppl are on “biologics” for eczema and other conditions which WEAKEN the immune system and increase already high risks of getting cancer. These are conditions which can be treated successfully with herbs, diet and lifestyle changes but they hand out dangerous drugs instead and do not educate or even support alternatives to pharmaceuticals bc it’s highly profitable. Just my opinion (after 25 yrs of making natural eczema & other remedies)

        1. Thank you for the comprehensive comments on garlic and the effects you observed. There are many research groups around the world examining natural plant based potencies against Covid and we are glad you are doing well.

    3. I have issues with UTI infection. Often times I’ll get it once a month. I did some research about garlic, whenever I feel the symptoms of getting an infection I would minced one glove and I put it in my mouth without chewing it and just drink water to get it down. I have not been having to go and see the doctor anymore in regards to UTI infection, truly garlic gave me and instant relief within 15 minutes after taking it raw.

    4. Thank you so much for this comment, I could not have spoken it in a more eloquent and detailed and accurate way in which you presented it with such conviction! My mother has been studying health and the human body for 30 or 40 years and she believes in the power of garlic and she takes herbs and natural vitamins all sorts of supplements and she’s very educated about the very thing you were speaking of. She’s been sick since I was 8 years old and she has taught me from a young child the importance of the many things that we are gifted with from this Earth that can help us in so many different situations as we have not taken the vaccine we are taking many of these natural supplements everyday to build our immune systems. Keep enforcing this testimony because it needs to be heard so many people are lost they depend on the doctors for everything in there is so many other options that we have for survival to fight this virus. Thank you so much!

      1. Thank you for your kind comments. We agree with your mum that garlic has great anti-viral properties. The organosulfur compounds have many medicinal properties capable of reducing viral replication of SARS-CoV-2.

  6. Dear Janet – please read the attached clinical trial ref garlic & Covid 19 and kindly change the heading of your article – there is too much misinformation out there and I believe you are doing a severely damaging disservice to humankind. It is negligent of you to discredit something without having done a clinical trial yourself – as an earlier poster mentioned.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7265825/

    1. Hi Sarah, We are sorry that this article caused you to become upset. The title is still accurate, as the above poster you referred to also said that nothing can “cure” a virus. We are happy to share the benefits of garlic. We are not misinforming anyone as we are sharing useful information on the health benefits of specific foods, in hopes to encourage healthy diets and food choices. We do not pretend to be a medically scientific source, so thank you for sharing such a useful link for all to access. We hope you are doing well and staying safe!

      1. The problem is you are not sharing the positive and preventative effects of garlic on Covid 19 – which have now been proved by at least 2 clinical trials/studies. Like I said your article is a source of misinformation as you are discrediting garlic – and you are being pedantic by saying ‘the title is accurate’ and ‘that nothing can kill a virus’. Most people reading your article will unfortunately believe you that garlic is completely ineffective against Covid 19 – which is CLEARLY NOT THE CASE otherwise these trials would have different results. I suspect boiling garlic will destroy the beneficial essential oils that have been proven to have a beneficial effect – but in your article you make absolutely NO MENTION of these effects at all! You remind me of the quote “a little learning is a dangerous thing” – which is why I genuinely believe you a doing a disservice to humankind.

        Please let other people be the judge…
        Here’s another study that refutes your claims…
        https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsomega.0c00772

          1. I am laughed at for telling people when sick, eat raw garlic and a shot of whiskey. Seems the alcohol blends with the garlic and goes to the lungs and helps with respiratory issues

    2. Hi Sarah, I read the clinical trial article you submitted a few months ago and shared with family. My mom has treated our ailments with garlic since I was a child. I am now 48 and continue with the use if garlic, white or red works for me. Glad to see other people using it and not ashamed of home remedies.

  7. Hi; Janet
    I’m 67 year old male just got called that I’m positive for COVID-19 so I’ll try to share my two bits worth. I think the reason there is no clinical proof of the benefits of garlic is that the money doesn’t want it. I started feeling flu like on the 3d, felt like a bad flu on the 4th, aches and pains a tooth ache that was not a tooth and a fever of 39C. So because I get exposed to the public and I live with my 86 yr old mom I called the COVID-19 number. If I had been living alone thy would not have tested me but with mom here thy sent me to be tested and today the 6th I got my results POSITIVE. Since the 3rd I have been using Garlic I can’t say how much because I don’t really eat it I keep it in my mouth until it plays out by then it is all chewed witch I then swallow and get another peace. I control the rate of absorption by the amount of agitation much like a hard candy to fast makes for a very sore mouth. I all so took 1000mg vitamin C 3 or 4 times a day and maybe 2 LT of water. today my symptoms are all most gone and my temp. is 36.5 . I will try to update.

    1. Hi Peter,

      Thanks for sharing your story with us. I’m so glad your symptoms are almost gone. Garlic definitely has wonderful benefits for our health. You are in our thoughts and we hope you make a complete recovery and that your mother stays well!

  8. I have numerous articles on the anti-viral effect of garlic. It is most definitely effective against viruses. What it basically does is strip away the protective protein envelope of a virus. If you have ever experienced the intense burning sensation of raw garlic on your tongue, then you can already begin to understand how it works in this way. Some viruses, such as Corona, have a fragile protein envelope and are easily compromised.
    The debate has been in how effective it actually is in doing this in vivo (within the body) as the body is quite dense throughout. But the simple answer to that is saturation. You have to eat a lot of it for an extended period of time, to ensure it’s efficacy.

  9. I have chest infection for 3 years . I start to take one clove of garlic with warm glass of water and one spoon of honey blended together and drink straightaway twice a day after 2 weeks my cough disappeared.

  10. On September of last year me and my family got infected with Coronavirus. (My mom , sister and me) I was the one who got really sick . I remember it started with a headache that wouldn’t go away, then the loss of taste and smell followed by intense sweats (soaking my clothes in sweat) not even when I work out I sweat that much. Anyways as the days passed I started getting shortness of breath, getting out of bed was a hassle. I’m only 27 years old and covid was kicking my bum! When My grandma got the news of our diagnosis, she quickly called my mom and told her to try a recipe her doctor gave her for her bronchitis. This recipe consists of 5 raw garlics, a slice of red onion, half of a lemon, drizzle of honey , one beet and water to blend all ingredients together in order for it to be like a smoothie consistency. The first time we all had a full glass of that juice , I couldn’t taste or smell but let me tell you ! That juice made my nose burn and my eyes cry lol because the onion and garlic where spicy!!!! But the good thing about it was that I was slowly getting my appetite back and my smell and taste back, after I had that glass of juice. The next day we took two tablespoons in the morning, two in the afternoon and two at night. We did that for two weeks every day. I’m not claiming that this recipe is the cure for Coronavirus and I don’t guarantee that it would work for everyone but I think it’s worth giving it a try .

    1. Hi Brenda,

      Thanks so much for sharing! And we’re so glad that you and your family recuperated well.

  11. Hello from the Philippines!
    We had COVID at home. My father was an avid garlic fan because of his hypertension. He had an issue with his cardiovascular health before and he was also a smoker so he started eating raw garlic everyday. He eats 5 bulbs every time. My mother first felt the symptoms, runny nose, body ache, head ache, and lost of smell. She was not feeling well. And I was worried because my father is 68 and has co morbidities. The only symptoms he felt was muscle pain and one day low fever, that’s it!
    The thing with garlic is that you need to eat it raw. The chemical compound in garlic becomes activated once you slice it or chew on it. But, it deactivates easily so you need to eat it fresh immediately. What I do is first thing in the morning, without any food and water, I chop 4 garlic very thinly, and I drink it with water so it won’t stay in your mouth. I also had mild hypertension because I gained weight, but since I started this routine, my blood pressure became normal. Just do it everyday, and you will notice it in 4 weeks. check out our yt: mamawais

    1. Thank you for the tips on using garlic raw. Many people are finding the medicinal properties in garlic helpful in treating symptoms of covid and we are very happy to hear your father came through the disease and is well.

  12. Late one evening, I had come down with a sore throat after going to the hospital for check-up on my back pain. I felt a slight headache, itchy and slight discomfort in my throat, and also a cough was beginning to start. I was afraid that I may have contracted the covid virus. I quickly chopped some garlic and ate it with my dinner that night. Then the next morning after breakfast, I chopped it fine and ate some more and this time downed it all with a glass of water. It stings terribly on the tongue yet I braved it. Towards afternoon, the sore throat had disappeared, the cough disappeared, the fatigue and tiredness left and the headache was gone. Garlic apparently has the same properties as the Ivermectin drug that has been found to effectively lessen symptoms of covid in people who consume it. But you need to take it as soon as symptoms start – don’t wait, so that way you get quicker results. It seems the humble garlic does have anti-viral properties. Like they say, ” Food is medicine”.

  13. I read the part about garlic not curing covid. How do they know, did they give it to covid patients? I’ll bet you that it can cure covid. A virus can die, so it has to be defeatable. Garlic is next to God to me. I’ve cured so many ailments with it I could write a book. My immune system is off the chain because of it

    1. Several research groups suggest Allium sativum in Garlic extracts may be an acceptable measure against COVID-19 infection to boost immune system cells and to repress the production and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. That said the severity of this disease is vast and garlic alone cannot be considered a cure. We are very glad you feel the benefits.

  14. It’s true, my mom had covid and she’s asthmatic, I literally forced her to chew raw garlic cloves cause she had no appetite and was numb, 3 cloves 3 times a day she legit started feeling better and better, when she started getting appetite I made chicken noodle soup and I chopped up 1 Clove for each meal,, she didn’t want any medication cause it made her vomit, today she is perfectly healthy and every morning before breakfast we all have 1 clove, we chew it so it can mix with ur saliva and it forms a antibiotic and up till today we didn’t have runny noses, colds or flu, No1 is saying it’s a cure but out of real life experience its been keeping us on the survival list and we still going strong and still following covid protocol. God’s natural remedies will always find its way into his people’s lives.

  15. I recently had the the “you know what”. I had heavy fatigue, throbbing headache, and slight pressure in my chest. I knew I had it because I had been helping my daughter and ex wife who tested positive and they had the same symptoms. I Isaturated myself with garlic juice (3_6 cloves) mixed with juice from one whole lemon ,parsley, and spinach juice made in my nutribullet. I also took high dose vitamin c powder (20,000 mg) spaced through out the day along with garlic and onion tea, soups chocked full of garlic and onions, vitamin D3 30,000 I.U., zinc (250 mg), colloidal silver, and a vial of liquid ginseng every two hours and lots of water and electrolytes( mainly magnesium.) Within three day I had recovered. I even got tested at the end of the three days and it was negative.

  16. I am a retired industrial Chemist- I have had great success – eating chopped fresh Garlic every day – I have low /normal blood pressure pressure
    I dont use sugar, but eat all the natural fats and oils, and use as much salt as I like : I follow Dr Ruth Parkes Book and I haveused Garlic Patches to totally cure Basal Cell Carcinoma on my face – follow up exams, done in New Zealand – It astonished my Kiwi Doctor – He had sent me an email to get the BCC removed ASAP – He could not find cant find any sign of the Cancer- I have also had, a week long course of 5 % Garlic – administered as an enema- This was done by a well qualified doctor in, Fiji-He graduated from New Zealand’s Otago Medical School :l had a follow up exam, and my NZ based doctor, could not find any sign of the hard black lump that was attached to my colon – Later colonoscopies confirm the lump as has disappeared – Garlic is great stuff .

    1. thanks for sharing your story Alex, we are very glad you are well and have found the medicinal benefits of garlic

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