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?


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