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

Functional Food

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.

19 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?

  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.

    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

  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.

  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.

    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…

  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.

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