Winter is coming… and so is cold, flu and fever. In addition to causing a lot of irritable symptoms like a sore throat, sneezing, headache and so on, the cold can keep you out of the gym. Can garlic, of all things, be of help here?
Due to the many different virus types, naturally, there doesn’t exist a universal cure for the common cold.
Consuming garlic is a popular remedy for cold. Garlic is considered, by the common population, to have antibacterial effects due to its ability to boost the immune system. Exactly how it does it is still unknown. There is actually some evidence to support the claim that it may PREVENT colds.
Allicin – The Active Ingredient in Garlic
The main mechanism in garlic is a molecule called allicin. Allicin is released when the garlic is crushed or sliced. It’s believed to be responsible for many of the beneficial effects of garlic, like boosting the immune system. To ensure the maximum release of allicin the garlic should be crushed, sliced or chewed prior to cooking.
Observational and Experimental Studies
Those who consume garlic regularly seems to have fewer sick days and reduced severity of symptoms. This is a “link” or a so called association found in observational studies. To really know of garlic affects the cold we need experimental studies…
Although more trials are needed to verify the results, one trial has actually been done comparing 146 participants assigned either a garlic supplement (with 180 mg allicin) or a placebo for 12 weeks (2). There were 24 self-reported occurrences of the common cold in the garlic group compared with 65 in the placebo group. The number of days to recovery from an occurrence of the common cold was similar in both groups
So garlic doesn’t seem to have an effect in actually TREATING the cold, but did PREVENT colds! Also, remember that you will need to take allicin EXTRACT for this effect as one garlic clove only contains 3.6 mg.
Research is Still Scarce
It’s worth noting that the evidence of garlic against cold and flu is very scarce. Most studies use garlic combined with other supplement and therefore it’s hard to draw definite conclusions if it is just garlic doing the work or not.
However, garlic appears to be quite effective considering the limited evidence that does exist. It is effective in reducing the severity of symptoms as well as the number of sick days during a cold.
Worth noting that consuming garlic every day is sure to reduce the contact with people, perhaps a decisive measure to prevent cold from occurring…
Post provided by @maria_ekblom, a member of #teamEBT. Licensed physiotherapist and personal trainer. Edited by @entezarjou, EBT Founder.
- Lissiman E, Bhasale A, Cohen M. Garlic for the common cold. Cochrane Database Systematic Rreviews. 2014;11(11).
- Josling P. Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: A double-blind, placebo-controlled survey. Advances in Therapy. 2001;18(4):189-193.
- Nantz M, Rowe C, Muller C, Creasy R, Stanilka J, Percival S. Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and γδ-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention. Clinical Nutrition. 2012;31(3):337-344.
- Natália M. Chemical composition and bioactive compounds of garlic (Allium sativum L.) as affected by pre- and post-harvest conditions: A review. Food Chemistry. Volume 211, 15 November 2016, Pages 41–50.