Powerful Benefits and Uses of Garlic (& Why I Take It Daily)

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Natural Remedies » Powerful Benefits and Uses of Garlic (& Why I Take It Daily)

Garlic is an herb that I always have on hand, usually in several different forms. From powder, salt, and minced for cooking to fresh for both cooking and wellness — this herb has a plethora of uses besides being tasty!

Garlic: Revered or Feared?

Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated herbs dating back to more than 5,000 years ago, but its place in society has wavered. Some cultures saw garlic as an herb fit for the gods, while others found it repulsive and fit for only animal feed. Its use in society stretched the gamut of these beliefs.

In fact, the ancient Egyptians worshipped garlic as a god and also used it as currency! Because of this, Egyptians swore on cloves of garlic much in the way some swear on the Bible. Interestingly, only the lower-class actually ate garlic because the rich believed it was too “coarse and common” for their delicate palate. In Greece, India, and England, garlic was considered too pungent for upper-class people to eat.

Despite all the controversy, many cultures believed garlic was protective. In ancient Korea it was thought that tigers hated the smell of garlic, so people would eat pickled garlic before traversing the mountains. In ancient Greece, midwives hung cloves of garlic on the window to ward off evil spirits during childbirth. They also used garlic internally as a medicinal herb despite (or because of) its strong odor and taste.

But because of this strong taste, herbalists have been torn throughout history as to whether garlic was indeed helpful or an herb best avoided. There is one legend that goes, “When Satan stepped out from the Garden of Eden after the fall of man, Garlick sprang up from the spot where he placed his left foot and onion from that where his right foot touched.”

Garlic has been linked to romance and thought of as an aphrodisiac. It has also been used as an antiseptic during wartime and, famously, in the four thieves remedy that protected plunderers during the plague. Today we enjoy garlic for its amazing flavor and many medicinal qualities as studies have been piling up to support garlic’s use as an herbal remedy for many ailments.

Science-Backed Reasons to Eat Garlic

In modern times, garlic still enjoys being loved by many (and hated by some). I’m married to an Italian so you can guess the feeling in our house!

But there are reasons to eat garlic that have nothing to do with flavor and everything to do with health…

Healthy Heart and Metabolic Function

Some evidence suggests that garlic may help promote heart health and fight heart disease. Garlic may slow down atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and lower blood pressure slightly, between 7% and 8%. (Most of the studies on high blood pressure have used a specific formulation called Kwai.)

One study that lasted 4 years found that people who took 900 mg daily of standardized powder slowed the development of atherosclerosis. It also seems to be an anticoagulant, meaning it acts as a blood-thinner, which may help the fight against heart attacks and strokes.

Additionally, a 2010 placebo-controlled trial included 50 patients with hypertension. The trial concluded that aged garlic was as good as hypertension medications in lowering systolic blood pressure.

Finally, research shows that garlic can also help reduce blood sugar levels as well as cholesterol levels and triglycerides.

Healthy Hair

According to a 2009 study, garlic can help reduce hair loss when used topically. It also has negligible side effects, making it a safe choice. Infuse garlic cloves in olive oil to make a garlic oil and rub into the scalp as needed.

Protects Against Group B Strep

A local midwife suggests consuming a raw garlic clove or capsule of garlic daily, along with 2,000 mg of vitamin C to help balance gut bacteria and avoid GBS. Anecdotally, this remedy worked for me in my past two pregnancies after testing positive during one pregnancy. But one in vitro study that looked at allicin extract’s effect on GBS in a petri dish found that garlic was able to kill the bacteria in three hours. More research is needed to know if this treatment works, but many midwives and moms swear by it.

Colds and Flu

According to a 2001 study, ingesting garlic can prevent the common cold or flu. But the evidence on garlic’s ability to shorten the duration of colds and flu seems to come from elderly friends and grandparents who swear by its effectiveness. But garlic is safe (and delicious!), so it’s worth a try. We consume fresh cloves during illness as needed.


Garlic may help treat fungal infections like athlete’s foot, one study published in Annals of Applied Biology discovered. But garlic can also be irritating to the skin, so be cautious and listen to your body when using undilute garlic juice or fresh garlic.

Repel Mosquitos

There’s no evidence that eating garlic or rubbing it on the skin repels mosquitos. But that doesn’t stop people from doing it anyway! Many swear that eating a lot of garlic in a camping meal helps repel biting mosquitoes. Garlic is a healthy food, so there’s no harm in trying it (just keep some natural bug spray close by too).


Garlic is anti-inflammatory and fights oxidative stress, making it a potential cancer fighter. A review article published in Cancer Prevention Research explains that garlic and other vegetables in the allium family affect many biological processes that modify cancer risk. Garlic can slow cancer cell growth and speed up cancer cell death. The studies looked at garlic’s effect on cancers including:

  • stomach
  • prostate
  • colorectal
  • esophageal
  • breast
  • larynx
  • ovary

However, the review points out that it is unknown how much garlic consumption causes a reduction in cancer risk. More research is needed to find this as well as to explore the connection between overall diet and lifestyle, garlic consumption, and cancer risk. The main takeaway is that there are anti-cancer properties in garlic, giving us one more reason to include it in a healthy diet!

Ear Infections

Ear infections can be bacterial or viral. Antibiotics obviously won’t help the viral cases, but garlic will. Garlic oil is a great remedy for ear infections. It is naturally antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial. I make this recipe and keep it on hand when my kids need it.

How to Take Garlic

According to the University of Maryland Medical center, the following doses are considered generally safe doses but check with a doctor or healthcare professional before using any herb as a remedy:

  • Whole garlic clove: 2 – 4 grams per day of fresh, minced cloves (each clove is approximately 1 gram) (I try to consume 3-4 cloves daily)
  • Aged garlic extract: 600 – 1,200 mg, daily in divided doses
  • Freeze-dried capsules: 200 mg, 2 tablets 3 times daily, standardized to 1.3% alliin or 0.6% allicin. Products may also be found standardized to contain 10 – 12 mg/Gm allicin and 4,000 mcg of total allicin potential (TAP).
  • Fluid extract (1:1 w/v): 4 mL, daily
  • Tincture (1:5 w/v): 20 mL, daily
  • Oil: 0.03 – 0.12 mL, 3 times daily

Can Garlic Be Harmful?

Garlic is listed as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But always check with your doctor or herbalist as some herbs can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications.

Side effects from garlic include:

  • upset stomach
  • bloating
  • bad breath
  • body odor
  • stinging sensation or lesions from handling garlic

Other, rarer side effects from garlic supplements include:

  • headache
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle aches
  • dizziness/vertigo
  • allergies including skin rash and asthma

Garlic is considered safe for most people (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) in amounts found in food. It’s unclear if supplement doses of garlic are safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Garlic may not be safe if you have the following medical issues:

  • Bleeding disorder or upcoming surgery – Garlic (especially fresh garlic) may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Diabetes – Garlic can lower blood sugar so it may lower blood sugar too much in some people.
  • Stomach or digestion problems – Garlic may irritate the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Low blood pressure – Because garlic can lower blood pressure it may be unsafe for those with already low blood pressure.

Always check with your doctor to determine if garlic is right for you.

How I Use Garlic

Because of the benefit, I use garlic daily in some form:

  • I keep garlic powder, garlic salt, and minced garlic in the kitchen for easy use in cooking.
  • I finely mince 2-4 cloves a day or more and consume by taking a small spoonful at a time and washing down with water.
  • Fresh garlic cloves go into my salad dressings and fresh dishes.
  • I occasionally take garlic capsules for an extra boost.

Other ways to use garlic:

  • Simmer in olive oil to make garlic oil for earaches (put a few drops of cooled oil in the ear).
  • Treat thinning hair by applying garlic oil to the scalp.
  • Eat fermented garlic honey to boost the immune system during illness.
  • Garlic in the diet can be a natural remedy for group B strep during pregnancy (midwives advise eating a clove a day).
  • A footbath containing fresh cloves of garlic can help with athlete’s foot.
  • Reduce mosquitos in in your yard by using garlic-infused water on and around mosquito breeding areas.

Note: Garlic can be very strong, so try garlic oil or infused water before using straight garlic cloves on the skin.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Do you take garlic? How do you use it? Share below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


35 responses to “Powerful Benefits and Uses of Garlic (& Why I Take It Daily)”

  1. Deanna Schieche Avatar
    Deanna Schieche

    I put a large clove of garlic in my smoothie every morning along with some other vegetables and fruits, and protein powder. What ever is in season. I never taste the garlic or smell of garlic. It is so easy and works so well for me. I find it amazing that the garlic taste doesn’t come through, but it works for me.

  2. Rachelle Avatar

    I would love to take garlic on a daily basis but I work around a lot of people. Is there some way to take it so that I don’t reak of garlic and offend anyone? Please help.

  3. Erika Avatar

    Garlic is awesome! I do the same as Katie, I usually just chop up 2-4 cloves and down it with water. I’ve done this when I’ve felt mastitis coming on and I feel that it stopped it in it’s tracks. The same has been true when I’ve consumed it when I’ve felt a UTI coming on. I’m trying to get better about doing this on a daily basis for overall health. Question for you Katie, I’ve tried getting my kids to consume it during illnesses by putting the finely minced pieces in some honey but they still don’t seem to like that. How do you get your kids to take it? Just increase the amount of garlic you use in meals? Or do you have another trick? Thanks for the great article!

  4. Stephanie Avatar

    My daughter was sick earlier in the year and I got her to take minced garlic in honey twice, which was amazing, but after that she refused. I found the idea online (it might have been the Wellness Mama FB group) to ferment the garlic. This makes it easier to take and you also get the added probiotic benefit. So I fermented a large batch of garlic cloves and keep it in the fridge. It’s amazing! My daughter will pop a clove in her mouth and chew it right up now. I do the same, they’re tasty!

    On a side note, thank you Katie for your site. Finding you when I was looking into safe sunscreen about four years ago began my transition to clean, natural, toxin-free living. We have changed our life so drastically and are healthier because of it. You have made a huge impact in our lives. Thank you!

  5. Rachel Avatar

    Hi Katie,
    I really enjoy your blog posts and podcasts. I’ve learned so much these past few months! My question to you is, what steps do you take to really boost your kids’ immune systems this time of year? My 4 year old starts preschool tomorrow and we have a 10 month old at home. Just curious on any suggestions you have. We wash our hands like crazy, they are both on quality probiotics and on a quality Vitamin C regimen currently.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      It sounds like you’re doing all the right things! I also make sure they are getting lots of Vitamin D, diffuse immune-boosting and kid-safe essential oils, and make sure they’re getting plenty of sleep (this can get harder as the school year schedules get busier).

  6. Susan M Avatar

    Love the helpful comments on here. I have started copying many of them and saving them for future use. May print the off on cards.

    A garlic enema will bring down a fever.
    I have given a few garlic enemas with the bulb syringe. The fever went down.

    It is not hard to give an enema. Just take your time. If possible tell the one who will be getting the enema that it will help make them feel better.

    No mess. Does not hurt.

    It works.

    Of course never give/use home/herbal remedies or give enema without checking with your doctor first.

    1. Juliette Avatar

      Love this blog!

      The garlic preparation instructions can be found in the book Prescription For Nutritional Healing.

      It works. Not hard to prepare and administer.

      1. Sue Mom Avatar

        Juliette, yes! Love that book.
        Should be in every home and used often.

        Yes it works. And not hard to prepare and administer.

        Did you give for fevers?

        1. Betty A Avatar

          Glad you told of that book.
          Agree, every home should have it.

          Garlic is a miracle healer.

          Also catnip is good too.

          Give the garlic enema for fever reduction. Works!
          Also have given catnip tea enemas.

          Bless all

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