Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Garlic Bad For You?

Also Known As: Allium sativum



Short answer

Garlic is not bad for you. Although there are times when excessive amounts of garlic pose health risks, garlic is good for the overall wellness of the body. Most doctors recommend adding garlic to your regular diet for its health benefits.



Long answer

Garlic has been used since ancient times as a remedy for ailments, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It has also been used as a way to neutralize bacteria in open cuts wounds, and can be a short-term, natural substitution for penicillin.

The reason garlic can do all of these things is because of its antibacterial property, created by the chemical allicin. This naturally occurring antibiotic is what lends garlic its potent smell. The antibacterial properties of garlic are useful for preventing hardening of the arteries, tick bites, and treating ringworm and other itchy rashes like athlete’s foot. It is also suggested that garlic can prevent cancer (especially cancer in the digestive tract) by preventing the overgrowth of cells and assisting in DNA repair.

You can consume garlic in its natural state, as a powder, and in pill form. The pill form is customary when taking garlic as a supplement. Garlic is used in cooking, both as a vegetable--usually chopped or crushed, and as a powder in dishes that require the flavor, but not the texture of garlic.

Folk remedies call for garlic to treat respiratory ailments like colds, and studies show that garlic can indeed be effective in these scenarios-- but usually more as a reduction in frequency, rather than duration of symptoms. Many people tout the use of garlic poultices in treating colds. There are people that have suggested garlic might be a good treatment for acne. It is important to point out that the excessive use of garlic may result in a pungent body odor leaving you isolated from the people around.

When using garlic medicinally, do not rub raw garlic directly on the skin, as this may cause severe irritation. For pregnant and breastfeeding women eating garlic is ok, but do not use it medicinally, as the risk to the fetus and/or the baby is always uncertain. Children should not ingest large amounts of garlic, either in food or for medicinal purposes. Garlic is also known to thin the blood and thereby exacerbate bleeding events. Consult your doctor concerning your risk of using garlic medicinally if you have a bleeding disorder or within two weeks of having surgery.

Garlic is full of health benefits and is a welcome alternative to synthetic treatment. However, garlic is potent and should be used with caution to treat the body medicinally. It should never be applied directly to the skin in its raw form, but gels and creams containing garlic are generally considered safe.

Possible short-term side effects

  • bad breath/body odor
  • skin irritation

Possible long-term side effects

  • thinned blood


  • disinfectant
  • antibacterial
  • increased blood circulation
  • lowered cholesterol and blood pressure
  • lowered risk of cancer
  • treats acne
  • treatment for colds
  • natural seasoning

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 06-10-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 06-10-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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