Garlic lends flavor to dishes ranging from pasta to soup to roasted chicken, and it keeps vampires away. What you might not know is that it's also considered a powerful ally against various health conditions. While you shouldn't begin taking megadoses of garlic or any other natural supplement without talking to your doctor about it, here is what you need to know about using garlic as a natural remedy for a host of ailments.


This pungent herb can pack a powerful punch when it comes to a variety of maladies. These include:

  • Acne. It is a widely held belief that eating raw garlic can prevent and clear up acne blemishes. According to, garlic is not only a strong antioxidant, but it can also lower insulin resistance, which might be associated with adult acne. Also, it contains nutrients like zinc, selenium, vitamin B6, vitamin C and copper, which are known to fight acne.
  • High Blood Pressure. Sometimes called "the silent killer," hypertension can cause heart attacks, heart disease and strokes. Usually, high blood pressure has no symptoms until it is severe, so it's important to have yours checked and to keep it under control. There is some evidence that taking garlic can help lower blood pressure. It contains allicin, which helps relax blood vessels, explains
  • Cancer. The National Cancer Institute says that preliminary studies have shown that taking garlic, either raw, cooked, dried or as garlic oil, can reduce the risk of some cancers, particularly that of the pancreas, breast, stomach, colon and esophagus.
  • Yeast Infections. If a woman has a vaginal yeast infection, it's possible to treat it by inserting a garlic clove in the vagina at bedtime instead of using an over-the-counter antifungal cream or suppository, according to Midwifery Today.

Side Effects

Like any herbal or natural remedy, garlic has the potential to cause side effects. Most of the time, people can eat garlic as part of a balanced diet without any problems at all. There are a few caveats you should be aware of, though.

If you are having upcoming surgery, you should know that garlic can increase the risk of bleeding. Many times, your doctor will give you a list of foods and medications to avoid before having surgery, and garlic will likely be on the list! This is also a consideration if you take medications that prevent blood clots; talk to your doctor before adding garlic to your diet if you have bleeding or clotting issues.

Garlic ingested in large amounts, particularly if eaten raw, can cause gastrointestinal symptoms. You might experience heartburn, nausea or diarrhea. These are generally mild and you can treat them by cutting back on the amount of garlic you're eating, but if they persist or are severe, see your doctor.

One side effect that is very common is bad breath, sometimes called halitosis. You might also notice the smell of garlic on your skin if you are eating a lot of it.

Some people are allergic to garlic. Those who are sensitive to the herb might experience an asthma attack or skin lesions after handling garlic. If you are sensitive to the herb, it's best to avoid it.

Finally, garlic can interact with some medications. This is why it's very important to speak to your doctor before adding supplements, including garlic, to your daily regimen. The following medications interact with garlic: Nydrazid, NNRTIs used to treat HIV and AIDS, Fortovase, and Invirase. If you take any of these, avoid garlic supplements and eating raw or cooked garlic. In some cases, garlic can interact with birth control pills, cyclosporine, and medications that are broken down by the liver.

If you are hoping to improve your overall health, defeat acne, cure a yeast infection or fight high blood pressure, garlic might be the answer you've been looking for. Click here for additional information.