The Common Cold Remedies Garlic

Garlic is a traditionally touted home remedy for the common cold. While scientific studies continue, this claim remains up for debate. However, the ingredients found in garlic could potentially be of actual benefit. Some research even points to the fact that daily doses of garlic will prevent colds from occurring.

The pursuit of a cure for the common cold leads many sufferers to try a garlic remedy. Many who seek alternative treatments state that garlic is the one natural therapy that can actually reduce the risks for contracting a cold in the first place. They argue that even vitamin C may simply lessen the effects of symptoms once they begin.

History of Garlic as a Home Remedy

Garlic has a longstanding reputation as a home remedy for many ills. Historically, claims of its healing properties range from curing gangrene to preventing death from plague. It may have been implemented in ancient Egypt as a curative. Throughout history, records show that individuals consumed garlic, often in large quantities, to ward off common and disastrous ills, not to mention its supposed effect on evil spirits and vampires.

Even in recent years, garlic compounds may be gaining renewed attention as more than just alternative cold remedies. Garlic’s healthful properties could also benefit other illnesses and diseases, including:

  • cancer
  • heart disease
  • high cholesterol
  • hypertension.

Ingredients in Garlic that May Help the Common Cold

Garlic contains antioxidants, which have many healthful benefits. Plants vary in their strength, though, depending on their location and how they’re prepared. This potency is as variable in fresh varieties as it is in supplements.

Allicin is a naturally occurring chemical that protects the garlic plant from bacterial or viral invasion. Some garlic experts believe that this same compound helps humans resist infection in the same way. It begins as “alliin,” which is odorless and converts to allicin when a clove is crushed or sliced. When allicin becomes active, it releases an entire array of sulfurous compounds. It is this sulfuric action that gives garlic its aroma and its nickname, “stinking rose.” Unfortunately, the human body does not absorb allicin readily. An aging and fermentation process appears to break down compounds within allicin to make them water-soluble.

Garlic also becomes more powerful when paired with vitamin B1, also known as thiamine. Thiamine is an energy producer, but does not remain in the body very long. When it joins with allicin to become “allithiamine,” it becomes more productive.

While not as potent as allicin, diallyl sulphides are recognized as immune boosters. They, too, activate upon crushing, slicing or grinding the garlic clove. As with allicin, research suggests these sulphides have healing properties for other conditions.

These are just two of garlic’s ingredients that can help protect from infections that are viral or bacterial in nature. Some studies do indicate that there is great potential in the impact of garlic on upper respiratory tract infections.

Forms of Garlic for Fighting the Common Cold

Garlic provides the highest level of healthful benefits when it’s consumed raw. That’s because allicin is notably a very short-lived ingredient. This compound becomes active through crushing a garlic clove. Cooking immediately will cause garlic to lose its beneficial properties. After chopping, grinding or crushing, let it sit for about 10 minutes before heating.

In soup form, garlic may help clear the respiratory system and aid in flushing the toxins that cause colds out of the system. Perhaps it’s also the steam from a hot liquid that helps. To loosen a congested chest, you might consider a “garlic compress” of paste applied directly to the skin.

Because of its strong odor, fresh garlic may not be the first choice for some individuals. Consuming it in larger quantities can also produce an odor emitting from the pores of your skin. It’s not always convenient to consume the quantities needed to fight the common cold.

If you choose garlic in the form of supplements, always study the ingredients. Choose those that contain high levels of allicin, although these will be more expensive. Be aware of the difference between a listing that states “alliin” instead of “allicin.” These are two very different compounds with equally diverse effects.

Drawbacks to Using Garlic as a Cold Remedy

The use of garlic does have some drawbacks. Like other herbs, it can interact with medications and vitamin supplements. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it falls into the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) category, which indicates a low toxicity.

Garlic in any form can thin the blood, which means you should avoid it prior to surgery or if you’re on blood-thinning medications, whether it’s over-the-counter aspirin or a prescription. Experts recommend that those with HIV and taking protease inhibitors should also bypass garlic.

Some individuals develop an allergic reaction, which can include signs of rash and fever. Over-consumption may also lead to digestive tract irregularities and even adverse damage to the intestinal lining. If you are taking any type of medication, it’s always best to talk to your doctor before consuming garlic in any amount.

Unlike some drugs, garlic does not cause the human body to build resistance against it. That means you can continue to employ it at any comfortable level in fighting symptoms of the common cold.

Resources

Garlic-Central.com (n.d.) Garlic Health Benefits. Retrieved November 19, 2007, from the Garlic Central Web site: http://www.garlic-central.com/garlic-health.html.

Howstuffworks.com (1998-2007). Infection Benefits of Garlic. Retrieved November 19, 2007, from the How Stuff Works Web site: http://home.howstuffworks.com/garlic7.htm.

UMM.edu (2007). Garlic. Retrieved November 19, 2007, from the University of Maryland Medical Center Web site: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/garlic-000245.htm.