How Garlic Fights Colds and the Flu

For centuries, people have used garlic as food and medicine. In fact, eating garlic may have a number of health advantages. This includes a lower risk of developing heart disease, better immune function, better cognitive health, and a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer. Here we explain how garlic is especially effective at warding off the flu and the common cold.

Garlic Boosts Immune Function

Compounds in garlic support the immune system's ability to combat pathogens. Alliin is a substance that is present in whole garlic. This compound transforms into allicin (with a c), the primary active component of garlic, when garlic is chewed or crushed. Sulphur is a component of allicin, which is what gives garlic its distinct flavour and aroma. However, because allicin is unstable, it quickly breaks down into other sulfur-containing substances that are thought to be the source of garlic's therapeutic benefits. When certain types of white blood cells in the body come into contact with viruses like those that cause the common cold or flu, these substances have been shown to enhance the body's response to fight the disease.

Can Garlic Help Prevent Colds And The Flu?

The ability of garlic to treat and prevent colds and the flu has been demonstrated. Garlic may shorten both the length of your illness and your risk of getting sick at all, according to studies. Additionally, it might make symptoms less severe. In one experiment, 146 healthy volunteers were given 3 months of either garlic supplements or a placebo. The risk of catching a cold was reduced by 63% in the garlic group. The length of time it took for each group to recover from a cold, however, was not significantly different. According to a different study, subjects who consumed 2.56 grammes of aged garlic extract daily during the cold and flu season had significantly fewer colds than those who received a placebo. Additionally, their colds were not as bad. If you frequently get the flu or a cold, eating garlic may help you experience fewer symptoms or even avoid getting sick at all. A review of the evidence, however, revealed that many of the studies looking into how garlic affects the common cold were of low quality. It's also unclear whether taking garlic regularly is necessary or whether it can be used as a temporary remedy when you first become ill.

How to maximize the benefits of garlic?

The health benefits of garlic can change depending on how it is prepared or processed. Only under specific circumstances does the enzyme alliinase convert alliin into the useful allicin. Heat can also render it inactive. Alliinase can be rendered inactive by as little as 60 seconds in the microwave or 45 minutes in the oven, according to an older study, and similar findings were made by a more recent study. On the other hand, it was mentioned that crushing garlic and letting it stand for 10 minutes prior to cooking can help preserve its therapeutic properties. The researchers also claimed that boosting the amount of garlic used could make up for the health benefits lost during cooking.

Garlic supplements

Another easy way to increase your garlic intake is by taking a supplement. However, be cautious, as there are no regulated standards for garlic supplements. That means the allicin content and quality can vary, and so can the potential health benefit.