Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Allium sativum

Garlic has been used for thousands of years by cultures worldwide as both food and medicine. It is a member of the lily family, which includes many well-known edibles including onions, chives, shallots and leeks. Garlic is easy to grow, and thrives in virtually any mild climate. China grows about 75 percent of the world's garlic. Most American production happens near the California city of Gilroy, which calls itself "Garlic Capital of the World."

Used for:

Garlic contains several compounds that possess antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, earning it the nickname "poor man's penicillin." Eating garlic may reduce the frequency and number of colds when taken for prevention, while some evidence supports the topical use of garlic for fungal infections like ringworm and athlete's foot. Garlic has been researched for beneficial effects on  cardiovascular health including addressing high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and high blood pressure. It has also been tried for treating bacterial and fungal infections.


According to a Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database review, garlic is rated as "possibly effective" for high blood pressure; atherosclerosis; tick bites; colon, rectal and stomach cancer prevention; and fungal infections of the skin.

Available in:

Raw whole bulbs, diced or crushed cloves in oil, dehydrated powder, flavored oil, and extracts in tablets, capsules or tinctures.

Herb / drug interactions:

Garlic may thin the blood. It should be discontinued seven days before surgery and should be used cautiously if taking anti-coagulant medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) and clopidogrel (Plavix).

Other safety concerns:

Garlic might decrease the effectiveness of some medications used for HIV/AIDS including nevirapine (Viramune), delavirdine (Rescriptor), and efavirenz (Sustiva). Taking garlic along with saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase) might decrease the effectiveness of this drug.

When buying:

Buy fresh raw garlic, organic when possible. Choose commercial products that are standardized for allicin content.


Follow directions on the package.

Child dosage:

Follow directions on package for children.

Dr. Weil says:

I am a great fan of garlic, both as a medicine and culinary staple, and consume it daily. How you prepare garlic has a drastic impact on its health benefits: to get the most benefits from fresh garlic, chop, slice or mash the cloves and then let them sit for 10 minutes, away from heat, before cooking. This allows the allicin - the active component of garlic - to form, as it needs air to do so. Once the allicin is formed, it does not deteriorate while cooking.

Take two cloves of raw garlic at the first sign of a cold. Mash them or chop finely and mix with food, or cut cloves into chunks and swallow them whole like pills (if you don't chew, the garlic won't stay on your breath). Also, take two cloves per day for chronic or recurrent yeast infections or low resistance to infection.

Learn more about garlic in Dr. Weil's healthy kitchen and watch a video about garlic.

Garlic, Herbs at a Glance, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Accessed January 10, 2014:

Garlic. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer version. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty, Updated February 10, 2013, accessed January 7, 2014 at
Weil Lifestyle "COOKING & RECIPES." Accessed January 7, 2014 at

Reviewed by Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., January 22nd, 2014.


Are You Getting The Herbs and Supplements You Need?
Everyone's dietary needs are different based on a number of factors including lifestyle, diet, medications and more. To find out which herbs and supplements are right for right for you, take the Weil Vitamin Advisor.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here