a strong-smelling pungent-tasting bulb, used as a flavoring agent in cooking and herbal medicine;
That’s the definition given by Google. And Google doesn’t say garlic is bad. Neither do the panel of experts sitting at Harvard.
And neither does my mother. Or your mom.
Which is why it pains me to talk about garlic side effects. It’s hard, you see. But so are all things that are true. The truth is hard to swallow – just like a clove of garlic.
Anyway, let’s get down to business. Garlic does have side effects. Some of them are potentially life-threatening. Which is why I am writing about them.
And which is why you must read this post. Right. Now. Okay?
Garlic – A Brief
Onions and chives are its close relatives. And so is the kitchen in every household. One of the most common ingredients in Indian cooking, garlic is being consumed for thousands of years.
And not just that – it also has been used for flavoring in traditional medicine. It is scientifically called Allium sativum, and can usually be grown year-round in mild climates. The plants are usually grown together with the bulbs having enough space to mature. There are numerous varieties of garlic, the most popular of them being the hardneck garlic and the softneck garlic.
The plant is not usually affected by any pests or disease. It, in fact, helps prevent a lot many diseases. But like said, there are two sides to a coin. So here we discuss few side effects of eating raw garlic.
What Are Raw Garlic Side Effects?
Here we list out some of the potential side effects of raw garlic. Find out here in detail.
1. Might Hurt The Liver
There is no need to ponder over the importance of the liver. Being one of the most vital organs in the human body, it could be hurt by excessive garlic consumption.
Though rich in antioxidants, as per an Indian study, garlic can cause liver toxicity if consumed in excess (1). Similar findings have been recorded in a report published by the University of Penn State – garlic, though virtually non-toxic, can cause liver damage if taken in excess (2).
[ Read: Foods To Eat For A Healthy Liver ]
2. Can Cause Bad Odor
This can hurt one’s self-confidence. Bad odor or breath can turn people off like no other. And, sorry to say, garlic does just that.
As per one Italian report, garlic breath and body odor were two of the most common adverse effects associated with garlic (3). Lack of personal hygiene is not the only cause of body odor, as consumption of garlic can result in the same too (4).
The odor of garlic has been found to linger in the mouth long after brushing (5). Certain experts believe that the chemicals in garlic that contribute to bad breath are the very same chemicals that also render it its benefits. Still, bad breath can be embarrassing – hence you probably need to think twice before consuming garlic.
Or take precautions. Like using a mouth-refreshing spray.
4. Nausea, Vomiting, And Heartburn
According to a report published by the National Cancer Institute, consuming fresh garlic bulbs, or the extracts or the oil on an empty stomach might cause nausea, vomiting, and heartburn (6). Certain observational studies have also shown that intaking garlic orally can cause heartburn and nausea (7). As per a report published by the Harvard Medical School, garlic is one of those foods that can cause GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) (8).
6. Might Aggravate Bleeding
This effect of garlic has been stated in a report published by the University of Maryland Medical Center – garlic can increase the risk of bleeding (11). Which is why it must not be taken along with blood-thinning medications. Especially if you are on blood-thinning medications like warfarin, clopidogrel, and aspirin (12).
This is true especially in the case of fresh garlic. It is also important to note that it is better to stop garlic consumption at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery – as it can prolong bleeding and interfere with blood pressure levels (13).
7. Might Cause Gastric Issues
In one Japanese study, enteric-coated garlic products, upon ingestion, resulted in the reddening of the gastric mucous membrane (14). The results suggest that caution must be exercised before using garlic and related products as they might have certain undesirable effects on gastric health.
In fact, as against popular belief, there is no evidence that links garlic intake to the prevention of gastric cancer (15).
One report published by the University of Maryland Medical Center states garlic as one of the foods to be avoided for treating GERD (16).
[ Read: How To Get Rid Of Gas Troubles ]
8. Might Lower Blood Pressure Way Too Much
Is garlic good for high blood pressure? Well, in a way, this is an advantage. But if you are already on medications for high blood pressure, then maybe not. Because garlic has blood-pressure-lowering properties (17). Even supplemental garlic has shown to lower blood pressure levels – which is why taking garlic supplements could be a bad idea when you are already on blood pressure medications (18). Taking garlic by mouth can also modestly reduce blood pressure (19).
9. Induces Sweating
In various clinical studies, few side effects of garlic were reported. And one of those, as per an Indian study, were excessive sweating (20).
10. Can Cause Dizziness
In one study, 1,997 people were administered deodorized garlic over a 16-week period, of which 1.3% reported signs of dizziness. This effect was specifically recorded when the participants were standing. Experts speculate this effect could be the result of excessive lowering blood pressure levels (21). Though the percentage of the participants experiencing the effect is quite small, it is something to be kept in mind.
11. Might Cause Eczema Or Rash
Though replete with benefits, prolonged contact with garlic might cause skin irritation. One study stated that the enzyme in garlic, called alliin lyase, could be the cause of the irritation. Eczema could also be one of the conditions that accompany this allergy.
According to a report published by Medline Plus, certain hand rashes could be the result of coming in contact with the same things (including garlic) regularly (22).
[ Read: How To Deal With Eczema ]
12. Might Cause Vision Changes
This could be something you would never have heard of. It has been found that excessive ingestion of garlic can lead to a condition called hyphema, which refers to bleeding inside the eye chamber – the space between the iris and the cornea. Intaking large doses of garlic, an anticoagulant, has been found to cause or worse hyphema. Hyphema can cause permanent vision loss.
Garlic, especially when taken in its raw form, could trigger migraines. Though it doesn’t directly cause a migraine headache, it activates the process responsible for it.
Though the exact reason for this is unclear, certain experts believe it might involve the trigeminal nerve – the major pain pathway in the body. Intaking garlic might stimulate this nerve to release neuronal signaling molecules called neuropeptides that rush to the membrane covering your brain and cause headaches.
14. Might Elevate Blood Pressure Levels
Little information is present in this aspect – but there is something important to consider.
The release of allicin is what makes garlic ideal for lowering blood pressure levels – but this allicin is destroyed in the cooking process (23). Hence, if you are looking to reducing your blood pressure levels, raw garlic might help.
15. Might Cause Side Effects In Pregnant Women
Consuming garlic in large quantities during pregnancy or lactation can induce labor (24). Which could be undesirable.
16. Might Aggravate (Vaginal) Yeast Infection
One important factor to be kept in mind is not to use garlic in the place of prescribed treatment. Also, garlic cloves can irritate the tender tissue of the vagina. In such an eventuality, the use of garlic can be discontinued. You can instead consult your doctor for conventional remedies.
17. Might Interact With Certain Drugs
That’s about the garlic side effects. And we have something else regarding intake of raw garlic overdose side effects…
Eating Too Much Garlic Side Effects
Which is what we have discussed already. In addition to all those effects, garlic overdose might also cause muscle aches and loss of appetite. And as per the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, garlic overdose could also cause kidney hematomas (swelling of clotted blood within the tissues of kidneys), chemical burns in the mouth and life-threatening allergic reactions.
Garlic might also cause a condition called pemphigus, an autoimmune disease. Garlic contains a compound called thiols, which has been found to aggravate the condition.
Apart from all of this, there is a list of foods you must not take along with garlic – if you are prone to the side effects, that is.
What Should You Avoid While Taking Garlic?
To better keep the side effects at bay, it is best you avoid certain things while intake of garlic. These include –
– Horse chestnut
– Red clover
The truth is still hard to swallow. But it’s easier to be swallowed than too many cloves of garlic.
And safer too.
Yes, garlic does have side effects, which arise due to the excessive consumption of garlic. Most of the times.
So keep that alone in mind.
Also, let us know how this post on eating raw garlic side effects has helped you. Do tell us by commenting in the box below.
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