August 2022

Do You cLOVE Garlic?

Garlic is one of the most widely cultivated herbs across the globe. In addition to its common use in foods, it’s also used in various types of products. Garlic product sales in the US mainstream market hit almost $43 million in 2020. But there are also some notable safety concerns and drug interactions to be aware of. Here are a few to keep your eye on.

Garlic powder, aged garlic products, raw garlic, and a variety of garlic extracts have all been shown to have antiplatelet effects. Garlic is often touted for its heart health benefits, but this combination isn’t a good idea for patients already taking certain drugs, such as warfarin and other anticoagulant/antiplatelet agents. Taking these together might increase the risk for bruising and bleeding. Keep this interaction in mind for hospitalized patients requiring thrombolytics agents as well. Similarly, watch out for people taking antihypertensive drugs – taking these with garlic or garlic extracts can increase the risk of hypotension.

Some people might also be interested in using topical garlic products. It’s been studied for various conditions, including alopecia areata and tooth sensitivity, but there isn’t any good scientific evidence supporting topical use. Topical garlic-containing gels, extracts, pastes, and mouthwashes have all been used safely, but tell patients to avoid applying raw garlic to the skin – it can cause severe skin irritation and burns that develop very quickly.

Finally, keep in mind that garlic is considered a high FODMAP food. FODMAPs are a class of carbohydrates that certain people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other gastrointestinal conditions might have a tough time digesting. For these patients, the side effects of using garlic might outweigh any potential benefits.

To learn more about garlic’s uses and potential safety concerns, check out our recently updated monograph.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2023 NatMed. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. NatMed is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.