16 Major Garlic Side Effects

Garlic is a popular seasoning used in many dishes around the world and has been highly regarded for centuries. While it has many health benefits, consuming too much garlic or using concentrated forms of garlic can lead to unpleasant side effects and may even aggravate existing medical conditions. It is important to understand the possible risks associated with consuming garlic before adding it to one’s diet or taking garlic-based supplements. Eating raw garlic may cause gastric discomfort, nausea, heartburn, and indigestion due to its high sulfur content. Garlic-based products such as oils or pastes may also lead to skin irritation if applied directly on the skin without dilution. Additionally, taking oral supplements containing garlic extract may result in allergic reactions in some individuals who are sensitive to allium compounds found in this plant. Therefore, moderation is key when it comes to consuming garlic.


Garlic is a popular ingredient in many recipes and is believed to have health benefits due to its high concentration of nutrients. Consuming it in moderate amounts can potentially provide beneficial health outcomes.

However, consuming large amounts of garlic can lead to unpleasant side effects such as gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or allergic reactions such as skin rash and difficulty breathing. Therefore, it is important to consider the amount of garlic you consume when deciding whether or not to incorporate it into your diet or supplement routine.

side effects of garlic

Allergic Reactions

It is possible to be allergic to garlic, which is also known as garlic hypersensitivity. Such an allergy can cause abnormal immune responses in the body, resulting in a range of symptoms, such as garlic rash, itching, flushing, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, and even anaphylaxis in some cases. Garlic intolerance or sensitivity can also occur, causing physical discomfort after eating garlic, including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, hives, angioedema, and asthma attacks. These reactions can be serious and require medical treatment. Food allergies, including garlic allergies, are more common in children but adults may also develop them. If someone suspects they have an allergy to garlic, they should consult a doctor before consuming it.

Digestive Issues

Garlic is known to have several gastrointestinal side effects, including heartburn, acid reflux, and gas bloating. Its high sulfur content may cause digestive discomfort. Prebiotic oligosaccharides in garlic aid in stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut; hence, providing relief from constipation. The potential use of garlic as an herbal remedy for nausea is yet to be proven. In addition, garlic is useful in relieving upset stomachs and indigestion symptoms.

However, excessive consumption of garlic can lead to unwanted side effects such as garlic-induced diarrhea or garlic-induced flatulence. Therefore, it is important to consult with a doctor before increasing garlic intake significantly and to inform them of any changes made. If any adverse reactions occur while consuming garlic, it is best to speak with a physician right away.

Interaction With Medications

It is important to consult a medical professional before consuming garlic, as it can interact with certain medications. Blood thinning and high blood pressure medications may be affected if garlic is consumed in large quantities. Additionally, there have been reports of adverse interactions with iron supplements.

Raw garlic should not be taken alongside skin irritation medications, as this could damage the liver, and heartburn medication may worsen with prolonged consumption. Infants and children, who take any type of medication, should not consume raw garlic, due to their developing digestive system making them more susceptible to food poisoning.

Therefore, individuals who are on any sort of medication or treatment plan should ask their doctor before adding garlic to their diet, whether it be cooked or uncooked. It is important to exercise caution when consuming garlic alongside other medications, as some drug-food interactions can be dangerous.

Blood Thinners

Garlic has long been known for its ability to thin the blood and reduce platelet aggregation. As such, it is important to be aware of potential interactions between garlic and certain medications that are used to treat high blood pressure or clotting disorders, such as anticoagulants (blood thinners).

For example, consuming large amounts of garlic can increase the effects of some drugs used in treating high blood pressure, increasing their side effects or reducing their effectiveness. It may also interact with other blood-thinning medications, including aspirin and warfarin. This interaction could lead to an increased risk of bleeding due to reduced coagulation time.

Additionally, taking garlic supplements while using iron supplementation should always be done under a doctor’s supervision as they have opposing effects on hemoglobin levels and red cell count. People who take any form of medication – especially those intended to lower blood pressure – should consult with their healthcare provider before supplementing with garlic to ensure safe use and avoid potential negative drug interactions.

High Blood Pressure Meds

Garlic has been widely studied as a potential treatment for high blood pressure. Evidence suggests that garlic may lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressures, especially in those with hypertension and pre-hypertension. Studies have also suggested that garlic can be used to reduce the risk of developing hypertension by decreasing total cholesterol levels. While there is some evidence supporting the use of garlic to treat or prevent high blood pressure, more research is needed before it can be recommended as an alternative to traditional medication.

The side effects of using garlic for treating hypertension are generally minor and include bad breath, body odor, nausea, heartburn, and indigestion. Those taking any form of prescribed high blood pressure medication should consult their doctor before adding garlic supplements or increasing their intake of fresh garlic to avoid any possible drug interactions. Additionally, long-term supplementation could increase the risk of certain types of cancer such as stomach cancer, so caution should be taken when considering its use over an extended period.

Regardless, given the low number and mild nature of side effects associated with garlic consumption compared to common anti-hypertensive medications like beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, further research into its efficacy is warranted.

Bad Breath And Body Odor

Garlic has been known to cause unpleasant odors, such as bad breath and body odor, due to the release of sulfur compounds. This pungent aroma is commonly referred to as “garlic breath” or “garlic smell”. It is important for those who consume large amounts of garlic regularly to be aware of these side effects.

Remedies for Garlic Breath & Odor:

  • Drinking a glass of water with lemon juice after eating foods containing a lot of garlic can help reduce the odor on one’s breath.
  • Brushing teeth and tongue two times per day with toothpaste may also lessen this problem.
  • Showering more often and wearing deodorants can assist in keeping the skin smelling fresh while reducing any signs of malodorousness caused by the intake of too much garlic.

Drug-Induced Liver Damage

Garlic has been known to possess various beneficial medicinal properties, including the ability to reduce inflammation and boost immune system health. However, excessive consumption of garlic may lead to drug-induced liver damage due to its toxicity. Reports of garlic-induced liver injury have been documented in medical studies as a result of high levels of garlic intake. Symptoms of this condition may include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, or dark urine. In severe cases, it can progress to cirrhosis or even liver failure.

To prevent garlic-induced liver damage, individuals should be aware of their daily garlic intake. Those taking medications that may interact with the active compounds found in garlic, such as allicin and diallyl disulfide (DADS), should seek the advice of a physician before increasing their daily garlic intake. Additionally, people with existing liver disorders should either avoid eating large amounts of garlic or take extra precautions when doing so. By maintaining moderation and following proper precautions regarding diet and medication regimen, individuals can experience the benefits of garlic while also protecting themselves against potential risks related to drug toxicity and liver injury caused by overconsumption.

Heartburn And Acid Reflux

Garlic is known to provide many health benefits, however, it can also cause side effects related to heartburn and acid reflux. Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest or throat area caused by stomach acid rising into the esophagus. Acid Reflux occurs when this same stomach acid flows backward from the stomach up into the esophagus resulting in pain, discomfort, and possible damage to the lining of the esophagus.

To prevent these conditions or reduce their severity, individuals should avoid consuming large amounts of garlic and other spicy foods that are known to worsen heartburn or acid reflux symptoms. Eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day instead of larger meals less often could help reduce overall symptom frequency. Temporary relief may be provided by antacids like Tums, but if symptoms persist despite dietary changes, consultation with a doctor is recommended.

Side Effects On Infants And Children

When considering garlic consumption in infants and children, it is important to recognize that side effects such as allergic reactions, digestive issues, and interactions with medication may occur. Allergic reactions to garlic are more common in young children due to their immune systems still developing. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives, itching, swelling of the mouth or throat, difficulty breathing, or vomiting.

Children under four should not consume raw garlic as this increases their risk for an allergic reaction. Those taking blood thinners or high-blood pressure medications should also be aware when giving garlic to children due to potential drug interactions. Garlic can increase the effectiveness of these drugs and lead to serious health risks if taken together without consulting a doctor first. Additionally, iron supplements can interact negatively with garlic supplementation so caution must be taken before combining them both at once.

Risks Of Eating Raw Garlic

Eating raw garlic carries potential risks. The side effects of consuming raw garlic include digestive distress, such as heartburn, nausea, and vomiting. Additionally, eating too much garlic can cause headaches, body odor, and bad breath. Raw garlic consumption is also associated with increased levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream and an elevated risk of developing high blood pressure. Though there have been some studies that suggest certain health benefits from eating raw garlic, these claims need more research to be proven true.

In regards to potential risks associated with ingesting large amounts of raw garlic, it appears that regular consumption may lead to a weakened immune system due to its antibacterial properties. This could result in decreased resistance to infection or an increase in allergies over time. Additionally, if consumed by pregnant women or young children, garlic ingestion may interfere with normal development processes or even produce toxicity reactions within their bodies.

It is important to consider the various health risks when determining whether or not consuming raw garlic is suitable for one’s individual needs. It is recommended that those considering increasing their intake consult with a medical professional beforehand so that any potential issues can be addressed before beginning a new diet regimen incorporating higher levels of garlic consumption.

Nutrient Deficiencies

While eating raw garlic can provide beneficial health benefits, it should be consumed in moderation as there is a potential risk of developing nutrient deficiencies. Each clove of garlic contains only trace amounts of some essential nutrients and minerals that the human body needs for optimal functioning. If too much garlic is eaten regularly then this could lead to micronutrient deficiency and vitamin deficiency. Vitamin C, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, magnesium, and selenium are all important nutrients that may become deficient due to excessive consumption of raw garlic.

A diet lacking any one of these vital vitamins or minerals can have serious consequences. For example, an iron deficiency can cause anemia while a zinc deficiency can weaken the immune system. Iodine deficiencies often result in thyroid problems whereas calcium deficiencies can lead to muscle cramps and weak bones. Magnesium deficiencies can cause fatigue and difficulty concentrating while selenium deficiency has been linked with impaired cognitive function as well as poor hair growth. Therefore it is important to monitor how much raw garlic is regularly consumed so as not to develop any nutritional inadequacies which might negatively impact overall health and well-being.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is a potential side effect of garlic ingestion. It occurs when bacteria from spoiled or improperly handled food contaminate the garlic, leading to contamination and potential illness. Common symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, headache, and dehydration. Treatment for food poisoning depends on the type of infection acquired; however, most cases can be managed at home with plenty of fluids and rest.

To reduce the risk of garlic food poisoning it is important to follow proper storage techniques as well as practice good hygiene while preparing meals that include garlic. Additionally, if food poisoning is suspected after eating garlic-containing foods then medical attention should be sought immediately to receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Food poisoning caused by tainted garlic may last anywhere between several hours and up to two weeks depending on severity; complications such as dehydration or developing other illnesses due to weakened immune systems are possible if left untreated.


In conclusion, garlic may offer some potential benefits when consumed in moderation. However, due to its strong taste and smell, it also carries potential risks such as allergic reactions, digestive issues, and interactions with certain medications. Additionally, consuming raw garlic can increase the risk of food poisoning and overconsumption could lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Therefore, caution should be exercised when incorporating garlic into one’s diet, and medical advice should be sought by individuals who experience adverse reactions or suspect an allergy. Pregnant women should consult their doctor before adding garlic to their diets, and those on certain medications should avoid taking additional supplements containing garlic.

Scroll to top