You have heard of garlic as a pungent herb that enhances the taste of food everywhere, be it crispy garlic bread from Italy or richly-flavored South Asian broths and curries.
However, this strong-smelling herb also has potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and comes with multiple health benefits.
Garlic is well known for its therapeutic benefits. It contains a compound called “allicin” that endows it with its medical properties. (1) Long used in folk medicine, garlic is known for its ability to fight and prevent skin and oral infections. A 2013 in-vivo study published in PLOS ONE also states that garlic and its compounds also have an anti-aging effect on the skin. More research is however required on the same. (2)
Additionally, a 2017 article published in the Brazilian Journal of Biology attested to the potent antifungal properties of garlic. (3)
Here, we show you 11 medicinal uses of garlic to treat and manage a wide variety of skin conditions and to boost your oral health.
- # For Skin & Hair Health
- Method 1: Herpes
- Method 2: Warts & Genital Warts
- Method 3: Shingles
- Method 4: Recurring Boils due to MRSA
- Method 5: Athlete’s Foot
- Method 6: Jock Itch
- Method 7: Rosacea & Seborrheic Dermatitis
- Method 8: Baldness
- #For Oral Health
# For Skin & Hair Health
Method 1: Herpes
A herpes infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus that leads to single or multiple blisters on the mouth, genitals or rectum.
Garlic along with honey can be taken orally to kill the virus, as both are strong antiviral agents. When treating a breakout in your mouth, the honey will also form a protective layer over the blisters to relieve pain and irritation.
If you do not like the taste of garlic, you can apply garlic oil directly on the affected area to treat a herpes breakout.
Things you’ll need:
- Garlic, minced (antiviral) – 1 tablespoon
- Honey (antiviral, soothes irritation) – 2 teaspoons
Single-Step Treatment: Mix garlic with honey & consume it daily
- Mix 1 tablespoon of freshly minced garlic and 2 teaspoons of raw honey to form a thick paste.
- Consume 2 teaspoons of this paste.
- If you are treating herpes blisters in your mouth, hold the paste in your mouth as long as you can, then swallow it slowly.
Consume the paste once daily for 1 week to treat herpes naturally.
You can also increase its effectiveness by consuming the paste with a cup of echinacea tea.
# Topical Application
Single-Step Treatment: Apply garlic oil on the herpes breakout
- Use a cotton swab to apply garlic oil on the herpes-affected areas.
Repeat 3 times daily until the infection is cured completely.
Method 2: Warts & Genital Warts
A wart is a type of fleshy and painless skin growth caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They can appear anywhere on the body but are commonly seen on the hands. Warts can also appear on the genital area and are termed genital or venereal warts. These types of warts usually spread via sexual contact with an infected person. Warts, be it of any type, are contagious and can spread by skin-to-skin contact.
Applying garlic on warts releases the antiviral allicin onto the skin and kills the HPV virus. For genital warts, you can use garlic oil instead of raw garlic to make it easier to apply.
# Regular Warts
Single-Step Treatment: Cover the wart with garlic paste
- Clean the area with soap and water. Pat your skin dry.
- Apply crushed garlic paste on the wart and cover the area with a bandage.
- Leave it overnight.
- In the morning, rinse off the paste with water and reapply crushed garlic paste.
Repeat every 6 to 8 hours. It should take 2 weeks for the wart to wither away completely.
# Genital Warts
Single-Step Treatment: Apply garlic oil on the genital wart
- Soak a cotton swab in garlic oil.
- Dab it over the wart until the entire area is well saturated.
- Leave it on overnight, and rinse it off with water the next morning.
Repeat every night to treat genital warts in 2 to 3 weeks.
Method 3: Shingles
Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles is characterized by itchy and painful rashes on the torso, face, and buttocks, but the rash can appear on other parts of the body as well.
Garlic, being a strong antiviral agent, can be used to prevent the rash from spreading and kill the virus to treat the infection.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply crushed garlic on the shingles rashes
- Crush 6 or 7 cloves of garlic to make a paste.
- Apply the garlic paste on the shingles rashes.
- Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
Apply garlic paste 2 times a day for 1 week or until the pain and infection is gone.
Method 4: Recurring Boils due to MRSA
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a resistant strain of the Staphylococcus bacteria that is quite difficult to treat with commonly used antibiotics. It can lead to a skin infection and cause recurrent boils and sores. A number of studies have supported the efficacy of garlic against the most resistant kinds of bacteria, including MRSA. (4)
Things you’ll need:
- Garlic cloves (antibacterial) – one for each boil
- Clean cotton cloths
Single-Step Treatment: Secure a warm garlic clove over each boil
- Warm up a few garlic cloves in the microwave.
- Place a warm clove over each boil and wrap with a clean cotton cloth.
- Leave them on until the garlic cloves cool down.
Repeat 3 or 4 times daily until the boils drain out and the skin heals.
You can also consume garlic every day to heal the infection from within.
Method 5: Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that typically affects the skin between the toes. It is a contagious infection that begins as a rash and can quickly spread across the soles of the feet.
One of the most effective medicinal uses of garlic involves its ability to act as a potent fungicide, creating a hostile environment for the fungi to grow and multiply. To treat athlete’s foot, combine garlic with olive oil. The oil is rich in antioxidants that will clear up the rash and also soothe the itching or burning.
Things you’ll need:
- Garlic, minced (antifungal) – 1 teaspoon
- Olive oil (anti-inflammatory) – 1 teaspoon
Single-Step Treatment: Mix garlic and olive oil & apply it to the affected skin
- Put 1 teaspoon each of minced garlic and olive oil in a small bowl and mix them well.
- Apply the paste evenly on the infected skin.
- Leave it on for 30 to 45 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water.
- Pat dry the area with a soft towel.
Apply the garlic and oil blend twice daily. You will get relief in just 2 days, but continue applying it until the infection clears up completely.
Method 6: Jock Itch
Jock itch refers to a fungal or yeast infection that develops in the groin area due to excessive sweating. It can lead to red and itchy skin and a burning sensation in the affected area. Just like for any other fungal infection, garlic can be used to treat jock itch naturally. It can either be applied directly or mixed with olive oil.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply crushed garlic on the affected skin
- Crush 4 or 5 garlic cloves.
- Optionally, you can mix 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the crushed garlic. Olive oil works as an anti-inflammatory agent to reduce irritation in the skin and improve the skin texture.
- Apply the paste directly on the affected areas. It may sting a bit but will soon bring you relief from the burning and itching.
- Let it sit for 10 minutes, then rinse it off. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel.
Repeat once daily for 2 to 3 weeks to get rid of jock itch.
Method 7: Rosacea & Seborrheic Dermatitis
Rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis are both inflammatory conditions of the skin that cause red and flaky skin on different parts of the body. It is common for people suffering from rosacea to develop seborrheic dermatitis on the face and scalp.
Due to its antibiotic properties, garlic can treat both conditions. When taken orally, it clears the toxins from the body and also aids in the healthy renewal of the skin.
Single-Step Treatment: Consume raw garlic or take garlic supplements
- Consume 1 garlic clove with a glass of water every day.
- Alternatively, you can take garlic supplements after consulting with a dermatologist for the right dosage.
Consume the garlic or take the supplements daily until your skin is completely healed.
Method 8: Baldness
Garlic contains large amounts of sulfur that is essential for hair growth. Castor oil helps reactivate dormant hair follicles. It is rich in ricinoleic acid, omega-6 and 9 fatty acids, and vitamin E that collectively boost hair growth. Combine the two ingredients and use it to massage your scalp to treat baldness.
Things you’ll need:
- Garlic cloves (rich in sulfur) – 2 or 3
- Castor oil (unclogs hair follicles) – 3 tablespoons
Single-Step Method: Apply garlic-infused castor oil on your scalp
- Put 3 tablespoons of castor oil in a microwave-safe glass bowl.
- Chop 2 or 3 garlic cloves and add them to the oil.
- Microwave the ingredients on high for 2 minutes, then take it out and let it cool down.
- When the oil is lukewarm, apply it to your scalp and massage for 1 to 2 minutes to boost blood circulation.
- Leave it on for 2 to 3 hours, then wash your scalp with a mild shampoo.
Repeat twice every week for a few months to make your hair grow back.
#For Oral Health
A 2013 study published in AYU (A Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda) supports the role of garlic in inhibiting the growth of periodontal pathogens, suggesting that it can be used as an antimicrobial agent for oral infections. (5)
Method 1: Tooth Abscess
An abscessed tooth occurs due to bacteria invading the innermost part of the tooth, causing an infection. It leads to inflammation, swelling, and pus collecting in a pocket around the tooth. One of the most important medicinal uses of garlic is its ability to kill the bacteria when combined with salt and applied as a poultice. The salt will also help draw the pus out and reduce inflammation.
Things you’ll need:
- Garlic cloves, minced (antibacterial) – 2 or 3
- Table salt (antiseptic) – ½ teaspoon
Single-Step Treatment: Apply a garlic and salt poultice on the abscessed tooth
- Mix 2 to 3 minced garlic cloves and ½ teaspoon of table salt in a bowl.
- Apply it on the affected tooth.
- Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse your mouth with salt water.
Repeat 2 times daily for 2 to 3 days to get relief from a tooth abscess.
Method 2: Toothache
Garlic can come handy for dealing with a number of oral problems like a tooth abscess, gum infection or a toothache. It works as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent that not only controls the symptoms but also treats the underlying cause.
Single-Step Treatment: Chew on a garlic clove to relieve your toothache
- Place a slice of garlic next to the aching tooth and crush it between your teeth to release its juices.
- Hold it over the aching tooth for 5 to 10 minutes, then spit it out. Rinse your mouth with salt water.
Continue to do so 2 or 3 times daily until your toothache subsides and the infection clears up.
Method 3: Oral Thrush
Oral thrush is a yeast infection caused by the overgrowth of candida fungus in the mouth. It leads to foul-smelling breath and a lumpy, white coat on the tongue. Garlic, being an antiviral herb, can help fight the yeast infection. Regular garlic consumption also reduces the adhesive ability of candida yeast to attach to the epithelial cells in your mouth.
Single-Step Treatment: Consume garlic every day to treat oral thrush
- Consume 2 or 3 garlic cloves daily to kill the candida fungus.
- If you’re averse to garlic’s strong taste, you can check with your doctor about taking garlic supplements.
Consume garlic cloves or take the supplements daily until the oral thrush is gone.
- Bayan L, Koulivand PH, Gorji A. Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103721/. Published 2014.
Kim R, Jung YR, An HJ, et al. Anti-Wrinkle and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Active Garlic Components and the Inhibition of MMPs via NF-κB Signaling. PLOS ONE. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0073877. Published 2013.
Burian, S. LV, Carlos, Z. I. Fungal infection control by garlic extracts (Allium sativum L.) and modulation of peritoneal macrophages activity in murine model of sporotrichosis. Brazilian Journal of Biology. http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1519-69842017000400848&script=sci_arttext. Published November 2017.
- Cutler RR, Wilson P. Antibacterial activity of a new, stable, aqueous extract of allicin against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. British Journal of Biomedical Science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15250668. Published 2004.
- Shetty S, Thomas B, Shetty V, Bhandary R, Shetty RM. An in-vitro evaluation of the efficacy of garlic extract as an antimicrobial agent on periodontal pathogens: A microbiological study. Ayu: An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda.