Garlic and the Immune System

Garlic is known for its versatility in the culinary world, but it is also just as versatile for our bodies. Historically, using garlic for medicinal benefits has been recorded several times, including in Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt. In Ancient Greece, garlic was given to Olympians before they competed because it was believed to help them perform better athletically. In Ancient Egypt, garlic was given to slaves and laborers, as it was believed to make them stronger for physical labor, similar to why Greek Olympians used it. Today, research has shown that these claims of garlic making us stronger can be backed up by science. One way it does this is by boosting our immune systems.

Studies into the compounds contained in garlic have shown that garlic can enhance our immune systems because it helps to stimulate immune cells, like macrophages and lymphocytes. Macrophages “eat” foreign entities in the body, Lymphocytes, including T cells, B cells, and natural killer (NK) cells find, recognize, and destroy cells that could cause us harm, as well as produce antibodies to prevent any further infections. Proper function and stimulation of these cells is crucial in keeping us well and healthy.

There is also evidence that garlic can help treat and even prevent the cold and the flu. In these studies, participants who were given garlic supplements were far less likely to get sick, and those that did get sick experienced a shorter duration of symptoms.

It is very easy to integrate garlic into our everyday diets – it is a common and easily utilized ingredient in many recipes, and supplements are also available. Standard Process’s Garlic Forte is a fantastic option as it is packed with the active compound found in garlic – allium sativum. It is important to note, however, that while garlic can help prevent and treat cold and flu symptoms, you shouldn’t rely on garlic alone to stay healthy. Many vitamins, minerals, and compounds aid in immune health. Those found in garlic help boost the immune system and keep in functioning properly, which is why we should consider garlic a vital part of our immune health.


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Nantz, M. P., Rowe, C. A., Muller, C. E., Creasy, R. A., Stanilka, J. M., & Percival, S. S. (2012). Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and γδ-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention. Clinical Nutrition31(3), 337–344. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2011.11.019

Rivlin, R. S. (2001). Historical Perspective on the Use of Garlic. The Journal of Nutrition131(3). doi: 10.1093/jn/131.3.951s