Medical Definition of Garlic

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Garlic: A perennial herb of the lily family cultivated for its pungent, edible bulbs. Garlic has been used with the intention of lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Preliminary studies suggest that garlic consumption may reduce the risk of developing several types of cancer, especially cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.

Side effects include breath and body odor, heartburn, upset stomach, and allergic reactions. These effects are more common with raw garlic.

Garlic can decrease normal blood clotting in a manner similar to aspirin. Caution should be used if surgery or dental work is planned and in patients taking medications to prevent blood clotting (anticoagulants) such as warfarin /Coumadin.

Garlic has been found to interfere with the effectiveness of saquinavir, a drug used to treat HIV infection. Effects on other drugs has not been well studied.

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Reviewed on 9/7/2018

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