Garlic and Colds for Immune: What’s the Correlation?

- Foods - February 1, 2023
garlic and cold

There are a few ingredients – often pantry staples – that have incurred a reputation for being worth their weight in gold in terms of their ability to ward off or soften the symptoms of a cold. Garlic is one of them, rooted (no pun intended) in ancient remedies for various ailments, of which colds are one. I wonder if we have ever investigated the exact healing properties of garlic in relation to a cold, or just taken the words of doctors, naturopaths, and thousands of years of hearsay when we up our garlic intake and down our garlic and horseradish supplements around the cold and flu season. 

So what’s the deal with garlic? Can’t hurt to find out.

It is especially valuable for its ability to prevent a cold, as well as curb the duration of it. And if that wasn’t enough to keep it on hand at all times, studies have also shown that it can reduce the severity of the symptoms of a cold. It is the compounds in garlic that make it an excellent form of immune defence, as well as an effective suppressant and prevention against colds (and their symptoms). The compound is called alliin, which, once chewed or crushed, turns into allicin. Both of them are known for their ability to increase the disease-fighting response of some white blood cells when confronted by viruses. This is where the magic happens. 

There is one thing to note though: before you cook with garlic, let it sit for 10 minutes. Unless you do this, the medicinal properties it contains will be suppressed, and therefore be little help in fighting or reducing symptoms of your cold. So instead: cut up garlic into thin slices, or crush it and let it sit before you cook it. This will increase the allicin content. Make sure you are incorporating AT LEAST one clove of garlic into every meal within which makes sense to include it. 

Of course, garlic can also be consumed in supplement form, if you prefer something else in meals. The immune defence might be compromised in its benefits to you in fighting or reducing symptoms of a cold, however, because there are no regulated standards for garlic supplements. 

If you are hardcore enough, chewing a raw clove of garlic will release the same quantity of allicin, as cutting or crushing it, to be able to give you the best chance of fighting, preventing, or softening the blow of symptoms. 

As far as herbs go, garlic is fundamental to the collection of tried and true natural medicinal alternatives. If its proven abilities to stave off a common cold, dilute the severity of the symptoms of a cold, and activate your immune defence weren’t enough, it somehow also is able to warm your body up when you are cold. 

There are a lot of natural remedies that, for their efficacy, taste like absolute garbage. The fact that garlic is as delicious as it is effective at fighting colds, is a win I am happy to pocket. 

The relationship between immunity and auto-immunity is a complex one. I am a person with a very impenetrable immune system; I rarely get head colds, and I’ve never had the flu in my life. I’m also still yet to get Covid (although this is, of course, a separate immunity issue). That said, I have been joking that my autoimmune system hates me for as long as I’ve had autoimmune diseases. For my apparent steely-strong immune system, I have three diseases that are all related to my autoimmune system. Something has malfunctioned, and type 1 diabetes, Addison’s Disease and Graves’ disease are all a byproduct of it.

There is a relatively widespread belief that your immunity has little to do with the development of autoimmune systems. As the immune system’s primary function is to defend against foreign cells, the relationship between autoimmune diseases and viruses is closer than it may appear. In each case, the immune system is prepared to attack. An autoimmune disease does attack your immune system, but in a different way than something like the common cold. These diseases trick your immune system into thinking that a feature of your body is foreign and a threat, and will start to attack it accordingly. 

This is where the immune system differentiates between viruses and autoimmune diseases. The body’s ability to mistake cells as foreign within the body and endeavour to rid them accordingly is a feature of the immune system that does not overlap with the immune system’s ability (or inability) to fight off viral infections. 

The range of possible autoimmune diseases is so vast, and the cause and effect so misunderstood, that treating an autoimmune disease can largely be trial and error. Aside from the body attacking itself, most autoimmune diseases have little else in common. 

Some autoimmune diseases are long-term – even lifelong. Others are not. Of mine, Graves’ disease is an example of one that can be short-term. I am currently in remission for it, and have been for approximately two years. It is possible that it may return, and so constant monitoring and blood work must be done in case it does. 

Causes of autoimmune diseases are varied and in many cases, not comprehensively understood. This is another difference in the relationship between the immune system’s response to viruses and autoimmune diseases. There is a lot of conjecture around diet, lifestyle and stress as causes of this group of diseases. Genetics also can play a huge role. 

The same kind of conversation surrounds the varied strength of the immune system person to person, without any real authoritative rulings on the subject. Many parents don’t mind exposing their children to germs (in moderation) for the purpose of building up their immune systems. Breastfeeding has also been linked to the immune system, with the theory being that the longer the child is breastfed, the stronger their immune system will be. The science behind this is also limited. 

You can search a vide range of immune system products at our collection, lot of products are design for the core purpose to boost the immune health. These products are famous now-a-days, but but still the natural garlic is the king.

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