Welcome to cold and flu season, where the sound of sniffles abound, snotty tissues litter your bedside, and the Internet is rife with questionable folk remedies for what ails you—like, say, chomping on raw garlic, or crushing it and dousing with raw honey before it goes down the hatch. But while this dragon-breath-inducing practice sounds wacky, new research suggests it may actually work, perhaps in as little as 3 hours.
In a small clinical trial published in The Journal of Nutrition, participants ate a meal with 5 g of raw, crushed garlic—the equivalent of about 2 cloves—before researchers collected their blood. Just 3 hours after eating, the garlic-chomping eaters showed significantly higher levels of activity of those genes involved in the production of immune-boosting white blood cells, as well as cancer-fighting processes. (The Power Nutrient Solution is the first-ever plan that tackles the root cause of virtually every major ailment and health condition today.)
While scientists can’t say for sure whether garlic would start fighting an actual cold as quickly as it activated the participants’ genes, previous research corroborates that there’s something special about garlic when it comes to dosing colds. One 2012 study found that participants who took a daily garlic supplement experienced greater activity in white blood cells, less severe cold symptoms, and fewer days with cold symptoms than those who received a placebo. In addition, an older study dating back to 2001 discovered that people who supplemented with garlic were less likely to get a cold in the first place and recovered faster if they did get infected.
What about garlic is so great? Researchers haven’t yet pinpointed the specific virus-fighting compound or compounds, but they say that certain nutrients in garlic, including vitamin C, minerals like selenium, certain enzymes, and sulfur-containing compounds may have something to do with it.
If you want to try the garlic cure yourself, experts say to slice or crush cloves and eat them—or use them in a raw preparation like a salad dressing. According to scientists, crushing raw garlic releases an enzyme called alliinase that in turn triggers the formation of allicin, a compound with antibacterial properties.
If you’d rather cook with garlic, chop or crush it and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before heating, which research suggests preserves allicin’s health benefits.
Finally, supplementation seems to be effective, too, but it you go that route, many experts suggest choosing an allicin powder extract that’s been standardized to contain a consistent amount of allicin per pill.
If garlic breath is problem for you then see these 3 Scientifically Proven Ways to Get Rid of Garlic Breath