Garlic Tea Benefits and Side Effects

Cup of tea with lemon slices and ginger
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Garlic tea is an herbal tonic made from lemon, honey, and garlic. The tea—served hot— is a popular remedy for cold symptoms, such as congestion and cough. Several medicinal uses of garlic are supported by scientific research, but not all garlic tea benefits have been proven in human studies.

What Is Garlic Tea?

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a perennial plant originally from Central Asia. The plant produces a bulb that is used in cooking and in health treatments around the world. Historians believe that Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Japanese, and Native Americans used garlic for dietary and medicinal purposes throughout history. Garlic is also known as the nectar of the gods, poor man's treacle, or stinking rose.

Garlic powder, garlic oil, and garlic supplements are readily available. Garlic supplements can either be made from garlic oil or from fresh, dried, or aged garlic. According to Penn State Medical Center, each may have a different effect on the body.

Garlic tea can be made with a variety of different ingredients, although garlic, lemon, and honey are the most common. Unless you combine garlic tea with another type of tea from the Camellia sinensis plant, garlic tea does not contain caffeine.

How to Make Garlic Tea at Home

You might find garlic tea bags online or in the health food store. However, garlic tea can easily made at home with simple ingredients that you'll find at any market.

Gather the following ingredients:

  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup honey

Fill a saucepan with three cups of water. Add garlic cloves that have been peeled and cut in half. Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and honey. Take out the garlic and serve warm or store to reheat for later.

There are variations to this garlic tea recipe. For example, some people add ginger to the tea for added flavor and increased health benefits. Also, the ginger reduces the strong garlic odor.

Garlic Tea Health Benefits

There is almost no ailment that garlic hasn't been credited with curing or relieving. Some, but not all garlic benefits are supported by scientific evidence. Just some of the rumored benefits of garlic include:

  • improves immune health
  • prevents and treats cancer
  • weight loss
  • boosts energy
  • fight infections
  • reduce cholesterol
  • lower blood pressure
  • disinfect wounds
  • treat vaginal yeast infections
  • relief from mouth ulcers
  • improves exercise performance
  • treats stomach cancers
  • treatment for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • wards off mosquitos

So what does the scientific evidence say about garlic's benefits? According to The University of Oregon, Linus Pauling Institute, garlic is a good source of organosulfur compounds, including alliinase, which is released when garlic is crushed or chopped. Organosulfur compounds are thought to provide certain health benefits.

Laboratory studies have shown that raw garlic can kill bacteria, reduce blood lipid levels, slow blood clotting, and potentially reduce blood pressure. Some studies have also shown that garlic may be able to stimulate the immune system and decrease tumor growth in some cancers. But research investigating garlic's cancer-preventing power have provided mixed results.

In lab studies, raw garlic has been shown to have antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antifungal qualities. Studies investigating its power to lower blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart disease have also provided mixed results.

It is important to remember that drinking garlic tea may not provide the same benefits as consuming raw garlic. Many studies that support the benefits of garlic investigated its benefits using raw garlic, garlic oil, or garlic powder.

Garlic Tea Side Effects

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), garlic is probably safe for most people in typical amounts. Common side effects of consuming garlic include bad breath and body odor, heartburn, and upset stomach. It is possible to be allergic to garlic and people with a garlic allergy will experience more severe symptoms.

The NIH also advises that taking garlic may increase your risk of bleeding. If you take a blood thinner such as warfarin or if you will be undergoing surgery, discuss garlic supplements, garlic or garlic tea with your healthcare provider before including it in your diet. Also, garlic has been found to interfere with the effectiveness of some drugs that are used to used to treat HIV infection.

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Article Sources
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  • Garlic. Michigan Medicine. University of Michigan.

  • Garlic. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. About Herbs, Botanicals, and Other Products. 

  • Garlic. National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 

  • Garlic. Penn State Hershey. Milton. S. Hershey Medical Center. 

  • Garlic. Therapeutic Research Center. Natural Medicines Database.