Garlic has a theoretical benefit for pain and arthritis when taken orally. There are many ways you can take garlic. You can eat the cloves raw or cooked. You’ll also find it in powdered or dried form and in capsules or tablets. It’s also available in liquid extracts and in oils. Always talk to a doctor before you try garlic as a remedy for arthritis or other pain.
Garlic has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help with arthritis and other pain. For example, a 1999 study published in the "Soviet Archives of Internal Medicine" found that a garlic preparation taken twice a day for four to six weeks can work just as well as conventional therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. However, not all studies on using garlic to improve symptoms of pain show positive results. For example, taking garlic is likely ineffective for treating leg pain during walking due to poor circulation caused by peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, according to MedlinePlus, a publication of the National Institutes of Health.
Garlic and Medication
Consuming garlic may increase the potency of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, you take to manage pain. This may lead to greater pain relief, according to “Prescription for Herbal Healing,” by Phyllis A. Balch. However, check with your doctor before you try such an approach. Garlic may add to the effects of other drugs as well. For example, garlic can magnify the effects of blood-thinning drugs like aspirin and warfarin. Garlic oil may decrease how quickly your liver breaks down certain medications. This can increase the medications’ effects and side effects. Examples include acetaminophen, theophylline and chlorzoxazone as well as drugs used for anesthesia during surgery like halothane and isoflurane. If you take medicine, it’s especially important to talk to your doctor before you use garlic.
Garlic may be helpful in managing arthritis pain or preventing arthritis due to its selenium content. One of the novel sulfur compounds found in garlic is called thiacremonone. This compound helps inhibit inflammatory responses in your body, making it a potentially useful agent for treating inflammatory as well as arthritic diseases, according to J.O. Ban, lead author for a 2009 study published in “Arthritis Research and Therapy.” Garlic’s antioxidant content also may help reduce inflammation, and thus help with pain management. Antioxidant nutrients may help reduce inflammatory symptoms associated with inflammatory joint disease, notes R.F. Grimble, author of a1994 review published in “New Horizons,” the journal for the Society of Critical Care Medicine.
Garlic appears safe for most adults, but you need to consult a doctor before you use it, especially if you take medicine or have a health condition. For example, garlic can interfere with the effectiveness of the HIV drug saquinavir. Possible side effects include heartburn, breath and body odor, an upset stomach, and an allergic reaction. Also, since garlic has blood-thinning properties, it can worsen your condition if you have a bleeding disorder. Also use it with caution if you have a surgery or dental work planned.
- “Prescription for Herbal Healing”; Phyllis A. Balch; 2002
- “The Essential Food-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide”; George T. Grossberg and Barry Fox; 2007
- “Soviet Archives of Internal Medicine (Terapevticheskii arkhiv)”; Garlic Effectiveness in Rheumatoid Arthritis; L.N. Denisov, et al.; 1999
- “Conquering Arthritis”; Barbara D. Allen; 2002
- “Ageing Research Reviews”: Garlic and aging: new insights into an old remedy; K. Rahman; 2003
- “Arthritis Research and Therapy”: Anti-Inflammatory and Arthritic Effects of Thiacremonone, a Novel Sulfur Compound Isolated from Garlic via Inhibition of NF-kappaB; J.O. Ban, et al.; 2009