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What does drinking garlic juice do?

Garlic has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Some people drink garlic juice or eat raw garlic cloves to try to take advantage of its purported health benefits. This article explores what happens when you drink garlic juice.

Active Compounds in Garlic

Garlic contains a range of compounds that are thought to be responsible for its medicinal properties. These include:

  • Allicin – Has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
  • Ajoene – May inhibit platelet aggregation
  • Polysulfides – Improve cardiovascular health
  • Flavonoids – Have antioxidant effects
  • Selenium – Important for immune function

When raw garlic is chopped or crushed, an enzyme called alliinase converts alliin into allicin. Allicin is thought to be the primary bioactive compound responsible for many of garlic’s benefits.

However, allicin is unstable and quickly converts into other sulfur-containing compounds like ajoene and polysulfides.

Cooking garlic destroys the alliinase enzymes, meaning cooked garlic contains very little allicin. However, it still contains some other garlic compounds.

Purported Benefits of Garlic Juice

Drinking garlic juice is claimed to provide the following benefits:

  • Antioxidant effects: Garlic contains antioxidants like allicin that neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in your body.
  • Immune-boosting properties: Active compounds in garlic like ajoene, selenium, flavonoids and polysulfides may strengthen your immune defenses.
  • Heart health: Garlic juice may reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and atherosclerosis to support cardiovascular health.
  • Anti-cancer effects: Organosulfur compounds found in garlic may suppress the growth and spread of cancer cells.

However, more large-scale human studies are needed to confirm these benefits of garlic juice.

Side Effects of Drinking Garlic Juice

Drinking homemade garlic juice comes with some potential downsides, including:

  • Heartburn: Garlic juice may irritate the gastrointestinal tract and cause heartburn.
  • Body odor: Garlic enters your bloodstream quickly, causing you to sweat out the pungent sulfurous compounds. This can lead to body odor.
  • Bad breath: Raw garlic causes bad breath and leaves an aftertaste.
  • Allergic reactions: Some people may experience contact dermatitis when handling garlic.
  • Bleeding problems: Garlic acts as a natural blood thinner. Large amounts may increase bleeding risk, especially before surgery.
  • Botulism risk: Homemade garlic juice could become contaminated with Clostridium botulinum bacteria that causes botulism, a rare but serious illness.

When consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, garlic juice is likely safe for most healthy adults. However, some people should not drink garlic juice due to increased health risks.

Who Should Not Drink Garlic Juice?

The following individuals should avoid garlic juice or consume it cautiously:

  • People with upcoming surgery due to increased bleeding risk
  • Those taking blood-thinning medications like warfarin
  • People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Those allergic or sensitive to garlic
  • Pregnant women
  • People with stomach or digestive problems
  • People with hemophilia or other bleeding disorders

How to Make Garlic Juice

Here is a simple recipe to make fresh garlic juice at home:

Ingredients

  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  1. Chop or crush garlic cloves to release allicin.
  2. Add garlic and water to a blender.
  3. Blend until smooth and strain through a sieve into a glass.
  4. Drink the filtered juice immediately for maximum benefits.
  5. Can be stored in fridge for 1-2 days but potency decreases over time.

For better taste, add a small amount of fresh lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or honey. However, adding acidic ingredients may reduce some of garlic’s therapeutic effects.

How Much Garlic Juice Should You Drink?

There is no official recommended dosage for garlic juice. The amount that should be consumed depends on the reason for use.

For general wellness, 1-2 ounces (30-60 ml) of fresh garlic juice per day is commonly used. It’s best to start with small doses like 1/4-1/2 an ounce (7-15 ml) to assess your tolerance.

Drinking more than 4 ounces (120 ml) per day could cause adverse effects like an upset stomach, bad breath, body odor or bleeding problems in susceptible individuals. It may also interact with certain medications.

Garlic juice is very concentrated, so it is typically consumed in small medicinal doses rather than as a beverage.

How Long Does Garlic Juice Last?

Fresh garlic juice only retains its maximum health benefits for 1-2 days when stored in the fridge. Over time, the active compounds like allicin and ajoene start to degrade and lose potency.

For long term storage, garlic juice can be frozen in ice cube trays for 2-3 months. However, freezing may reduce its potency slightly more than refrigeration.

Any homemade garlic juice that has been left at room temperature for more than an hour should be discarded due to potential bacterial growth.

Should Garlic Juice Be Taken on an Empty Stomach?

There are a few schools of thought on when to take garlic juice:

  • Empty stomach: Taking garlic juice about 30 minutes before meals maximizes absorption. However, it may cause stomach upset.
  • With food: Consuming garlic juice with food minimizes gastrointestinal side effects but can reduce bioavailability.
  • Before bed: Some think taking garlic juice before bed allows your body to better utilize the compounds as you sleep.

The optimal time to take garlic juice depends on your tolerance and health goals. Taking it with a small snack may offer a good balance.

Other Ways to Use Garlic

Here are some other ways to consume garlic besides drinking the juice:

Method Benefits Downsides
Raw garlic
  • Highest allicin content
  • Delivers comprehensive benefits
  • Strong, unpleasant flavor
  • Garlic breath
Cooked garlic
  • Milder, more palatable
  • Retains some benefits
  • Lower allicin content
  • Fewer benefits than raw
Aged garlic extract
  • No garlic breath or body odor
  • Convenient to take
  • Lower allicin levels
  • Less potent

Should You Drink Garlic Juice?

Research shows garlic has antimicrobial, antitumor, immune-boosting, and cardiovascular benefits. Drinking fresh garlic juice may be an effective delivery method.

However, garlic juice is very concentrated and pungent. Start with small doses to assess your tolerance, especially if you have acid reflux or stomach issues.

Additionally, consult your healthcare provider before drinking garlic juice if you take any medications or have upcoming surgery.

While garlic juice should not replace professional medical treatment, it may be a natural complementary remedy that offers preventative health advantages when consumed in moderation.

Conclusion

Drinking garlic juice provides a simple way to harness the bioactive compounds and medicinal properties of garlic. However, there are some side effects to consider, and certain people may need to avoid it.

When made properly and consumed in moderation, garlic juice may help support cardiovascular health, immunity, antioxidant status and other areas of health. But more large-scale human research is still needed on the specific benefits and risks.

Garlic juice is easy to make at home, but should be consumed fresh for maximum benefits. People taking medications or facing surgery should consult their doctor before drinking large amounts of garlic juice due to potential interactions and bleeding risk.