Garlic is a common ingredient that may lower blood pressure and reduce a person's risk of certain types of cancers. However, what does the research say what about garlic and HIV? Can consuming garlic help people with HIV, or does it cause more harm?
The main compound in garlic is allicin. Garlic also contains other compounds, including diallyl polysulfides and ajoene.
In this article, we look at whether or not garlic affects the immune system in people with HIV. We also cover whether garlic interacts with HIV medications.
Some people claim that garlic can help fight HIV due to its antiviral properties, such as boosting the immune system.
HIV attacks T cells, which are a specific type of cell in the immune system. T cells fight viruses and tumor cells in the body. When HIV destroys T cells, it is harder to fight off infections.
A person with HIV is more prone to certain types of infections, including viruses. Such infections can become severe if a person has a weakened immune system.
Anything that may make the immune system stronger can be beneficial for people with HIV, which is why some people recommend garlic supplements.
These cells include natural killer cells and macrophages, which help fight infections.
The general health benefits of garlic may also be beneficial for people with HIV. For example, according to the
One theory is that garlic has sulfur-containing amino acids that stimulate activity in the immune system and help fight infections.
The study included adults aged 21–50. The scientists divided the participants into two groups. For 90 days during the cold and flu season, one group consumed 2.56 grams of garlic extract, and the other group consumed the placebo.
The researchers then assessed the T cell and killer cell function, along with self-reported illness. The results indicated that supplementation with garlic may improve immune cell function.
Boosting the immune system may help people with HIV stay healthy, but studies do not confirm that garlic can prevent infections specifically in people who have HIV.
Additional larger studies are needed to determine whether garlic can play a role in enhancing the immune systems of people with HIV.
People with HIV are also more susceptible to certain types of cancer. Reducing the risk of cancer in people with HIV may improve the outlook in some cases.
In one systematic review and meta-analysis, scientists looked at 14 studies that analyzed the link between garlic consumption and colon cancer. Garlic consumption did not appear to lower the risk of colorectal cancer.
Also, studies that report a link to a reduction in the most common cancers associated with HIV are not available.
Some studies indicate that garlic supplements affect the levels of certain antiviral medications that doctors prescribe to treat HIV.
For example, one systematic analysis of current research published in the International Journal of STD & AIDS indicates that some forms of garlic supplements can reduce the levels of certain antiviral medications.
It is worth noting that some studies that suggest a link between garlic and interference with HIV medications are several years old. However, these medications have changed and evolved over time.
The compounds in garlic are complex. For example, allicin quickly changes into other chemicals. For this reason, researchers do not fully understand garlic's interaction with various HIV medications.
The best treatment varies depending on a person's overall health and other medical conditions they may have. Different HIV treatment regimens involve different classes of drug, some of which may interact differently with garlic.
For people with HIV who are considering taking garlic supplements, there are several questions to ask a doctor.
For example, it is vital to ask a doctor whether garlic supplements are safe to use with the medications a person is currently taking. It is also best to discuss the optimal dosage.
A discussion on the typical side effects of garlic is also needed. Garlic supplement side effects may include:
As with any supplement, it is essential to weigh the benefits against the risks.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not monitor the quality or safety of supplements, so it is vital to purchase them from a reputable supplier.
Researchers are still trying to determine the medicinal benefits of garlic. It is possible that garlic supplements may have some health benefits, but its effects on HIV and HIV treatment are currently unclear.
Some studies suggest that garlic supplements interfere with HIV medication, but other studies have not shown the same link.
Since evidence is not conclusive, people with HIV should always talk with their doctor before taking garlic supplements.