Triggers for acid reflux vary between individuals. Many foods can trigger acid reflux and heartburn, and garlic could be a contributing factor for some people.

Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux (GER), occurs when acid from the stomach travels the wrong way through the esophagus, toward the throat. It is a common condition.

Acid reflux may cause heartburn — a burning sensation in the chest, just behind the breastbone, and in the throat. A person may also experience an unpleasant taste in their mouth from stomach acid.

Certain foods, such as garlic, can cause acid reflux and the resulting heartburn to occur more frequently. However, not everyone has the same triggers. What affects one person may not affect another.

This article discusses the relationship between garlic and acid reflux. It examines whether garlic can help reflux, the health benefits and risks of garlic, and how people use garlic. It also looks at conventional treatments for acid reflux.

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Research into the effect of diet on acid reflux can yield contradictory results. This is because different foods cause or worsen symptoms in different people.

Garlic is one of the most researched herbal supplements, and people use it as a complementary therapy for various ailments. While garlic may have several health benefits, many studies suggest that it may contribute to gastrointestinal disturbances, including acid reflux and heartburn, rather than improving them.

Research indicates an association between alliums and increased acid reflux-related symptoms. Alliums include vegetables such as garlic, onions, leeks, and chives.

Effects of excessive garlic consumption

When consuming therapeutic doses of garlic, a small number of people may experience severe symptoms. Excessive consumption of garlic may cause gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and loss of appetite. People with GERD repeatedly experience acid reflux, which irritates the lining of the esophagus. The side effects can be more noticeable with raw garlic.

The effects of black garlic

One 2019 study in rats compared the effects of raw garlic and black garlic on reflux esophagitis. Reflux esophagitis is the inflammation of the esophageal lining due to GERD. Black garlic is raw garlic that ferments under controlled high temperatures and high humidity for some time. Black garlic may be more effective in preventing diseases than raw garlic.

The researchers found that black garlic may have a protective effect on reflux esophagitis. However, more research is necessary to confirm their findings.

Learn more about acid reflux.

Animal and human studies suggest that garlic may:

  • enhance immune cell function, reducing the severity of cold and flu symptoms
  • lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure
  • lower levels of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
  • protect against cognitive decline associated with cell damage and aging
  • reduce oxidative stress that contributes to osteoporosis
  • decrease pain severity in osteoarthritis

Although studies have shown promising results, more research is necessary before scientists will fully understand garlic’s potential.

Learn more about the benefits of garlic.

Garlic is generally safe for most people to consume in the amounts they add to foods. However, some people may experience side effects such as:

Excessive garlic consumption may result in digestive side effects such as:

People who take blood thinners such as warfarin should consult a healthcare professional before taking garlic supplements. This is because garlic supplements may increase the risk of bleeding.

Garlic supplements may also interfere with the effectiveness of some drugs and interact with dietary herbs and other supplements.

Garlic is a bulb with a covering of papery white skin. People can pull the bulb apart to expose the individual cloves inside. They can then peel a clove and crush, mince, or slice it to flavor various foods.

Many recipes include cooked fresh garlic, powdered garlic, or garlic oil. However, garlic is also safe to eat raw, and this form gives dishes a more intense flavor.

Garlic is also available as a dietary supplement or an extract to apply to the skin.

People can manage mild cases of acid reflux through lifestyle and dietary strategies such as:

  • making efforts to maintain a moderate weight, if applicable
  • quitting smoking tobacco, if necessary
  • avoiding late evening meals
  • avoiding lying down immediately after meals
  • elevating the head while in bed
  • increasing dietary fiber intake
  • avoiding or limiting foods and drinks that have associations with acid reflux, such as acidic foods, alcohol, and high fat foods

People may need over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications to treat acid reflux and heartburn if lifestyle and dietary strategies do not resolve their symptoms. Doctors may recommend:

Learn more about foods to eat and avoid for GERD.

Garlic is present in many food products, and people add it to many recipes. Garlic is safe to consume in the amounts found in foods and may have several health benefits. However, garlic may not help acid reflux and may contribute to its development in some people.

Research indicates that allium vegetables, including garlic, may worsen acid reflux-related symptoms. These symptoms may be more apparent when people consume raw garlic.

People can try several lifestyle and dietary strategies to reduce their chances of experiencing acid reflux. OTC and prescription medications such as antacids, H2 blockers, and PPIs are available to treat the condition.