Cooking with garlic, eating it raw, or taking garlic supplements is a staple home remedy for common colds.
Studies show that adults typically have two to four colds a year, on average, while children have six to eight.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, garlic is one of the best selling herbal supplements in the United States.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is not enough evidence to determine whether garlic can prevent or treat the common cold. Some results suggest that it could be helpful, however.
A 2014 review included a study that found that participants who took garlic every day had fewer colds than participants who received placebos.
Researchers used aged garlic extract (AGE) in another study, which explored the effects of garlic on the immune system.
The authors noted that participants who took AGE reported fewer and less severe symptoms if they did catch a cold. These results suggest that taking AGE could help reduce inflammation.
There may be a direct link between one of the most distinctive qualities of garlic — its smell — and its useful properties. Crushed garlic’s characteristic scent comes from allicin, which is effective against many different kinds of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Garlic is safe for most people to consume unless they have allergies. It could cause stomach discomfort for some, and others might not like the taste or smell. It can give the breath a strong odor, too.
People should avoid applying garlic directly to the skin, as it may causing burning and irritation.
People wishing to try garlic to relieve their symptoms can use this plant in a variety of forms. They can try:
- mashing or chewing raw garlic cloves
- preparing AGE by slicing garlic cloves and soaking them in a mixture of alcohol and water for up to 20 months
- taking a capsule or tablet
- cooking with garlic
- using garlic powder
Although not all home remedies for cold symptoms have enough evidence to prove their effectiveness, common options include:
- Zinc: According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, zinc may help people get over colds more quickly if they start taking it within 24 hours of getting sick. It is important never to place zinc directly in the nose because it can damage the sense of smell.
- Vitamin C: The evidence is limited, but some research suggests that taking at least 1 gram of vitamin C a day can prevent or shorten the duration of a cold. Other research disputes this claim, but as vitamin C is safe to consume and plays a role in many bodily functions, it makes sense to include it in the diet.
- Echinacea: Also known as the coneflower, echinacea may help prevent colds. Studies have produced varying results regarding its effectiveness, however.
- Probiotics: Although the data is not comprehensive, one study found that probiotics were somewhat effective in preventing serious infections in the respiratory tract.
- Nasal irrigation: Rinsing the nasal passages can provide some relief from cold symptoms and may prevent some infections. It is essential to use safe, clean water for this procedure.
- Honey: Although children less than 1 year of age should not have honey, it may reduce coughs in older children and help them sleep better.
One of the best ways to prevent colds, according to healthcare professionals, is vigorous, consistent hand washing with soap.
Staying at home can help stop the spread of germs. People should also drink plenty of fluids and rest often to speed up recovery.
Although many people use garlic as a home remedy for the common cold, there is not enough evidence to confirm that it is effective.
People can try garlic raw, cook it as part of a meal, or take a supplement to try to alleviate cold symptoms or boost the immune system.
In addition, getting plenty of rest and fluids can help speed up recovery from a cold.