How to Use Garlic as a Cold and Flu Remedy

Three Methods:Taking Raw Garlic Or a SupplementEating Garlic SoupPracticing Self-care

Garlic is a vegetable rich in antioxidants, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and manganese. A recent study on the antibacterial and antiviral properties of garlic shows that it can help boost the immune system. This means that garlic can help reduce the occurrence and the severity of the symptoms of a cold and shorten the recovery period as well. Garlic may also help with congestion in the sinuses by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages. Researchers believe these medicinal properties are the result of a sulfuric enzyme called alliin, which is the active ingredient in garlic. If you put garlic into your diet more, you can help prevent or treat colds and the flu naturally.[1][2]

Method 1
Taking Raw Garlic Or a Supplement

  1. 1
    Incorporate raw garlic into food. There are many forms of garlic available, such as garlic seasoning, garlic powder, and garlic salt. However, it is best taken in its natural form to release alliin that helps fight infections. Add two to four grams of fresh, minced garlic cloves to spice up your meals.
    • Sprinkle chopped garlic over spaghetti, mince some over baked chicken, or top roasted asparagus with it.
    • Each clove is approximately one gram.[3]
    • You can also cook garlic in olive oil, but to gain the most benefits of alliin, it is better to eat it raw. If you do want to use cooked garlic, lightly brown it over low heat so as not to destroy its active compounds.
  2. 2
    Eat it raw. If you don’t mind the bitterness, you can also eat the garlic cloves raw. To make it more edible, crush the garlic into a spoonful of honey or olive oil. When taken on a daily basis, this helps strengthen your immune system to reduce the likelihood of you catching and speeds up recovery.
    • Too much garlic may cause bad breath and low blood pressure, so limit your intake to two to four cloves of garlic a day.[4]
  3. 3
    Take garlic extract. Usually available in liquid or capsule form, aged garlic extract can be added as a dietary supplement to your daily or weekly routine. Freeze-dried garlic is also available as tablets and capsules. On average, take ¼ tsp of liquid aged garlic extract once daily to get the daily recommended amount of alliin for adults. Garlic supplements can be taken on a daily basis.
    • Garlic supplements are not considered a complete treatment for colds and may be taken together with medication recommended by your doctor.
    • The suggested serving of garlic extract contains the same amount of alliin as two 200mg capsules of garlic supplements, which are taken three times daily.
    • Some supplements contain dairy or gluten that can cause allergic reactions in some people. If you are allergic to these substances, consult your doctor for a recommended dosage or prescription for your individual needs.[5]

Method 2
Eating Garlic Soup

  1. 1
    Select the soup base. A great way to incorporate garlic into your diet is to make a soup that has a lot of garlic in it. Depending on your personal preference, you can use either a vegetable or chicken-based broth. It is always better to make your own soup broth with fresh, natural ingredients.
    • If you’re using a commercial stock base or a bouillon cube, be sure to opt for low-sodium broth. You should also double-check the nutrition label for the sodium content of the broth or bouillon cube. Ideally, this amount should be less than 140 mg per serving.[6]
  2. 2
    Prepare the chicken. You can make a natural chicken broth using lean chicken. This helps you control the amount of sodium that goes into your broth. Use chicken leg quarters because they have a higher ratio of meat to bone. Remove any visible skin or fat from the meat. Then, measure approximately two to three cups of water in a large cooker and add the chicken pieces.[7]
    • Using this small amount of water will give you a richer broth.
  3. 3
    Add vegetables. To the chicken and water, add a chopped medium onion, a tomato, two to three celery stalks, two to three carrots, and any other vegetables for flavor. You can also add herbs such as parsley or thyme for seasoning. Do not add salt.
    • If you’re using a slow cooker, cover and let it cook on low-medium heat for six to eight hours, or on high for four hours. If you are using a stove or burner, heat until it boils, then let it simmer on low heat for one hour.[8]
  4. 4
    Make vegetable broth instead. For a natural vegetable broth, use a variety of vegetables such as onions, parsnips, carrots, celery, leeks, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Lightly brown the vegetables in olive oil or canola oil, then add two to three cups of water. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce heat to low-medium and let it simmer for 1 1/2 hours.[9]
    • You can add whatever vegetables you like. The flavor of the final product will depend on what vegetables you add to the mixture.
  5. 5
    Make broth with bouillon cube. If you’re using a bouillon cube or soup base, measure approximately two cups of water and pour it into a pan or bowl. Boil the water using either a stove or microwave. Add the soup base cube and stir until it dissolves.
    • You can skip the next step if you use a bouillon cube to make the broth. Just pour a portion of the warm broth into a cup or soup bowl.
  6. 6
    Finish the broth. Once you cook the chicken broth, you need to remove the chicken and bones. Pull them out of the broth with tongs and set the chicken aside to eat later. Next, pour the remaining soup mixture through a strainer into large bowl to remove the vegetables from the broth. Pour a portion of the broth into a cup or soup bowl.
    • If you made vegetable broth, just strain the vegetables and pour the mixture into a large bowl.
  7. 7
    Add garlic. Using a garlic press, crush two whole medium cloves of garlic into the broth. Make sure to do this while the broth is still warm. Prolonged exposure to heat destroys the active compounds in garlic. It is recommended that you use fresh cloves to gain the most benefits of alliin, the active ingredient in garlic. This compound is released by mincing or chewing garlic.
    • Some studies suggest that powdered garlic may not be as effective.[10]
    • Once you add the garlic, stir it into the broth and drink immediately.
    • If you want something a little more substantial that broth, you can add a few cooked whole-grain noodles or brown rice to the soup to give it some texture and consistency.
  8. 8
    Eat the soup daily. This soup is useful for the prevention against viruses during cold and flu season. You can eat a portion of the soup one to two times daily. Drinking this warm soup when afflicted with a cold produces an anti-inflammatory effect and increases movement of nasal fluids, which clears the nasal passages and eases congestion.

Method 3
Practicing Self-care

  1. 1
    Get plenty of rest. Your body needs rest in order to heal faster. When you are sick, call in sick if you can. Get comfortable in bed or on the couch and don't push yourself too much. Try to take plenty of naps during the day, since having a cold can make you feel run down. If you have trouble breathing while sleeping, elevate your head on a pillow to decongest your sinuses.
    • If you are home sick, it is the perfect time to drink the garlic soup. Have someone make it for you or, if you feel well enough, make it yourself. It will help you feel better and relieve your symptoms.
  2. 2
    Boost your immunity. There are other ways to help boost your immunity to speed up recovery from colds, such as taking more Vitamin C. This is found in many vegetables and fruits. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, sweet peppers, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and tomatoes.[11]
    • Try adding these vegetables to your broth to increase the immunity boost of the garlic soup. Add spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and tomatoes to your broth when you cook it to get the extra Vitamin C.
  3. 3
    Drink more fluids. Drink at least eight ounces of non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages every two hours to stimulate the nasal passage and aid the thinning of mucus. This will help the garlic work better with your system, since the garlic helps break up congestion.[12]
  4. 4
    Take a steamy bath or shower. Steam helps moisturize your nasal passages so they feel less irritated. The relaxing effect will also help ease your cold symptoms. Draw yourself a hot bath or start each day during the duration of your cold with a nice hot shower so you benefit from plenty of steam.
    • For a quick steam treatment, you can heat up a pot of water just shy of boiling. When it starts producing quite a lot of steam, remove the pot from the heat. Put a towel behind your head and hold your face over the pot for about five minutes, letting the steam bathe your face. Don't get too close or the steam may burn you.
    • Add a few drops of essential oil to the water to further decongest your sinuses and get the benefits of aromatherapy. Try peppermint, tea tree, or eucalyptus oil.
  5. 5
    Go to the doctor. Garlic is meant to be used as preventive care rather than a treatment. If you are experiencing severe symptoms of a cold or flu such as high fever, ear or nasal infection, nasal discharge, cough with green phlegm, or breathlessness due to asthma or another respiratory problem, you should go to a doctor immediately. You should also see a doctor if you have been previously diagnosed with any respiratory disease.[13][14]
    • Do not take garlic if you are taking blood-thinning medications, medicines to lower blood pressure, or certain over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication for headaches, allergies, and colds. The combination of these medicines with garlic may cause dizziness and bleeding.
    • Garlic may possibly reduce the effectiveness of other medications and herbs. If you are already taking any medication or using remedies for another condition, be sure to ask for your doctor’s advice before using garlic.
  6. 6
    Watch for side effects. If you experience side effects such as bloating, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle aches, vertigo, allergies such as an asthmatic reaction, skin rashes and skin lesions, stop using garlic and see your doctor immediately. These are the signs of serious conditions that need to be treated by a professional.


  • To fight bad breath, a bit of fresh parsley or mint can be effective. Avoid smoking and use proper dental hygiene, especially flossing.[15]
  • Other studies also suggest that garlic is beneficial in the prevention and treatment of various heart diseases, as well as cancer.[16]


  • Garlic can lower blood pressure and should not be taken if you have low blood pressure.
  • Avoid taking garlic after surgery as it may also increase the risk of bleeding.
  • People with ulcers or thyroid problems should ask their doctor before taking garlic.
  • Ask your doctor before giving garlic supplements to a child.[17]

Article Info

Categories: Colds and Viruses