Garlic is an herb known for its strong flavour, commonly used in cooking and grown around the world. As an alternative medicine, it has also been used to treat various health conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even prostate cancer, among others.
Indeed, the health benefits of garlic, along with its versatile role in food preparation, makes it one of world’s most popular herbs. However, people are cautioned against consuming too much garlic, specifically raw garlic, as it can have harmful side effects on the body.
What are the health risks associated with excessive consumption of garlic? Keep on reading to know more about these possible dangers:
1. Bad Breath
If you eat too much garlic, the first obvious effect would be bad breath, which is mainly caused by the sulfur compound contained in the herb. In fact, “garlic breath” has been known to linger inside the mouth, even after brushing!
2. Skin Irritation
Have you ever noticed how your skin becomes red after peeling and chopping lots of garlic? This is because certain enzymes in the garlic may cause skin irritation, leading to rashes and a “hot” sensation quite similar to a burn.
3. Heartburn, Nausea, and Vomiting
Studies have shown that excessive consumption of garlic may cause gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in some individuals. Likewise, there have also been reports of people experiencing heartburn, nausea, and vomiting after eating fresh garlic on an empty stomach.
4. Headaches and Migraines
Consuming raw garlic may trigger headaches and migraines. Some experts believe that this could stimulate the trigeminal nerve — a major cranial nerve, that, if triggered — signals certain molecules to rush to the membrane that covers the brain, thus causing headaches.
5. Vision Changes
Studies have shown that excessive intake of garlic may lead to hyphema, a condition that involves bleeding inside the eye chamber and causes vision changes. If left unchecked, this condition could ultimately lead to permanent vision loss.
Garlic is known to have gas-forming compounds such as sulfur. As a result, eating too much garlic, especially on an empty stomach, may cause diarrhea.
Excessive consumption of garlic could irritate a person’s gastrointestinal tract, thus leading to stomach and digestion problems.
8. Low Blood Pressure
As mentioned earlier, garlic has been used to treat high blood pressure. However, if a person is already taking blood pressure medications, consuming too much garlic may lead to hypotension or low blood pressure instead.
9. Internal Bleeding
Garlic is known to be a natural blood thinner. However, if it is consumed in large doses, along with blood-thinning medications (e.g. warfarin, aspirin, etc.), this could lead to internal bleeding, which is dangerous indeed!
10. Liver Damage
Studies have shown that eating too much garlic may affect the liver and even cause liver damage. Hence, it should be consumed only in small amounts or doses.
Despite the numerous health benefits of garlic, the above list shows that excessive intake of it poses certain risks to the body. As with most other herbs, garlic should be consumed in moderation, whether as a food ingredient or as an alternative medicine.