Is Garlic a Natural Acne Cure?

No. If you're suffering from acne then garlic won't cure the problem. Sorry teenagers, it won't get rid of your acne. The real question is whether or not it can help to control and reduce the severity of the symptoms.

I'm not aware of any scientific reasearch into any possible link between garlic and acne control, however it has a long-standing reputation in folk medicine. No-one claims it's a miracle acne cure - personally I'm middle-aged and eat loads of garlic but still get the occasional bad spot. However many people do believe it can help treat the symptoms and perhaps have a useful role to play in general skincare. It's said to do this in two ways: internal and external.

As always, consult your doctor before attempting any home treatment. Remember that what looks like acne might actually be a symptom of some other disease so get a proper diagnosis.

Antibiotic and Cleansing

So how might garlic work to help the acne sufferer? Well it's known to have powerful antibiotic properties (1) and is a general blood cleanser. Some people have suggested that eating garlic might help your system internally to clean itself out and hence reduce acne symptoms. Garlic's most powerful medicinal compounds - chiefly allicin - are released when it's eaten raw and crushed. A little raw garlic can be sprinkled on top of a meal at the end of cooking, added to a salad, included in a sandwich, etc. Be warned that the taste and the smell of raw garlic is very stong.

Note: Raw garlic is very powerful and can cause problems if you eat too much. Some people are actively allergic to garlic. Do not use garlic if you suspect you are allergic. Even if you don't have an explicit allergy, use garlic with caution and don't overdo it.

The antibiotic and cleansing properties of garlic also give it a reputation in folk medicine as being an effective acne treatment when a little is applied gently externally. However although some people seem to think it works others have reported nothing other than skin burning and reddening, sometimes causing quite serious problems. So for safety I would not use garlic on the skin. It's not worth the risk, whatever granny's old book says!

If you suffer from acne, seek the advice and treatment of a doctor, professional dermatologist or nutritionist. Garlic certainly isn't a substitute for these. However as part of a healthy diet it might be useful for some people in the control of acne symptoms.

(1): Garlic: A natural antibiotic (American Chemical Society)