Colds and Flu

The Hunt For A Cure

The search for a cure for the common cold has been going on without success for centuries. On of the problems is that the "common cold" is not so common. There are many different forms of the human rhinovirus - more than 200 known viruses can cause a cold.

There are also many different, frequently mutating forms of influenza ("flu"). This is one of the reasons why the annual "flu jab" doesn't always work. Researchers have to try to guess many months in advance which strains of influenza are likely to be most prevalent that winter.

Colds and flu are a "moving target". A treatment aimed at one type of cold or flu can often be of no use in treating the others.

The Garlic Connection

This is where garlic could come in. Garlic is a broad spectrum antibiotic with powerful antibacterial properties.

In general antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections of the sort that cause most colds and flu. Fortunately garlic isn't "just" an antibiotic. As well as the powerful antibacterial allicin, garlic produces a number of other potentially beneficial compounds.

Immune System

It seems that garlic can have positive effects for the immune system as a whole. In this way it might indirectly help the body to fight off illnesses for which modern antibiotics would be inappropriate. Many herbal supplements on the market contain garlic, often along with other traditional herbs such as echinacea.

Garlic is sometimes said to help treat the symptoms of colds and flu, however it is best seen as a preventative. The use of garlic against colds and flu seems to be most effective when taken before the infection is caught, or immediately the symptoms begin to show.

Scientific research (1) has shown that people taking garlic can suffer less from colds than a control group. There is also plentiful anecdotal evidence that taking large amounts of garlic at the onset of a cold can reduce the time taken to recover. As always, discuss any treatment with your doctor - garlic can interfere with the working of certain medical drugs.

(1) Garlic 'prevents common cold'