Why Garlic Causes Lupus Symptoms or Flares

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Garlic and Lupus. #LupusWarriors have probably heard to avoid it. Knowing why can help create a good plan

#LupusWarriors have to avoid quite a bit, unfortunately. It can be frustrating and discouraging. With the right plan and the knowledge of why certain things cause lupus flares, it’s possible to live life more comfortably. #LupusWarriors have probably heard about garlic and lupus. Garlic can be a powerful trigger for lupus symptoms or flares. Read more to learn why garlic causes lupus flares and strategies to avoid it.

Garlic and Its Powerful Medicinal Impact

The Global Use of Garlic

Garlic is known all over the world for its powerful medicinal-like properties to keep people active and healthy. The science shows that garlic really can knock out a bug. Even, anecdotes dating back thousands of years ago—hieroglyphs on Egyptian pyramid walls show workers being given garlic to stay fit—tell of garlic as a potent well-care and sick-care material.


What Is in Garlic That Makes It So Strong?

So, why does it not help #LupusWarriors? Diving into garlic’s chemical makeup, it consists of three compounds that give this root vegetable its punch—ajoene, allicin, and thiosulfinates. All three compounds are considered to be organosulfur and contribute to garlic’s sulfur-like smell and taste. (Interesting fact: the release of organosulfur elements infiltrate the lungs through the bloodstream causing garlic breath. Even after brushing your teeth, the emissions will linger in the lungs.)

Given the substantial emissions of ajoene, allicin, and thiosulfinates, it’s no surprise they have a profound impact on the body. All three stimulate the immune system by increasing the macrophage and lymphocyte—two types of white blood cells—activity. Studies have shown allicin fighting Plasmodium falciparum (the most deadly kind of malaria) and aiding in weight loss (even with a poor diet).

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Garlic As a Pro-Inflammatory

Garlic, therefore, is considered to have pro-inflammatory effects on the host’s immune system. In other words, it revs up the immune system to fight bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections. Most of this is due to allicin, but as the scientific world continues to study garlic, the cataloging and understanding of all garlic’s attributes are ongoing.

Strategies for #LupusWarriors and Garlic

An individual with lupus must be careful not to trigger the body’s immune system. Garlic and other foods with allicin, ajoene, and thiosulfinates to be considered as exclusions to the diet. Research foods that contain these three compounds and write a list. Even though garlic has very concentrated levels of ajoene, allicin, and thiosulfinates, avoiding foods with lower levels compounding could evade a lupus flare.


Opposing Perceptions and Thoughtful Considerations

There is a community that thinks garlic can be quite beneficial to someone with lupus. Homeopathic garlic use to treat lupus calls for only a small amount and not every day. While the jury is still out, it’s probably best to look into other homeopathic remedies to keep #LupusWarriors healthy.

Comments (7)

7 thoughts on “Why Garlic Causes Lupus Symptoms or Flares

  1. What are your sources? I have been looking into this for a friend but can’t find ANY research on PubMed or CINHAL. Help if you can because I would like to provide evidence based advice!

    1. Hello and thanks for reading!

      I will share two sets of sources that aren’t all linked in the article. The first are recommendations for reduced garlic intake from Johns Hopkins Lupus Center and the Hospital for Special Surgery.

      These recommendations to avoid garlic come from research on garlic as a stimulant for the immune system. This works against immunosuppressant medications and may increase immune system function without addressing the potential damage to the body when antibodies attack healthy cells. (Here are some primary sources on garlic as providing benefit to the immune system: Garlic Revisited (published in 1988); Aged Garlic Extract & Immune System (published in 2001).

      I am also unable to find studies directly exploring the changes in immune function for people with lupus who do or do not eat garlic. There are also anecdotes of people using garlic and feeling better.
      The LupusCorner piece here tries to acknowledge those but does lean towards the recommendations of the health centers.

      Again, thanks for reading and I hope these sources help! Using Google Scholar, you can find some other interesting studies on garlic and immune system functioning.


  2. Thanks for this amazing site – the best support & info site I read.
    I ‘ve had lupus for 10 years (diagnosed for 3) I have never stopped eating garlic, though I am aware of certain foods’ immune-boosting effects. Echinacea affects me badly. Therapeutic Vitamin C doses affect me slightly. But I haven’t pinned any exacerbation on garlic, and I eat it daily. Give the research and wide acceptance of garlic’s benefits to the cardiovascular system (and lupus’s known ability to damage it), I figure that if garlic doesn’t make me flare then I should consider part of a healthy diet. Since I started a Mediterranean diet (which includes garlic) I have had WAY less inflammation. But we’re all different and need to find what works – and doesn’t – for ourselves.

  3. ¨Numerous research works have shown the immunomodulatory and immunotherapeutic potentials of AGE as a whole, including free radical-mediated anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antiangiogenic effects, as well as improving hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and allergy, which have been shown in both animal models and cell lines.

    Alliin is capable of suppressing LPS inflammatory signals by generating an anti-inflammatory gene expression and prevented the increase in expression of proinflammatory cytokines IL-6 and MCP-1.

    Garlic oil enhances and shifts toward Th1-type response at low doses. It promotes an anti-inflammatory environment at high doses by shifting Th1-Th2 balance toward the Th2 type.

    Garlic compounds modulate inflammatory cytokines, leading to overall reduction of NF-κB activity.¨

    Excerpts taken from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4417560/

    It seems controversial but more than ¨enhancing¨ immune system, garlic seems to help ¨modulating¨. There aren´t many studies though, but in clinical practice it doesn’t increase activity of SLE patients.
    The decision of eating should be individualized…

  4. I have lupus cutaneous and I eat a lot, a looot of garlic because I love it… even through my doctor not recommended! and I haven’t had any problems…. so…

  5. Through a low fodmap elimination diet I discovered garlic was the cause of my lifelong joint pain. It takes 48-72 hours after ingestion before I am pain free again. After life at pain level 7 for 50 years, I will never purposefully eat garlic again.

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