Garlic and HIV: Are there any effects or benefits?
Garlic is a common ingredient that may lower blood pressure and reduce a person’s risk of certain types of cancers. However, what does the research say what about garlic and HIV? Can consuming garlic help people with HIV, or does it cause more harm?
The main compound in garlic is allicin. Garlic also contains other compounds, including diallyl polysulfides and ajoene.
In this article, we look at whether or not garlic affects the immune system in people with HIV. We also cover whether garlic interacts with HIV medications.
HIV and garlic
Garlic has antiviral properties that may benefit people with HIV.
Some people claim that garlic can help fight HIV due to its antiviral properties, such as boosting the immune system.
HIV attacks T cells, which are a specific type of cell in the immune system. T cells fight viruses and tumor cells in the body. When HIV destroys T cells, it is harder to fight off infections.
A person with HIV is more prone to certain types of infections, including viruses. Such infections can become severe if a person has a weakened immune system.
Anything that may make the immune system stronger can be beneficial for people with HIV, which is why some people recommend garlic supplements.
One analysis published in the Journal of Immunology Research suggests that garlic may improve immune system function by stimulating the production of certain types of cells.
These cells include natural killer cells and macrophages, which help fight infections.
The general health benefits of garlic may also be beneficial for people with HIV. For example, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, some studies indicate that garlic may help lower cholesterol levels.
What does the research say?
One theory is that garlic has sulfur-containing amino acids that stimulate activity in the immune system and help fight infections.
A 2016 study published in The Journal of Nutrition indicates that T cells and natural killer cells could respond to diet modifications including garlic.
The study included adults aged 21–50. The scientists divided the participants into two groups. For 90 days during the cold and flu season, one group consumed 2.56 grams of garlic extract, and the other group consumed the placebo.
The researchers then assessed the T cell and killer cell function, along with self-reported illness. The results indicated that supplementation with garlic may improve immune cell function.
Boosting the immune system may help people with HIV stay healthy, but studies do not confirm that garlic can prevent infections specifically in people who have HIV.
Additional larger studies are needed to determine whether garlic can play a role in enhancing the immune systems of people with HIV.
The National Cancer Institute recognize that garlic may have some anticancer properties.
People with HIV are also more susceptible to certain types of cancer. Reducing the risk of cancer in people with HIV may improve the outlook in some cases.