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Is Garlic Safe?

Talk to your healthcare provider before using supplements that contain large amounts of garlic. Safety warnings and precautions include an increased risk of bleeding, potential drug interactions, and the safety of taking the supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, because garlic supplements are not closely regulated, it is a good idea to buy a product that is made by a reputable manufacturer.

Is Garlic Safe? -- An Overview

Garlic is a popular dietary supplement that is used for treating a variety of health conditions. You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking it if you have:
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Garlic Safety Precautions

Warnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of garlic include the following:
  • Because garlic supplements are considered dietary supplements, they are not as closely regulated as prescription and non-prescription drugs. This means that they can be marketed without any proof that they are either safe or effective. Do not assume that just because a product is sold in the United States that it is safe or effective. Make sure to look for garlic supplements that are made by a reputable manufacturer. Your pharmacist is a good resource for information about which manufacturers are the most reputable
  • Garlic can "thin" the blood, possibly increasing the risk of bleeding. If you have a bleeding disorder, do not take garlic supplements or unusually large amounts of raw or cooked garlic without checking with your healthcare provider.
  • Because garlic can increase the risk of bleeding, it is a good idea to stop taking garlic supplements at least one week before any surgeries or similar procedures.
  • Garlic can be irritating to the stomach. If you have an ulcer, heartburn, or GERD, garlic could make these conditions worse.
  • Garlic can interact with some medications (see Garlic Drug Interactions).
  • A normal intake of garlic through dietary means is probably safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women, although larger amounts of garlic supplements may not be safe (see Garlic and Pregnancy and Garlic and Breastfeeding).
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