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  • Jere Folgert

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Garlic

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Garlic: Myth busters

Can eating garlic help prevent infection with the new coronavirus? Will Garlic Prices Go Up?

The new cluster of viral pneumonia cases originating in Wuhan, China, marks the third time in 20 years that a member of the large family of coronaviruses (CoVs) has jumped from animals to humans and sparked an outbreak. In a new JAMA Viewpoint essay, Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), looks back at two earlier novel CoV outbreaks that initially caused global havoc and describes steps needed to contain the current one. NIAID is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH January 2020).

Microscopic Animals Viruses are tinier than bacteria. In fact, the largest virus is smaller than the smallest bacterium. All viruses have a protein coat and a core of genetic material, either RNA or DNA. ... Also unlike bacteria, most viruses do cause disease, and they're quite specific about the cells they attack. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, an infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.

Plants of the genus Allium are known for their production of organosulfur compounds, which possess interesting biological and pharmacological properties. Among these, garlic (Allium sativum) is one of the most widely used ones. When extracted and isolated, these compounds exhibit a broad spectrum of beneficial effects against microbial infections as well as cardioprotective, anticancerigenic, and anti-inflammatory activity (National Institute of Health Published Article titled "Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds" . Preparations of garlic are mainly liquid (aqueous, oil, or solvent extracts) or solid (dried garlic powder and fresh cataplasm). These extractions can be based on water formulations, oils, or by using solvents as alcohols. The composition of the extracts depends on the source of the garlic strain, age, storage conditions, and type of processing, and the effects of the extracts are influenced by the method of consumption.

Can garlic or garlic extracts help prevent infection with the new coronavirus? Unfortunately, we do not have an answer to this question. There are numerous studies published on the National Institute of Health's website that reveal research material studies pertaining to garlic and its antimicrobial activities on resistant strains. A microbe, or “microscopic organism,” is a living thing that is too small to be seen with the naked eye. We need to use a microscope to see them.

The term is very general. It is used to describe many different types of life forms, with dramatically different sizes and characteristics: Bacteria, Archaea, Fungi, Protists, and Viruses.

A study published at NIH, looked at the prevention and treatment of Influenza and Influenza-Like Illnesses using Natural Therapies. Their conclusion was that many herbal therapies have scientific evidence of activity against respiratory viruses. The herbal medicines, such as maoto, licorice roots, antiwei, North American ginseng, elderberry, Echinacea, pomegranate, guava tea, and Bai Shao, were found effective in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections. The studies revealed several mechanisms of action by which herbal extracts fight respiratory viruses. Some dietary supplements also revealed efficacy in the prevention and treatment of respiratory viral infections. Supplements including zinc, selenium, vitamin C, probiotics, seaweed extract, yeast-based products, and garlic extract, demonstrated supportive effects against respiratory viruses. There was evidence from in vitro studies and historical observation showing an effect of the alkaline medium against respiratory viruses. However, no animal or human clinical trials were found. From experimental studies, earthing revealed anti-inflammatory effects and immunity enhancement. No previous studies were found regarding the effects of earthing in patients with influenza or upper respiratory tract infections. Future studies are recommended to investigate the possible role of alkaline diets or drinks, and earthing for the prevention and treatment of respiratory viral infections especially in cases of intractable influenza. Source:

A study in 2014, titled "Garlic for the Common Cold", published on the National Institute of Health's Web Site, states: Garlic is alleged to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties that relieve the common cold, among other beneficial effects. There is widespread usage of garlic supplements. The common cold is associated with significant morbidity and economic consequences. On average, children have six to eight colds per year and adults have two to four. In this 2014 study, The objectives were to determine whether garlic (Allium sativum) is effective for the prevention or treatment of the common cold, when compared to placebo, no treatment, or other treatments. What were the main results? In their updated review, we identified eight trials as potentially relevant from our searches. Again, only one trial met the inclusion criteria. This trial randomly assigned 146 participants to either a garlic supplement (with 180 mg of allicin content) or a placebo (once daily) for 12 weeks. The trial reported 24 occurrences of the common cold in the garlic intervention group compared with 65 in the placebo group (P value < 0.001), resulting in fewer days of illness in the garlic group compared with the placebo group (111 versus 366). The number of days to recover from an occurrence of the common cold was similar in both groups (4.63 versus 5.63). Only one trial met the inclusion criteria, therefore limited conclusions can be drawn. The trial relied on self-reported episodes of the common cold but was of reasonable quality in terms of randomization and allocation concealment. Adverse effects included rash and odor. Here are the Authors' conclusions: There is insufficient clinical trial evidence regarding the effects of garlic in preventing or treating the common cold. A single trial suggested that garlic may prevent occurrences of the common cold but more studies are needed to validate this finding. Claims of effectiveness appear to rely largely on poor‐quality evidence. Read more here:

Another study, published in 2016 on the Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) is a coronavirus looked at the available vaccines against IBV that cannot cover new variants. This study evaluated the inhibitory effects of garlic extract on IBV. Avian infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) is a microorganism that causes a significant economic loss in the poultry industry worldwide. IBV is a positive-sense, single-stranded RNA virus that belongs to the coronaviruses. All viruses in the family of coronavirus replicate in the cytoplasm of infected cells . The virion of IBV has four kinds of proteins in its structure including the spike (S), the membrane (M), the envelope (E) and the nucleocapsid (N). The major target of IBV is the respiratory system and can also affect the reproductive system and kidneys. There is no exact cure for infectious bronchitis (IB) due to IBV so, vaccination is the best way to prevent it. However, the variations of IBV that is made during replication may reduce the efficacy of some IBV vaccines. Although the vaccination strategy has been adopted, medicinal plants that have antiviral effects can be regarded as an alternative to vaccination or at least can be added to the vaccination programs. Allium sativum, garlic in English, belongs to the Alliaceae family. It has different minerals such as Ca, Fe, K, Cu and Mg and also contains a variety of vitamins (This plant is full of water-soluble organosulfur compounds like S-allyl cysteine (SAC), S-ethyl cysteine (SEC), and S-propyl cysteine (SPC) . Read more on the National Institute of Health's Web Site:

According to research at Stanford University ( Garlic nose drops have been known to kill the viruses that cause colds (if you don't mind the smell of garlic!). In his book The Healing Power of Garlic Paul Bergner suggests crushing some garlic to obtain juice, adding ten parts water and mixing well.

Published at the National Institute of Health (NIH), research on Garlic (Allium sativum) has been shown to have antiviral activity, but the compounds responsible have not been identified. Using direct pre-infection incubation assays, we determined the in vitro virucidal effects of fresh garlic extract, its polar fraction, and the following garlic associated compounds: diallyl thiosulfinate (allicin), allyl methyl thiosulfinate, methyl allyl thiosulfinate, ajoene, alliin, deoxyalliin, diallyl disulfide, and diallyl trisulfide. The activity was determined against selected viruses including, herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2, parainfluenza virus type 3, vaccinia virus, vesicular stomatitis virus, and human rhinovirus type 2. The order for a virucidal activity generally was: ajoene > allicin > allyl methyl thiosulfinate > methyl allyl thiosulfinate. Ajoene was found in oil-macerates of garlic but not in fresh garlic extracts. No activity was found for the garlic polar fraction, alliin, deoxyalliin, diallyl disulfide, or diallyl trisulfide. Fresh garlic extract, in which thiosulfinates appeared to be the active components, was virucidal to each virus tested. The predominant thiosulfinate in fresh garlic extract was allicin. Lack of reduction in yields of infectious virus indicated undetectable levels of intracellular antiviral activity for either allicin or fresh garlic extract. Furthermore, concentrations that were virucidal were also toxic to HeLa and Vero cells. Virucidal assay results were not influenced by cytotoxicity since the compounds were diluted below toxic levels prior to assaying for infectious viruses. These results indicate that virucidal activity and cytotoxicity may have depended upon the viral envelope and cell membrane, respectively. However, activity against the non-enveloped virus may have been due to inhibition of viral adsorption or penetration. Read more here:

Another study published at the National Institute of Health (NIH) The benefits of garlic to health have been proclaimed for centuries; however, only recently have Allium sativum and its derivatives been proposed as promising candidates for maintaining the homeostasis of the immune system. The complex biochemistry of garlic makes it possible for variations in processing to yield different preparations with differences in the final composition and compound proportion. In this review, we assess the most recent experimental results, which indicate that garlic appears to enhance the functioning of the immune system by stimulating certain cell types, such as macrophages, lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cells, dendritic cells, and eosinophils, by mechanisms including modulation of cytokine secretion, immunoglobulin production, phagocytosis, and macrophage activation. Finally, because immune dysfunction plays an important role in the development and progress of several diseases, we critically examined immunoregulation by garlic extracts and compounds isolated, which can contribute to the treatment and prevention of pathologies such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disorders, gastric ulcer, and even cancer. We concluded that A. sativum modulates cytokine secretion and that such modulation may provide a mechanism of action for many of their therapeutic effects.

Will Garlic Prices Go Up?

Is coronavirus driving up ginger and garlic prices? Yes. Apparently, there is an acute labor shortage and transport bottlenecks that have forced up costs of products from China. With less supply and more demand, prices will likely rise. The coronavirus epidemic in China has caused volatility in consumer prices, disturbing both supplies and demand. The latest to be flipped is the local wholesale prices of garlic, ginger, and chili. A composite index based on these ingredients has risen 17 percent since the start of December, reflecting labor shortages in farms and distribution networks. This matters to the wider world because China accounts for about 80 percent of the global garlic export market, 47 percent of the ginger market, and 20% of the chili market, according to Mintec, a commodities data firm. One exporter, Singapore-based Olam, said that while its garlic factory in Shandong Province had been operating at close to normal levels, the coronavirus was causing bottlenecks for container ships and higher freight costs. This was leading to “an impact on garlic exports in the near term” with delays of about two to three weeks, Olam said. Olam is expecting an impact on other products, including dehydrated vegetables, dried onions, and tomato paste. Also feeling the pinch is Japan, which said last week that Chinese imports of processed onions, carrots, and leeks had dropped about four-fifths in the first week of February from a year before. Taku Eto, agriculture minister, said that the country had ample stocks for now but that prices could rise if the shortfalls continue.

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