Archive for February 18th, 2010

Garlic and Detox – Can Insomnia Be a Side Effect?


Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, MS, DC, CCN, DACBN

A question was brought up on our support call about garlic and I thought I’d share some information about this amazing food.

Garlic is a useful adjunct to detoxification, because it conserves antioxidant levels, particularly glutathione, protects  against liver damage from acetaminophen, and can increase the intestinal activity levels of phase II detoxification enzymes, in particular quinine reductase and glutathione transferase, used by the body to eliminate toxins.

Garlic protects your liver and heart from damage, and improves your ability to combat potentially fatal conditions like cancer and heart disease. Garlic may also help protect you from heavy-metal accumulation, smog and air pollution. It appears to be the sulfur compounds in garlic, especially allicin, that are most protective.

As we’ve been talking about this week in the 6 week detox teleseminars, glutathione is one of the most important substances for detoxification.  It supports phase 2 liver detox, the more complicated of the two phases.  Because antioxidants get “used up” in the process of protecting you, exposure to toxic substances lowers glutathione levels.

A study was conducted to see if garlic could be helpful in preserving glutathione levels by exposing a group of laboratory rats to a chemical known as bromobenzene. One group of rats was given garlic before being exposed, and their glutathione levels were tested both before and after exposing them to bromobenzene. When compared to agroup of rats who were not pre-treated with garlic, the animals treated with garlic before exposure to bromobenzene had higher levels of glutathione after exposure than did the untreated group.

Great, but what if you are among the small but significant people who have adverse effects to garlic?  This question was posed during the support call.  According to, large doses of garlic can lead to  upset stomach, facial flushing, rapid pulse, dizziness, allergies or insomnia, and can affect the mind and concentration.  Our question came from someone who has some of these reactions to garlic.

According to Chinese Medicine, garlic is  a warming and drying herb, so people with a hot constitution should use it cautiously, as it can create the side effects mentioned above.   People who have an angry temperament or reddish complexion would be classified as having a hot constitution and should proceed cautiously with garlic.

As a substitute for garlic, scallions or spring onions can be just as effective as garlic, with less pungency.

Other foods and herbs, like broccoli sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables, dill, caraway, turmeric,oranges and tangerines, dandelion, burdock root, apples,  basil and jerusalem artichoke also support phase 2 liver detox and can be used to support a successful detoxification program.

So enjoy the benefits of garlic if you can and if not, know that there’s more than one way to detox a liver, and choose enjoyable foods and herbs that assist in the removal of toxins, leaving you light, strong and energetic.

Happy Detoxing,

Dr. Ritamarie

P.S.  You might enjoy this video about the role of glutathione in health and illness, and the research supporting the use of herbs, especially turmeric,  to support glutathione and reverse major disease.

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