Garlic's Role In Improving Blood Circulation

  • Vaishali S Gunjal M.Sc. Pharmaceutical Medicine, Maharashtra University of Health Science
  • Dr Maria Weissenbruch Doctor (Ph.D.), Cell and Developmental Biology, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany
  • Regina Lopes Senior Nursing Assistant, Health and Social Care, The Open University

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Garlic is a bulbous plant closely related to onions, leeks and shallots. The bulb of garlic is made of multiple cloves which are enclosed in paper-thin skin. Garlic is known for its distinct pungent aroma and flavour due to the sulphur-containing compounds present in it. Garlic is cultivated and has been used for centuries for its medicinal and culinary purposes.

Garlic is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant. Garlic plays a special role in maintaining healthy blood circulation. Garlic helps in reducing blood pressure, prevents blood clot formation and improves the overall health of the blood vessels. Garlic can be consumed raw, cooked, dried, powdered or as a supplement.

Importance of blood circulation

Blood circulation is of paramount importance for maintaining overall health and well-being as it ensures the efficient transportation of oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and immune cells throughout the body. Several key factors underscore the significance of blood circulation:

  • Oxygen delivery

The primary function of blood circulation is to deliver oxygen to all body cells through blood. Oxygen is vital for cellular respiration and the functioning of cells.

  • Nutrient transport 

All essential nutrients needed for cellular growth, metabolism and repair are carried by the blood throughout the body and distributed to all the body cells.

  • Waste removal

Waste products generated through metabolic processes, toxins and carbon dioxide are all removed from the body cells by blood circulating throughout the body.

  • Temperature regulation

The Temperature of the body is regulated by distributing the heat generated in metabolic processes throughout the body by the blood. Blood vessels also dilate or constrict in response to temperature changes for better regulation.

  • Immune response

Blood is the medium through which white blood cells and antibodies travel to sites of infection, injury or inflammation. These immune cells help to defend the body against pathogens. So for a healthy immune response optimum blood circulation is essential.

  • Hormone distribution

Hormones regulate vital processes in the body like growth, metabolism, and reproduction. These hormones produced by various organs and glands are transported to the target cells by the blood. 

Active compounds in garlic

  •  Allicin  

Allicin is a prominent sulphur compound responsible for the distinct odour and taste of garlic. It gets released when garlic is crushed or chopped. It has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

  • Ajoene 

Ajoene is another sulphur-containing compound found in garlic which may contribute to garlic's ability to reduce the risk of blood clotting. 

  • Sulphur compounds 

Various other sulphur compounds are responsible for the characteristic smell of garlic and its health benefits.

  • Flavonoids

Garlic contains flavonoids. Flavonoids are very good antioxidants which protect the body's cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Thus helpful for reducing inflammation and improving the overall health of body cells.

  • Vitamins and minerals

Garlic contains Vit. C, Vit B6. selenium and manganese contribute to overall health and body functions.

How garlic is useful for improving blood circulation

Reduces blood pressure

  • Relaxation of blood vessels 

An organosulfur compound called Allicin is found in garlic. Alicin triggers release of nitric oxide from blood vessel walls. Nitric oxide signals the smooth muscle cells in the walls of blood vessels to relax. Once these smooth muscles are relaxed, the diameter of blood vessels increases. This Reduces blood pressure and thus reduces the risk of hypertension and other heart diseases.

  • Increased blood flow 

It's easier for the blood to flow through dilated blood vessels leading to increased blood flow. Garlic is responsible for this effect called vasodilation.1 When the blood flow is increased delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues is increased resulting in better cardiovascular and overall health.

Prevents blood clotting 

  • Inhibition of platelet aggregation

Garlic contains bioactive compounds like allicin and ajoene which prevent the platelets from sticking to each other stopping the formation of platelet plugs.2

This protects the body from the formation of unwanted blood clots.

  • Reduction of blood clot Formation

Allicin and ajoene also interfere in the chemical reactions involved in clot formation. They inhibit the activity of thrombin.3 Thrombin plays a key role in the formation of fibrin from fibrinogen. fibrin is an insoluble protein which forms the meshwork of blood clots. In clinical studies, it has been found that garlic supplements bring a reduction in markers of blood clotting as well as in the formation of fibrin. This reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Antimicrobial properties

Garlic can inhibit the growth of various microbes including bacteria, viruses and fungi. The antimicrobial effects of garlic are due to allicin and other sulphur compounds which are potent antimicrobials.4  

Anti-inflammatory effects

The flavonoids and sulphur compounds in garlic are potent anti-inflammatory. They reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of proinflammatory molecules.

Protects and improves the health of blood vessels

  • Protection against oxidative stress

Garlic contains various antioxidants like allicin, selenium and flavonoids. These antioxidants neutralise free radicals and thus protect the cells from the damage caused by free radicals. This improves overall health and lowers the risks of various diseases and their progression.

  • Maintenance of vascular health

Antioxidant properties of Garlic protect blood vessels from inflammation and damage from conditions like atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is developed because of the build-up of fats, cholesterol and other substances forming a plaque in the arteries which can lead to heart attack or stroke. About 46 human studies were done on the lipid-lowering effects of garlic, and most of them showed a significant decrease in sr. cholesterol and sr. triglyceride levels compared to placebo.6  

Immune modulation

  • Garlic stimulates the activity of immune cells like lymphocytes, macrophages and natural killer cells, Thus it improves defence mechanisms against pathogens.7  

Considerations and precautions

 Potential side effects of garlic consumption may include

  •  Digestive issues

 In some individuals, raw garlic or in large amounts can cause nausea, heartburn, indigestion, bloating, diarrhoea and gas.

  • Bad breath and body odour

Garlic consumption can lead to strong breath and body odour for several hours which some people may find unpleasant. This strong smell is due to the sulphur compounds in garlic.

  • Allergic reactions

Although rare, garlic can cause allergic reactions like skin rash, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis.

  • Interaction with medications

Garlic is a natural blood thinner so people who are taking blood thinning medications or have bleeding disorders need to be careful as it increases the risk of bleeding.8 Garlic can also interact with medications for high blood pressure or medicines that are metabolised by the liver so consult your healthcare professional before taking garlic supplements in such cases.

  • Skin irritation 

Raw Garlic can cause a burning sensation or skin irritation when it comes in direct contact with the skin, especially sensitive skin.

  • Low blood sugar

Garlic may lower blood sugar levels so individuals with diabetes need to be careful as it can interfere with insulin or diabetes medications. 

How to add garlic to your diet 

Garlic is potent in its flavour so adding a small amount usually suffices the purpose. It can be eaten raw, roasted or in supplement form. 

  • Cooking with garlic cloves 

The easiest way to use garlic is to saute chopped or minced garlic cloves in olive oil and use this as a base for stir-fries, stews, soups and pasta sauces.

  • Roasted garlic

Roast garlic cloves until they are soft after drizzling them with olive oil. It brings out its sweet and nutty flavour and tastes excellent when spread onto bread or mixed with mashed potatoes.

  • Garlic paste  

You can make homemade garlic paste by blending garlic cloves with olive oil and use this for salad dressing, marinades, spreads and dips.

  • Garlic powder or granules

If you are looking for a milder flavour of garlic then garlic in the form of powder or granules works well.

  • Pickled garlic 

Pickled garlic is another way to enjoy garlic for a longer period.

  • Garlic supplements

Various garlic supplements are also available in the market, but consult your healthcare professional before consuming them and always follow the dosage instructions.


Garlic is a bulbous plant made up of multiple cloves enclosed in whitish-purple paper-thin skin. Garlic has a strong aroma and flavour due to the presence of sulphur-containing compounds in it. An organosulfur compound called Allicin is found in garlic. Alicin triggers release of nitric oxide from blood vessel walls. Nitric oxide signals the smooth muscle cells in the walls of blood vessels to relax. This reduces blood pressure and protects from hypertension and related disorders. 

Garlic contains bioactive compounds like allicin and ajoene which prevent the platelets from sticking to each other thus stopping the formation of platelet plugs. This protects the body from the formation of unwanted blood clots. The compounds which act as antioxidants in garlic protect the blood vessels from inflammation and related damage caused by free radicals. Garlic also reduces the risk of atherosclerosis because of its lipid-lowering properties which prevent the formation of plaque in the blood vessels.

Thus, regular consumption of garlic is very helpful for maintaining the health of the cardiovascular system.


  1. Anim-Nyame, Nick, et al. ‘Garlic Supplementation Increases Peripheral Blood Flow: A Role for Interleukin-6?’ The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, vol. 15, no. 1, Jan. 2004, pp. 30–36. ScienceDirect,
  2. Bordia, Arun. ‘Effect of Garlic on Human Platelet Aggregation in Vitro Arun Bordia’. Atherosclerosis, vol. 30, no. 4, Aug. 1978, pp. 355–60. ScienceDirect,
  3. Fukao, Hideharu, et al. ‘Antithrombotic Effects of Odourless Garlic Powder Both <I>in Vitro</I> and <I>in Vivo</I>’. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, vol. 71, no. 1, 2007, pp. 84–90. J-Stage,
  4. Harris, J. C., et al. ‘Antimicrobial Properties of Allium Sativum (Garlic)’. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, vol. 57, no. 3, Oct. 2001, pp. 282–86. Springer Link,
  5. Arreola, Rodrigo, et al. ‘Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds’. Journal of Immunology Research, vol. 2015, Apr. 2015, p. e401630.,
  6. Banerjee, Sanjay K., and Subir K. Maulik. ‘Effect of Garlic on Cardiovascular Disorders: A Review’. Nutrition Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, Nov. 2002, p. 4. BioMed Central,
  7. Lee, Da Yeon, et al. ‘Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Sulphur-Containing Compounds from Garlic’. Journal of Medicinal Food, vol. 15, no. 11, Nov. 2012, pp. 992–99. (Atypon),
  8. Borrelli, Francesca, et al. ‘Garlic ( Allium Sativum L.): Adverse Effects and Drug Interactions in Humans’. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, vol. 51, no. 11, Nov. 2007, pp. 1386–97. (Crossref),

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Vaishali S Gunjal

M.Sc. Pharmaceutical Medicine, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences

Vaishali is a Pharmaceutical Medicine Professional currently working as a medical writer based in Leeds, UK. She has been working in the medical field for over a decade advising healthcare professionals and consumers on the proper use, benefits, and potential risks associated with pharmaceutical products used for treatment or prevention of various health conditions.

She developed a strong interest in the safe and effective use of medicines while playing a pivotal role in providing accurate and timely medical information in Pharmacovigilance- Medical Information and Regulatory roles for several years in various pharmaceutical organisations.

Through her medical writing, she aims to empower individuals with accurate health information, promote awareness, and foster informed decision-making regarding health-related issues. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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