5 Signs You Have A Garlic Intolerance

5 Signs You Have A Garlic Intolerance
5 Signs You Have A Garlic Intolerance

Garlic is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound and one of the most widely used cooking ingredients, found in practically every cuisine in the world. For someone who has a sensitivity to garlic it’s widespread use can be a nightmare. An intolerance to garlic can easily go under the radar, especially since more obvious culprits, such as gluten and dairy are so widespread nowadays.

I’m 100% Italian but I have a secret – I don’t eat garlic! The reason? I believe I’ve developed an intolerance to it over the years. I’m confident in my ability to self-diagnose since there’s no denying the symptoms I get post consumption of garlic – sometimes even after the most minimal amounts. When I tell people that I do not eat garlic the usual response is always “But you’re Italian?!” Sure, I’m Italian, however, not all Italians consider garlic a main component of every meal. Take for example the Sardinians, albeit they cook with garlic, they usually remove the large pieces of garlic before serving and only add them in recipes to add a touch of garlicky flavour.

The flavour or garlic is one thing, and consequently easily digested. On the other hand, profuse amounts of potent garlic wreak havoc on my entire body, causing side effects such as lethargy, foggy-brain, and headaches. Garlic intolerance symptoms are often delayed and can take hours or, in some cases, up to a day or more to appear. Different people experience garlic intolerances in different ways. As with all food intolerances, garlic intolerance symptoms are highly individual. These 5 signs will help you understand if you have a garlic intolerance:

  1. Digestive Issues
    Consuming too much garlic can cause cramping, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, and stomach acids mixed with the strong compounds of cooked or raw garlic can have a burning effect in the stomach.
  2. Excessive Garlic Body Odour
    We all know that consuming large amounts or garlic often results in body odour, but for those with an intolerance to garlic even the smallest amount can cause this. Garlic breath is a result of the sulphur from the garlic being released into to the lungs and expelled from the body.
  3. Unexplained Fatigue
    In some cases, the day after consuming garlic people can suffer from extreme fatigue, with severe cases including prolonged chronic fatigue. Lethargy, foggy-brain and overall weakness are also symptoms of a sensitivity to garlic.
  4. Low Blood Pressure
    Garlic is known to be an essential compound for reducing blood pressure. However, those with a garlic sensitivity who also suffer from low blood pressure can experience exaggerated signs of low blood pressure after consuming garlic, including lethargy, ringing in the ears, and headaches.
  5. Insomnia
    Regular, excessive consumption of garlic can apparently affect your sleep. Despite the suggestions that garlic helps us sleep better, those with an intolerance can suffer from the opposite effects.

Do you think you suffer from a garlic allergy? What are your symptoms?



49 thoughts on “5 Signs You Have A Garlic Intolerance”

  • Linda 10 hours ago

    I think I have a garlic intolerance too. I’ve limited my garlic intake for years, but I had no idea that I was experiencing an intolerance. Tonight I ate raw garlic and I had stomach cramps and diarrhea within 30 minutes. I fell asleep for an hour and now I’m wide awake! I never would’ve associated the insomnia with the garlic so thank you for writing this article and explaining how people with the intolerance experience their symptoms. I also have the ringing in the ears. I am able to eat garlic salt; and I’ve used garlic in cooking soup, I just remove the garlic before serving. So it’s good to know that it’s the raw garlic that causes me the most problems.

  • Maria 5 days ago

    I think I also developed an allergy to garlic as an adult, although I have Mediterranean blood and was brought up on food including garlic (and by the way I once knew an Italian who had an allergy to garlic!). I am OK with a small amount well cooked in food, but even a tiny amount of raw garlic will give me a reaction like the usual mild food poisoning – I get very nauseous, palpitations, chest pain, dehydration and afterwards, feeling terribly weak. I looked into what I was eating and discovered with disappointment that it must be the garlic. I love garlic! But what can you do? The feelings afterwards are so horrible that I have become very careful with it now. I looks like my cooking is going the “Sardinian way” with it!

    • So strange that you grew up eating it and then discovered an allergy. It’s almost like ‘too much of a good thing!’ If you can manage to digest some cooked garlic you should definitely do what the Sardinians do…adding cloves of garlic adds flavour to food, without the heavy addition of garlic that you have to end up digesting – or not digesting!

  • Edward Phillips 2 weeks ago

    Since puberty I have been allergic to many spices, including garlic (everything in the Allium family), black pepper, ginger, turmeric, etc. Within a few minutes of eating these spices, my face breaks out with bumps, turning red, looking like acne, but eventually disappearing after a few days if I abstain from such spices. Eating out was always problematic, since one or more these spices are in nearly every food item listed on a restaurant menu!

    My dermatologist suggested a new drug call Dupixent (pronounced du-pix’-ent), developed for treatment of eczema. It works on the cause of the body’s reaction to these spicy ‘foreign invaders’, instead of just treating the symptoms like most other treatments. It is a shot, every two weeks, first given to me in the doctor’s office, that my wife now gives me. The results are amazing! I can now eat anything with spices, including Italian & Mexican foods. My face does not break out even after eating heavily spices foods. This is what I’ve been waiting for all of my adult life!

    • Wow, I’ve never heard of anyone being allergic to all those spices! And yes, they are everywhere! I’ve also never heard of that medication but you must be so relieved that doctor suggested it so you can finally enjoy the foods you love!

  • Debbie 3 weeks ago

    Wow, reading all of this makes me feel less of a freak! I am violently sick after eating anything with fresh garlic in it. It leaves me very tired too.

  • Anna 3 weeks ago

    I never realised I had an intolerance until yesterday . My husband and I had a garlic bread with some pasta. We haven’t been off the toilet since! I had a bad reaction with acid and a whooshing sound in my ears . I am very upset because I love garlic but this reaction was quite severe .

    • Really? Are you sure it wasn’t something else? I’m sure you’ve had garlic before!

    • Sally 3 weeks ago

      If your husband has the same symptoms, it’s not garlic intolerance. It sounds like food poisoning or a stomach flu bug.

      • I was thinking that too…only because it seems a little ‘sudden!’ I surely hope it wasn’t garlic that did that!!

    • Megan 3 weeks ago

      My intolerance can on quickly as an adult. When I was 35. It has gotten worse but there are pills that help. Food intolerance digestive aid.

  • Tiana 1 month ago

    I just found out i have a garlic intolerance from a blood test however i have no noticeable symptoms? It’s in practically everything, i don’t know how im supposed to cut it out. This will be a real challenge.

    • Oh no! It IS everywhere. You wouldn’t think so but it’s a very hard ingredient to avoid! I’m wondering now if I should get a test done…

    • Sally Thomas 1 month ago

      If you have no symptoms, do you really have an intolerance? I think if I had no symptoms, I’d not worry about the amount that you find in prepared foods.

  • My intolerance to garlic began when I was around 22-24. Never once did I have a problem with garlic before, but fresh garlic absolutely kills me. I can get violently ill (even going as far as vomiting) within about 15-30 minutes after consuming raw garlic or even cooked garlic, othertimes, it might take a couple of hours. Sometimes it causes me to sweat as if I’ve got the flu. Too much in the air causes my eyes to burn and also the digestive discourse symptoms. Some people think it’s funny, but I fail to see the humor.

    Onions, leeks, shallots do not bother me in the least. And if I need the garlic flavor for cooking, I have found elephant garlic doesn’t bother me as it’s a type of leek.

  • My wife has sensitivity. Immediately tell waitstaff and ask that the chef make suggestions. Lots of places can cook almost anything without garlic. More can substitute. Some have pre-prepared sauces/marinades and we have to leave. Northern Italian used to have garlic free dishes. No longer.

    Our first big date, off to Tutti Bene 40 miles away. Jane had to remove shoes and rings coming home due to swelling.

    Read back of every box, bottle and can every time you shop. More and more old favs are adding garlic. Not a single garlic-free canned tomato sauce in Winn Dixie today. (That’s what drove me to this site – hoping a fix had been discovered.) Hunt’s went to the dark side since last shopping trip. Mustard, Worschestersire, mayo, etc. all changed. Boxed stuff – forget it. BBQ sauce, butt rub. Jane has to make her own chili powder!

    Garlic in very small quantities adds a brightening of flavor with no calories, fat cholesterol – like MSG without the bad ( except for the minority, sensitive souls.

    Copious red wine taken immediately helps!

    Jane’s husband, Jim

    • Wow, thanks for all the info! I know garlic is everywhere…for me, it’s mainly when it’s fresh or cooked, as opposed to in sauces (although the flavour is still too pungent for me!). It’s too bad because garlic has so many healing properties. As for the red wine, I also have a sensitivity to the sulfites!!! ;-(

  • Lisa Sickels 4 months ago

    I have a garlic allergy. If I smell garlic or eat garlic I don’t breath well. It started with hives and after about 6 months it got worse. Needless to say garlic is not good for me and it is in everything. 7 years ago I use to eat garlic. Now if my neighbors are grilling something with garlic I have to go inside with the windows closed. I have been to the doctor to be tested and that did not go well. After 2 shots of epinephrine, 5 breathing treatments and a handful of pills the doctor wrote me a prescription epic pen and was told to stay away from garlic.

    • Wow! Really? I never thought someone could be anaphylactic to garlic! That’s awful, especially since SO many people, including practically every restaurant cooks with garlic!

  • Tisha 4 months ago

    I have discovered over the years that I definitely have an intolerance to garlic (vs. an allergy to it). Sometimes it hits me right away with cramps as bad as labor and sometimes it will not happen until the middle of the night. The only thing that has helped me (through trial and error) is Beano. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that the soup I consumed for dinner last night had garlic in it until 4 o’clock this morning, when I woke up to severe stomach pains. So, I now know that I will have to be super careful to make sure to find out if there’s garlic in my food. It’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older (I’m 45). Beano has been a miracle worker to help process it in my body. I only wish that I’d known I needed it last night.

    • I remember using Beano way back when…not for when I ate garlic though. Maybe I should revisit it now, especially for those times when I go out to eat and can’t control the amount of garlic in my food! I’m curious if there is an allergy or intolerance test to garlic!

      • Sally Thomas 3 months ago

        Yes there is. I went to a clinic that offered blood testing for food allergies and that’s how I learned that I had developed a severe garlic intolerance. I very carefully monitored what I ate and my gastrointestinal symptoms went away. I also learned that I have a moderate intolerance to green beans so I can’t eat them more than once a week.

  • Great post! My sister loves garlic and she has such a difficult time sleeping, I will have to share this with her as well. I’m always telling her that she consumes way to much garlic, garlic is good for the body but I know she eats way to much of it!

  • Ally gordon 6 months ago

    One of my favourite flavours was garlic and truthfully, it still is. But the effects on my body is so bad, I have given it up altogether. Even just the smallest amount, cooked or raw, will cause my stomach to distend and I feel in so much pain for up to 72 hours after. I look like I’m nine months pregnant, and for a 57 year old, the look is alarming I wish there were something that I could take that diminishes the pain and distension when I have inadvertently eaten garlic. Are there any ideas out there that have helped?

    • Wow! My intolerance is nowhere near that bad! I really don’t know what would help for those symptoms, except to not eat garlic! If I am eating out in a restaurant I’ll make sure to drink a ton of water…it’s so hard to avoid, especially in restaurant food because garlic is in everything!!! What if you used garlic salt, as opposed to raw garlic? Or garlic flavoured oils? Have you tried those options?

    • Laurie 4 months ago

      I Have a similar reaction but it doesn’t last nearly as long as your symptoms do. The more garlic that is in a dish, the quicker my reaction time is. I try to avoid garlic and it can be very hard to eat out, especially at Italian restaurants. I’ve never thought of using Beano.

    • Megan 3 weeks ago

      I buy a food digestive aid for food intolerance from CVS. It doesn’t cure me but makes it much better. I take one every time I eat out. I have been intolerant for about 8 years and found this pill 5 years ago.

    • Natalia 2 days ago

      Wow. Thank you for writing. I ate tatziki yesterday and all day long my stomach is in pain and abdomen/stomach feels swollen so bad that when I breath my stomach hurts and I feel like I can’t breath properly/take a full breath.

      I wish I could take something for it

  • I never thought garlic affects sleep. Very informative. Great post!

  • Honestly I didnt know that there was such a thing. But I guess there are intolerance for everything. I would have never thought of these things being from Garlic. Thank you for this information. Could help people feel better!

  • alisonrost 6 months ago

    I’d be forever sad if I couldn’t have garlic .. I put it in everything it seems! I’m so glad you started the conversation. Food intolerances and sensitivities can be a big deal health wise for people .. and sometimes it’s hard to know unless you have a blood test.

  • I did not know that you can develop intolerance to garlic. This is something new I learned today. Although the symptoms you mentioned here could also be the same symptoms of other diseases, it is still best to be checked by a doctor.

  • I love to cook with garlic. I would be so sad if I developed an allergy to it. I will have to share this with my friends. It might help someone discover what is wrong with them.

  • This is really neat information. I am sure I would never have known otherwise. I will have to pass this on to my mom, she is a garlic fanatic but does have a hard time sleeping.

  • Really interesting. I love garlic. I’m glad I haven’t had any intolerance. Nice share here, really informative.

  • Wow this was very educational! I had no idea people could get an allery or an intolerance to garlic. I am glad I dont because it actually is a great healing root to have around for holistic reasons.

  • Kelly M. 7 months ago

    Garlic is one of my most disappointing migraine triggers!

  • Chasity Lynn Boatman 7 months ago

    I didn’t even know that people could have an intolerance to garlic! I personally love it in everything particularly soups and pastas.

  • Paula Parker 7 months ago

    Thanks for these 5 signs you have issues with garlic. I will have to pass this on to my sister . She has low blood pressure and eats a lot of garlic. She too has a hard time sleeping. No garlic body odor, thank goodness. I appreciate the article!

Leave a Reply


You might be interested in these other posts!