Lyme disease is a very serious and common tick-borne disease. Although named after the town in Connecticut where the first case was identified, it now occurs worldwide. For example, in Sweden, and as many as 10,000 individuals are thought to be affected each year. Therefore researchers from Sweden decided to investigate ways of decreasing the risk of tick bites, as well as other insect bites:
They note that recent studies have suggested that the frequency of insect bites may be linked to different body odors (Lancet. 1996;347:1423). They therefore wondered if the odor of garlic might be effective as well.
Although standard insect repellents can be somewhat effective against insect and tick bites, they may have adverse effects on humans and animals.
Researchers conducted a prospective, randomized, double-blind intervention trial of garlic to prevent tick bites among Swedish marines.
Using 100 subjects, 50 consumed 1200 mg/d garlic capsules and 50 consumed placebo for 8 weeks, followed by a washout period of 2 weeks, and then a crossover to placebo or garlic capsule consumption for another 10 weeks.
All participants wore the same type of uniforms, consumed approximately the same diet, participated in similar activities, and spent equal amounts of time in tick-endemic areas.
Tick bites were recorded in a diary after daily self-inspection of the skin.
The garlic capsules were found to reduce the risk of tick bites by 21%.
According to the researchers "There was significant reduction in tick bites when consuming garlic compared with placebo," and that "our results suggest that garlic may be considered as a tick repellent for individuals and populations at high risk for tick bite, rather than other agents that might have more adverse effects."
Journal of The American Medical Association August 16, 2000; 284.
What a great little pearl. I suspect that this also works for other insects like mosquitoes. It is clear that garlic works. My guess is that using the real thing will work even better. The only side effect here is one's offensive odor to other individuals.
In addition to avoiding insect bites, garlic has a long history of being used to improve cardiovascular disease, which is illustrated in another article this week. It is also useful in mercury and other heavy metal detoxification due to its high sulfur content.
Anyone who has some open space in their backyard please be warned that garlic planting season is fast approaching. In the Midwest it is the first part of October. Most gardeners fail when they plant garlic as they plant it in the spring. The key is to plant the garlic in the fall and let it grow all winter and then come late June or July you can have your harvest. I harvested over 400 plants this year. I dry them in my food dehydrator and keep them in the cool part of the house and they easily last a full year and then some.