Trial finds association between garlic supplementation, decrease in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

Trial finds association between garlic supplementation


June 30, 2020

Results from a clinical trial reported on June 1, 2020 in Phytotherapy Research revealed improvements in pain, inflammation, tender joint count, disease activity score and fatigue among rheumatoid arthritis patients who received garlic supplements compared to patients who received a placebo.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation and deformity, as well as other symptoms, that affects up to 2% of the population.

In their introductory remarks, Seyedeh Parisa Moosavian of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences and colleagues note that garlic is rich in bioactive compounds that include allicin and diallyl sulfide, which have been found in several studies to have anti-inflammatory effects. Other studies have reported pain-relieving and anti-fatigue benefits in association with garlic intake. Furthermore, garlic may help protect against joint cartilage destruction.

The current trial included 70 women with active rheumatoid arthritis who received 500 milligram garlic powder tablets twice per day (equivalent to 2.5 grams fresh garlic) or a placebo for eight weeks. At the beginning and end of the study, clinical symptoms and fatigue were assessed and biomarkers of inflammation, including erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) levels, serum C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a), were measured.

At the trial’s conclusion, serum CRP and TNF-a were significantly reduced among participants who received garlic in comparison with the placebo group, indicating decreased inflammation. Pain intensity, tender joint count, fatigue and disease activity scores all improved in association with treatment compared to the placebo.

“To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first investigation that was designed to evaluate the effect of garlic supplementation on inflammatory biomarkers, fatigue and clinical symptoms in patients with RA,” the authors announced. “Garlic supplementation, by improving inflammatory mediators and clinical symptoms, can be considered as a potential adjunct treatment in patients with RA. However, further studies with larger duration are needed.”


Apply What You've Learned: Garlic

  • Garlic has been used as food and medicine for at least seven thousand years.

  • Garlic is the source of a sulfur-containing compound known as allicin that is formed from another compound called alliin when garlic is crushed, chopped or chewed. Allicin, which is responsible for garlic's pungent scent, degrades into other compounds, including diallyl disulfide.

  • Garlic compounds ajoene, allicin, allyl methyl thiosulfinate and methyl allyl thiosulfinate have shown an ability to kill viruses, including herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2, parainfluenza virus type 3, vaccinia virus, vesicular stomatitis virus and human rhinovirus type 2.1

  • Raw garlic can be chopped and mixed with food or placed in empty capsules and swallowed. For those who don't enjoy consuming raw garlic, there are garlic preparations on the market that retain their allicin content.



  1. Weber ND et al. Planta Med. 1992 Oct;58(5):417-23.

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