Garlic for Acne: Is This Viral TikTok Trend Safe?

A viral TikTok video claims that swallowing raw garlic cloves will cure acne, and this trend is spreading throughout other forms of social media. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects of the bioactive compounds in garlic are well established, but can swallowing raw garlic really stop acne breakouts, and is it even safe? Let’s explore if there is any scientific basis for this viral remedy.

Garlic for acne: viral TikTok trend explained

Over the past year, there has been a resurgence of interest in consuming garlic as a cure for acne. Videos by numerous content creators on TikTok have extolled the benefits of eating garlic for skin health and, as an additional benefit, gut health. The anecdotal evidence is presented in follow-up videos as visual proof of the changes in the severity and presence of acne.

ADVERTISEMENT
@misspeytonsmith

Eating 1 Clove of 🧄 a day to heal my hormonal acne from my gut health ( 3 day update ) natrual remedies is something im very into when it comes to fixing my gut heath & eating raw garlic or with honey has been around of centuries, my grandparents would event eat this to help with sicknesses, when my guy health is imbalanced i get breakouts bad! It has NOTHING to do with what im putting on my skin xxx ( so far im seeing amazing results & will be continuing this for the next week, chop it to be safe x

♬ original sound - kardashianshulu

The most popular proposed method is to swallow one clove of raw garlic in the evening. The appeal of swallowing the clove whole is preventing the inevitable bad breath associated with garlic consumption. However, some variations recommend cutting or chewing the garlic. Mixing garlic with a spoonful of honey is often recommended to minimize the odor and flavor.

What is acne?

Acne is a common inflammatory skin condition that affects the pilosebaceous unit, which comprises the hair follicle and sebaceous gland. The pilosebaceous unit opens to the external surface as a skin pore. Sebum, a mixture of lipids produced by the sebaceous glands, protects and moisturizes the skin.

There are four main components of the pathomechanism of acne that cause the characteristic pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts:

  1. Overproduction of sebum
  2. Dead skin cells (keratinocytes) that block the pores
  3. The presence and often overgrowth of Cutibacterium acnes bacteria
  4. Inflammation of the skin

While acne is more common in adolescents due to the hormonal changes occurring in puberty, acne can continue in adulthood. Common factors influencing the presence of acne in adulthood include:

  • Genetics
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Obesity
  • Increased stress
  • Diets heavy in lipids and carbohydrates with a high glycemic index
  • Medications, such as steroids and seizure medicines
  • Cosmetics that are oil-based or have other ingredients that block the pores
ADVERTISEMENT

Does swallowing garlic help with acne?

Finding an accessible, natural cure has always been appealing for many experiencing acne, and DIY kitchen-based solutions often cycle in popularity. However, it is imperative to understand how and why any medical condition occurs to develop safe and effective treatments.

Garlic has been used in traditional medicine in several cultures for decades. Garlic contains over 200 compounds, including organosulfur compounds, amino acids, vitamins A, B1, B2, and E, and minerals such as zinc. Modern medical research has shown that including several bioactive compounds found in garlic may provide significant health benefits. However, no current scientific evidence supports swallowing garlic to treat acne.

The most studied component of garlic, allicin, an organosulfur compound, has demonstrated significant antimicrobial effects against several bacteria in lab tests. A recent study has also shown that garlic extract can inhibit the growth of acne-associated bacteria. In addition, allicin has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help reduce acne.

However, the antimicrobial effects have only been studied through topical application. In addition, allicin is produced through the interaction of the enzyme alliinase and alliin when garlic is crushed. Allicin is not a very stable compound and is thought to be absorbed into the blood when it comes in contact with oral mucosa as it would be metabolized further by the stomach acid. Thus, it is unlikely that the full potential benefit of allicin is being met when whole cloves are swallowed.

Processing raw garlic through cooking, aging, or drying reduces the allicin content; however, the breakdown products diallyl sulfide (DAS), diallyl disulfide (DADS), and diallyl trisulfide (DATS) also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. These compounds may increase when garlic is cooked and can be absorbed by the intestine. Vitamin B, vitamin E, and zinc in garlic may also be beneficial in maintaining a healthy skin barrier.

Although bioactive compounds in garlic have antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties that may assist in treating acne, the research is insufficient to support the claim.

What do experts say?

There have been no studies or official publications regarding the effect of consuming garlic on acne. However, the consensus is that swallowing a garlic clove may be a generally benign practice and unlikely to significantly affect acne. It is recommended that those with difficult-to-control acne should consult a dermatologist for a personalized treatment regimen, using products that have robust scientific evidence for their efficacy.

Why you should not use garlic for acne

ADVERTISEMENT

There is no clinical evidence for oral consumption of raw garlic for acne. While the anecdotal evidence seen on social media recommends one clove of garlic, the current evidence for the beneficial effects of garlic does not provide enough information to determine a potential dose. In addition, consuming garlic raw can exacerbate its potential side effects, which include:

Garlic has also been found to interfere with blood clotting, and those on blood thinners or diagnosed with clotting disorders should use it cautiously. There has been a case of excessive bleeding during surgery in a patient who was taking garlic supplements, which may suggest that large amounts of garlic may increase the risk of bleeding. The suggested limit of raw garlic consumption is 1–2 cloves per day.

If you have been experiencing any side effects after consuming garlic, stop use and consult your doctor as soon as possible to help manage any serious symptoms.

Effective and safe treatment for acne

Acne treatment has evolved significantly with a better understanding of the mechanism of the condition and risk factors. As the risk factors are multifactorial, a multimodal strategy is needed to treat acne effectively. Targeting modifiable factors through healthy lifestyle changes while using scientifically backed over-the-counter or prescription medications may help achieve visible results and assist in managing acne long-term.

Proper skincare routine

Developing a skincare routine that suits your skin type can help target the main causes of acne, including keeping pores clear of excess sebum and dead skin cells and reducing the risk of inflammation.

As a weakened skin barrier can predispose to inflammation, using a moisturizer and sunscreen can help protect it. Use a gentle cleanser to remove all cosmetics, and avoid using oil-based or comedogenic makeup that may block your pores.

A dermatologist can help you create an effective skincare routine to suit your skin type.

ADVERTISEMENT

Healthy diet

A balanced, nourishing diet provides the skin with the ingredients, such as vitamins and amino acids, to build its components and help protect it from damage. If you cannot obtain the necessary diet, using supplements for acne may be possible. However, you should consult your doctor before starting any supplements.

Minimizing unhealthy fats and excess sugars can help prevent acne exacerbation, as an excess leads to more sebum production. Dairy intake may trigger acne in some individuals, with milk being the most common cause in people who have a Western diet. Keeping the skin hydrated through sufficient intake of fluids also helps protect the skin barrier.

Food allergies and intolerance can trigger acne eruptions as a response to increased levels of inflammation. People with food allergies and intolerance often have other atopic diseases, such as seasonal allergies, asthma, and eczema. If you consistently get acne after eating certain foods, consider keeping a food diary to isolate the specific allergen and consult your doctor for further testing.

Managing stress

Chronic stress is thought to exacerbate acne through several mechanisms, including hormonal changes. As such, learning to manage stress may help reduce the severity or presence of acne.

Topical treatments

Current treatment guidelines for acne include retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, clascoterone, and salicylic acid, which help reduce risk factors through different mechanisms. Topical antibiotic creams or gels are also used to decrease acne-causing bacteria.

Oral medications

There are several options for oral medications to treat acne based on the triggering cause and severity. For instance, oral contraceptives and spironolactone may be prescribed for acne triggered by hormonal changes in conditions such as PCOS.

Isotretinoin, an oral form of retinoid, and oral antibiotics are recommended by dermatologists for those with moderate to severe acne.

Bottom line

Current research on the potential benefits of garlic shows that it has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. However, the research is lab-based and mostly includes assessing the topical use of garlic juice or allicin extract. While garlic may benefit general health overall, there is limited research on its effect on acne. Eating raw garlic may also increase the risk of potential side effects, especially in the GI, such as GERD, abdominal pain, and flatulence.

Several genetic and lifestyle factors affect the different parts of the mechanism by which acne develops. Lifestyle changes and medications that target the individual components involved in this process are available to treat acne safely and successfully. Understanding an individual's risk factors can help determine the appropriate treatment.

If you have acne, consult a dermatologist to help determine your risk factors and get the best treatment for your needs. If you are considering eating garlic or following another trend to treat your acne, always speak with your doctor first to assess your risk for side effects.

FAQ

Key takeaways:

ADVERTISEMENT

Leave a reply

Your email will not be published. All fields are required.