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  #1  
Old 09-28-2009, 03:19 PM
stitz87 stitz87 is offline
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Is Garlic Toxic?

I recently came across an article by "Dr. Bob C. Beck" about the dangers of garlic as a brain toxin etc. and I was wondering if there was any validity to it. I know that people that practice Ayurveda do not consume garlic or onions. Here is an example of the Beck article that has been circulating:

http://www.relfe.com/health_benefits_of_garlic.html

So besides causing gas, can the consumption of garlic have adverse health effects?
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  #2  
Old 09-28-2009, 03:24 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Didn't you read? It desynchronizes your brainwaves! I want my brainwaves synchronized at all times.

There was no point in reading further.

But people have been eating garlic with no ill effects for centuries, and there's plenty of evidence that garlic has some health benefits.

If you don't mind desynchronous brainwaves, the silent killer.
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Old 09-28-2009, 03:37 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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Originally Posted by stitz87 View Post
I recently came across an article by "Dr. Bob C. Beck" about the dangers of garlic as a brain toxin etc. and I was wondering if there was any validity to it.
Perhaps you should check the validity of "Dr. Bob C. Beck" by reviewing the links on the page you provided.
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Old 09-28-2009, 03:42 PM
Contrapuntal Contrapuntal is offline
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Hmmm. The OP only has only the one post. I wonder if Spam is toxic.
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Old 09-28-2009, 03:53 PM
beowulff beowulff is offline
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Well, it might kill horses...
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Old 09-28-2009, 03:58 PM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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Garlic's got excellent disease-fighting properties. Consume enough of it and you'll never catch another communicable disease.

(or a date, or a job....)
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Old 09-28-2009, 03:58 PM
Giles Giles is offline
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Originally Posted by Robert C Beck, DSc
We'd have people come back from lunch that looked clinically dead on an encephalograph ...
I'd hope so. I wouldn't want to eat a lunch that looked clinically alive, thank you very much.
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Old 09-28-2009, 04:06 PM
stitz87 stitz87 is offline
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I think that was just the first link that came up when I typed in "garlic toxic" into google, I can't find the original place I read this article but the content is the same. Clearly the idea of "desynchronizing brainwaves" is ridiculous but the only reason I gave this a second glance is because I found other sites that explain, for instance, why Taoists don't consume garlic which is because garlic increases perspiration, agitation, anxiety and aggressiveness to name a few. It seems that there are several branches of homeopathy that recommend omitting garlic and onions from the diet as well. Clearly millions of people (including myself) eat garlic daily and are still alive but I'm wondering could there be any benefits to leaving it out of my diet?
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Old 09-28-2009, 04:15 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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Originally Posted by stitz87 View Post
I think that was just the first link that came up when I typed in "garlic toxic" into google, I can't find the original place I read this article but the content is the same. Clearly the idea of "desynchronizing brainwaves" is ridiculous but the only reason I gave this a second glance is because I found other sites that explain, for instance, why Taoists don't consume garlic which is because garlic increases perspiration, agitation, anxiety and aggressiveness to name a few. It seems that there are several branches of homeopathy that recommend omitting garlic and onions from the diet as well. Clearly millions of people (including myself) eat garlic daily and are still alive but I'm wondering could there be any benefits to leaving it out of my diet?
Yeah. You would no longer have garlic breath.
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Old 09-28-2009, 04:45 PM
stitz87 stitz87 is offline
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I'm a little disappointed that I am only receiving sardonic replies to this post. Probably because the original article is so ludicrous but it would be nice if someone could actually help me answer this. I know how crazy it sounds but Yogis do not eat garlic and group it with other tamasic foods that they believe are harmful to the mind/body. Other foods in this group are meat, alcohol and tobacco. I'm just hoping that someone who has an actual answer for me replies.
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Old 09-28-2009, 04:54 PM
HorseloverFat HorseloverFat is offline
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Yogis? Who knows. They live in a pre-scientific world and their conclusions arent logical. So asking why is like asking how many angels can dance on a pinhead. Perhaps you should be asking on a Hindi or trantic board. What were you expecting, "Ah yes, the 8th chakra responds to garlic emissions and its a potent vampire repellent!!" Considering youre linking to a site that mentions brain wave synchronization perhaps a few sardonic replies is getting off easy.

In reality garlic is just fine. It wont hurt you. It may even have some minor health benefits.

Last edited by HorseloverFat; 09-28-2009 at 04:56 PM..
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:17 PM
stitz87 stitz87 is offline
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Thats kind of a sweeping generalization about people who practice yoga but I'll ignore that; I wasn't looking for an illogical answer as you are implying. I was looking for someone who can descriptively tell me why certain people do not eat garlic...why you feel the need to be rude and condescending wasn't really part of my question. Also, Hindi is a language and "trantric" is not a word so finding answers on those message boards might be difficult. Are you really claiming to be fighting ignorance right now?
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:35 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Ultimately, the answer is "no." Garlic is not toxic.* It does have some proven health benefits.

Some people may choose not to eat it, but that's not based upon any scientific knowledge. People refrain from eating all sorts of foods for all sorts of illogical reasons -- except for rationalization.

*under normal circumstances. I suppose if you mainlined the active ingredient of garlic in doses a thousand times larger than what you usually get, it could cause problems.
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Last edited by RealityChuck; 09-28-2009 at 05:36 PM..
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:39 PM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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By definition, too much garlic is bad for you. That's what "too much" means. Exactly how much is too much, I have no idea.
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:45 PM
Captain_Awesome Captain_Awesome is offline
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Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
*under normal circumstances. I suppose if you mainlined the active ingredient of garlic in doses a thousand times larger than what you usually get, it could cause problems.
One case report details how main-lining garlic resulted in the rare occurrence of a spontaneous spinal epidural haematoma due to the effect of garlic on platelet aggregation, so despite several potential health benefits it's best to consume <4 cloves per day (2000mg).
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:47 PM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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Originally Posted by stitz87 View Post
. . . I am only receiving sardonic replies to this post. Probably because the original article is so ludicrous . . .
As usual, the answer to your question is contained within the question.
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:54 PM
astro astro is online now
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Originally Posted by Captain_Awesome View Post
One case report details how main-lining garlic resulted in the rare occurrence of a spontaneous spinal epidural haematoma due to the effect of garlic on platelet aggregation, so despite several potential health benefits it's best to consume <4 cloves per day (2000mg).
I'd cock an eyebrow at ay conclusions derived from what problems garlic casues in an 87 year old man. That he got to 87 while eating 4 cloves of raw garlic a day makes me think I'll take my chances.
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:55 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is online now
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Originally Posted by stitz87 View Post
I'm a little disappointed that I am only receiving sardonic replies to this post. Probably because the original article is so ludicrous but it would be nice if someone could actually help me answer this. I know how crazy it sounds but Yogis do not eat garlic and group it with other tamasic foods that they believe are harmful to the mind/body. Other foods in this group are meat, alcohol and tobacco. I'm just hoping that someone who has an actual answer for me replies.
Hare Krishnas don't eat garlic and onions because they believe they are offensive to their god (if I'm remembering that right - it's been quite awhile since I spoke with Hare Krishnas about their cooking and theology). Since there seems to a common link in several of the examples given so far called "India" this might be originally from a religious prohibition.
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Old 09-28-2009, 06:11 PM
stitz87 stitz87 is offline
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The Straight Dope Message Board has proved to be an uninviting place for new users...so besides learning that garlic is not toxic in reasonable amounts, I have ALSO learned that people feel more intelligent when they can give pithy responses to seemingly absurd questions...Thank you to those who actually tried to answer my question
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Old 09-28-2009, 06:15 PM
DocCathode DocCathode is offline
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Originally Posted by stitz87 View Post
garlic increases perspiration, agitation, anxiety and aggressiveness to name a few.
Cite that garlic does any of those things?

In most of Europe, garlic has long been regarded as a health food. Vitamin C, orange juice, and chicken soup are held in much the same esteem today. It's because garlic is such a powerful symbol of health and life that it repels vampires. I'm not being snarky here, that's the reason for the association between vampires (symbols of death, disease and decay) and garlic. Going by European folklore and pharmacopia, you should eat MORE garlic.
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Old 09-28-2009, 06:32 PM
Biffy the Elephant Shrew Biffy the Elephant Shrew is offline
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Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
Garlic's got excellent disease-fighting properties. Consume enough of it and you'll never catch another communicable disease.

(or a date, or a job....)
"We gotta new kind o' garleek, when you use-a dis garleek, it make-a you stand apart from-a you friends!"
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  #22  
Old 09-28-2009, 06:37 PM
stitz87 stitz87 is offline
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Doc, I was looking at various yoga/ayurvedic websites trying to find a reason why they avoided garlic and those were some of the claims. Thank you for your explanation about garlic and vampires too, it is quite clear whose comments were patronizing and whose were not. Thanks again
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Old 09-28-2009, 07:06 PM
Miller Miller is offline
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Originally Posted by stitz87 View Post
Doc, I was looking at various yoga/ayurvedic websites trying to find a reason why they avoided garlic and those were some of the claims.
Generally speaking, religious food restrictions are not founded on a rigorous application of the scientific method, but rather, on folklore and superstition. The most likely reason that some yogis say garlic is toxic is that, at some point, a famous yogi got sick after eating garlic, and decided that there was a connection, because lots of people don't really get the whole "correlation does not equal causation" thing. Then people figured that being really good at putting your leg behind your head is pretty much equivalent to a degree in nutrition, because lots of people are also really bad at understanding why "appeal to authority" is a fallacy. If you want to know the effects of garlic on the human body, ask someone who has studied the question under laboratory conditions and submitted his work to peer review. And generally, those folks are okay with garlic.

If you want to know the spiritual effects of garlic, that's a different question, and one that a yogi may potentially be able to answer. Although you'll likely get a different question depending on what sort of spiritual advisor you seek out. Roman Catholics, for example, are every bit as spiritual as Ayurvedic Hindus, and they're so avidly pro-garlic they've practically turned the herb into a sacrament.

Oh, and welcome to the boards.

Last edited by Miller; 09-28-2009 at 07:09 PM..
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Old 09-28-2009, 07:41 PM
Biffy the Elephant Shrew Biffy the Elephant Shrew is offline
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Originally Posted by stitz87 View Post
I know that people that practice Ayurveda do not consume garlic or onions.
That doesn't seem to be necessarily the case. Googling "ayurveda" and "garlic" together brings up a ton of sites that promote the health benefits of garlic, such as this one:

Ayurveda considers garlic to be a powerful detoxifying and rejuvenating agent.
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  #25  
Old 09-28-2009, 10:57 PM
even sven even sven is online now
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I am pretty sure the origin of the no garlic thing is related to cultural/religious beliefs about "hot" and "cold."

Many cultures- from China to Mexico- have beliefs that certain foods have "hot" or "cold" properties that must be properly balanced or else they will have disastrous health effects. These may be related to the actual temperature of food, but usually it is pretty much random. In Cameroon I was told that drinking cold water would surely bring on malaria and that only married people should drink Guinness because it will make you ravenous for sex. In China, I've been chastised for eating too many pickled vegetable and told that coffee would surely do irreparable harm to my fertility, but that tomatoes would surely lead to beautifully clear skin.

It's a hard thing to make sense of- we are so used to eating a "balanced diet" and thinking that is the end of it. But in many cultures, planning a meal is a careful balancing act of different "properties" that foods are believed to have.

India has some similar ways of thinking of food. Garlic ended up getting classified having a particularly strong influence. Most likely because it is a strong smelling food. I believe onions and hot peppers are classified the same way. It's kind of like how in China eating penis-shaped food is supposed to make men more virile. They figured strong taste must mean strong effects.

I've been told by a non-garlic eating Hindu that these strong effects are anger and other negative emotions, but I suspect it's probably actually about sexual effects.

Also, it seems like it's mostly higher castes who are expected to avoid garlic. In my opinion, it seems likely that the real REAL reason is that garlic breath was considered unseemly for upper-class people. Plenty of cultures have considered garlic a low-class unrefined food. Parts of India just happened to incorporate that idea into their religion.

Now go ahead, eat that garlic bread!
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Old 09-29-2009, 01:46 AM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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Originally Posted by Valgard
IANAD but I've never heard anything bad about garlic from a health standpoint unless you were to consume a LOT....

Now I'm sure that there are people who think garlic tastes nasty, it gives them an upset stomach, etc. so from that standpoint there's certainly "ill effects" but it's not like the stinking rose is poisonous.
For those people unfortunate enough to be allergic to allicins, garlic and onions may as well be poisonous. Full-on anaphylaxis is rare, but severe gastro-intestinal pain and cramping as well as rashes are common symptoms of garlic allergy.

My husband is living proof of irony - he's Sicilian and is allergic to garlic and onions. A little well-cooked garlic in a sauce or whatever is generally OK, but almost any amount of raw garlic such as in pesto or salsa is to be avoided completely.
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Old 09-29-2009, 10:39 AM
legalsnugs legalsnugs is online now
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Just don't store your garlic in olive oil, particularly at room temperature.

Acidification can cause the botulism toxin to grow! One cite.

Otherwise, enjoy!
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Old 09-29-2009, 10:43 AM
HorseloverFat HorseloverFat is offline
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. Also, Hindi is a language and "trantric" is not a word so finding answers on those message boards might be difficult.
Yogis stem from Hindu/Indian culture, so asking on an Indian-based board is a good idea. A lot of Indians speak English as a second language. Its not hard if you actually try. Its pretty obvious I fat fingered tantric. But please, keep whining, thats always pleasant.

Not to mention, you are asking two questions here. A scientific one "Is garlic toxic." and a religious one, "Why do some cultures ban garlic." Well, you certainly got your answer to the first one and acting insulted when no one addressed your second one, which wasnt even in your original question, is being more than a little childish. Not to mention linking to pseudoscience really calls for a stronger reaction.

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  #29  
Old 09-29-2009, 10:48 AM
HorseloverFat HorseloverFat is offline
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Its also worth mentioning that a lot of claims of garlic's hidden health potential turns out to be quite exaggerated:

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/ar...its_minimized/
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  #30  
Old 09-29-2009, 11:01 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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There's a lot of confusion here. Ayurvedic diets are designed to reduce consumption of rajasic (fiery) foods, because it is believed that a person's mental state becomes more fiery when they eat them. Garlic and onions, along with most other acidic foods (anything pickled, or chillies, for example, but also most foods with any sort of "extreme" flavor or texture) are considered rajasic.

Regardless of whether this is a bunch of nonsense, it doesn't mean you can't eat them, just that you're supposed to limit your intake. You can also consume both in Ayurvedic tonics and remedies without any limitations (other than following the recommended dosages).
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Old 09-29-2009, 11:22 AM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Garlic and onions are quite toxic- if you are a cat or dog. Never feed anything containing either to your pet cat or dog.

Many cultures and religions have taboos on eating or drinking certain things. Those taboos don't necessarily come from a negative health effect of the food or drink in question, and the cultural or religious tradition may not have an explanation for why the food or drink is banned. For example, there's no official reason why, in Judaism, you aren't supposed to eat pork. There are many theories (including avoiding trichinosis, or not mixing socially with Gentiles, or pig farming not being suited to the climate of the Middle East), but there's no official reason. You just aren't supposed to do it. A lot of Americans would have a hard time telling you why, exactly, they don't want to eat insects, but even so, only very adventurous American eaters would try them. This might be a similar food taboo from a different culture.

Of course, just because avoiding a food comes from a food taboo doesn't mean there can't be health benefits from excluding it from your diet. Someone who followed the Jewish food taboos would avoid some of the items on this page for that reason, and would probably be healthier for it. Or not, if they were replacing those foods with other equally unhealthy foods.

Modern research on diet, though, is trending away from the idea that there are foods that are "bad for you" that you should completely avoid. People who do that can feel deprived, and find their diet hard to stick to. A less-than-perfect diet that you actually follow is better than a perfect one that you don't. Everything in moderation.
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  #32  
Old 09-29-2009, 11:37 AM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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Originally Posted by even sven View Post
I am pretty sure the origin of the no garlic thing is related to cultural/religious beliefs about "hot" and "cold."

Many cultures- from China to Mexico- have beliefs that certain foods have "hot" or "cold" properties that must be properly balanced or else they will have disastrous health effects. These may be related to the actual temperature of food, but usually it is pretty much random.
It's funny, because Europe had the same sorts of prescientific ideas about health and diet. Like the idea of the four humours, and how in a healthy person they were in balance. And so if someone suffers from an imbalance you could restore them to health by doing things that increased the amount of a humour judged deficient, or decrease a humour that you had to much of. And this is the source of the bizarre practice of using leaches to cure sickness. According to the belief, too much blood could make you sick, and so a simple solution was to remove excess blood from the body.

China and India have ancient traditional beliefs about health and diet similar to the ideas about humours, but developed independently. Since onions and garlic have strong tastes, lots of folk beliefs have arisen about them. They taste strong, so they must have strong effects. In Europe they decided that garlic must be healthful, and if it was healthful it must repel insects and pests, and if it repels pests it also repels supernatural threats. Simple logic, right?

In India lots of people avoid garlic for all sorts of reasons. For instance, Jains believe in non-violence, so they are strict vegetarians. But some also believe it is wrong to eat root vegetables because that kills the plant. Others think garlic is a "hot" food, and eating a hot food will make your personality hot. And so on.
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Old 09-29-2009, 01:05 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Didn't you know that Dr. Beck is a vampire?
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Old 09-29-2009, 01:14 PM
Contrapuntal Contrapuntal is offline
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Originally Posted by stitz87 View Post
I'm just hoping that someone who has an actual answer for me replies.
It's certainly no more toxic than Dihydrogen Monoxide.
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Old 09-29-2009, 01:22 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
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Mama Zappa:

Quote:
Garlic's got excellent disease-fighting properties. Consume enough of it and you'll never catch another communicable disease.

(or a date, or a job....)
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but a garlic a day keeps everyone away.
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Old 09-29-2009, 01:38 PM
Miller Miller is offline
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Garlic and onions are quite toxic- if you are a cat or dog. Never feed anything containing either to your pet cat or dog.
Neither are "quite" toxic. A dog would need to eat a lot of onion (and even more garlic) to show any adverse health effects. From here:
Dogs develop hemolytic anemia if they eat enough onions. I don't think that it matters too much whether the onions are cooked or not. The quantity of onions required is high enough that dogs can generally tolerate small doses of onions without any problem and moderate amounts of onion without clinically apparent disease, even though there may be measurable changes on lab test results. Cats are probably a little more sensitive to onion toxicity than dogs are. I can't find an exact quantity of onions required to cause toxicity problems in dogs, but there are several case reports of onion toxicity and they involve whole onions or sizable portions of chopped onions (like a cup or more). I think that feeding dogs meat that has been cooked with onions is pretty safe but you might want to avoid giving them the broth from around something like pot-roast if there were a lot of onions used in the cooking, just to be safe.

Large amounts of garlic will produce similar toxicity problems in both dogs and cats. I think that the amount required is not likely to be eaten by a cat but there are probably a few dogs who would lap up a container of spilled garlic.
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Old 09-29-2009, 01:47 PM
Miller Miller is offline
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Originally Posted by HorseloverFat View Post
Yogis stem from Hindu/Indian culture, so asking on an Indian-based board is a good idea. A lot of Indians speak English as a second language. Its not hard if you actually try. Its pretty obvious I fat fingered tantric. But please, keep whining, thats always pleasant.

Not to mention, you are asking two questions here. A scientific one "Is garlic toxic." and a religious one, "Why do some cultures ban garlic." Well, you certainly got your answer to the first one and acting insulted when no one addressed your second one, which wasnt even in your original question, is being more than a little childish. Not to mention linking to pseudoscience really calls for a stronger reaction.
[Modding]

Let's cool it on the personal insults in General Questions, please.

No warning issued.

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Old 09-29-2009, 03:24 PM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Neither are "quite" toxic. A dog would need to eat a lot of onion (and even more garlic) to show any adverse health effects. From here:
Dogs develop hemolytic anemia if they eat enough onions. I don't think that it matters too much whether the onions are cooked or not. The quantity of onions required is high enough that dogs can generally tolerate small doses of onions without any problem and moderate amounts of onion without clinically apparent disease, even though there may be measurable changes on lab test results. Cats are probably a little more sensitive to onion toxicity than dogs are. I can't find an exact quantity of onions required to cause toxicity problems in dogs, but there are several case reports of onion toxicity and they involve whole onions or sizable portions of chopped onions (like a cup or more). I think that feeding dogs meat that has been cooked with onions is pretty safe but you might want to avoid giving them the broth from around something like pot-roast if there were a lot of onions used in the cooking, just to be safe.

Large amounts of garlic will produce similar toxicity problems in both dogs and cats. I think that the amount required is not likely to be eaten by a cat but there are probably a few dogs who would lap up a container of spilled garlic.
Thank you for telling me that. I thought they were very toxic for cats. Ignorance fought.
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  #39  
Old 09-30-2009, 04:18 AM
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"The Ghosts of Evolution" by Connie Barlow implied in a section that in order to preserve the reproductive parts* of the plant (seeds, in that book's case), plants have evolved toxins to deter their consumption. Animals (and humans) in turn have evolved strong reactions to the (usually alkaline) toxins, which usually taste very strongly bitter, so they won't want to eat them. Cyanide in apple seeds is one example of this phenomenon.

A bulb of garlic will sprout shoots in the right conditions and sort of counts as a reproductive organ... is our strong taste reaction to garlic an evolutionary warning system that we shouldn't be eating it because it is toxic? (I've never seen garlic used as a vegetable, only sparingly as a spice.)

* Not just reproductive parts, but also vital parts like leaves which, unlike fruits, are not meant to be eaten. And the book goes on to talk about the roles of clay (kaolin) and cooking in neutralizing the toxins. It's a good scientific read though it's a bit dry at points.
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Old 09-30-2009, 04:46 AM
jackdavinci jackdavinci is offline
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The wikipedia page has a long list of possible side effects (and benefits) of garlic, notably allergies for certain people, interference with some drugs, and thinning of the blood.

I think the objection for certain spiritual groups is the same they have to narcotics and spicy food - they see it as a kind of stimulant, something that unbalances the bodily chemistry. Which is true to an extent - all food changes body chemistry - they just have a much lower threshhold for what's considered acceptable. Your average person isn't going to notice the effects, but if you are pursuing nirvana, it probably helps to have a much tighter control over regulating your body chemistry.

Robert Beck, an "expert" of dubious credentials claims

Quote:
The reason garlic is so toxic, the sulphone hydroxyl ion penetrates the blood-brain barrier, just like DMSO, and is a specific poison for higher-life forms and brain cells. We discovered this, much to our horror, when I (Bob Beck, DSc) was the world's largest manufacturer of ethical EEG feedback equipment.

We'd have people come back from lunch that looked clinically dead on an encephalograph, which we used to calibrate their progress. "Well, what happened?" "Well, I went to an Italian restaurant and there was some garlic in my salad dressing!" So we had them sign things that they wouldn't touch garlic before classes or we were wasting their time, their money and my time.
Looking at pubmed there seems to be evidence that garlic might actually be beneficial for memory/Alzheimers. There doesn't seem to be anything on sulphone hydroxyl.
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  #41  
Old 09-30-2009, 09:02 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Originally Posted by Baffle View Post
(I've never seen garlic used as a vegetable, only sparingly as a spice.)
There are recipes for garlic soup made using heads of garlic (not just cloves). IIRC, the active ingredient in garlic forms only in the presence of oxygen and cooking destroys the precursor. So the characteristic flavor develops only if you chop it or crush it, but if you cook whole heads it remains rather mild.
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  #42  
Old 09-30-2009, 09:09 AM
purplehorseshoe purplehorseshoe is offline
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Originally Posted by Baffle View Post
"The Ghosts of Evolution" by Connie Barlow implied in a section that in order to preserve the reproductive parts* of the plant (seeds, in that book's case), plants have evolved toxins to deter their consumption. Animals (and humans) in turn have evolved strong reactions to the (usually alkaline) toxins, which usually taste very strongly bitter, so they won't want to eat them. Cyanide in apple seeds is one example of this phenomenon.

A bulb of garlic will sprout shoots in the right conditions and sort of counts as a reproductive organ... is our strong taste reaction to garlic an evolutionary warning system that we shouldn't be eating it because it is toxic? (I've never seen garlic used as a vegetable, only sparingly as a spice.)

* Not just reproductive parts, but also vital parts like leaves which, unlike fruits, are not meant to be eaten. And the book goes on to talk about the roles of clay (kaolin) and cooking in neutralizing the toxins. It's a good scientific read though it's a bit dry at points.
I don't think the taste of garlic is any sort of effective warning to not eat it. It's precisely because of the taste of garlic that my 2-person household blows through bulbs of the stuff. 40-Clove Chicken, anyone?

Also, yes, it can be used as a vegetable. I roast whole bulbs all the time - gets all soft and buttery and mild, makes a great spread for crackers or toasty bread.

Wait, wait ... leaves are "not meant to be eaten?" Wha ... ? Not meant by whom?
Try telling that to all the leaf-eating herbivores in the world. (Bad goats, shame on you!) Not to mention, the lettuce in my sammich.

Turning things back to the OP ... in the interest of science, the Other Shoe and I will attend the State Fair of Texas soon, and I will report back on the worst food for you, since I'm pretty sure it's either deep-fried butter or chicken-fried bacon.
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  #43  
Old 09-30-2009, 09:21 AM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Originally Posted by Anne Neville View Post
Garlic and onions are quite toxic- if you are a cat or dog. Never feed anything containing either to your pet cat or dog.
Just as a follow-up on Miller's post, I thought I should point out that some respected cat food companies ( I'm thinking specifically of Old Mother Hubbard's "Wellness" brand ) use or used garlic in their listed ingredients. This has caused the occasional stir of concern among the online pet communities, but OHM's replies have basically been that it is in trace amounts for flavor and is nowhere near enough to ever trigger a toxic response ( also garlic generally, while a relative of onions, apparently has rather less toxic potential for cats relative to actual onions ).

Last edited by Tamerlane; 09-30-2009 at 09:22 AM..
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  #44  
Old 09-30-2009, 09:55 AM
Ike Witt Ike Witt is offline
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Originally Posted by Valgard View Post
A little Googling turned up references to the LD50 of garlic oil at around 1000mg/kg in rodent studies - for an 80kg man that works out to 80 grams of garlic oil. I don't know how much garlic oil you get from a given weight of fresh garlic but if it was, say, 10%, that'd mean you'd have to eat 800 grams of raw garlic, I think that would make anyone sick long before they could give themselves Acute Garlic Poisoning.
There also seems to be an issue of garlic-in-oil. It seems that garlic-in-oil that is not stored at the correct temp or use fast enough can cause botulism. From what I understand, botulism isn't as fun as it sounds. Here is a link from Health Canada.
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:16 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baffle View Post
"The Ghosts of Evolution" by Connie Barlow implied in a section that in order to preserve the reproductive parts* of the plant (seeds, in that book's case), plants have evolved toxins to deter their consumption. Animals (and humans) in turn have evolved strong reactions to the (usually alkaline) toxins, which usually taste very strongly bitter, so they won't want to eat them. Cyanide in apple seeds is one example of this phenomenon.
It should be borne in mind that the main herbivores of most plants are insects, and toxins are designed to deter them rather than mammals. Of course, small doses of chemicals may have highly toxic effects on small animals, while much larger animals will just shrug them off. (However, often some specialized herbivores will evolve defenses against the toxins and thus be able to eat the plant.) These compounds may also act as bacteriacides or fungicides, which is the basis for many of them being used in traditional medicines, or more recently used in the development of pesticides and pharmeceuticals.

Quote:
A bulb of garlic will sprout shoots in the right conditions and sort of counts as a reproductive organ... is our strong taste reaction to garlic an evolutionary warning system that we shouldn't be eating it because it is toxic? (I've never seen garlic used as a vegetable, only sparingly as a spice.)

* Not just reproductive parts, but also vital parts like leaves which, unlike fruits, are not meant to be eaten. And the book goes on to talk about the roles of clay (kaolin) and cooking in neutralizing the toxins. It's a good scientific read though it's a bit dry at points.
The garlic bulb represents a storage organ for food for the plant, which it will use to produce flowers and seeds, replace leaves that have been eaten, and survive through the winter or other environmental stresses. It is vital to the plant, which is the reason why many bulbs are protected by toxic chemicals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by purplehorseshoe View Post
I don't think the taste of garlic is any sort of effective warning to not eat it. It's precisely because of the taste of garlic that my 2-person household blows through bulbs of the stuff. 40-Clove Chicken, anyone?
It may well be an effective warning for the herbivores that it is designed to defend against. Most of the spices and flavorings we use in cooking are actually produced by the plant by insecticides or as defenses against other herbivores; they stimulate our taste buds without having seriously detrimental effects on us because the dosage is too small.



Quote:
Wait, wait ... leaves are "not meant to be eaten?" Wha ... ? Not meant by whom?
Try telling that to all the leaf-eating herbivores in the world. (Bad goats, shame on you!) Not to mention, the lettuce in my sammich.
Of course, the statement that leaves are not meant ot be eaten is from the viewpoint of the plant. Obviously losing leaves generally is detrimental. Fruits, on the other hand, are produced by the plant in order to attract animals that will disperse the seeds, so they are "meant to be eaten." Herbivores that eat leaves are exploiting the plant for food without providing any benefit.

I presume you are talking about iceberg lettuce, which has been bred to be free of any bitter toxins. Many varieties of lettuce, including wild ones, are quite bitter as a defense against herbivores.
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  #46  
Old 09-30-2009, 11:35 AM
BrandonR BrandonR is offline
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Wow, looking at this site's home page I'm convinced it's ran by paranoid schizophrenic conspiracy theorists. There's a page on why vaccinations are evil, why caffeine is one of the "main causes of every health problem", "electromagnetic stress," feng shui tips, and a whole b unch of other utter nonsense. It's sites like this that end up setting society back because of stupid, gullible people believing this stuff.
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  #47  
Old 09-30-2009, 02:43 PM
Revtim Revtim is offline
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If garlic were toxic, I'd have died years ago. I put so much into some meals it might more properly be considered a side dish than an ingredient.
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  #48  
Old 10-03-2009, 04:40 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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Garlic and onions help to prevent cancer: http://tuftshealthletter.com/ShowArticle.aspx?rowId=436
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  #49  
Old 10-03-2009, 09:52 PM
Alex_Dubinsky Alex_Dubinsky is offline
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"Toxic" and "toxin" are bullshit words. Or rather, "toxic" is legitimate as an adjective applied to the word 'dose', but "toxin" has no scientific basis whatsoever. Anything can be toxic, including water, depending on its dose.

Garlic does contain an active chemical that has the potential to be toxic at a reasonable dose. (An LD50 of 80 grams of oil or two pounds of fruit isn't unreasonably high.) But at a much lower dose, the dose at which it is commonly encountered, it is actually beneficial. AND HERE IS THE CATCH. Most "toxins" are similarly beneficial at very low doses. (E.g., sulfites and alcohol, as you all know, but even arsenic makes farm animals, at least, grow meatier and healthier.) The effect is called hormesis. It is extremely underapperciated today, but it's true. Even if you want to argue about it, I think everyone will agree about the general principle of dosage and that things should not be labeled as toxic for what they might do at one dose but not another. It's illogical.

Last edited by Alex_Dubinsky; 10-03-2009 at 09:56 PM..
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  #50  
Old 09-10-2013, 03:31 PM
diji diji is offline
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Garlic

If you were to inject garlic you'd die shortly. if you have a leaky gut or weak stomach/intestinal linings then garlic can hurt you. garlic is an acid that physically burns mucous membrane. if any of this powerful acid enters your bloodstream then it can even damage brain tissue itself. this being said, cooking garlic for a few minutes greatly reduces the risks.
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