Does Eating Garlic Cure or Cause Eczema?
Is garlic good or bad for eczema sufferers? Unfortunately, there's no simple answer to that. There's no proof that eating garlic, whether raw or cooked, will cure or alleviate eczema symptoms, just as there's no reliable evidence that eating garlic will cause eczema. Whether garlic is good or bad for eczema in general, or atopic dermatitis in particular, seems to depend on the individual.
Garlic as a Cure for Eczema
If you are sensitive to garlic or pungent foods in general, garlic may indeed cause chronic or acute eczema, as evidenced by a large body of anecdotal data. However, if your skin does not react to garlic, don't hesitate to include this wonderful superfood in your diet. Eating garlic provides your body with numerous health boosting nutrients including vitamin C, calcium, selenium, copper and potassium.
Garlic is also an excellent source of zinc and vitamin B6. Research suggests that zinc, an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant mineral, may help alleviate or heal chronic and acute eczema, especially in zinc-deficient people. Vitamin B6, on the other hand, enhances the absorption of zinc in the body, but it also has eczema-fighting properties of its own.
Garlic as a Potential Cause of Eczema
If you think you may be one of the people who experience eczema flare-ups after eating garlic, talk to your doctor or about an elimination diet. An elimination diet is a one of the most effective tools for finding out whether garlic may be capable of triggering eczema flare-ups in your case. Basically, an elimination diet involves eliminating all potential eczema-causing foods (including garlic) for about three weeks, and then slowly reintroducing garlic and the other suspect foods, while observing whether your eczema flare-ups get worse. Before going on an elimination diet, you should be aware that this diet requires a great deal of dedication and commitment as you will be following a very restricted diet.
When you start reintroducing garlic and other potential offending foods in the second phase of the diet, you should only add one food at a time, every two to three days. This should give your body enough time to react. During this phase, you should also keep a food diary where you can write down everything you eat and how the foods you eat seem to affect the severity of your eczema symptoms.
If you see your skin getting worse in the three days following eating a particular food (such as garlic), that food might be a culprit food. However, don't be too quick to draw any conclusions: there are also other external factors that may have caused your skin problems. That's why experts usually recommend that you re-eliminate the pre-identified culprit food from your diet again, wait until your symptoms improve, and then add the alleged culprit back to your diet. If the symptoms return for a second time, the suspect food may really be one of the causes of your eczema.
Note: Many doctors have not been educated on elimination diets, so you may also want to consult a registered dietitian if you're interested in using an elimination diet as a tool to find out whether garlic can cause eczema in your case.