If You’re Thinking of Putting Garlic Up Your Nose, Please Don’t

TikTok videos claim this "hack" can clear sinuses, but is it safe? Two registered dietitians share their thoughts.

July 08, 2021
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Photo by: Jamie Grill/Getty

Jamie Grill/Getty

First TikTokers claimed asparagus can help cure hangovers and now they’re all about the hidden benefits of garlic.

More specifically, several TikTok users have posted clips asserting that inserting a clove of garlic into your nose (yes, in your nostrils) can clear your sinuses and cure a bothersome stuffy nose. One user, who goes by the handle @rozalinekatherine tried this “hack” and shoved a clove of garlic in each of her nostrils. She then waited about 15 minutes before finally removing the cloves and filmed the (gross) snot stream that followed.

Another TikTok user with the handle @hwannah5 tried the trick and was met with similar (just as snotty) results. “Since tik tok took it down the first time. THIS IS NOT DANGEROUS. The garlic cleans out your sinuses #safe #snot #fyp #comedy #garlic,” she wrote in the caption.

Despite hwannah5’s declaration, experts aren’t exactly fans of this mucus-expelling tactic. “It is not safe to put garlic cloves in your nose,” shares Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, a nutrition consultant for Food Network. In fact, inserting the spice into your nose can have adverse effects.

“Garlic contains natural oils which can irritate the skin around the nose – some people more than others,” she adds. “Further, small cloves of garlic can get lodged in the nose which can lead to a nasal obstruction. Plus, you probably will have that garlicky smell for quite some time!”

Not surprisingly, Amidor isn’t the only one who’s against this trick. “Eating garlic means you can benefit from the antibacterial properties as well as several nutrients,” notes Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC. “But there is no solid evidence I have seen to date to support snorting garlic for sinus relief.”

She adds: Certain foods like chili peppers and wasabi elicit a reaction — hot, running eyes, a runny nose — as compounds in these foods irritate sensitive tissues in your mouth, throat and sinuses and even bind to pain receptors on your tongue. This may inadvertently help clear out your nose but is a far cry from sticking garlic up your schnoz.”

And many medical professionals agree. Even though the abundance of snot after the garlic is removed may make you think it’s doing the trick, what’s actually going on is a bit more complicated than it looks. “It can actually worsen runny nose symptoms, which may make people falsely think it is working to help relieve a stuffy nose,” Dr. Abisola Olulade told Refinery29. “However, this running is actually a reaction to the irritation and to the strong smell.”

If you’re desperate to clear out your sinuses, Amidor has other ideas. “It is not advised to stick garlic in your nose to clear sinuses and relieve a stuffy nose,” she reiterates. “Instead, if you have a cold you can try these foods, including some garlic in your food (not up your nose). Garlic does have antimicrobial and antiviral properties when ingested as part of a dish – not stuck up your nose.”

And there you have it!

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