Does putting garlic in your nose clear sinuses? A sniffing case coming? Some TikTokkers say that putting a clove of raw garlic in your nose can clear your congestion. Viral videos show mucus draining after removing the cloves—but not in the way you might think. It seems that garlic won’t help your congestion and may even make it worse.
Otolaryngologist Raj Sindwani, MD, talks about whether this TikTok trick is really a hot tip or just another trend to avoid.
Why is there a clove of garlic in the nose?
Some TikTok users have shared videos of themselves with a clove of garlic in their nostrils, a trick they say can relieve nasal congestion associated with sinuses, colds, and allergies. When the clove is removed, the mucus is poured out – apparently proof that the trick worked.
However, Dr. Sindwani says covering your nostril with a sharp piece of garlic can actually cause more mucus to form, which is expelled once the clove is removed.
“What you do is get this irritant up your nose – one with a very strong and noxious odor,” he says. “This irritates the lining of the nose, causing it to produce more mucus and also traps the mucus you already have.”
In other words, you are making the problem worse, not better.
Is it safe to put garlic in your nose?
Garlic has many health benefits, but sticking a raw clove up your nose to get rid of a cold isn’t one of them.
“There are some complications that can come from this,” Dr. Sindwani, “and in the end, it won’t help you either.” And if it’s not going to work, why are you sticking garlic up your nose?
But if the thought of extra mucus isn’t enough to lure you into this trend, here are other potential risks.
Anyone with (or ever had) a curious child knows the risks of sticking something up their nose: It could get stuck in there. And even if not all the cloves are stuck, you may have trouble removing everything. Dr. “Some of it may break off and some may be left in your nose,” Sindwani says.
Can irritate the nose
Raw garlic can irritate and inflame your skin, which can cause dermatitis. Dr. “The oils in garlic can cause redness in the nose, breakouts of the skin, and even nosebleeds,” warns Sindwani.
May cause infection
Even a tiny piece of garlic stuck in your nostril can mean bad news for your body. Dr. “It can have many consequences, including blockage of the sinuses and even infection,” Sindwani says.
May cause trauma inside your nose
There is always a risk of trauma when you insert a foreign object into your nose. Dr. “You can hit part of the septum that has a lot of blood vessels,” Sindwani says.
What to do for congestion instead?
Skip the garlic and stick to some of the old-fashioned, medically proven ways to get rid of the common cold. Dr. “Colds are usually self-limiting viral infections,” explains Sindwani. It’s best to treat them holistically with rest, hydration, and irrigation with nasal sprays or saline water.”
If your cold continues, see your doctor, who may prescribe a nasal steroid spray or other medication and definitely not a clove of garlic.
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