There is limited evidence that garlic can help joint pain. In research many of the suggested attributes of garlic focus on its anti-inflammatory capabilities.
A May 2022 study: (1) “The antinociceptive (pain blocking) effects of garlic have shown promise in treating different chronic diseases in humans, such as knee osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and peripheral arterial occlusive disease stage II. The most common garlic products are garlic powder (dried garlic), steam distilled garlic oils, garlic oil macerate and aged garlic extract. Antinociceptive effect of garlic has been extensively evaluated in preclinical models and clinical assays to treat different diseases, contributing to the modulation of inflammation as an essential factor in reducing pain. ”
A June 2018 study (2) “Although pre- to postintervention knee osteoarthritis symptoms were improved in overweight or obese women receiving 12 weeks garlic supplement, there was no significant difference in pain and function (WOMAC SCORES) changes compared with the placebo group. Further clinical trials are required to investigate the therapeutic value of garlic ingredients, and the potential role of placebo effect, in the management of osteoarthritis symptoms.
A July 2020 study (3) suggested that garlic may help in supplemental form, but recommendations are made with caution. “Garlic has shown to exert potent anti-inflammatory effects by decreasing the inflammatory biomarkers . . . A double-blind randomized clinical trial showed a significant reduction of inflammatory cytokines (cell signalers that guide the inflammatory and immune system. Too many of these cells cause too much inflammation), such as interleukin 6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. . . In addition, a meta-analysis revealed that garlic supplementation, including AGE, garlic powder and garlic capsule, reduced serum concentrations of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and CRP.” However the researchers also write: “Garlic has been shown to modulate several biomarkers in different diseases in a multiple ways, however, to understand the exact mechanisms, it is necessary to perform large, long-term, fully blinded and well-controlled studies to obtain more precise and consistent findings. Additionally, further studies are needed to determine pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic limits in humans, such as pharmacologically active concentrations of garlic-derived sulfur compounds in garlic preparation that may be achieved via oral intake or through pharmacological interventions. In addition, the rapid metabolism and poor bioavailability of garlic are responsible for limiting its therapeutic use.”
Garlic is said to help overweight or obese women with knee osteoarthritis.
A 2018 paper (4) looked at 80 post-menopausal overweight or obese women with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis. The women were randomly divided into two groups to receive twice-daily either garlic tablets (total: 1000 mg) or placebo for 12 weeks. The primary outcome measures were fasting serum concentrations of resistin, (resistin is a hormone said to be linked to insulin resistance and obesity. It also causes inflammation) and TNF-α (Tumour Necrosis Factor alpha a signalling prtein in the inflammatory sequence) and pain severity (assessed using 0-10 point visual analogue scale (VAS)).
Results: At week 12, resistin concentrations were significantly decreased in the garlic group. Serum TNF-α levels did not change significantly within or between the two groups. Pain scores were significantly reduced in the garlic, but not in the placebo group. Pain scores were also significantly lower in the garlic, compared with the placebo. The findings suggest that garlic supplementation for 12 weeks might reduce pain severity in overweight or obese women with knee osteoarthritis, which may, at least in part, be mediated via a reduction in resistin.
1 Hernández‐Cruz EY, Silva‐Islas CA, Maldonado PD, Pedraza‐Chaverri J, Carballo‐Villalobos AI. Antinociceptive effect of garlic, garlic preparations and derivative compounds. European Journal of Pain. 2022 May;26(5):947-64.
2 Salimzadeh A, Alipoor E, Dehghani S, Yaseri M, Hosseini M, Feinle‐Bisset C, Hosseinzadeh‐Attar MJ. The effect of 12‐week garlic supplementation on symptom relief in overweight or obese women with knee osteoarthritis. International journal of clinical practice. 2018 Jun;72(6):e13208.
3 Ansary J, Forbes-Hernández TY, Gil E, Cianciosi D, Zhang J, Elexpuru-Zabaleta M, Simal-Gandara J, Giampieri F, Battino M. Potential health benefit of garlic based on human intervention studies: A brief overview. Antioxidants. 2020 Jul 15;9(7):619.
4 Dehghani S, Alipoor E, Salimzadeh A, Yaseri M, Hosseini M, Feinle-Bisset C, Hosseinzadeh-Attar MJ. The effect of a garlic supplement on the pro-inflammatory adipocytokines, resistin and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and on pain severity, in overweight or obese women with knee osteoarthritis. Phytomedicine. 2018 Sep 15;48:70-5.