Yeah, I know. Stinky ain’t sexy. And fresh garlic is one of the most infamous ways to become stinky from the inside out: your breath is one thing, but it even comes out your pores if you’ve had any significant amount. Let’s deal with this right away: Italy being one of the several places in the world where garlic is liberally, cheerfully and inventively used, I’ve had to confront this fact. While being around other garlic enthusiasts removes most of the issue, in my current Californian home it’s nothing like a guarantee. So what do you do?


The most obvious way to get garlic in your system without broadcasting the fact for days is to use odorless garlic supplements. Because of that wonderful root’s many healthy traits – reducing cholesterol, fighting fungal infection, improving heart health, etc. – technology has been applied to that end. I, for one, applaud this even as I do not take advantage of it. After all, my interest is culinary!

When it comes to food, the same treatment that renders onions mild and marvelous also works on this allium: just cook it. The heat breaks down the sulfurous compounds and caramelizes its sugars. However, the chemical clobbered is allicin, the very thing that gives most of those healthy benefits. In fact (to make some very complicated stuff less boring) the allicin is formed when the garlic clove’s innards are exposed to air, much like onion’s eye-watering gases, and slicing it will get the process going. When it comes to cooking, it seems that crushed garlic that’s been allowed to sit for a few minutes before adding to the pot keeps more of its allicin.

Right, so assuming this stuff is good for you and that you can avoid repelling a would-be lover by having it, what the heck does it have to do with ars amor?

The reason garlic helps maintain a healthy blood pressure is that the infamous, stinky hydrogen sulfide is a vasodilator, like some other items in our “aphrodisiac?” lists. Other compounds in garlic make big improvements in the nitric oxide levels in one’s blood, and nitric oxide has the curious effect of increasing blood flow without increasing blood pressure. I have no intention of trying to explain how that can be true. Just go with it for now. Nitric oxide is, in short, very important for everyone’s cardiovascular health. It should have an effect on your circulation starting about or at least an hour after ingesting it.

Hang on a second… Does anyone else know of a medicine, developed for blood pressure regulation, that famously kicks in about an hour after you take it?

Yeah. Sildenafil, better known by its brand name, Viagra.

Men who have taken a sliced clove of garlic before bed have reported waking up in the morning propped up by their very own kickstand, something many hadn’t experienced in years. Nitric oxide having positive effects on many women’s sexuality as well, garlic benefits everyone – and frankly, only one of you having the stuff is not likely to go well.

Doing research for this led me to a brilliant site called Pill Scout, which reinforces most of the above and where it is reported that 2g (2000mg) of vitamin C “may greatly increase the effect.” Even without erectile or other sexual dysfunction, this is a healthy thing to do. And a healthy body is a sexy body.

Join the conversation (new commenters may not appear immediately)

Stranger, here you will do well to tarry; here our highest good is pleasure.