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Planet Earth

Study finds that eating garlic actually makes your BO smell better.

By Seriously ScienceNovember 30, 2015 12:00 PM
Photo: flickr/jeffreyw
Photo: flickr/jeffreyw

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We all know that eating lots of garlic can make your breath unpleasant (although there are other foods you can eat along with the garlic to avoid this). So you’d guess that garlic would also make your BO smell garlicky…right? Not so fast. In this study, a group of Czech researchers had some male “odour donors” eat a normal diet, while others ate extra garlic (ranging from two to four cloves). They all  wore a cotton pad in their armpits for the next 12 hours. The researchers then put the cotton pads in jars and had women rate their odors for “pleasantness, attractiveness, masculinity and intensity.” Surprisingly, they found that the BOs of the garlic eaters were rated as significantly more pleasant, more attractive, and less intense. The authors speculate that the antibacterial properties of garlic could be responsible for the change in body odor following garlic consumption. But, whether improved BO makes up for bad breath is up to you!

Consumption of garlic positively affects hedonic perception of axillary body odour.

“Beneficial health properties of garlic, as well as its most common adverse effect – distinctive breath odour – are well-known. In contrast, analogous research on the effect of garlic on axillary odour is currently missing. Here, in three studies varying in the amount and nature of garlic provided (raw garlic in study 1 and 2, garlic capsules in study 3), we tested the effect of garlic consumption on the quality of axillary odour. A balanced within-subject experimental design was used. In total, 42 male odour donors were allocated to either a “garlic” or “non-garlic” condition, after which they wore axillary pads for 12 h to collect body odour. One week later, the conditions were reversed. Odour samples were then judged for their pleasantness, attractiveness, masculinity and intensity by 82 women. We found no significant differences in ratings of any characteristics in study 1. However, the odour of donors after an increased garlic dosage was assessed as significantly more pleasant, attractive and less intense (study 2), and more attractive and less intense in study 3. Our results indicate that garlic consumption may have positive effects on perceived body odour hedonicity, perhaps due to its health effects (e.g., antioxidant properties, antimicrobial activity).”

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