Garlic has mythological as well as real protective properties, but it also has a newly discovered downside. Garlic supplements interact negatively with an HIV drug, according to Stephen C. Piscitelli of the biotech firm Virco Lab in Rockville, Md., and his colleagues in private and federal labs.
One of the three drugs in standard HIV therapy is a protease inhibitor, which prevents infected cells from producing new copies of the AIDS virus. The researchers gave the protease inhibitor saquinavir to HIV-free volunteers.
During periods of the trial when the participants received garlic supplements, the concentration of saquinavir in their blood fell sharply.
That's a troubling result, the researchers say, because in HIV-infected patients taking garlic supplements, the drug's effects would be muted. The findings appear in the Jan. 15 Clinical Infectious Diseases.