Why Is Garlic Bad For The Yogi Brain?

Via Ramesh Bjonnes
on Sep 15, 2010
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Why is garlic  not good for the budding Buddha brain? Because it is a “brain toxin.” Garlic is in particular not good medicine for your brain on meditation.

Sorry to deliver such bad news for all you aspiring Enlightenment seekers and garlic eaters out there. This somber news item comes from the ancient yogis of India. Those sages of the past who have practiced what they have preached for thousands of years.

According to both yogis and Ayurvedic doctors, garlic agitates and dulls the mind and the lower chakras (yes, what a crazy mind-body combination!) and is therefore not conducive to a contemplative lifestyle.

In addition to being vegetarians, the yogis of old also ate a sattvik or yogic diet specially devised for a contemplative lifestyle. The yogi diet consists of foods that improve mental clarity and energy.

The yogis divide the energy of foods into these three categories:

  • Sattvik (pure, balanced) foods are great for both the body and the mind. Energetically they are pure, light, clear, calming, harmonizing and promote wakefulness. Such foods include most vegetables, grains, milk, ghee, beans, fruits, etc.
  • Rajasik (energetic) foods are OK or good for the body, but may or may not be good for the mind, depending on the time of the day and the quantity taken. Rajasik foods are energetically cloudy, turbulent, agitated, and disturbs the emotions.

Such foods include chocolate, coffee, black tea, and many hot spices, etc. Some yogis and ayurvedic doctors include garlic and onion is this category, but this does not seem to be the best way to classify these plants, because most rajasik foods are OK to take in moderation.

  • Tamasik (dull) foods are generally not good for the body (or neutral) and not at all for the mind. Tamasik foods are dulling and create lethargy and heaviness. Meat, fish and eggs are classified as tamasik foods, and also garlic and onion. Overeating, even sattvik foods, would also be considered tamasik.

Satvik foods are healthy for both the body and the mind. Most hot spices, including garlic and onions are not conducive to meditation as they tend to overstimulate the mind and then crash it into low gear, making it dull and lethargic—giving us a kind of garlic rock and roll, then a garlic blues.

I have not personally eaten garlic or onions for over 35 years, so what do I know? In other words, I may not be the best judge anymore, but when I tested this many years ago, I found that these rules were true: my meditation did suffer from an overstimulated and strangely foggy brain.

We all know that coffee and chocolate are stimulating (rajasik), and therefore I try not to ingest these items at night. Otherwise I turn into a yogi on speed, which is not very conducive for meditation or sleep.

According to Ayurveda certain herbs are used to improve memory, concentration and meditation. One of the best such herbs is called brahmi and can be ordered in bulk from www.banyanbotanicals.com or purchased at many health food stores.

Is there any western scientific evidence that garlic is bad for your brain on meditation?

In the book Meditation: Searching for the Real You by Dada Jyotirupananda

www.o-books.com we find the following quote:

“Researcher Dr. Robert Beck notes that garlic is a [brain] poison. He has written in the March 1996 issue of Nexus magazine:

If you have any patients who have low-grade headaches or attention deficit disorder, they can’t quite focus on the computer in the afternoon, just do an experiment…. Take these people off garlic and see how much better they get, very very shortly.”

Dr. Beck also explains how garlic has a “poisonous effect” on the brain, which thus seem to indicate that science backs up the ancient yogic wisdom.

So, if meditation is part of your daily lifestyle and you eat garlic regularly, try a few weeks without ingesting these smelly and watery cloves, and see if your meditation improves. I know at least your breath will! And you can always use that garlic pizza as a Frisbee!


About Ramesh Bjonnes

Ramesh Bjonnes is the co-founder of the Prama Institute, a holistic retreat center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and the Director of the Prama Wellness Center, a retreat center specializing in detox by incorporating juice fasting, ayurveda, meditation and yoga to cleanse, relax and rejuvenate. Bjonnes is also a writer, yogi and workshop leader. He lived in India and Nepal in the 1980s learning directly from the traditional teachers of yoga and Tantra. He has taught workshops in many countries and is the author of Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit (InnerWorld) and Tantra: The Yoga of Love and Awakening (Hay House India). He lives and practices in an eco-village in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.


66 Responses to “Why Is Garlic Bad For The Yogi Brain?”

  1. Historian says:

    This is a very new idea, probably propped by the food industry which uses these products as the main flavoring agents in pre-prepared foods. You will find in the ancient world garlic is never ever mentioned as good for sex, but rather the smell keeps lovers away.

    Also, almonds were considered good for sex in Rome and in India. Ghee and ginger are considered incredibly good for sexual energy in the Ayurvedic system and all three of them are also encouraged to be eaten by Yogi's and householders alike.

  2. Ramesh says:

    Historian, very interesting, indeed. Thank you so much!

  3. Kitty says:

    Muscle test. Every body is different. Experts Schmexperts.

  4. bexvankoot says:

    Too bad that grains are brain toxic too, causing a great deal of inflammation… which doesn't lend much credence to the yogic diet. Pasteurized milk, too – keep in mind that most of the food the yogis ate was prepared very differently from today. If your grains, nuts and legumes aren't soaked or sprouted or nixtamalized, and if your milk is pasteurized, garlic is the last thing you need to worry about.

  5. Notably, the author neglects to share the "scientific evidence" to back this claim…

  6. sordog1 says:

    Garlic seems to be tamasic for the uppper chakras (dulling the mind) and rajasic for the lower chakras (revving up the desires). A party drug? 🙂

  7. eatnutritiously says:

    What would you suggest as an alternative for garlic in cooking?

  8. Victor Ochoa says:

    Asafoetida is a viable garlic / onion substitute. It is not tamasik like either of the aforementioned plants. I meditate and I do notice a difference when I have or have not eaten onion and garlic. In fact, they taste toxic to me when I eat them. There can only be one way to know this for yourself; go off onion and garlic for some time and see if you notice a difference while doing spiritual practices.

  9. Jessie says:

    I feel good eating garlic…….enough cultures have valued it for a long time, it smells and tastes delicious. I grow it myself and feel like it is a mutually beneficial relationship. Many of our important herbs are antimicrobial. The only drawback I find is that its antimicrobial effect can give you gas if you eat more than one bulb in a day.

  10. Sergio Villa says:


  11. sadasivam says:

    in the Ramana Story, the implication is our Mental agitations are figuratively spoken as Asuras and indra as our mind , devas are our senses etc.. The Garlic has an element of Amritha, the beneficial properties for longevity, it has the blood of Asuras, meaning not good for the brain and its control. Thus for materialistic life, it is an elixir, for a spiritual one it is poison!

  12. orthorim says:

    Great information, thanks for posting it. I have taken lots of garlic of late and it's really kept my body in good shape – no hints of illness, I feel strong as an ox. But as with most things there are negatives as well.

    I can only say use the middle way. Many poisons are good for you in small quantities, and bad when taken too much. I don't think your path to enlightenment will be prevented by eating garlic, or helped by eating some other plant – it's a secondary or tertiary concern. If it makes meditation harder, it would seem that is good practice as well – why not make it harder? What's wrong with it.

    At the end of the day this is great ancient information, and I will take it into consideration. I'll certainly cut down my garlic consumption. Thank you again.

  13. Vivek says:

    I’m always a bit amused by westerners and especially American reactions to such common knowlege. I have always known that garlic and onions were not sattvic and in any offerings at temple, and for any real occasion, traditional foods purposely excluded those. All yogis have known this for millenia. The reaction amongst the western set here really demonstrates how much enlightenment can actually come from people in these lands and cultures. The very fact that these people are passionate about a food item for sustenance so much so that they spew hate at the thought of its exckusion proves exactly why it IS a tamasic food, a food that inspires emotion or passion. The whole goal of advaita enligtenment is separating the physical from the real. The foods that spark passion and connection to the physical world do not lead to enlightened thoughts. Ayurvedic sattvic food is simple nourishment that doesnt spur such thoughts.

  14. James says:

    This whole article is based on history and a handful of living people’s experiences. Hardly conclusive enough to warrant such attention. It’s an interesting study in subjective reality and there’s actions of the masses in India, but I find it ridiculous to assign such a dramatic negative effect, I truly beloved that your describing something that relies entirely on perception. And to the person who said garlic read smelly and watery: I love the taste and smell of raw garlic, is that because I’m unenlightened? Ridiculous nonsense in my opinion.

  15. Gediz says:

    garlic -> brain dead
    Check some EEG's after a garlic containing salad dressing is eaten.