September 16, 2010

Why Is Garlic Bad For The Yogi Brain?

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!

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Gediz Mar 3, 2016 11:35am

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

James Dec 3, 2015 3:42pm

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.

Vivek May 17, 2015 2:32am

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.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Ramesh Bjonnes

Ramesh Bjonnes has traveled the world as a meditation teacher, Ayurvedic practitioner, author, and is currently the Director of the Prama Wellness Center, a retreat center teaching yoga, meditation, and juice rejuvenation. He studied yoga therapy in Nepal and India, Ayurvedic Medicine at California College of Ayurveda, and naturopathic detox therapy at the AM Wellness Center in Cebu, Philippines. He is the author of four books, and he lives with his wife Radhika and Juno, a sweet, gentle Great Pyrenees, in the mountains near Asheville, North Carlina. Connect with him via his website: prama.org and rameshbjonnes.com.