Exposing the Biggest Myths in Ayurveda: Onion & Garlic Are Prohibited.

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 1.0
Hearts 0.0
Comments 1.8
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.


Click here to see the first article in this series. 

Those on the spiritual path, from Yogis to Brahmacharyas (which literally means, “going after Brahma/God”), avoid onion and garlic in their food.

“Garlic and onions are both rajasic and tamasic, and are forbidden to yogis because they root the consciousness more firmly in the body.” ~ Dr. Robert E. Svoboda: Prolific author and Ayurvedic doctor

There are three qualities in everything in the universe, including foods:

1. Sattva (purity)
2. Rajas (stimulation, passion)
3. Tamas (inertia)

Garlic and Onion are mostly Rajasic, but also contain some Tamasic action. Garlic and onion are avoided by spiritual adherents because they stimulate the central nervous system and can disturb vows of celibacy. This is especially so because garlic is a natural aphrodisiac.

People get surprised when Ayurvedic practitioners prescribe garlic and onion as medicine, or when I mention it in my recipes. Ayurveda prizes onion and garlic as powerful medicine. Nowhere in any of the ancient Ayurvedic texts is it said garlic should be avoided. The reason this confusion arises is because people are confusing Ayurveda and Yoga. While they are sister sciences they are driven by similar but different principles.

So, it is only recommended for those on the spiritual path—yogis—to avoid onion and garlic for extra support and purity.
Those on the path still may eat onion and garlic if you wish—it isn’t like it’s prohibited by a higher power. It’s important to note that it will only subtly obstruct your passage to enlightenment.

The good news is you can transcend some of the rajasic qualities of onion and garlic by using the purification methods mentioned below. These methods increase the sattvic quality of the foods. Even if you don’t purify garlic, its anti-aging (“Rasayana”) qualities are still in abundance.

Medicinal Benefits of Garlic.

Even in all allopathic medicine circles, garlic’s medicinal quality are well known.

It has a long list of benefits, so I will only mention the most impressive:

In India, garlic is known as “a poor mans gold” due to its vast medicinal qualities. Particularly the qualities that strengthen the body and boost immunity.

1. Excellent for Colds: Garlic is a great remedy for when you are sick and is known to help with a cough, fever, soar throat, asthma, and more.

2. Pain Killer: Ayurvedic treatments such as patra poultice use garlic by rubbing it on the body to reduce joint pain, muscle pain, stiffness, arthritis and to extract excess fatty tissue.

3. Cholesterol: Reduces the bad cholesterol (oxidised cholesterol particles), and supports the growth of good cholesterol.

4. Arthritis and Anti-Inflammatory: Also great for fractured bones.

5. Blood Purifier

“Lashuna (garlic)…good for the heart and hairs; aphrodisiac, unctuous, improves taste and digestion; helps unions of fractures, gives strength, vitiates blood and pitta, cures leucoderma, leprosy (and other skin diseases), abdominal tumours, haemorrhoids, diabetes, worms, disease caused by kapha and vata, hiccup, nasal catarrh, dyspnoea and cough. It is a rejuvenator of the body.” ~ Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata, Sutra Sthana, ch. 7, (160-162)

Garlic has five different tastes (sweet, salty, bitter, pungent, astringent). In Ayurveda everyone must eat all six tastes with every meal, and for a food to have five tastes is special. Garlic has a hot potency (“Virya”). This means it heats the body and mind when taken. It’s post-digestive effect (“Vipaka”) is pungent, meaning it can flush out toxins and dry up excess fluid. The qualities (“Gunas”) of garlic are oily, sharp, slimy and heavy. It pacifies the Vata dosha (very much) as well as kapha.

How to Purify Garlic:

1. Take out the inner, green sprout and discard—this is the most important step.
2. Fry the garlic in ghee
3. Soak it in plain Lassi. This is like a bonus purification.

After completing these steps, your garlic is now sattvic and highly medicinal to be eaten or used in cooking.

Medicinal Benefits of Onion:

1. Cooling: Onion is very cooling and pitta pacifying. Smell raw onions and place raw slices on the crown of your head in the very hot climates to avoid sunstroke. This will also give you energy in this draining climates.

2. Breast Milk Purifier: Increases and purifies lactation.

3. Healthy Reproductive Tissue: Increases semen and strength. Aphrodisiac.

4. Respiratory System: Good for congestion and coughs.

5. Nausea Remedy: 1 tsp of onion juice with 1/2 tsp of honey. Lick as needed.

6. Nose Bleed Remedy: Cut raw onion and sniff it.

Ayurvedic Properties:

Onion has a pungent taste when raw, and a sweet taste when cooked. It has a cooling potency (“Virya”) so cools down the body and mind. It’s post-digestive effect (“Vipaka”) is sweet, meaning it is anabolic and nourishing for the body. Onion’s main qualities (“Gunas”) are oily, sharp, slimy and heavy. It pacifies the Pitta dosha (very much) as well as Kapha.

To purify the onion, simply remove the skin from both sides of each layer.




Author: Dylan Smith

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/Jon

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 1.0
Hearts 0.0
Comments 1.8
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.

Read The Best Articles of December
You voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares.

Dylan Smith

Dylan Smith is a certified Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant based in Sydney, Australia, where he runs the Vital Veda clinic. He regularly travels to South India to continue learning with the Raju family Vaidyas, a highly renown family of Ayurvedic doctors who have been healing for generations. He is devoted to sharing and radiating this ancient wisdom for everyone to utilize and enjoy, to experience total wellness and bliss. Visit his Facebook page here.


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

anonymous Mar 20, 2016 8:01pm

So glad to read this. LOVE garlic

Toshi Thomas Oct 27, 2018 3:05am

is it ok to have raw onions after after having ayurvedic kashayam?

Sheetal Verma Jan 26, 2018 7:01am

I would recommend you to stay out of our culture. You can't understand any part of veda, especially Ayurveda without a guru, who should be in a disciplic succession. PLEASE KEEP YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF OUR SCRIPTURES TO YOUR CRAPPY HEAD AND DON'T VOMIT IT OUT. OTHERWISE I SWEAR I WILL TAKE SWORD OF MY FOREFATHERS & SLASH YOUR THROAT. Why don't you come and visit kumbh melas in our country to see 800 year old yogis yourself. Your country is all sex based up. Don't worry they wont talk to you (yogis) because you belong to a mleccha nation. Besides you are in tamas with some mixture of rajas. sattva is very less in you. I can see that the way you write. Only established shuddhh-sattvas are allowed to understand the vedas in its full entirety. So I would recommend you to just stay in your sex- culture.

Qwan Wilson George Jun 16, 2017 8:50pm

What a bunch of crap. I bet you never been to India. Its never been called Poor man's Gold Infact many communities and entire states used to never Consume Garlic and onion. Its the internet you should know people will stumble across this and your bullshit will be called out. You cannot purify a garlic by frying it another rajasic food. Dairy is Rajasic again myths that ghee is Sattvic. Its all myths created ayurveda prohibits dairy. The properties of milk mention in ayurveda are actually the properties of mother's milk. Also there are many texts the ones that mention dairy/ghee as a remedy also include beef peacok meat for simpl ailments as cold...So go figure! There are a vast number of ayurveda practitioners called vaidyas(real ones) who are aware and promote that ayurveda is actually against dairy. Ofcourse they are minority in comparison but enough numbers to know that the rest of them got it wrong. Its simple common sense cows milk was designed for a cow to grow a cow in to 900 pounds in a few weeks. You have to be really stupid to think it is ok for humans or any other smaller animal to consume it. That is why I say the biggest superstition in India is that dairy and its products are healthy and should be consumed by humans. Its not even practical. If everyone wants to consume dairy you cannot do it without torturing cows. This is the reason India is the biggest exporter of beef. Cows just like any animal have to be pregnant and give birth to give milk. That means if there is a farm of 100 cows in 9 months it will have another 100 calves in 18 another 100 then in another 9 months you have 200 more calves in another 9 months it will be 300 more calves because the first calves are now old enough to give birth. Its just impossible to have the space to raise all those calves. So they are sold to the slaughter house. They keep on or two and they sell a few to people wanting to open farms but 90% are sold to slaughter houses. Old cows get paralyed after 11 to 13 years of being perpetually pregnant Its natural even humans get pregnant if they give birth continously(which has happened in India where they have 15 kids and in Pakistan where muslims also do the same) So they are sold before they are paralyzed to the beef industry if they get paralyzed it goes to the leather industry which fetched a lesser price. Now from the sheer numbers that is cows population doubling and then triplling and quadrapling in 2 years proves that dairy farming is not practical. So dairy involves some form of cruelty. Even the farms that are organic and grass feed also kill calves or they sell it and turn a blind eye but the buyers sell them to the slaughter house. Now India has banned beef and will face the same problem that UK goat industry is facing. Nobody eats Goats there that is why Jamie oliver had to promote it. Everyone wants goats milk(because its much lighter than cows and people feel better when switching for the reasons I mentioned earlier. No its not goats milk is good its just a smaller animal so less Growth hormones and milk is thinner) but no one wants to eat goats. And to give milk goats have to give birth. Goat industry is a perfect example. Goats cannot survive in factory farms or even those fake free range farms. They need pristine environment and lots of space. And cows ideally should be raised the same way but een the cow shelters are cruel and put in lots of cows together. And the land is not just enough to raise all the new born goats so its literally goes to the garbage. This is also happening with cows even though cows industry is mostly factory farms. If you wanted to treat a cow right its just not possible you will need 2 or 3 more earth just to graze the cows. So that proves drinking cows milk is just not natural and/or practical. Drinkin milk of another species never is. The milk is produced enogh only for its calf. that is why cows have to be given Milk producing hormones and steroids. So do some research its just in front of us in plain sight yet we cannot see the truth and keep promoting something that is just not logically practical and definately not scientifically