Getting Rid of Garlic/Onion Smell and Aroma
January 6, 2013 6:42 PM   Subscribe

The aroma and flavor that garlic and onion in any form yield stay in my system way longer than reasonable. I need to be able to eat these two foods to help my immune system and my sinuses function better, but I can't stand the aftermath anymore (and now that I have a boyfriend again, I'm extra sensitive to yucky breath and stuff). What can I eat or drink to counteract these side effects so I can keep onions and garlic in my diet?

Brushing my teeth, chewing gum, and drinking lots of water with lemon only have a nominal effect.

When I say longer than reasonable, I mean that I taste and smell like garlic and/or onion for 1 to 2 days after eating either.

It's impacting oral sex. (Yes, I have verified that abstaining from garlic and onion makes me taste sweet and delicious. If I've had either the day of or day before sex, I taste like it. This is bad news bears for me for obvious reasons.)

Is there something obvious I'm missing?
posted by These Birds of a Feather to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
For the mouth/stomach, try eating fresh parsley. For the other issue, try eating pineapple and papaya, they allegedly have enzymes or something that helps with taste issues.
posted by kellyblah at 7:22 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Similar to parsley, chewing on mint, cardamom, fennel, cloves, etc... basically any strong but more pleasant herbaceous smelling stuff.

Kelly's idea about pineapple/papaya sounds about right... I've heard of people increasing intake of pineapple in particular to make their sexual fluids taste better.

WebMD also says "If you eat garlic because of its health benefits, consider switching to odorless garlic supplements."
posted by jorlyfish at 7:28 PM on January 6, 2013

If you love garlic and onions, it's worth searching for a solution. But if you only eat them for their health effects? Let me ask you, if your doctor gave you a sinus pill that made oral sex less good, just how awesome would its sinus-clearing power have to be to convince you to keep taking it? My guess is, way stronger than the (dubious, poorly-documented) power of onions. If you want some diet-based immune-boost/sinus clearing, I guarantee you can find plenty of foods and herbs with similar purported powers that don't affect your sex life.
posted by Ausamor at 7:30 PM on January 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

I love garlic and onions and their health effects are not dubious according to my GP and my ENT, both of whom prescribed eating them because other sinus medications and I aren't getting along. Please work from that standpoint. :)
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:46 PM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Cooking garlic and and onions makes them sweeter and less pungent. If I eat raw red or white (not green) onions, I'm tasting them two days later. But if I lightly sautee them, the effect lasts until I eat a mint or brush my teeth. Worth an experiment.
posted by shiggins at 7:52 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maybe fermenting the garlic, like so, would help?
posted by librarina at 8:06 PM on January 6, 2013

Well, I looove garlic and onions and my sinuses are not great, but two things I haven't tried but have heard work for sinus issues are steaming garlic (then breathing the vapors) and onion and/or garlic nasal washes. However, the context is more for relief than preventative/maintenance.

I wonder if sulfur is the key ingredient behind your doctors' recommendation of onions and garlic. You could try that as a supplement and perhaps eat less garlic and onions? However, the sulfur is (I think) what makes that lingering asparagus/onion/garlic smell in the urine and below-decks area, so I don't know what kind of smell (if any) the pills might produce. (I've never noticed any).

When I eat asparagus I flush myself out with liberal amounts of water and that helps.
posted by sm1tten at 8:36 PM on January 6, 2013

Honestly I really don't think anything can help reduce the odor. I like eating cooked garlic and onions but absolutely hate the fact that the smell/taste stays with me. I find it to be a very offensive odor but have never found any way to get rid of it. Even in ancient cultures where they consume raw garlic regularly, like kimchi in Korea, as far as I know no solution has ever been found (you'll see a lot of people chewing ginseng chewing gum in Korea, but believe me, it is at best a very partial mask of the odor). I think you just have to decide what's more important to you, your sinuses or your love life. But I agree with others that you should be able to find a substitute for garlic's medicinal effects.
posted by Dansaman at 8:50 PM on January 6, 2013

Exercise really hard so that you metabolise it faster... basically, sweat it out. Drink rosewater and fruit juices. Eat cucumbers. Eat fenugreek. Take a hot bath with epsom salt in it and drink a whackload of water. And try cider vinegar instead of lemon juice once in a while to see if it works better for you.
posted by windykites at 8:56 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding odorless garlic supplements. If there were a way to get rid of garlic and onion breath, we'd know by now.
posted by Specklet at 10:23 PM on January 6, 2013

Indian restaurants serve those little dishes of candied fennel seeds at the end, because some people find that chewing on fennel seeds neutralizes the odor. I've heard fennel seeds and cardamom both work, but I like fennel seeds better and keep a little baggie of fennel seeds with me at all times (like a lot of Indian aunties).
posted by sa3z at 7:32 AM on January 7, 2013

Odorless garlic supplements are great. Have you tried slow roasting the garlic and onions first to make them less strong tasting or would that reduce their effectiveness?. Chewing Parsley is the traditional way to remove garlic breath and why a lot of garlic butters have parsley through them.

Eatting foods rich in polyphenols reduces volatile (I think that's the word) sulfur compounds which is what make garlic and onions smell but I am pretty sure this is also be the thing that is fighting your sinus infection so it might be a bit of a compromise. Drinking green tea or red wine could help as could say eatting apples or spinach or even blueberries.

Oh and I was told this by a chef not a doctor so I could well have the science etc all wrong so it might be worth checking with your doctors.
posted by wwax at 8:49 AM on January 7, 2013

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