Garlic, Depression, & Anxiety

Have you ever noticed that some foods touted as ‘superfoods’ aren’t so super for you? For me, garlic is one of those things. If I eat it accidentally or knowingly, I generally can’t sleep that night and I wake up the next day feeling groggy and grouchy. Raw garlic? Forget about it – instant panic attack. So what gives?

Interestingly, back in 2010 when I was going through the teacher training program at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram, we were told never to eat onions or garlic because they were ‘rajasic’ or excitatory which would affect our meditation.1 Cruciferous vegetables were also discouraged because of their gas-inducing qualities (which also affects meditation). Many of us were shocked and appalled at these recommendations, believing these foods had nothing but health benefits. Nevertheless, onions and garlic were never served at the ashram the entire 30 days I was there.

Once I got back home to my ‘normal life’, I wasn’t so particular, or convinced for that matter, and started eating onions and garlic again. O. M. G. I felt like I had done a line of cocaine. Heart racing, insomnia, nausea, and yep, definitely affected my meditation – even more so than coffee! So again… what gives??

After eliminating the idea that I was really a vampire, examining my genetic info provided some explanation.2 Apparently a CBS mutation, along with a mutation in the MTHFR gene can trigger a sulfur intolerance in some people.3 I also developed an intolerance to sulfa medications over the years which should have been another tip off about a possible sulfur sensitivity. Low levels of molybdenum can also affect the body’s ability to process sulfur.

Once I understood what was going on a little bit better, I started off with a sulfur elimination diet4 combined with the addition of a molybdenum supplement. The sulfur elimination diet was super limited but it worked to help clear out blockages in my transsulfuration and methylation pathways. For ongoing maintenance and to keep symptoms under control, I choose to really limit my intake of foods high in sulfur or thiols, and anything with added sulfites5.