Society garlic

Last Updated: September 28 2022

An African herb traditionally used for its anti-infectious effects, it may be heart healthy and has some preliminary testicular effects suggesting it might increase testosterone levels; not enough evidence currently though.

Society garlic is most often used for

Don't miss out on the latest research

Become an Examine Insider for FREE to stay on top of the latest nutrition research, supplement myths, and more


    Sources and Composition


    Source and History

    Tulbaghia violacea is an African herb used historically to treat some infectious diseases, which is due to an anti-microbial potential of the herb.[1] The herb appears to be synergistic with itself in this regard, suggesting that multiple components within the herb itself work together.[1]

    It belongs to the Alliaceae family of herbs, similar to Garlic. It is sometimes referred to as Sweet Garlic (as its consumption is not associated with bad breath), Wild Garlic, or Society Garlic and possesses a strong garlic odour, although the roots are sometimes referred to as skunky.[2][3][4] It is also referred to as 'Isihaqa' by the Zulus, who use this plant as an aphrodisiac, and as 'Wildeknoffel' by the Afrikaans.[5] It may share nutrient motifs with the garlic family.[2] It is referred to as a modest, unassuming plant with small flowers and grassy foliage.[2]



    As a herbal supplement, Tulbaghia violacea may contain a wide variety of compounds. Some of these compounds include:

    • 3 Cysteine derivates known as Marasmin, Ethiin and Methiin[6][3][7]
    • Kaempferol
    • From the leaves, 2,4,5,7-tetrathiaoctane-2,2-dioxide, 2,4,5,7-tetrathiaoctane, and 2,4,5,7-tetrathiaoctane-4-oxide[2][8]
    • Steroidal saponins
    • Methyl-alpha-D-glucopyranoside[2]

    Compounds that are inherent to the Allium (Garlic) family, and show motifs with Tulbaghia (in regards to traditional usages and preparation) include (note, it is plausible but not assured Tulbaghia contains these molecules):

    • Cysteine Sulfoxide derivatives (Alliin, Isoalliin, and Methiin) found in both onions and garlic[2] These compounds have been reported in T.Acutiloba.[9]

    Of the Tulbaghia family of herbs, violacea appears to have the highest known concentration of sulfur-containing compounds (although not all species have been analyzed).[2]


    Interactions with Cardiovascular Health


    Blood Pressure

    Tulbaghia Violacea appears to have ACE inhibiting properties, reaching 68% ACE inhibition with the water extract and 71% with the ethanolic extract in vitro.[10][11] When rats were subject to 0.1mg/kg Angiotensin I injections (increasing the control groups blood pressure by 14.5%) co-injection of 50mg/kg bodyweight Tulbaghia Violacea was able to attenuate the increase to 2.2%, showing bioactivity.[10]

    Tulbaghia Violacea has been shown in a model of spontaneously hypertensive rats to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as heart rate, by acting as a ACE inhibitor.[4] It may also have interactions with B(1)adrenoreceptors.[4]


    Interactions with Carbohydrate Metabolism

    Tulbaghia Violacea has been implicated in exerting anti-diabetic effects in vitro, by increasing glucose uptake by 140.5% in muscle cells at a concentration of 0.5ug/mL with the ethanolic extract.[12] The water extract increased glucose uptake by 119% at this concentration, and uptake was increased by approximately 117% by both extracts at a concentration of 50ug/mL, although insulin incubation at 0.5ug/ml seemed to reduce glucose uptake induced by T.Violacea.[12]


    Interactions with Testosterone

    One in vitro study conducted on testicular cells noted that the extract of Tulbaghia violacea was able to increase testosterone release from testicles in response to stimulation from Luteinizing Hormone.[5] The cells were incubated at varying concentrations ranging from 156.25-5000ug/ml at doubling intervals and, although only showing statistical significant at a concentration of 312.5ug/ml and above, did not show any dose-dependent effects but rather constant elevation of testosterone secretion.[5] The increases in testosterone were quantified to be 30-72% greater than control cells, and was dependent on the presence of lutenizing hormone. No direct testicular increases in estradiol were noted.[5]


    Safety and Toxicity

    Historically, it has been noted that prolonged and excessive use of Tulbaghia Violacea bulbs causes gastrointestinal distress and may be associated with acute inflammation and sloughing of intestinal tissue as well as cessation of peristalsis.[2] Contraction of the pupils and delayed response to stimuli have been mentioned additionally.[2]

    10.^Ramesar S, Baijnath H, Govender T, Mackraj IAngiotensin I-converting enzyme inhibitor activity of nutritive plants in KwaZulu-NatalJ Med Food.(2008 Jun)
    11.^Duncan AC, Jäger AK, van Staden JScreening of Zulu medicinal plants for angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitorsJ Ethnopharmacol.(1999 Dec 15)