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August 8, 1936


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and the Cincinnati General Hospital.

JAMA. 1936;107(6):409-410. doi:10.1001/jama.1936.02770320013004

The fetid odor that persists for many hours on the breath of one who has eaten garlic or onions is such a common occurrence that no one has any curiosity about it. Because the odor is so persistent, even though the mouth is clean, the belief has prevailed for many years that the odor comes from the blood by way of the lungs.

The first experimental studies on the disposition of alliaceous essential oils (garlic and onion) in the body were reported in 1930 by Lehmann.1 He concluded from his studies that during digestion such oils pass into the blood stream, are then aerated from the blood into the lungs, and so pass into the expired air.

The belief in a systemic origin of garlic breath odor is rarely questioned, but recently a report of experiments2 from a department of applied physiology was published, stating that such was