University of Copenhagen scientists have identified a substance in garlic that may help stave off cystic fibrosis and produce other health benefits, as well.
The researchers, writing in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, said laboratory studies had found that ajoene -- the major constituent of sulfur-containing compounds produced when garlic is crushed -- blocks key genetic processes involved in the development of cystic fibrosis.
Specially, the research team found the garlic compound blocks the formation of bacterial “biofilms” that are far more resistant than individual bacteria to antibiotics.
Lead researchers -- Tim Holm Jakobsen and Michael Givskov – had previously found that “crude extracts” of garlic block genetic processes that allow bacteria to form biofilms, which are associated with the chronic lung condition.
The new study focused on identifying the culprit in garlic chiefly responsible for that action – ajoene – and determined the compound acts on 11 genes involved in biofilms that can lead to diseases like cystic fibrosis.
Jakobsen said the garlic project grew out of a major donation from the German Cystic Fibrosis Association.
He noted garlic has been used medicinally "for thousands of years." It not only has antibacterial properties, but also anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-protozoal properties as well. As a result, garlic has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems.