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Unlocking the benefits of garlic

A Queen’s-led research team has discovered why garlic is beneficial as a herbal medicine.

Chemistry professor Derek Pratt and his research team looked into finding the mechanism behind garlic’s potency because they didn’t understand how garlic could contain such an efficient antioxidant.

The research team questioned the ability of allicin, an organic compound, to trap damaging radicals and considered the possibility that a decomposition product of allicin may instead be responsible.

Through experiments with synthetically-produced allicin, they found that sulfenic acid produced when the compound decomposes rapidly reacts with radicals.

“While garlic has been used as a herbal medicine for centuries and there are many garlic supplements on the market, until now there has been no convincing explanation as to why it is beneficial,” Pratt told the Queen’s Gazette. “I think we have taken the first step in uncovering a fundamental chemical mechanism which may explain garlic’s medicinal benefits.”

—Jane Switzer

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