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May 23, 2014 07:35 AM EDT

Chemical Compound in Garlic Effective Against Virulent Bacteria, Study

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A latest study by researchers at the University of Copenhahen has found beneficiary effects of garlic in fighting virulent bacteria. Researchers said that a chemical compound in this miracle herb has proven to be effective in fighting the toughest of bacterium.

When bacteria clump together forming biofilm, they become resistant to antibiotics. Infections from multidrug-resistant organisms continue to pose threats to public health all over the world. There is a greater pressure on pharmaceutical companies to generate new drugs to combat the threat as bacteria developed resistance to the existing medications in the market.

Ajoene, the chemical compound, blocks the communication system (Quorum Sensing) in the bacteria - which prevents it from carrying out various functions including causing infection. However, researchers said that since ajoene is present in very low concentrations, around 50 garlic pieces must be consumed to benefit from it.

It "neutralizes resistant bacteria .... prevents the bacteria from secreting the toxin - rhamnolipid - which destroys white blood cells in the body. White blood cells are indispensable because they play a crucial role in the immune defence system, not only warding off infection, but also killing bacteria," said Tim Holm Jakobsen, PhD. Student at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, in a statement.

Garlic has been used for long in averting and treating various diseases and conditions. Allicin, another vital compound in the herb is known to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties. Allicin, along with other compounds like ajoene and alliin, helps in reducing blood pressure, detoxification and healing among others, The Health Site reports.

In the study, researchers focused on Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria that trigger infections in patients with chronic leg ulcers and cystic fibrosis. Experiments were conducted on biofilms cultured in the laboratory and in trials involving mice.

The researchers said that ajoene has been found to support and enhance treatment with conventional anti-biotics. Positive results were observed only when both of them were used together against the bacteria, but not when treated separately. More than 90 percent of the strong biofilms were destroyed with the combination of ajoene and antibiotics.

Researcher Tim Holm Jacobsen said that more than half of all new pharmaceuticals are based on natural substances.

Besides garlic, taxol from the yew tree has also been found to be effective against breast cancer, while artemisinin from sweet wormwood is productive against malaria.

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