Alliin

The chemical in garlic

By: Eric Coleman, 3rd yr Chemist,
Bristol University
,
Molecule of the Month, July 2002

     

Garlic, Allium sativum, is a perennial herb related to the onion. More than a thousand years ago, garlic was used in India for the treatment of diseases of the heart and circulation. Several thousand years earlier, garlic was also commonly used for medicinal purposes.

Thirty-five centuries ago in an ancient Egyptian manuscript, garlic was cited as being useful, in the treatment of heart disease, tumors, worms, intestinal parasites, insect bites, and many other ailments. The health benefits of garlic have been known for thousands of years, but only recently has garlic been subjected to scientific research.

In the following pages I will begin to try and begin to explain the complex garlic story.