Allicin—a chemical compound found in garlic—can help kill the bacteria responsible for life-threatening lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis, according to a study published in PLOS ONE.
Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) has been found to cause serious lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients, and it is highly resistant to most antibiotics. In the study, the researchers examined the antimicrobial effectiveness of pure allicin (AAS) and aqueous garlic extracts (AGE) against 38 Bcc isolates. Time kill assays showed that the bactericidal activity of AGE and AAS against B. cenocepacia C6433 correlated with the concentration of allicin. The researchers believe that AGE and AAS chemically modified an essential BCP catalytic cysteine residue, halting activity in the pathogen's cells. At high doses, allicin—which can be obtained by crushing garlic—can kill the pathogens.
"To our knowledge, we report the first evidence that allicin and allicin-containing galic extracts possess inhibitory and bactericidal activities against the Bcc," wrote the researchers. "Present therapeutic options against these life-threatening pathogens are limited; thus, allicin-containing compounds merit investigation as adjuncts to existing antibiotics."