THE HEALTH AND FITNESS BLOG
May 26, 2022 – By Dr. Haider Khalid
Allicin is a chemically active compound present in fresh garlic. It is well-known for its immunity-boosting, anti-carcinogenic, and antioxidant effects. All of these features of allicin are responsible for enhancing overall human health by promoting growth and inhibiting damage to the tissues.
Allicin also helps in the management of diabetes and hypertension. Additionally, it has multiple effects on human health. Because of these reasons, it is considered an effective compound in medicine and nutrition.
In this article, you will get information about the five health benefits of allicin and its potential side effects. After reading it, you will be able to use garlic properly to have the maximum benefits from allicin.
Here are the Five Health Benefits of Allicin
You probably have heard the saying of a famous French-American Chef, Louis Diat, “There are five elements: earth, air, fire, water, and garlic.”
Although it is much of an exaggeration, it has some truth. Garlic, especially allicin, improves human health in ways that make it one of the essential components of life.
Alleviates Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Patients
Allicin helps lower blood pressure by affecting blood cholesterol levels (1). Long-standing high cholesterol levels in the blood result in fatty clots inside the blood vessels. These clots harden the wall of arteries resulting in a rise in blood pressure.
According to a research finding, allicin decreases cholesterol and other lipids in the blood. Therefore, long-term use of allicin can help you manage your blood pressure.
In a clinical study conducted in 2017, allicin showed even more promising results in patients with hypertension than blood pressure-lowering medicines (2). In addition to its effect on blood pressure, it also improves kidney function in hypertensive patients.
Helps Lowering Blood Sugar in Diabetes
Diabetes is a prevalent chronic disease affecting a large group of the human population. Although there are various protocols for diabetes management, none is efficient enough to control blood sugar levels within the normal range over longer durations.
For this reason, food components like allicin have been introduced to manage diabetes. According to a clinical study, allicin improves fasting blood glucose levels, enhances insulin function, and also lowers cholesterol levels in the blood (3). This results in more effective and reliable management that is not possible with a single medicine.
One of the most frequently asked questions is how does allicin help to kill bacteria? The answer to this question lies in the chemical composition of proteins of bacteria and other pathogens such as parasites and fungus.
Allicin binds with the sulfur group of proteins of the bacteria. These proteins are essential for their survival. Once attached, allicin renders these proteins non-functional and results in the demise of pathogens (4).
Allicin augments body immunity by combating bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungus. Hence, it is also preferred to treat certain infections such as the common cold.
Boosts Heart Health
As already discussed, allicin reduces blood pressure by lowering blood cholesterol levels. This effect, along with the anti-oxidative effect of allicin, makes it a protective compound against heart diseases. It also reduces cell death and inflammation in heart cells. Thus, it is a practical approach to managing heart attacks (5).
Protect Against Cancer
Whether allicin is protective against cancer or not is still a question of debate. But few pieces of research support this argument. According to recent research, allicin inhibits the growth of cancer cells in patients with stomach cancers (6). However, more clinical trials are necessary to confirm the effectiveness of allicin in cancer management (7).
Are There Any Side Effects?
Allicin is a safe compound. Most people don’t experience any side effects after ingesting moderate allicin. Toxic effects only occur after consuming a large concentration over a longer duration.
Here are some of the common signs of allicin toxicity.
- Gastrointestinal issues: After ingesting large concentrations, people can experience problems like diarrhea and abdominal discomfort (8).
- Bleeding: Allicin, in rare cases, results in thinning of blood which can lead to bleeding. Therefore, you should consult your doctor before using allicin if you take medicines like warfarin (9).
- Combined effects with medicines: Allicin severely reduce blood glucose and blood pressure in patients taking medications for diabetes and hypertension, respectively.
There are no guidelines that recommend using allicin during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Thus, it would be best to avoid it under these conditions to avoid any unnecessary outcomes.
How Much Allicin Should I Take Daily?
There are no guidelines that fix a daily dose of allicin. But most clinical studies are conducted using a dose between 300 mg to 1500 mg. You can take this amount either from garlic or in the form of tablets. Each clove of garlic has 5 mg to 18 mg of allicin.
You should consult your doctor before using allicin as daily food. Because, in some cases, it can lead to side effects.
Allicin: An Active Component of Garlic
Allicin is present as an active component in garlic (10). Related compounds of allicin are also present in the onion but not in significant amounts. Hence, garlic is the only food containing allicin in quantities sufficient for daily dietary intake.
The next question that usually arises in everyone’s mind is how to use garlic as a food component to avoid any damage to allicin. But, first, you need to understand the effect of freezing and cooking garlic on the allicin.
How Does Freezing Affect Allicin?
Allicin is present in the form of alliin in the garlic. When the garlic is crushed, a chemical reaction converts alliin into active component allicin. Allicin is a stable compound and does not have any influence on freezing. Freezing, however, helps keep the health benefits of allicin intact for longer durations.
Does Cooking Garlic Destroy Allicin?
Cooking the garlic above 60˚C or 140˚F damages allicin, and you will not receive its health benefits. So garlic is most active in its fresh, raw form. Thus, if you want to get the benefits of allicins, it’s better to use them in a natural state rather than cooked.
- Liu DS, Wang SL, Li JM, Liang ES, Yan MZ, Gao W. Allicin improves carotid artery intima-media thickness in coronary artery disease patients with hyperhomocysteinemia. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine. 2017;14(2):1722-1726. doi:10.3892/etm.2017.4698
- García Trejo E, Arellano Buendía A, Sánchez Reyes O, et al. The Beneficial Effects of Allicin in Chronic Kidney Disease Are Comparable to Losartan. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2017;18(9):1980. doi:10.3390/ijms18091980
- Ahmed Nassir Faisal,Zain alabideen almoussawi. The Role of Allicin in Regulating Insulin and Glycemic Level in White Mice with Induced Insulin Resistance. Annals of RSCB [Internet]. 2021Apr.25 [cited 2022May26];:10921-8. Available from: https://www.annalsofrscb.ro/index.php/journal/article/view/3863
- Salehi B, Zucca P, Orhan IE, et al. allicin and health: A comprehensive review. Trends in Food Science & Technology. 2019;86:502-516. doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2019.03.003
- Deng X, Yang P, Gao T, Liu M, Li X. Allicin attenuates myocardial apoptosis, inflammation and mitochondrial injury during hypoxia-reoxygenation: an in vitro study. BMC Cardiovascular Disorders. 2021;21(1). doi:10.1186/s12872-021-01918-6
- Luo R, Fang D, Hang H, Tang Z. The Mechanism in Gastric Cancer Chemoprevention by Allicin. Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry. 2016;16(7):802-809. doi:10.2174/1871520616666151111115443
- Haghi A, Azimi H, Rahimi R. A Comprehensive Review on Pharmacotherapeutics of Three Phytochemicals, Curcumin, Quercetin, and Allicin, in the Treatment of Gastric Cancer. Journal of Gastrointestinal Cancer. 2017;48(4):314-320. doi:10.1007/s12029-017-9997-7
- Clare K. Review of Toxicity of Allicin from Garlic. Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology Research. 2020;3(3):01-02. doi:10.31579/2693-7247/021
- What Is Allicin? Verywell Health. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-allicin-88606#:~:text=Allicin%20is%20one%20of%20the
- Borlinghaus J, Albrecht F, Gruhlke M, Nwachukwu I, Slusarenko A. Allicin: Chemistry and Biological Properties. Molecules. 2014;19(8):12591-12618. doi:10.3390/molecules190812591