Allicin- What Is It and Why You Need It In Your Diet

What is Allicin?

Concentrated allicin is the result of a process which produces living-source allicin from pure garlic extract – for the first time in recent history. Allicin is not garlic, but the fully-potent, active factor in garlic in concentrated form.

When raw garlic cloves are crushed, chopped, or chewed, an enzyme known as alliinase is released. Alliinase catalyzes the formation of sulfenic acids from cysteine sulfoxides. Sulfenic acids spontaneously react with each other to form unstable compounds called thiosulfinates. In the case of alliin, the resulting sulfenic acids react with each other to form a thiosulfinate known as allicin. This is what gives garlic extract with its high allicin content its broad spectrum immune support and immunomodulating properties. Thus, garlic with a high allicin content is known to be a significant immune support agent.

Garlic’s Properties Rediscovered

Garlic is one of the most widely used plants in human history. It’s wide-ranging health benefits date back to use by the pharaohs and many other ancient cultures such as the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Babylonians, and Chinese civilizations.

Currently, garlic is one of the cornerstones of the popular, heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Perhaps one of the world’s healthiest diets, it’s comprised of high amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Garlic may also contribute to the superior cardiovascular health of many individuals living in the Mediterranean area.

The beneficial effects of garlic may be due in part to garlic’s unusual concentration of sulfur-containing compounds (1-3%). For over a century, some of garlic’s key sulfur compounds called allyl sulfides have been known. However, not until 1944 was the chief, highly immune-active compound of garlic discovered: the oxygenated sulfur compound named allicin, derived from the Latin name of the plant, Allium sativum.

The debate about whether allicin existed in a crushed garlic clove vs. its absence in whole, uncrushed cloves was resolved in 1947, when researchers (Stoll and Seebeck) found high amounts of an oxygenated sulfur amino acid present in raw garlic cloves. Alliin was found to be the precursor that is converted to allicin through an enzyme called alliinase, which is also present in garlic cloves.

Although alliin has no antimicrobial properties itself, when a typical garlic clove is crushed, the alliin is transformed using the alliinase enzymes into the biologically active allicin molecule. This process happens within seconds of crushing a clove. Fascinating cross-section studies show that the substrate, alliin, and the enzyme, alliinase, are located in different compartments of the same clove. When the clove is crushed, the alliin and alliinase then come in direct contact with each other to rapidly form allicin.

Supplementing Your Diet With Allicin

Concentrated allicin promotes healthy immune support. If you choose to supplement your diet with allicin, be sure to choose a botanical formula made from high quality garlic extract with notable amounts of allicin.