Consuming garlic, which contains an active sulphurous compound, can help fight the robust bacteria found in chronic infections like cystic fibrosis, researchers have found.
The findings showed that the sulphurous compound ajoene in garlic appears to offer the most powerful, naturally occurring resistance to bacteria and is able to destroy important components in the bacteria's communication systems, which involve regulatory RNA molecules.
Ajoene also damages the protective slimy matrix surrounding the bacteria, the so-called biofilm.
When the biofilm is destroyed or weakened, both antibiotics and the body's own immune system are able to attack the bacteria more directly and thus remove the infection.
"We really believe this method can lead to treatment of patients, who otherwise have poor prospects, because chronic infections like cystic fibrosis can be very robust," said Tim Holm Jakobsen, assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
"But now we have enough knowledge to further develop the garlic drug and test it on patients."
The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, found that ajoene's has the ability to inhibit small regulatory RNA molecules in two types of bacteria — Staphylococcus aureus (responsible for skin infections) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (known to cause pneumonia, urinary tract infections).
"Both actually belong to two very different bacteria families and are normally fought using different methods. But, the garlic compound is able to fight both bacteria types at once and therefore may prove an effective drug when used together with antibiotics," Jakobsen added.