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Garlic Oil Component May Protect, Treat the Heart

Garlic Oil benefit for heart

It’s hard to mistake the potent aroma of garlic, and the component responsible for the smell of this popular culinary may do more than get your salivary juices flowing. Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine report that an aromatic garlic oil component may release substances that protect and even treat the heart after a cardiac event.


Garlic may have a way with your heart

A compound called hydrogen sulfide is known to protect the heart from damage, but finding a way to administer it as therapy has proved nearly impossible because it is highly unstable and volatile. This challenge led scientists to search for a way to find another substance that could deliver hydrogen sulfide to the heart.

The answer may lie in garlic, according to Emory researchers, who found that diallyl trisulfide, a component of garlic oil, may trigger the release of hydrogen sulfide in individuals who have suffered a heart attack, who are undergoing cardiac surgery, or who require treatment for heart failure.

According to David Lefer, PhD, professor of surgery at Emory and director of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Research Laboratory at Emory University Hospital, Midtown, “We are now performing studies with orally active drugs that release hydrogen sulfide.”

Using mice, Lefer and his associate, postdoctoral fellow Benjamin Predmore, simulated a heart attack in the mice and them administered the garlic oil compound diallyl sulfide just before restoring blood flow. Compared with untreated mice, diallyl sulfide reduced the proportion of damaged heart tissue by 61%.

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When blood flow and oxygen delivery are interrupted during a heart attack, the cells’ energy producers called mitochondria are damaged, and this damage can lead to cell death. Lefer noted that “diallyl sulfide can temporarily turn down the function of mitochondria, preserving them and lowering the production of reactive oxygen species,” which are highly reactive molecules or ions that damage cells.

Diallyl sulfide, along with diallyl trisulfide and diallyl tetrasulfide, is one of the main components found in distilled garlic oil. A number of studies have indicated that the garlic component has anticancer properties, with recent research showing promising results against colon cancer, cervical cancer, and skin cancer in the lab.

Research into the benefits of this garlic oil component in protecting and treating the heart is still in the early stages. This latest study adds to the growing body of literature on the potential benefits of garlic and garlic oil in the prevention and treatment of heart disease and other serious conditions.

Read about herbs for your heart

Cherng JM et al. Photodermatology Photoimmunology and Photomedicine 2011 Jun; 27(3): 138-46
Emory University
Lai KC et al. Environmental Toxicology 2011 Jun 21
Wu PP et al. International Journal of Oncology 2011 Jun; 38(6): 1605-13

Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons