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Allicin is the superfood that no one is talking about because it’s not ‘trendy’ enough.

Forget expensive superfoods that aren’t worth the hype or your money. What if the answer to monitoring cholesterol levels, beating MRSA, fighting hay fever, acne, the common cold, detoxing carcinogens, treating chronic Lyme disease and boosting the immune system to name a few, was in an everyday kitchen staple?

Garlic and its extracts have been used to treat infections for thousands of years dating back to Ancient Egypt. While allicin technically can be found in garlic, simple garlic consumption does not ensure allicin’s absorption in the body. Researchers are still debating how much raw garlic would have to be consumed to ensure consistent allicin levels as the compound is ‘unstable and short-lived’.

Allicin is not present in whole, fresh garlic. It only accrues when the garlic plant is under threat (under bacterial or fungal attack or crushed). Stored in different compartments, an amino acid – alliin – and an enzyme –allinase – upon an attack are combined and construct allicin. The garlic clove is then water flushed, which flashes the allicin out of the crushed garlic. Then the water is then dried out and the leftover allicin is stabilised.

A total of 846 cases of MRSA bacteraemia were reported by acute NHS Trusts in England between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018. This is an increase of 2.5% from 2016/17. MRSA has become resistant to most types of antibiotics, and up to 20% of patients with invasive infections die. Studies from from 2008 and 2005 showed significant improvements in treating MRSA infections with most participants having received unsuccessful treatment with antibiotics for months or years prior by taking stabilised allicin in a pill form or applying topically as a cream.

The common cold is the world’s most widespread viral infection – with more than 200 virus strains causing it. The flu season usually commences at the start of October and following through to mid-March. January 2018’s flu outbreak broke records with a rise of 150% since the start of the year, it is projected to grow as the flu season begins. A study carried out in 2001 showed amongst 146 participants (73 active and 73 placebo participants) only 24 colds were recorded among those taking a regular allicin supplement in the active group and 65 in the placebo group.

Studies showing the benefits of consuming allicin have been around for years, however, while the popularity of the allicin supplements has been slowly growing it’s nowhere near as well marketed as other more popular superfoods.

Theresa Cutts from Allicin Ltd has a theory: “With supplements, things come in and out of fashion. So right now, all the big news is the superfoods, the chia seeds, the blueberries. Where garlic is a bit old fashioned, it’s been there for a long time so it’s not trendy enough at the moment.”

Registered associate nutritionist, Oonagh Trehin, warns against ‘one miracle food cure-all attitude.’

“The best thing we can all do for health is aim for a varied diet. No food is super – all foods serve a purpose in the diet,” she told.

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