New research investigates the potential benefits of this flavourful, pungent-smelling ingredient and whether this natural antiviral contains compounds that are good for fighting coronavirus.
Garlic is an aromatic food used to add flavour to a variety of dishes. In addition to its unique taste, garlic has some chemical compounds that could potentially be beneficial.
Allicin, a sulfur-rich phytochemical found in garlic, has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, and cardioprotective properties as well as modulatory effects on the immune system in previous studies. In addition, garlic is rich in a flavonoid called quercetin. Quercetin is an antioxidant, which means it helps prevent damage from free-radicals.
A 2006 study found that a specific group of man-made chemical compounds appear to inhibit the activity of the SARS-coronavirus 3CL protease (SARS-CoV 3CLpro). The structure of these compounds was based off of the chemical structure of quercetin.
Since the SARS-coronavirus has a similar structure and pathogenesis to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a possibility that quercetin in garlic could be helpful as a natural antiviral in treating COVID-19.
Furthermore, allicin has been shown to inhibit a variety of viruses including the influenza virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1, and both types of the herpes simplex virus. This observation prompted researchers to look into allicin-related compounds found in garlic as potential therapeutic agents for COVID-19, given that it is caused by a specific virus.
The most recent research on the relationship between garlic compounds and COVID-19 was summarized, and the report was published in the BMC Nutrition Journal.
One study had particularly interesting results; in this study, researchers compared the chemical structures of seven different compounds to the chemical structure of the major protease of the novel coronavirus. This was done by a computer software that maps out the structures and estimates how well the chemical and target bind together.
Out of the seven compounds, the allicin-derived compound had the highest binding affinity with the novel coronavirus protease. This means that allicin-based chemical compounds found in garlic bind comparatively well with the major protease of the novel coronavirus.
More research is needed to determine if allicin has antiviral effects against the novel coronavirus specifically.
The findings in this report suggest that garlic or its chemical components could be investigated as a potential supplemental treatment for COVID-19, in addition to another treatment such as remdesivir or hydroxychloroquine, among others.
More research is needed to confirm the significance of these results, and more investigation into the potential benefits of garlic is warranted.
Chen, L., Li, J., Luo, C., et al. (2006). Binding interaction of quercetin-3-b-galactoside and its synthetic derivatives with SARS-CoV 3CLpro: Structure-activity relationship studies reveal salient pharmacophore features. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry 14(24): 8295-8306. Doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2006.09.014
Khubber, S., Hashemifesharaki, R., Mohammadi, M., Taghi Gharibzahedi, S.M. (2020). Garlic (Allium sativum L.): a potential unique therapeutic food rich in organosulfur and flavonoid compounds to fight with COVID-19. BMC Nutrition Journal 19(124). Doi: 10.1186/s12937-020-00643-8
Pandey, P., Khan, F., Kumar, A., et al. (2020). Screening of Potent Inhibitors Against 2019 Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) from Alliumsativum and Allium cepa: An In Silico Approach. Biointerface Research in Applied Chemistry 11(1): 7981-7993. Doi: 10.33263/BRIACI11.79817993
Raman, R., Warwick, K.W. (2020 July 1). Healthline. Accessed 2020 December 29, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/quercetin
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