London: Spicing up your food with garlic can help protect your lungs against infections, suggests new research.
A chemical found in garlic can kill bacteria that cause life-threatening lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that mostly affects the lungs, the study noted.
The chemical - known as allicin - could be an effective treatment against a group of infectious bacteria that is highly resistant to most antibiotics.
"At a time when novel antimicrobial agents are urgently required, chemical and microbiological research has the potential to unlock the rich reservoir of antimicrobial compounds present in plants such as garlic," said professor John Govan from the University of Edinburgh in Britain.
Allicin is produced naturally by garlic bulbs to ward off a closely-related group of plant pathogens found in soil and water habitats.
The bacteria - known as the Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) causes serious and transmissible lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis.
The researchers found that allicin - which can be extracted by crushing raw garlic - inhibits the growth of bacteria.
Allicin kills Bcc bacteria by chemically modifying key enzymes, the researchers noted.
The team believes allicin-containing remedies could be used in combination with existing antibiotics to treat Bcc infections.
The study was published in the journal PLOS one.