According to results from a study published in Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, a compound in garlic is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics at fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, one of the most common causes of intestinal illness. The discovery opens the door to new treatments for raw and processed meats and food preparation surfaces.
Campylobacter is simply the most common bacterial cause of food-borne illness in the world, causing symptoms including diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and fever. The bacteria also are responsible for triggering nearly one-third of the cases of a rare paralyzing disorder known as Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Scientists looked at the ability of the garlic-derived compound, diallyl sulfide, to kill the bacterium when it is protected by a slimy biofilm that makes it 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than the free floating bacterial cell. They found the compound can easily penetrate the protective biofilm and kill bacterial cells by combining with a sulfur-containing enzyme, subsequently changing the enzyme's function and effectively shutting down cell metabolism.
The researchers found the diallyl sulfide was as effective as 100 times as much of the antibiotics erythromycin and ciprofloxacin and often would work in a fraction of the time. Diallyl sulfide would be useful in cleaning industrial food processing equipment and as a natural preservative in packaged foods.