Sulfur compounds give garlic its pungent odour

Sulfur compounds give garlic its pungent odour

garlic pungent

1] Did anybody felt pungent smell or foul smell coming out from garlic cloves?

2] What is the chemistry behind this smell?

3] What are the chemicals or bioactive compounds present in it?

4] What are the compounds present in garlic which makes them useful in cancer treatment, cholesterol, and body odor control?


Garlic is an herb. It is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor as a seasoning or condiment. Garlic is a fundamental component in many or most dishes of various regions, including eastern Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa, southern Europe, and parts of South and Central America.

Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years.


Garlic contains 0.1-0.36 percent of a volatile oil these volatile compounds are generally considered to be responsible for most of the pharmacological properties of garlic. Garlic contains at least 33 sulfur compounds like

  1. Aliin
  2. Allicin
  3. Ajoene
  4. Allylpropl
  5. Diallyl
  6. Trisulfide
  7. Sallylcysteine
  8. Vinyldithiines
  9. S-allylmercaptocystein etc


The sulfur compounds are responsible both for garlic’s pungent odor and many of its medicinal effects. The odour is formed by the action of the enzyme allinase on the sulfur compound alliin. Besides these sulfur compounds, garlic contains 17 amino acids and their glycosides, arginine, and others. Minerals such as selenium and enzymes like allinase, peroxidases, myrosinase, and others.




Allicin is an organosulfur compound obtained from garlic, a species in the family Alliaceae. It does not exist in garlic until it is crushed or cut. It was first isolated and studied in the laboratory by Chester J. Cavallito and John Hays Bailey in 1944.

It exhibits antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. Allicin is garlic's defense mechanism against attacks by pests



Ajoene is a chemical compound available from garlic. It was first isolated and studied in the laboratory in 1984 by Eric Block, Mahendra K. Jain, Rafael Apitz-Castro and coworkers. Ajoene, an unsaturated disulfide, is formed from a chemical reaction involving two allicin molecules.

Ajoene is a garlic-derived compound produced most efficiently from pure allicin and has the advantage of a greater chemical stability than allicin. It has anti-thrombosis, anti-microbial and cholesterol-lowering activities.

Ajoenes also have the following properties

  1. Antithrombotic (anticlotting) activity in human platelet suspensions
  2. Antitumor activity
  3. Antifungal activity
  4. Inhibits the growth of Aspergillus niger, Candida albicans, Paracoccidioides-brasiliensis, and Fusarium species
  5. Inactivate human gastric lipase
  6. Function as antioxidants by inhibiting the interactions of leukocytes which mediate the release of superoxide anion


The two major compounds in aged garlic

  1. S-allylcysteine (SAC)
  2. S-allylmercapto-L-cysteine

These compounds have the highest radical scavenging activity, lower cholesterol, and blood pressure levels

There are a few compounds like

  1. Diallyl disulfide (DADS)
  2. Diallyl trisulfide (DATS)

These compounds have anti-cancer activity

How to get rid of garlic pungent smell?

  1. Research has shown that drinking milk helps bring down the effect of garlic in our bloodstream and thus reduces the odour from reaching the lungs.
  2. Another way to reduce the effect of garlic is to have parsley and sprigs. This is the reason why parsley and sprigs are combined with garlic in many of the exotic food preparations.










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