Allicin and allicin-derived garlic compounds increase breath acetone through allyl methyl sulfide: use in measuring allicin bioavailability

J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Mar 23;53(6):1974-83. doi: 10.1021/jf048323s.


Progress in establishing systemic pharmacological effects for fresh, crushed garlic (Allium sativum L) in humans has been hindered by (1) the inability to measure allicin bioavailability, (2) lack of direct evidence that allicin has significant systemic activity at doses of garlic normally consumed, and (3) lack of a model for an acute effect. We have addressed these problems by quantifying the increases in breath acetone and breath allyl methyl sulfide (AMS). The area under the 48 h curve was measured in humans after consumption of standardized garlic preparations, allicin, and allicin-derived compounds, at the equivalent of 7 g of crushed garlic. It was shown that the allyl thiosulfinates (mainly allicin) are solely responsible for breath AMS and increased breath acetone. Diallyl trisulfide, diallyl disulfide, ajoene, and S-allylmercaptocysteine, at isomolar dithioallyl, showed the same quantitative effects as allicin. Consumption of AMS at isomolar allyl also gave the same effects as allicin, indicating that AMS is the main metabolite of allicin and is an active metabolite. In conclusion, allicin and allicin-derived compounds are rapidly metabolized to AMS, a compound which stimulates the production of acetone and which can be used to measure the bioavailability of allicin and, hence, the ability of garlic supplements to represent fresh garlic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetone / analysis*
  • Allyl Compounds / analysis*
  • Biological Availability
  • Breath Tests*
  • Garlic / chemistry*
  • Sulfides / analysis*
  • Sulfinic Acids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Sulfinic Acids / pharmacology*


  • Allyl Compounds
  • Sulfides
  • Sulfinic Acids
  • Acetone
  • allicin
  • allyl methyl sulfide