Garlic bioactive substances and their therapeutic applications for improving human health: a comprehensive review

Front Immunol. 2024 Jun 10:15:1277074. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2024.1277074. eCollection 2024.


Garlic (Allium sativum L.) is a widely abundant spice, known for its aroma and pungent flavor. It contains several bioactive compounds and offers a wide range of health benefits to humans, including those pertaining to nutrition, physiology, and medicine. Therefore, garlic is considered as one of the most effective disease-preventive diets. Many in vitro and in vivo studies have reported the sulfur-containing compounds, allicin and ajoene, for their effective anticancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, immune-boosting, and cardioprotective properties. As a rich natural source of bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides, saponins, tannins, linalool, geraniol, phellandrene, β-phellandrene, ajoene, alliin, S-allyl-mercapto cysteine, and β-phellandrene, garlic has many therapeutic applications and may play a role in drug development against various human diseases. In the current review, garlic and its major bioactive components along with their biological function and mechanisms of action for their role in disease prevention and therapy are discussed.

Keywords: Allium sativum; bioactive compounds; functional foods; human diseases; human health; mechanisms of action; toxicity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Disulfides
  • Garlic* / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology
  • Phytochemicals / therapeutic use
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Sulfinic Acids / pharmacology
  • Sulfinic Acids / therapeutic use


  • Plant Extracts
  • Antioxidants
  • Phytochemicals
  • allicin
  • Sulfinic Acids
  • Disulfides

Grants and funding

The author(s) declare financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. This project was funded by the Khalifa Center for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering-UAEU (Grant number: 12R028) to SAQ. The authors are grateful to the Deanship of Scientific Research at King Khalid University for funding this work through the large group research project under grant number (R.G.P.2/326/45).