WASHINGTON - People tend to love garlic or hate it, but few probably associate it with pain. Nonetheless, it turns out that pain-sensing nerves respond to the sulfur-based chemicals in garlic.
Indeed, the same mechanism the body uses to react to the sharpness of chili peppers and hot mustards like wasabi is the one that detects garlic, according to a study in Tuesday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
David Julius of the department of cellular and molecular pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco, said the finding was made during research on the mechanisms of pain sensation.
Garlic, sometimes called the stinking rose, belongs to the group of plants called allium, which also includes onions, leeks, chives and shallots. All of them produce sulfur-based compounds that make them pungent. One, called allicin, actives the set of pain sensors and is especially prominent in garlic.