- An ingredient in garlic may offer one of the best defences against
hospital superbugs, research shows. The compound is said to be effective even
against highly resistant strains of the notorious MRSA bug, which has claimed
Tests by Dr
Ron Cutler, a microbiologist, showed it can cure patients with MRSA-infected
wounds "within days", he said. Allicin, which occurs naturally in
garlic, not only killed known varieties of MRSA, but also new superbug
generations resistant to "last-resort" antibiotics such as
vancomycin. The findings will be published in the Journal of Biomedical
Science in the new year.
from the University of East London, said: "Antibiotics are increasingly
ineffective [against MRSA]. Plant compounds have evolved over millions of
years as chemical defence agents against infection. Garlic has been used in
medicine for centuries."
Staphylococcus aureus) causes 2,000 deaths in UK hospitals each year, mainly
by infecting surgical wounds. Dr Cutler is starting clinical trials.
bear's garlic contains a large number of sulphur compounds: divinyl
sulfide, dimethyl thiosulfonate, methyl cyctein sulfoxid and the latter's
degradation products, methyl allyl thiosulfonate and methanethiol.
English ramson (Old English hramsan) is of unclear origin;
cognates are found in several Germanic languages (e.g., Swedish ramslök)
and in the Balto-Slavic subfamily (e.g., Lithuanian kermuse
and Russian ceremsha). There are, however, a few possibly
related words in other Indo-European tongues: Greek krómmyon
and maybe Welsh craf "garlic".
The Latin species name, ursinum, was derived from
Latin ursus "bear"; cf. also German Bärlauch
"bear's leek" and French ail des ours
"bear's garlic". I do not know what the associations with bears
are motivated by.
All Germanic tongues avoid, for fear of the dangerous animal, the true
name of the bear: English bear, German Bär,
Swedish björn and others are euphemisms and simply mean
"the brown one", being derived from an Indo-European root BHER-
"brown"; an alternative, yet less plausible, explanation relates
bear to Greek theér "animal" and Latin ferus
"wild" (Indo-European GHWER- "beast").
The true Indo-European name of the bear is RKSOS, probably meaning
"destroyer"; it appears in Latin ursus and
Greek árktos "bear"; the latter term was also
used to denote the constellation Great Bear (also known as the Great
Dipper) and thus became a general term for "north".
Bear's garlic, growing wild in fens and river woods of
Central Europe, is much used in local cuisines, but since it cannot be
cultivated, it has not gained any superregional importance.
In spring, the leaves are collected and used raw to flavour spreads based
on cottage cheese, soups and sauces. Dried leaves usually exhibit a very faint
odour and should, if ever, used in liberal amounts. On the other side, they
are better preserved by preparing a pesto-like sauce (see
or simply by freezing.