The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 11 No. 1 • January 2008

Hydrogen Sulfide Is Responsible for the Vasoactivity of Garlic

“The consumption of garlic is inversely correlated with the progression of cardiovascular disease . . .”1 A very recent paper1 reports that the gas hydrogen sulfide, produced by red blood cells from garlic-derived organic polysulfides, is responsible for the vasoactivity (arterial relaxation) effects of garlic. Hydrogen sulfide is a gas naturally produced in the body that acts as a signaling molecule. The authors of the new paper found that the vasoactivity of garlic was synchronous with hydrogen sulfide yield. Interestingly, glutathione and other thiols (including cysteine and N-acetylcysteine) reacted directly in the absence of red blood cells to liberate hydrogen sulfide from garlic.

The amino acid cysteine (found in our Root Food II™ and Party Pill II™) is a precursor to the formation of hydrogen sulfide in the body. Hydrogen sulfide has been shown to relax vascular smooth muscle, induce vasodilation of isolated blood vessels, and reduce blood pressure. Moreover, donors of hydrogen sulfide inhibit leukocyte adherence in the rat mesenteric microcirculation during vascular inflammation, suggesting that hydrogen sulfide is a powerful anti-inflammatory.2

In fact, a very recent paper3 reports that nematodes grown continuously in air containing 50 ppm of hydrogen sulfide (0.005%) had a longer mean lifespan (9.6 days greater than the untreated worms); an average of 77% of hydrogen sulfide-treated worms were still alive when all untreated animals had died. In addition, the hydrogen sulfide-treated animals had increased tolerance to high temperatures. Improved thermotolerance, if it also occurs in humans, could be very useful during heat waves.


  1. Benavides et al. Hydrogen sulfide mediates the vasoactivity of garlic. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104(46):17977-82 (2007).
  2. Lefer. A new gaseous signaling molecule emerges: cardioprotective role of hydrogen sulfide. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104(46):17907-8 (2007).
  3. Miller and Roth. Hydrogen sulfide increases thermotolerance and lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104(51):20618-22 (2007).

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