Garlic, Allium sativum, is a member of the lily family that has been cultivated by humans as a food plant for over 10,000 years. It has been the bane of fictional vampires for hundreds of years and a folk remedy for thousands of years. Since the 1980s, science has been discovering that garlic does, in fact, have numerous medicinal properties. Ironically, one of those properties is that it acts as a blood thinner.

Ajoene, an unsaturated sulfoxide disulfide, is the principal chemical responsible for garlic’s anticoagulant properties. It is a component of allicin, a sulfinyl compound that gives garlic its strong odor and flavor. Ajoene is currently being developed as a pharmaceutical for the treatment of blood clotting disorders. As a naturally occurring “nutriceutical”, this potent phytochemical might reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.

In addition, ajoene also has been found to have effective antimicrobial properties, inhibiting the growth of both bacteria and fungi.