Skin anti-inflammatory properties of black garlic

Recently, a Korean team of nutrition researchers conducted a study on mice to demonstrate the effect of black garlic on topical inflammation.

As protection, a small amount of black garlic extract was applied once a day for seven days to an area of ​​skin. The mice were then treated to induce contact dermatitis, causing swelling and redness.

Twenty-four hours after the irritant treatment, the researchers evaluated the extent of the inflammation by measuring the thickness of the skin as well as the concentration of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), markers of inflammation serving as communication between cells. Mice that received black garlic extract were significantly protected from inflammation, achieving results almost similar to mice that did not receive treatment to induce dermatitis.

In order to learn more about the anti-inflammatory mechanism of black garlic, the authors continued their analysis with purified cultures of macrophages. Macrophages are immune cells that can, among other things, secrete pro-inflammatory proteins such as IL-6 and TNF-α. These signaling proteins have the ability to attract other immune cells to the site of inflammation. By adding different concentrations of black garlic extract to these macrophage cultures, the authors highlighted that in proportion to its concentration, black garlic inhibits the secretion of pro-inflammatory proteins in macrophages. They also demonstrated that the inhibitory effect of black garlic was not due to toxicity on the macrophage itself.

Topically applied, black garlic seems to exert a significant anti-inflammatory effect, which can be partly explained by the inhibition of the activation of macrophages. In mice, seven days are enough to provide significant protection against an irritant agent in contact with the skin.

You BR, Yoo JM, Baek SY, Kim MR. Anti-inflammatory effect of aged black garlic on 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-induced dermatitis in mice. Nutr Res Pract. 2019 Jun;13(3):189-195.