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Home > Health Category Library > Garlic

Garlic
(Allium sativum)

Description

Garlic has been used since ancient times for the treatment of many ailments, including parasites, respiratory problems, poor digestion, and low energy. The use of garlic has been mentioned in the Bible and the Talmud, by Hippocrates, Galen, Pliny the Elder, and Dioscorides. It has been used in China since A.D. 510.

Intact raw garlic cells contain alliin (an amino acid) and alliinase (an enzyme). When garlic is cut or crushed, alliin and alliinase immediately react together to produce the pungent substance allicin. Allicin has strong cytocidal (cell-killing) effects and kills all sorts of cells including pathogenic bacteria.

If crushed garlic is left to stand even for a short time, the allicin quickly disappears, because it is a highly unstable compound.

CHEMISTRY OF AGED GARLIC

Cold-ageing involves taking the highest quality organically-grown garlic, slicing it without acid or heat, and placing it in large stainless steel tanks to be left for twenty months.

During this cold-ageing period, allicin is converted to extremely valuable compounds that do not naturally occur with traditional/commercial processing methods.

Finally the garlic is extracted to harvest mainly water - and some oil-soluble compounds. An extra bonus is that the end product is completely odourless.

Differences in garlic -
Fresh raw garlic in excessive amounts can be irritating to the mouth and digestive tract. Fresh cooked garlic contains some beneficial compounds but also products from the chemical breakdown that can cause an odour. Cooked garlic can be less irritating to the mouth and digestive tract than raw garlic.

Differences in garlic product -
Garlic oil
- Made from garlic which has been distilled at high temperatures to extract the oil, which is mixed with vegetable or soya oil and made into capsules; or mixed with tabletting agents and made into tablets. The volatile compounds can be odorous. Rich in oil-soluble compounds.
Macerated garlic
- Mashed garlic infused with vegetable oil, which then takes up the oil-soluble compounds from the garlic. Can be odorous.
Dried garlic powder
- Sliced or crushed garlic is dried and may be made into tablets; or combined with vegetable oil and made into capsules. It contains oil and water-soluble compounds. Can be odorous.
Aged garlic extract
- Organically grown garlic is harvested, minced and left in stainless steel tanks to age for 20 months. This process is known as cold Aging bio-conversion. Yields valuable water and oil-soluble compounds, especially S-allyl cysteine and S-allyl mercaptocysteine. This results in a naturally odourless garlic product with no toxic side effects.

Suggested Intakes

Very many research papers have demonstrated the therapeutic benefits of cold-aged garlic - normally at levels of around 1000 mg per day. Lower intakes (such as 100mg, 300mg, 350mg, 600mg) are to be used for maintenance of general good health, rather than tackling existing ailments.

Supplemental Uses

Heart Health:
Cold-aged garlic can help to decrease total and LDL cholesterol, whilst HDL cholesterol remains unaffected (1). At first total cholesterol rises as it is mobilised from deposits in the blood vessels, but later it falls to below the original level. Garlic is believed to lower cholesterol levels by slowing its synthesis by the liver. Garlic may also lower triglyceride levels, slow blood coagulation (2), as well as prevent platelets from aggregating. It has mild antihypertensive properties (3).

Protection Against Free Radicals and Oxidation:
Raw garlic is actually an oxidant rather than an antioxidant. However the cold-ageing process reverses this and turns garlic into a strong antioxidant (4). Studies have shown that regular garlic consumption reduces the risk of oesophageal, stomach, and colon cancer (5). Garlic may reduce the formation of carcinogenic compounds. Studies also show that garlic may inhibit cancer growth, especially the growth of breast and Skin tumours.

Immune System:
Aged garlic has been shown to boost the activity of the body’s natural killer cells and many other aspects of the Immune System (6).

Candida:
Aged garlic can increase the speed of clearance of Candida albicans cells from the body (7). Candida albicans is a yeast organism that can over-grow in the digestive tract causing digestive upset, Bloating, Thrush etc). Garlic may be beneficial to those who experience recurrent yeast infections.

Digestive Health:
Aged garlic extract encourages the growth of the beneficial bacteria (L. acidophilus and B. bifidum) which produce both acid and antibacterial factors and also decrease the growth of pathogens and thereby protect the intestinal tract (8).

Respiratory Problems:
Aged garlic is suitable for use in catarrhal, respiratory or bronchial conditions.

Heavy Metals:
Aged garlic extract assists in the removal of heavy metals from the blood which would otherwise damage body cells (9).

Safety

Aged garlic has been extensively toxicity tested, and no amount of it seems to cause side effects. However, garlic may cause Heartburn and flatulence in some sensitive individuals.

Interactions and Contra-Indications

Aged garlic extract has no known drug interactions or contra-indications. However, this does not apply to all garlic preparations.

Garlic may interact with alkaloids, colchicine, dopamine receptor agonists, coumarin anticoagulants, and anorectic drugs (fenfluramine).

Avoid use with methotrimeprzine, a CNS depressant analgesic, and antituberculous drugs.

Sedatives, hypnotics, and beta-adrenergic blocking agents may inhibit garlic’s anti-inflammatory activity.

References

1. Steiner M & Lin RI Cardiovascular and Lipid Changes in Response to Aged Garlic Extract Ingestion. J Am Coll Nutr, 13;5:524, 1994.
2. Legnani C, Frascaro M, et al. Effects of a dried garlic preparation on fibrinolysis and platelet aggregation in healthy subjects. Arzneim-Forsch Drug Res 1993;43:119-22.
3. Silagy C, Neil A. A meta-analysis of the effect of garlic on blood pressure. J Hyperten 1994;12(4):463-68.
4. Imai J, et al. Antioxidant and Radical Scavenging Effects of Aged Garlic Extract and Its Constituents. Planta Medica, 60:417-420, 1994,
5. Dorant E, van der Brandt PA, et al. Garlic and its significance for the prevention of cancer in humans: A critical review. Br J Cancer 1993;67:424-29.
6. Kandil OM, Abdullah TH, & Elkadi A. Garlic and the Immune System in humans: its effects on Natural Killer cells. Fed Proc, 46;3:441, 1987.
7. Tadi PP et al. Anticandidal and Anticarcinogenic Potentials of Garlic. Int Clinical Nutr Rev, ,10:423-429, 1990.
8. Growth Stimulatory Effect of Aged Garlic Extract Protein Fraction on Friendly Bacteria. Kokai Tokkyo Koho, Japanese Patent H1-252276.
9. Lau BHS. Detoxifying, Radio-protective and Phagocyte-Enhancing Effects of Garlic. Int Clinical Nutr Rev ,9:27-31, 1989.

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