RESEARCH SUMMARY – GARLIC (Allium Sativum)
Garlic has been used for thousands of years both as a food and as a medicine. Most people around the world, especially those known for their excellent health and long life, have used garlic extensively in their daily diets.
Today, many countries often rely on garlic in the treatment of tuberculosis, bronchial disorders, lupus, pulmonary gangrene, and inflammation of the trachea. Garlic is widely known as "Russian penicillin," because Russian physicians have long used it for respiratory disorders, giving children with whooping cough garlic ingredients via inhalation. Russians have also used garlic preparations for flu, sore throats, and mouth sores.
Garlic is probably the most widely recognized medicinal herb. Much has been written on the healing effects of garlic and new studies are continually being published throughout the world. Garlic is one of the most researched plant medicines.
Daily use of garlic in the diet has been shown to have beneficial effects on the body, especially the blood system and the heart. Scientific data reveals that garlic reduces glucose metabolism in diabetics, slows the development of arteriosclerosis and lowers the risk of heart attacks. Without a doubt, garlic provides the body with protection against cardiovascular disease.
The Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association publicly acknowledged garlic's potential in helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.
While early research was focused on the effectiveness of garlic for lowering cholesterol, new research shows data on a specific extract of garlic, referred to as aged garlic extract (garlic that is aged over a prolonged period of time) with very promising results for protecting the arteries from injury associated with oxidative damage.
Naturally occurring oxidative processes within our body play an important role in aging and disease, including cardiovascular, neuro-degenerative, inflammatory diseases and cancer.
Aged garlic extract has been shown to protect arteries (through its antioxidant properties), meaning it stops the free radicals (unstable molecules) that can cause damage to the arteries. Often, when left unchecked free radicals can result in hardening of the arteries and heart disease.
Aged garlic extract has been shown to protect against oxidant-induced disease, acute damage from aging, radiation and chemical exposure, and long-term toxic damage.
Garlic preparations have been shown to lower serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which are major risk factors of cardiovascular diseases, through inhibition of their bio-synthesis in the liver, and to inhibit oxidation of Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL).
Protecting LDL cholesterol from free radical-induced oxidation is one way to prevent from developing of atherosclerosis. Oxidized LDL injures cells that line blood vessels, which increases plaque-forming cholesterol deposits in the vessel wall. Aged garlic extract has been shown to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation and prevent cell injury in the blood vessels.
Exposure to toxic substances lowers body’s glutathione levels. Aged garlic extract, by its antioxidant action, enhances the cellular antioxidant enzymes and increases glutathione in the cells. Scientists and nutritionally oriented physicians believe that maintaining high levels of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant used by cells throughout the body, may well be equated with good health.
CONSTITUENTS OF GARLIC
- Antioxidant phytochemicals that include organosulfur compounds
- Flavonoids - such as allixin, which are capable of scavenging free radicals
- Trace elements: such as germanium (normalizer and immunostimulant), selenium (selenium is required for optimal function of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase)
- Volatile oil containing sulphur compounds
- Amino acids
- Other bio-active compounds
More research indicates that garlic:
- Increases blood levels of antioxidant enzymes
- Acts as an effective antioxidant against the oxidative damage caused by nicotine
- Protects vascular cells from oxidant injury, protects blood vessels
- Prevents LDL cholesterol oxidation
- Lowers undesirable LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Increases desirable HDL-cholesterol levels
- Minimizes or prevents elevations in blood lipids in humans after consumption of a high-fat / cholesterol meal
- Prevents and possibly has a curative role in arteriosclerosis therapy (plaque regression)
- Inhibits lipid peroxidation in the liver, retarding the aging process in liver cells
- Maintains health function of the liver
- Inhibits Candida albicans in animal studies and Cryptococcal meningitis in human trials
GARLIC AND THERAPEUTIC USES
Garlic and its preparations, such as aged garlic extract, have been widely recognized as agents for prevention and treatment of:
- Cardiovascular and other metabolic diseases
- Atherosclerosis - hardening and/or thickening of the arteries, a process in which deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and other substances that build up in the inner lining of an artery
- Hyperlipidemia - an elevation of lipids (fats) in the bloodstream
- Thrombosis - formation of a blood clot within a deep vein
- Hypertension - condition in which blood pressure is persistently elevated
- Microbial infections
Aged garlic extract – liver and cancer
Another priceless benefit of garlic for health and long life is liver protection. In this regard, many of the studies are on aged garlic.
Garlic is a powerful detoxifying agent that can protect against various liver toxins. In an experimental study, garlic protected against acetaminophen induced liver toxicity. This means that individuals who are taking Tylenol® may find garlic is beneficial.
In addition to its liver and heart-protective activity, garlic may also provide protection against cancer by mobilizing the effectiveness of the body's immune system.
Population studies in China and Italy found that the incidence of stomach cancer is lower in people who eat garlic generously.
People who eat garlic at least once a week have a significantly lower risk of colon cancer:
RECENT RESEARCH SUGGESTS THAT IT IS LIKELY A WIDE VARIETY OF ENZYMES AND COMPOUNDS THAT GIVE GARLIC, AND PRODUCTS DERIVED FROM GARLIC, ITS HEALING PROPERTIES
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