Carmia Borek, PhD
Health benefits of the worlds#1-selling herb confirmed by science.
Modern science confirms that garlic boosts immune cells, zaps disease-causing free radicals and keeps
us young and vital though it's always been rooted in traditional medicine and has been a mainstay in European herbals.
A Bounty Of Compounds
Garlic has hundreds of compounds, but the most important for disease-fighting and anti-aging effects are organosulphur substances. These include water-soluble compounds such as S-allyl cysteine, which has a 90 per cent absorption into the circulation and is best known for its cholesterol-lowering effect. Garlic's fat-soluble compounds, such as allyl sulphides, help the body ward off cancer-causing substances. Nonsulphur substances include proteins, carbohydrates, flavonoids and small amounts of selenium.
Garlic, The Cancer Fighter
Hippocrates knew of garlic's cancer-fighting benefits he is known to have used it in the treatment of cervical cancer. And researchers at China's Nanjing Cancer Institute have found yet more evidence to back him up. Of thousands of people studied, those who ate garlic and other allium vegetables (such as scallions and onions) at least once a week experienced quite startling reductions in rates of esophageal and stomach cancers two of that country's most prevalent cancers. Esophageal cancer risk was reduced by 70 per cent and stomach cancer by 69 per cent. For stopping the growth of breast and prostate cancer cells, new studies have shown that aged garlic extract, which contains a unique compound called S-allyl mercaptocysteine, is very effective.
Ward Off Heart Disease And Stroke
Garlic isn't just for warding off vampires it helps prevent heart disease and stroke, too, sustaining a healthy cardiovascular system by lowering harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. A study published in the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians (1994) found a 12 per cent reduction in total cholesterol after only four weeks of treatment. Consistent cholesterol-lowering effects and reduction in arterial fat streaks have also been reported with Kyolic aged garlic extract. Subjects given 2.4 to 4.8 grams of aged garlic extract daily for six months showed a decrease in total cholesterol and harmful LDL, a reduction in triglycerides, a lowering of blood pressure and an increase in beneficial HDL cholesterol.
Immune Booster In A Bulb
Garlic is a nutritional powerhouse that helps fight infections and cancer by boosting the immune system. In one study, volunteers taking 35 grams daily of fresh garlic for three weeks showed a 139 percent increase in natural killer cells that fight invading viruses and cancer cells.
During the Second World War, when pharmaceuticals were scarce, soldiers were treated with garlic as a natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. Now, in our antibiotic-resistant age, garlic is still effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It even helps destroy Heliobacter pylori, a virulent organism that grows in the stomach and has been linked to ulcers and stomach cancer.
A Youthful Mind
With health and longevity on many people's minds, garlic's anti-aging effects on the brain have been investigated in animals and cells, so far only with aged garlic extract. When mice were fed aged garlic extract or S-allyl cysteine (a key compound in both aged and fresh garlic), they increased their learning ability and memory and also lived longer. Growth and branching of brain cells also increased, which shows that garlic could play a role in boosting memory and cognition.
Fresh Cloves And Supplements
Garlic is a wonderful source of healthful substances. Add the cloves to your meals and enjoy the flavour and benefits. Sometimes, though, large amounts of fresh bulbs may cause gastric problems and the socially awkward side-effect of garlic breath! One solution for garlic breath is to try eating a sprig of parsley after eating garlic. You can also avoid it by taking garlic supplements.
Three kinds of supplements are available. Garlic powder, made from dried cloves, provides a good dose of oil-soluble organosulphur compounds. Choose a standardized high-allicin powder and take with fish or flax oil for best absorption. Garlic oil is made by steam distillation and is mixed with vegetable oil to reduce odour. Aged garlic extract, available as the brand Kyolic, is aged to produce high amounts of S-allyl cysteine and S-allyl mercaptocysteine. Because it's highly standardized, much of the information on garlic's benefits have been from recent studies using Kyolic. Whatever your choice, seek a reliable manufacturer to be sure of high quality control, as well as a product that's standardized by a stable compound.
For centuries, garlic has adorned many a kitchen in long, braided garlands, ready for plucking and popping into a healthful meal. Revered by the ancient Egyptians and celebrated in festivals around the globe ever since, we can also look forward to a future of learning more about this wonderful herb and how it boosts good health.