Sunday, 25 May 2014

Garlic: Ancient Cure Backed by Science

For more than 4,000 years, garlic has been used as medicine. Athletes at the first Olympics in ancient Greece ate it to enhance performance, and both Greek and Roman soldiers believed it boosted strength and courage. More recently, scientists have been finding that the odiferous bulb can keep us in good health, and more than 3,800 scientific articles have been published about garlic since 1945.

Eating one or two cloves each day is one option, but it may not appeal to your taste buds – or to those within smelling distance.

Odorless Alternative
Supplements are a simple alternative. One particular type of supplement — aged garlic extract — has been studied more than any other. Made from organically grown garlic and aged without the use of heat, it’s odorless and proven to help the heart, improve resistance to colds, reduce damage to blood vessels from elevated blood sugar or diabetes, and reduce risk for colorectal cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.

Heart Help
Studies have shown that aged garlic extract lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. But its greatest benefit may be reducing arterial plaque, also called calcification of arteries, which many integrative physicians believe to be the most reliable predictor of ill health and death from heart disease.

Dr. Matthew Budoff, a cardiologist, researcher, and associate professor of medicine at the UCLA School of Medicine, is an expert in scanning technology that measures plaque in arteries. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, he examined the effects of aged garlic extract on people with heart disease who were taking statins.

“I found that the amount of calcification in the arteries of a person with elevated cholesterol can increase by 40 percent in one year,” he says. “Yet, when my team and I gave patients 1,200 mg of aged garlic extract a day, they slowed the growth of their plaque by 66 percent in one year.”
There were no adverse interactions between the statin medications and the garlic supplement. However, statins taken alone without garlic supplementation did not stop growth of arterial plaque.

Other research shows these benefits:

Reducing colds and flu: In a study at the University of Florida, compared to a placebo, people who took 2,500 mg of aged garlic extract daily for 90 days suffered 61 percent fewer days with a cold or flu. Tests showed that the supplement boosted resistance by making immune cells work more efficiently. 

Preventing Alzheimer’s disease: Researchers at several leading universities, including Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, have concluded that aged garlic extract counteracts development of Alzheimer’s disease by improving circulation, reducing inflammation, and helping to prevent the formation of brain plaques. 

Protecting against colorectal cancers: Animal and human studies show that eating garlic or taking aged garlic extract reduces risk for colon and rectal cancers, and the supplement may help to reduce colon cancer progression. 

Helping diabetics: Elevated blood sugar, with or without diabetes, produces harmful substances known as advanced glycation endproducts, a combination of protein and sugar molecules that damages blood vessels and, among diabetics, leads to complications. Aged garlic extract inhibits the formation of these substances. “I think aged garlic extract should be right alongside your multivitamins every day. It’s that important,” says Dr. Budoff. “It could save your life.”
A widely recommended dosage is 1,200 mg a day. Many experts believe it is best to take garlic in two or three doses with meals spread out through the day. 

Aged Garlic Benefits in Clinical Studies
Studies have shown that aged garlic supplements improve crucial markers for good health. Below are some of the benefits found by researchers in recent years. 

Health Marker

• Platelets sticking to artery walls
34-58 percent
• Platelet clumping
10-25 percent
• LDL cholesterol
5-12 percent
• Total cholesterol
6-31 percent
• Triglycerides
10-19 percent
• Blood pressure
6-8 percent

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