An analysis of five studies, reported last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicates that eating one-half to one clove of garlic a day reduced cholesterol levels by 9%. Another study in Circulation, the prestigious journal sponsored by the American Heart Association, suggests that garlic may help maintain the elasticity of aging blood vessels. (Blood vessels, like old rubber bands, lose their stretchiness with time. This is why many elderly people have high blood pressure.) In the Circulation study, the average garlic intake was equivalent to a little less than half a medium garlic clove a day. Other studies have shown garlic may lower high blood pressure, retard the growth of certain bacteria, reduce the risk of breast, stomach and colon cancers, serve as a diuretic, and help in the long-term treatment of intermittent claudication (restricted leg blood flow that causes pain while walking).
Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used as both a food and a medicine since before written history. Sanskrit records of garlic use date back 5000 years, while garlic use was recorded in the Chinese Tang Dynasty 3000 years ago and by an Egyptian medical text that is 3500 years old. In 1844 Theodor Wertheim, a German chemist, distilled a pungent substance from garlic and called it allyl, the Latin name for garlic. Four years later, Louis Pasteur showed that allyl could inhibit the growth of bacteria.
One hundred years later in 1948, Arnold Stoll and Ewald Seebeck, researchers at Sandoz Company in Switzerland showed that garlic does not have its characteristic smell until the garlic bulb is crushed. Only then does it form Allicin, the chemical responsible for garlic odor. Sandoz however abandoned further garlic research because they decided that nobody would take allicin to treat infections due to its offensive odor.
The chemistry of garlic is complex. Garlic has been analyzed and found to contain 33 sulfur compounds, 17 amino acids (including all essential amino acids), as well as the minerals germanium, calcium, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc, and the A, B and C vitamins.
Garlic's preventative and medicinal benefits derive primarily from the sulfur-bearing compounds it contains, which are also responsible for its characteristic odor and flavor. Intact garlic cells contain an odorless, sulfur-bearing amino acid derivative known as alliin. When the garlic cells are crushed, alliin comes into contact with the enzyme alliinase located in neighboring cells and is converted to allicin. Allicin, which is highly unstable, is none the less the best measure of the total activity of garlic since it, in turn, results in the formation of other active principles of garlic.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease.
© 2005 Werum Enterprises, Inc. This information is intended for Doctor's use only; please, no reproduction or publication without permission.