More power in garlic by Dato Dr. Rajen M

From treating colds to acne, garlic has been discovered as a potential drug to fight cancer and heart disease

It is so pungent that it is supposed to even keep vampires at bay. But the humble garlic that is probably sitting in your kitchen cabinet certainly keeps diseases at bay. Garlic is truly unique. It is food, spice and most, importantly herb - and maybe one day soon, a powerful pharmaceutical drug. It is indeed a pharmaceutical goldmine. It has countless sulfur compounds that we keep discovering that can do magical things when they reach targets in the tissues and organs. Let us understand garlic a little.

Long History
Garlic, recognized for its healing powers in ancient times, is now being rediscovered by medical scientists, who have new evidence of its efficacy against cancer and heart disease. Dr. Richard Rivlin, of NewYork- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, is guest co-editor of a special March peer-reviewed supplemental issue to The Journal of Nutrition. The issue comprises 35 articles representing the latest research on garlic -- findings that were first presented at a symposium held last year at Georgetown University.

"Medical texts from China, India, Egypt, Greece and Italy mention medical applications of garlic," says Dr. Rivlin, professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, attending physician at NewYork- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and director of the Nutrition Center at the Strang Cancer Prevention Laboratory. "Cultures that developed independently came to the same general conclusions, namely, that garlic could be administered to provide strength and to increase work capacity. Hippocrates, considered the Father of Medicine, used garlic as an essential component of one of his therapies."

Complementary Medicine
Dr. Rivlin believes that while much promising research has been made pointing to the disease-preventive and therapeutic effects of garlic, at the present time, it should be considered complementary medicine, not alternative therapy. "The rapid pace of advances in garlic research provides increasing evidence that garlic has significant potential as a complement to established therapies." Garlic's health benefits and medicinal properties have long been known.

Garlic has long been considered a herbal "wonder drug", with a reputation in folklore for preventing everything from the common cold and flu to the feared plague! It has been used extensively in herbal medicine. Raw garlic is used by some to treat the symptoms of acne, fungal infection and there is some evidence that it can assist in managing high cholesterol levels.

New Compounds
Recently exciting compounds in garlic have been shown to have powerful effects on prevention of cardiovascular disease linked to the metabolic syndrome or better known as Syndrome X. These compounds are vinyldithiins and sulfides.

These vinyldithiins sulfides (particularly dillyldisulfide and triallytrisulfide) have a powerful effect in inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase - the enzyme implicated in cholesterol synthesis. Indeed, many major cholesterol lowering drugs work by also inhibiting this same enzyme.

Vinyldithiins, in particular, have strong potential as antithrombotic (anti clot forming agents). In the field of molecular biology, the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) are a group of nuclear receptor proteins that function as transcription factors regulating the expression of genes. PPARs play essential roles in the regulation of cellular differentiation, development, and metabolism (carbohydrate, lipid, protein), and tumorigenesis of higher organisms. PPARs have a powerful indirection on insulin and inflammation.

Vinyldithiins have the ability to affect PPARs in the liver by up to 40%. This ultimately affects the deposit of fats in the cells and in critical organs. It may also help quell inflammation and improve the overall symptoms of Syndrome X.

Belgian Research
Research on this newer valuable compounds found in garlic is making great progress not in China or India where is popularly consumed but in the heart of Europe. Indeed, much work happens in leading agricultural universities in Belgium.

Belgian scientists have recently developed superior high yielding varieties of garlic. These new varieties yield higher actives of garlic like vinyldithiins and sulfides.

Again, these compounds which are also pungent are easily lost as they are volatile. This especially so when they are subjected to higher heat and pressures that typical extraction protocols would expect.

As such, the garlic mixture is extracted using super critical fluid extraction technology. Instead of using water or alcohol are room or higher temperatures, extraction happens at very low temperatures using liquid carbon dioxide and nitrogen. At these extremely low temperatures, where nitrogen and carbon dioxide are liquid, they are mixed with the pulverized garlic and “extracted”. As the temperature warms, the liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide basically move from liquid to gas phase. The extracted high value garlic compounds remain.

This extract is naturally rich in vinyldithiins and sulfides.

On The Shelf
The unique vinyldithiins and sulfides are now available in pharmacy shelves. You must understand that these compounds are not found in most garlic supplements. If they are, the doses that are found are too small to matter.

You need to take more than 280 milligrams. You should ask your pharmacist. Look supplements from unique high yielding garlic species. Look for garlic supplements that are super critically extracted.

Look for actual label claims for vinyldithiins and sulfides.

Garlic may be more than food, spice and herb. They way things are going, it may end up as a pharmaceutical drug!



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