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Garlic has been used since time immemorial as a culinary spice and medicinal herb. . Garlic is mentioned in the Bible and the Talmud. Hippocrates, Galen, Pliny the Elder, and Dioscorides all mention the use of garlic for many conditions, including parasites, respiratory problems, poor digestion, and low energy. Its use in China was first mentioned in A.D. 510. Louis Pasteur studied the antibacterial action of garlic in 1858.

Antioxidant effects of AGE compared with other garlic supplements

A series of studies was performed to compare the antioxidant effects of AGE, which contains mainly SAC and SAMC (Imai et al. 1994), with those of a water extract of raw garlic, which contained mainly allicin, and a heat-treated water extract of fresh garlic, which contained mainly alliin. Using chemiluminescence and TBARS assays, the results showed that only AGE, SAC and SAMC decreased t-butyl hydroperoxide–induced light emission in a liver microsome fraction and decreased TBARS, indicating a potent ROS scavenging effect. By contrast, the raw and heat-treated raw garlic extracts enhanced chemiluminescence, indicating an oxidant effect (Imai et al. 1994).

Similar studies were conducted to compare the antioxidant action of AGE with that of other commercial garlic supplements. Using the chemiluminescence assay (Imai et al. 1994), results indicated that although AGE decreased ROS-induced chemiluminescence, showing an antioxidant effect, the other commercial garlic products increased chemiluminescence, indicating a prooxidant effect (Table 1 and Fig. 1).

Oxidative modification of DNA, proteins, lipids and small cellular molecules by reactive oxygen species (ROS) plays a role in a wide range of common diseases and age-related degenerative conditions (Borek 1991, 1993 and 1997, Gutteridge 1993). These include cardiovascular disease (Witztum 1993), inflammatory conditions, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (Richardson 1993), mutations and cancer (Borek 1991, 1993 and 1997). Oxidant damage by ROS is linked to photoaging, radiation toxicity, cataract formation and macular degeneration; it is implicated in ischemia/reperfusion tissue injury and thought to play a role in decreased function of some immune cells.

Antioxidants, found in AGED GARLIC, protect against oxidative damage, lower the risk of injury to vital molecules and to varying degrees may help prevent the onset and progression of disease (Borek 1997, Gutteridge 1993).

AGED GARLIC contains a wide range of antioxidants that can act in synergistic or additive fashion and protect cells against oxidative damage, thus helping to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and Alzheimer's disease and protect against toxic, tissue-damaging effects of ROS-producing radiation, including UV light, drugs used in therapy and chemicals in the environment and industry.

Studies on the effects of AGED GARLIC have been wide in scope and have validated many of the traditional uses of garlic in medicine. The health benefits of AGE and its high antioxidant activity compared with other commercial preparations result in part from its high content of stable and highly bioavailable water-soluble organosulfur compounds. 

Lipid-soluble compounds in AGED GARLIC include diallyl sulfide (DAS), triallyl sulfide, diallyl disulfide (DADS), diallyl polysulfides and others (Amagase 1998, Amagase and Milner 1993, Awazu and Horie 1997, Horie et al. 1992). The lipid-soluble organosulfur compounds show antioxidant effects (Awazu and Horie 1997, Horie et al. 1989 and 1992, ).

Other antioxidants in AGED GARLIC include phenolic compounds, notably allicin, whose phenolic hydroxyl group confers antioxidant activity (Ide and Lau 1997), N-fructosyl glutamate, N-fructosyl arginine (O'Brien and Gillies 1998) and selenium, as well as the organosulfur compounds.

A substantial body of evidence shows that AGED GARLIC and its components inhibit the oxidative damage that is implicated in a variety of diseases and aging. These effects strongly suggest that AGE may have an important role in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other age-related degenerative conditions, protecting human health and mitigating the effects of ageing.

Sources of ROS

ROS include free radicals and nonradical species. The free radicals carry an unpaired electron and are unstable and reactive. They include superoxide, nitric oxide and the most reactive and toxic ROS, the hydroxyl radical. Nonradical oxidants include hydrogen peroxide, singlet oxygen and ozone, which form free radicals in tissues through various chemical reactions (Borek 1993, Gutteridge 1993).

Most of the ROS produced by cells come from the following four sources: 1) normal aerobic respiration in mitochondria, which generates superoxide radical (O2·−) and the ensuing toxic products, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and the highly reactive hydroxyl radical (OH·); 2) stimulated macrophages and polymorphonuclear leukocytes, which release superoxide and the nitric oxide radical (NO·), which in turn can interact to form the nonradical destructive peroxynitrite; 3) peroxisomes, cell organelles that produce H2O2 as a by-product of degrading fatty acid and other molecules; and 4) oxidant by-products that occur during the induction of cytochrome P450 enzymes.

Exogenous sources of ROS include the following: tobacco smoke, which has a broad spectrum of oxidant-ionizing radiation, which generates free radicals in exposed tissues, notably the highly reactive OH· radical; UV light, which produces singlet oxygen (1O2) and OH; ozone (O3) and oxides of nitrogen in polluted air; industrial toxins such as carbon-tetrachloride; drugs such as phenobarbital, which is a known tumor promoter in liver; and charcoal-broiled foods, which form a variety of carcinogens, notably benzo(a)pyrene.

Endogenous levels of ROS, which endanger our health, increase during chronic infection and inflammation, strenuous physical exercise, hypermetabolic states seen in stress, trauma and sepsis, and during exposure to exogenous sources.

Antioxidant protection

To protect molecules against toxic free radicals and other ROS, cells have developed antioxidant defenses that include the enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), which dismutates superoxide; catalase and glutathione peroxidase, which destroy toxic peroxides, and small molecules including glutathione. External sources of antioxidant nutrients that are essential for antioxidant protection include antioxidant vitamins C and E, vitamin A/provitamin A and the mineral selenium, a component of selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase (Borek et al. 1986, Borek 1993).

Phytochemicals from plant-rich diets, including garlic, provide important additional protection against oxidant damage (Borek 1997). The variety of antioxidant phytochemicals in AGE, which protect against disease-causing oxidative damage (Amagase 1997, Horie et al. 1992, Ide and Lau 1997, Wei and Lau 1998, Yamasaki et al. 1991), may act in single and combined fashion (Amagase et al. 1996, Borek 1993 and 1997).

Antioxidant actions of AGE

Scavenging ROS, inhibiting LDL oxidation and lipid peroxide formation.

The antioxidative actions of AGE and its components are determined by their ability to scavenge ROS and inhibit the formation of lipid peroxides. These effects are determined by measuring the decrease in ROS-induced chemiluminescence, inhibition of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (lipid peroxides) (TBARS assay), and in vitro inhibition of the release of pentane, a product of oxidized lipids, in the breath of an animal exposed to oxidative stress (Amagase 1997, Awazu and Horie 1997, Horie et al. 1989, Ide et al. 1996, Imai et al. 1994).

Oxidized LDL promotes vascular dysfunction, which contributes to atherosclerosis, in part by its cytotoxic effects on endothelial cells. Using an in vitro system of endothelial cells exposed to oxidant copper ions, AGE and SAC were shown to scavenge ROS, inhibit oxidation of LDL and inhibit endothelial cells injury by oxidized LDL (Ide and Lau 1997). AGE has been shown to inhibit lipid peroxide formation in several studies (Wei and Lau 1998). In one study, TBARS induced by hydrogen peroxide were inhibited 31–89% by AGE and 33–67% by SAC in a concentration-dependent manner (Yamasaki et al. 1994), thus mitigating oxidation events, which are implicated in the formation of atherogenic lesions (Efendy et al. 1997).

An additional assay, the 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazine assay (Imai et al. 1994), showed the antioxidant effects of allixin, SAC, SMAC and diallyl polysulfides, whose radical-scavenging action increased with the number of sulfur atoms (Imai et al. 1994). More recently, other components of AGE, N-fructosyl arginine and N-fructosyl glutamate, showed antioxidant effects by spin-resonance spectroscopy (O'Brien and Gillies 1998).

Enhancement of endogenous cellular antioxidant defenses

Enhancement of glutathione.

Glutathione is an important defense mechanism in living cells. As a substrate for the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase, reduced glutathione (GSH) protects cellular constituents from the damaging effects of peroxides formed in metabolism and through other ROS reactions. Decreased tissue GSH levels are associated with cell damage, depressed immunity and the progression of aging, and may increase the risk of cancer development.

AGE increases cellular glutathione in a variety of cells, including those in normal liver and mammary tissue (Liu et al. 1992). The ability of AGE to increase glutathione peroxidase and other ROS scavenging enzymes (Wei and Lau 1998) is important in radioprotection and UV suppression of certain forms of immunity (Reeve et al. 1993), in reducing the risk of radiation and chemically induced cancer (Borek 1993) and in preventing the range of ROS-induced DNA, lipid and protein damage implicated in the disease and aging processes (Gutteridge 1993).

Enhancement of scavenging enzymes.

Studies in cell cultures of endothelia subjected to oxidant stress show that AGE protects endothelial cells from ROS injury by modifying cellular scavenging enzymes. When bovine arterial endothelial cells were exposed to the oxidants hypoxanthine and xanthine oxidase or hydrogen peroxide, the presence of AGE generated increased levels of SOD, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase, and in a dose- and time-related fashion suppressed the production of superoxide radical and hydrogen peroxide (Wei and Lau 1998). The experiments show the potential ability of AGE to protect endothelial cells from oxidant injury by ROS, which is linked to the development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (Efendy et al. 1997, Wei and Lau 1998).

AGE and SAC have also been shown to prevent oxidant-induced dense-body formation in sickle red blood cells. The dense bodies are characteristic in sickle cell anemia (Onishi 1998).

1. It supports immunity

Garlic has long been used as a natural cold and flu fighter, and aged garlic has been shown to be even more effective than the raw version.

This is due to its high levels of immune-boosting antioxidants, which ramp up the activity of our natural killer cells to fight bacteria and viruses.

2. It can support general cardiovascular health

Aged garlic – also has potential in supporting healthy blood circulation and overall cardiovascular health.

A study found aged garlic may help reduce plaque build-up in arteries, while another study found that it helped stop platelets from sticking together. Much research has been done into this area – a quick online search will reveal more.

3. It has traditionally been used to relieve coughs, colds and flu

There’s been a whole lot of research into aged garlic’s ability to protect against winter illnesses.

A study by the University of Florida found it could reduce the incidence of colds by 58 per cent, and the severity of symptoms by 61 per cent.

4. It has potent antioxidant properties

Certain nutrients are converted into “active form” in aged garlic, including the potent antioxidant S-allylcysteine, which fights oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress causes premature death of body cells, which can translate into ageing and disease.

5. It is better absorbed by the body than other forms of garlic

During the ageing process, unstable and harsh compounds in raw garlic are transformed into mild, stable substances, meaning aged garlic is more bioavailable.

Or in less science speak – it’s more gut-friendly and more easily absorbed by our bodies.

6. It is odourless. Yup, no bad breath!

As an added benefit, garlic also becomes odourless through the ageing process, because of changes to a sulphur-based compound known as allicin (which gives garlic its strong smell and taste).

Meaning you get garlic’s super-charged benefits, without needing mints!

7. It is more gentle on the stomach than raw garlic

Cooking with garlic is great. But in its raw form, the herb can cause indigestion and then there’s the strong taste and pungent odour, which isn’t for everyone. Aged garlic is easier on the stomach and more digestible.

So there you have it. It seems garlic isn’t just nice to cook with, but aged garlic extract can be a powerhouse in your medicine cabinet!

8. Helps in Prevention of Cancer

AGE inhibits both early and late stages of carcinogenesis, resulting in inhibition of tumor growth in many tissues, including colon, mammary glands, skin, stomach and esophagus (Amagase and Milner 1993, Amagase et al. 1996, Liu et al. 1992, Milner 1996, Nishino et al. 1989 and 1990, Reeve et al. 1993).

AGED GARLIC exerts its cancer-inhibitory action in different and complementary ways, due to the variety of compounds present in the extract such as water- and lipid-soluble organosulfur compounds, phenolic compounds, notably allixin, saponins and selenium. Thus, the anticarcinogenic action of AGE, which contains all of these compounds, is broad in scope.

The mode of action of the different components may depend in part on the cancer-causing agent. Certain lipid-soluble organosulfur compounds present in AGED GARLIC inhibit carcinogenesis by modulating carcinogen metabolism and decreasing carcinogen binding to DNA; SAC also showed an inhibition of DNA adduct formation in mammary cells (Amagase and Milner 1993, Milner 1996).

9. Athletic Performance Might Be Improved With Garlic Supplements

Garlic was one of the earliest “performance enhancing” substances.

It was traditionally used in ancient cultures to reduce fatigue and enhance the work capacity of labourers.

Most notably, it was given to Olympic athletes in ancient Greece.

Rodent studies have shown that garlic helps with exercise performance, but very few human studies have been done.

People with heart disease who took garlic oil for 6 weeks had a 12% reduction in peak heart rate and better exercise capacity.

However, a study on nine competitive cyclists found no performance benefits.

Other studies suggest that exercise-induced fatigue may be reduced with garlic.

10. Helps in treating Gum Disease

It is universally accepted that to maintain healthy teeth, regular cleaning should do the trick.

However, recent research has revealed an unexpected newcomer to the dental health care scene that has nothing to do with fluoride or flossing — garlic.

Scientists at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University’s Hadassah School of Dental Medicine found that the pungent-tasting bulb, more commonly associated with cooking, holds a potential key to treating unhealthy teeth.

The study demonstrated that the common gum disease gingivitis could be effectively treated through the daily consumption of aged garlic extract, or AGE.

Perhaps of interest to the team in Israel was the use of garlic more than 1,200 years ago by the Assyrians to treat rotten teeth. Over four months, those given AGE showed considerable reduction of gingival inflammation and bleeding, while the others’ conditions remained unchanged. Gum diseases, which are thought by some to increase the risk of strokes and other cardiovascular events, increase the body’s burden of inflammation, the overall suppression of which has become a major focus of research in recent years.

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