Health For more than 900 years garlic has been used for medicinal purposes. From ancient Egypt to medieval Europe, all the way to America, garlic has been used to treat different ailments. Garlic has stood the test of time and now has over 2200 credible studies to support its health benefits.(1) These health benefits of Garlic come at a price; garlic has a very strong odor that can last a long time in the body; because of this odor, garlic supplements have become very popular. Garlic supplements are an easy and effective way to consume garlic, so your friends and family will not be offended by the odor. These types of supplements have been around for more than 25 years. There are two types of garlic supplements on the market and hundreds of manufactures. You will find either Fresh Garlic supplements or Aged Garlic supplements each of which will claim their garlic is the best and most beneficial. We are going to take a look and see which type of garlic is most beneficial and why? First let’s look at what makes garlic so beneficial for you. At first glance, fresh garlic does not seem to be much of a vegetable. Garlic is consumed in very small amounts; one serving of garlic provides very little vitamins. For example: the vitamin C in one serving of garlic is 1 mg compared to potatoes having 26mg and broccoli having 82mg.(4) So what makes Garlic so good? It’s the collection of compounds in Fresh garlic called sulfur compounds, this is what make it beneficial to the body. Over 90% of the research done on garlic has been done on these sulfur compounds. Sulfur has been used in pharmaceuticals for years. For example antibiotics, blood pressure lowering drugs and diuretics all have sulfur. Since sulfur is so readily absorbed into the body, pharmaceutical companies have been able to blend sulfur with medications to make them more effective. Researchers have primarily focused on one group of sulfur compounds in garlic; this group is called thiosulfates. Alliin and allinnase are the primary substances found in the garlic clove and both are found in separate chambers in the garlic clove. Allinnase is an activating enzyme, when garlic is crushed or cut the alliin and allinnase combine to make thiosulfate allicin. This new compound created is what gives garlic its beneficial effects. (3) Research has found that allicin has a wide range of benefits. These benefits include (1) allicin can help kill bacteria and fungi, (2) reduce inflammation, (3) prevent the common cold, (4) stop tumor growth, (5) kill cancer cells, (6) help keep blood from clotting, (7) prevent heart attach, (8) reduce LDL and raise HDL cholesterol, (9) reduce triglycerides, (10) lower blood pressure, (11) improve blood flow in the lungs and help open breathing passages, (12) help reduce liver damage, and (13) allicin works as an antioxidant fighting free radicals in the body. All the evidence points to how allicin benefits our body yet aged garlic supplement manufactures discount allicin as the primary health compound. You might be wondering why would anyone discount allicin as beneficial when 90% of research has focused around allicin. Is the research wrong? The chemistry of allicin is why manufacturers claim allicin is not the key component that benefits the body. Studies have shown allicin to be an unstable compound. Allicin will breaking down just after a few hours and can loose 50% of its potency from 4 30 days if left exposed to Air.(3) Only a few manufactures make garlic tablets air tight. Manufactures claim that allicin can be destroyed by stomach acids and rightfully so. This is why fresh garlic supplements are enteric coated so that it passed through the stomach and opens in the intestines where it is needed most. Once you understand how allicin works in the body you will see why aged garlic is not the most beneficial to choose. Aged garlic has a compound called S-allylmercaptocysteine (SAMC). This compound is what aged garlic manufacturers claim is good for you. An interesting fact, fresh garlic doesn’t contain any SAMC. SAMC only appears after the aging process.(5) SAMC research has been studied with cancer, heart, immune function, and stress. These studies were conducted with high amounts of aged garlic, ranging from 10 to 20 grams each day and after months and months of continuous use. These dosages are nowhere near normal garlic consumption levels; for over 900 years people have been consuming fresh garlic and experiencing benefits at minimal levels how can aged garlic be beneficial at normal doses? Aged garlic is made by placing sliced garlic in a solution that contains 15% – 20% ethanol and then is stored for 20 months. After 20 months the solution is filtered and concentrated. While the solution is stored for 20 months, the allicin and most of the thiosulfates are destroyed. Let’s now look at fresh garlic. Many universities from around the world have done research on fresh garlic and the health benefits of fresh garlic consumption. All these universities have been able to replicate each others results further proving fresh garlic’s abilities. Replications research has found answers to some of the puzzling results in fresh garlic research. For example, before 1995, researchers were able to replicate the cholesterol lowering benefits of garlic. But one study after 1995 with clinical trials showed inconsistencies. (6) Dr. Larry Lawson, a highly respected researcher, closely examined the tablets used in this clinical study and found that these tablets were not enteric coated. Some of the people consuming these tablets digested them in the stomach; the allicin was destroyed before it reached the bloodstream. This rendered the tablets useless and those patients didn’t experience any beneficial effect when consuming the garlic tablets. After finding out the clinical trial used poor quality garlic tablets, Dr. Larry Lawson recommended new clinical trails to be conducted on garlic with higher quality tablets. Researchers need to look for garlic supplements that are enteric coated and have an allicin potential rating. Allicin can not be measured in a garlic clove or in an enteric coated tablet. Look for a garlic supplement that has an allicin potential rating. Credible manufactures will list this potential on there label. Also, experts recommend the consumption of 4000mg of fresh garlic each day. To receive 4000mg of fresh garlic each day in a tablet, look for a garlic supplement that offers at least 5,000 mcg of allicin and at least 11,000 mcg of alliin per serving. That’s equal to about four cloves of fresh garlic each day. Keep one thing in mind, garlic is a blood thinner, if you are on medication to thin the blood such as Coumadin, consult your doctor before taking garlic. Garlic has been consumed for hundreds if not thousands of years for spicing up meals and keeping the common cold away. Many cultures have claimed garlic can cure what ails you. Finally, research is here to back the benefits of fresh garlic and explain why aged garlic doesn’t work. (7) Remember, when looking for a good quality fresh garlic supplement, make sure it delivers 5000 mcg of allicin each serving. You can find Fresh Garlic and other vitamin supplements at your local vitamin store. References: 1. Steven Foster Group. Garlic monograph. Accessed on January 26, 2004. Available at: .stevenfoster../education/monograph/garlic.html 2. Grodner M, Anderson SL, DeYoung S. Food .position table: garlic. In: Foundations and Clinical Applications of Nutrition: A Nursing Approach. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2000: 660-661. 3. Lawson LD. The .position and chemistry of garlic cloves and processed garlic. In: Koch HP, Lawson LD, eds. Garlic: The Science and Therapeutic Application of Allium sativum L. and Related Species. 2nd Ed. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins; 1996:37-107. 4. Grodner M, Anderson SL, DeYoung S. Food .position table: garlic. In: Foundations and Clinical Applications of Nutrition: A Nursing Approach. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2000: 660-661. 5. Lawson LD. The .position and chemistry of garlic cloves and processed garlic. In: Koch HP, Lawson LD, eds. Garlic: The Science and Therapeutic Application of Allium sativum L. and Related Species. 2nd Ed. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins; 1996:37-107. 6. Stevinson C, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Garlic for treating hypercholesterolemia. A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Ann Intern Med. 2000; 133(6): 420-9. Review. 7. Amagase H, Block E, Bordia A, Lawson LD. The controversial issues surrounding allicin versus non-allicin containing products. Presentation at the American Herbal Products Association International Garlic Symposium. Aug. 1, 2000. 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