For thousands of years, people around the world have believed that garlic possesses magical powers.
Some of these powers, such as its ability to ward off vampires and evil spirits, aren't exactly supported by clinical trials, but its healing powers have stood the tests of time and science. In supplements, different constituents of garlic may be formulated for specific situations.
Aged Garlic Extract for the Heart
More than 650 studies have shown that a proprietary Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) produces benefits for the heart. These include reversing plaque build-up in arteries, a key goal of most therapies to prevent or treat heart disease.
Cardiologist Matthew Budoff, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, uses sophisticated scanning technology to detect early stages of arterial plaque, years or even decades before it blocks an artery or causes a heart attack. And he has studied AGE.
"In my own research conducted at UCLA, I found that, without treatment, the amount of calcification (sometimes called plaque) in the arteries of a person with elevated cholesterol can increase by 40 percent in one year," says Budoff. "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." People in the study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, were all taking statins for elevated cholesterol, and AGE was tested against a placebo. Neither statins nor placebo slowed the increase of plaque.
At the University of Adelaide in Australia, AGE was compared to a placebo among a group of people who, despite taking blood-pressure medication, had high blood pressure. Those taking 960 mg of AGE for 12 weeks lowered blood pressure to a degree that reduces risk for heart disease by more than 20 percent. In the study, published in Maturitas, those taking a placebo experienced no improvement.
"Scientists believe garlic has an antihypertensive effect on the human body because it stimulates the production of naturally occurring chemicals in the body, like nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide," says Budoff, "which relax blood vessels and ease blood flow." And, he says, "Aged garlic extract lowers blood pressure by improving the elasticity of arteries, reduces blood clotting, and drops cholesterol and triglycerides [dangerous blood fats that can lead to a heart attack]."
Early stages of arterial plaque and high blood pressure don't necessarily have any telltale symptoms, and many people are unaware of having these conditions. "I think aged garlic extract should be taken right alongside your multivitamins every day. It's that important," says Budoff. "It could save your life."
Fighting Resistant Bugs
Before antibiotics were invented, garlic was used to treat infectious diseases. When raw (not aged) garlic is crushed, chopped or chewed, it releases allicin, a substance that fights bacteria, fungi, and inflammation. However, when we eat garlic, most of the allicin is destroyed by stomach acid. Some garlic supplements are made with a special coating, often described as "enteric," that enables the allicin in garlic to fight bugs internally, without being destroyed by stomach acid.
There is some evidence that this type of garlic may reduce precancerous lesions in the digestive system. It also helps to control overgrowth of candida (a type of fungus or yeast), harmful bacteria, and inflammation in the digestive system. While doing this, it doesn't damage beneficial bacteria.
For more targeted antibacterial effects, some supplements contain a proprietary concentrated, or "stabilized" form of allicin known as Allisure, in capsules, liquids, and creams for topical use. In studies, Allisure has been tested as a treatment for serious infections that resist antibiotic treatment.
Research at the University of East London, published in the European Journal for Nutraceutical Research, shows that Allisure, in a skin cream or liquid sprayed onto skin, successfully treated serious wounds that were infected with drug-resistant bacteria. And people suffering from Lyme disease have experienced relief after taking oral supplements containing Allisure.
Wakunaga Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract Formula 108 Total Heart Health features the aged garlic extract used in Budoff's research, as well as other heart-healthy nutrients, including L-arginine and folic acid.
Kwai Garlic Supplement is odorless, easy to swallow, and contains a whopping 3,600 mg of allicin, the potent, antibacterial compound in fresh garlic. It is enteric coated for optimal absorption.
NOW Foods Odorless Garlic, Concentrated Extract is made from whole garlic cloves and delivers a high concentration of scordinin, which is garlic's healthy sulfur compound.