Monday, June 14, 2010

GARLIC - Our Take

For years, doctors and scientists have told us that some foods are good for us, only to be told later that they are bad for us, and again they tell us that some foods are bad for us, and all the time they've been good for us. There doesn't seem to be much proof either way to suggest what is good or bad, until now.
Looks like "YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT" is true !!! (Author unknown)

That was just for laughs.

Traditionally, garlic has been employed to treat infections, wounds, diarrhea, rheumatism, heart disease, diabetes, and many other disorders.

Experimentally, it has been shown to exert antilipidemic, antihypertensive, antineoplastic, antibacterial, immunostimulant and hypoglycemic actions.

Clinically, garlic has been evaluated for a number of conditions, including hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, intermittent claudication, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, common cold, as an insect repellent, and for the prevention of arteriosclerosis and cancer.

Significant advance continues in the science of this amazing, ancient, ever-popular herb.

A research team lead by David Kraus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham has shown that molecules in garlic called polysulfides liberate hydrogen sulphide within red blood cells into the vascular system (of the rat), causing smooth muscle cells of the arteries to relax.

In this way hydrogen sulphide is able to protect the heart from the tissue and cell damage often seen in heart attack patients.

Hydrogen sulphide is a toxic, flammable gas responsible for the smell of rotten eggs. It’s also produced naturally by the body in small amounts, and as age advances, hydrogen sulphide production dwindles.

Exactly how hydrogen sulphide affords the cardiovascular system so much protection is not entirely clear, but it may involve limiting oxidative damage in cells.

Indeed, Chen Liu and colleagues at Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China has been able to show that allicin in garlic protected cardiac function and prevented the development of cardiac hypertrophy in a well-established animal model. This is achieved by blocking reactive oxygen species (ROS) oxidative stress-dependent multiple intracellular signaling.

More compelling clinical evidence is required for garlic to be accepted as a therapeutic agent. In the meantime, you can continue to supplement your diet with OTC garlic capsules if you wish to, as it is generally regarded as safe.

Cardiac hypertrophy is a thickening of the heart muscle (myocardium) which results in a decrease in size of the chamber of the heart, including the left and right ventricles. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common cause of cardiac hypertrophy.

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are reactive molecules that contain the oxygen atom. They are very small molecules that include oxygen ions and peroxides and can be either inorganic or organic.[citation needed] They are highly reactive due to the presence of unpaired valence shell electrons. ROS form as a natural byproduct of the normal metabolism of oxygen and have important roles in cell signaling. However, during times of environmental stress (e.g. UV or heat exposure) ROS levels can increase dramatically, which can result in significant damage to cell structures. This cumulates into a situation known as oxidative stress. Wikipedia.

Allicin is a very reactive organosulphur compound formed when garlic is crushed or bruised. The reaction is catalysed by an enzyme, alliinase, and as a result quite complex.

Journal Reference

John W. Elrod, John W. Calvert, Joanna Morrison, Jeannette E. Doeller, David W. Kraus, Ling Tao, Xiangying Jiao, Rosario Scalia, Levente Kiss, Csaba Szabo, Hideo Kimura, Chi-Wing Chow, and David J. Lefer. Hydrogen sulfide attenuates myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury by preservation of mitochondrial function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. September 25, 2007 vol. 104 no. 39 15560-15565

Liu C, Cao F, Tang QZ, Yan L, Dong YG, Zhu LH, Wang L, Bian ZY, Li H. Allicin protects against cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis via attenuating reactive oxygen species-dependent signaling pathways. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2010 Feb 24. [Epub ahead of print]

Aviello G, Abenavoli L, Borrelli F, Capasso R, Izzo AA, Lembo F, Romano B, Capasso F. Garlic: empiricism or science? Nat Prod Commun. 2009 Dec;4(12):1785-96.


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