New studies shed light on the power of Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) with S-allyl cysteine (SAC) to help maintain healthy blood pressure.The latest work was published in the October 2010 issue of Maturitas and comes to us from the School of Population Health and Clinical Practice, The University of Adelaide, South Australia.In this study, AGE was shown to be extremely beneficial.
It was actually an amazing study that looked at how AGE would help “as an adjunct treatment to existing antihypertensive medication in patients with treated, but uncontrolled, hypertension.” In other words, their medicines weren’t working well enough. The patients needed help. The question was this: would AGE do the trick? The active group received four capsules of AGE (960 mg containing 2.4 mg S-allyl cysteine) daily for 12 weeks. The control group received matching placebos. The primary outcome measures were systolic and diastolic blood pressure at baseline, 4, 8 and 12 weeks, and change over time.They also assessed tolerability during the trial and acceptability at 12 weeks. In patients with uncontrolled hypertension (SBP ≥140 mmHg at baseline), systolic blood pressure was on average 10.2 ± 4.3 mmHg lower in the AGE group compared with controls over the 12-week treatment period. Their trial “suggests that AGE is superior to placebo in lowering systolic blood pressure similarly to current first line medications in patients with treated but uncontrolled hypertension.”That’s a big endorsement. But we are not so surprised since we know that garlic has a long history of use for treating high blood pressure.
As if this isn’t a large enough health dividend from this noble herb according to Dr. Carmia Borek of the Department of Public Health and Family Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston and contributor to The Doctors’ Prescription for Healthy Living, the effects are really additive. In the March 2006 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, she notes that AGE’s regular use “reduces dementia and heart-disease risk.” Risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high cholesterol, high homocysteine, hypertension and inflammation,increase the risk of dementia, including its most common form, Alzheimer’s disease (AD).High cholesterol is also associated with elevated beta-amyloid (Abeta), the hallmark of AD.Oxidative damage is a major factor in cardiovascular disease and dementia, diseases whose risk increases with age.
“Garlic, extracted and aged to form antioxidant-rich AGE, may help reduce the risk of these diseases,” says Dr. Borek. “AGE scavenges oxidants, increases superoxide dismutase, catalase,glutathione peroxidase, and glutathione levels, and inhibits lipid peroxidation and inflammatory prostaglandins.” AGE also may help prevent cognitive decline by protecting neurons from Abeta neurotoxicity. She adds: “compelling evidence supports the beneficial health effects attributed to AGE in helping prevent cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and lowering the risk of dementia and AD.” “Clinical studies show that aged garlic and its major compound SAC reduce risk,” she adds. “Given at 2.4 to 4.8 gm per day for six months, AGE lowered total cholesterol by 5 to 7 percent; reduced low-density lipoproteins, triglycerides, and blood pressure; prevented platelet aggregation; and increased high-density lipoprotein or HDL (good) cholesterol. The SAC in AGE acts similarly to statin drugs and can work synergistically with them to reduce cholesterol. With a folate deficiency, AGE lowers homocysteine, helping prevent the serious consequences of this toxic amino acid.”
A second article in the same issue of the Journal of Nutrition found that “AGE improves blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive [subjects] more safely than raw garlic.” The work studied the effects of two garlic sources on systolic blood pressure (SBP) using the spontaneously hypertensive subjects.Beginning at 12 weeks of age, the subjects were fed diets containing either AGE or raw garlic (RG) powder for 10 weeks. Both AGE and RG reduced the increase of blood pressure compared with the control group.But in contrast to the raw garlic group, the effect of AGE was accompanied by a decrease of pulse pressure, suggesting an improvement of the pliability of the artery. “These results suggest that AGE may safely improve several factors related to blood vessel physiology and circulatory disease.”And garlic’s ability to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels should be taken seriously as well. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study by researchers at the Department of Nutrition, Pennsylvania State University, it was shown that AGE supplementation was effective in lowering total cholesterol by 7 percent and low-density lipoprotein (the “bad” cholesterol that causes plaque formation) by 10 percent, compared with men consuming a placebo. And finally we have this study from the March 2010 issue of Food Chemistry and Toxicology. Doxorubicin (DOX) is a highly active anticancer agent with severe toxic side effects on the heart. However, the use of AGE before DOX therapy significantly helped to prevent these toxic side effects. “Our results suggest that aged garlic extract is potentially protective against DOXinduced cardiotoxicity.”
THE GARLIC CURE FOR HEALTHY BLOOD PRESSURE
Garlic’s sulfur compounds and other phytochemicals have been valued for thousands of years in culinary recipes and medicine. If you want to enjoy tasty, powerful heart medicines, shallots, chives, leeks, onions, and, of course, garlic should be your foods of choice—although your social life might suffer. Indeed garlic, the stinking rose, is considered to be the most potent medicinally, but it is definitely difficult to consume fresh and raw. Although experts say that garlic’s powerful aroma and taste were developed as defense mechanisms to makebirds and other animals stay away, we humans seem to have found ways around this problem with traditional methods of culinary preparation our chefs and health experts cultivated over thousands of years.
The use of garlic has been documented over 5,000 years, according to Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council (ABC) based in Austin, Texas. Additionally, the ABC has evaluated data from more than 30 clinical trials involving more than 45,000 subjects. “All but three of these trials showed some positive benefit for garlic in cardiovascular and arterial health, for cancer, building immunity and for other circulatory matters,” said Blumenthal. Unfortunately, a person would have to eat enormous quantities of garlic daily. The most efficient way of getting adequate and standardized amounts is by taking a nutritional supplement of garlic extract, he said. Experts say that people should begin taking garlic in their twenties and thirties when arteriosclerotic plaque buildup is starting, long before people feel any symptoms. The best way to be sure you’re buying a quality garlic supplement is to look at labels. Only AGE has been shown to deliver benefits comparable or even superior to fresh garlic. AGE’s rich stores of S-allyl cysteine and many other water-soluble antioxidants, plus oil-soluble diallyl sulfides are a preventive measure to maintain heart and cholesterol health.
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