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The wonders of garlic

Garlic has been used for centuries for its wonderful curative powers. Due to its vast array of pharmacological activity, it is extremely useful for cardiovascular problems, immune system modulation, detoxification and antioxidant activity.

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The history of garlic

Garlic comes from the Lily family. The healing and curative properties of garlic were first recorded in India on parchment or goatskin text pages, about 5,000 years ago. About 2 thousand years later, Chinese scholars raved about this herb, stating that it contained the medicinal qualities to cure and prevent virtually any illness.

An Egyptian medical listing from 1550 BC claimed it as a remedy for 22 different ailments, giving it significant medicinal value as a cure for headaches, heart problems, body weakness, bites, worms, throat tumours and problems associated with childbirth. For the Egyptians, garlic was also of religious significance, in that it was believed to symbolise the universe, with the layers of skin forming the bulb and clove representing the layered heavens and hells, the Egyptians believed constituted the universe. So important was this religious symbolic value, that actual bulbs or clay models of bulbs were often entombed with Egyptian mummies.

How does garlic work in the body?

Research indicates that garlic's key component is a sulphur compound called "allicin". Allicin is a mysterious compound. It is considered essential, yet it is not found in high levels in whole garlic.

Allicin is formed from the amino acid "alliin". Alliin is converted into allicin by an enzyme (alliinase) when garlic is cut, chewed or ingested. Once formed, allicin is unstable and will change into other compounds in a few days. Therefore, it is critical that alliin and alliinase are properly stabilised and introduced into the body, where they can effectively create allicin.

Many processing methods can cause allicin to form during the manufacturing process, allowing it to breakdown into compounds that are not found in fresh garlic and that are much less active than allicin. By the time such products are ingested, very little allicin potency remains. And that's a problem, since many scientists consider garlic, without a high allicin yield, to be like an orange without vitamin C.

But what about the smell on your breath...

As people became more civilised, they started to be concerned about the smell that garlic left on their breath, after it had been eaten. Many companies today have tried to work on this 'problem'.

Garlicin is one brand that provides garlic in its pure and natural form - only the water has been removed. As a result, taking Garlicin provides the same health benefits as eating freshly cut garlic.

Garlicin is odour free in two ways. Firstly, Natures Way's exclusive manufacturing process does not generate the pungent allicin breakdown, as with other manufacturing processes. Secondly, Garlicin is enteric-coated. This special coating ensures the tablet is dissolved in the intestinal tract, not in the stomach. This helps to prevent the "bounce back" of flavour and odour from the stomach that some other garlic products may cause.

Garlic components, which may be responsible for pharmacological activity...


Pharmacological Activity Contributing to Activity
Anticoagulation Ajoene
Antihypertensive Selenium and Germanium
Antimicrobial Allicin - Alliin
Antiparasitic Allicin - Alliin
Antibacterial Allicin - Alliin
Antiviral Allicin - Ajoene
Detox of Heavy Metals Selenium and Germanium
Antioxidant Selenium and Germanium
Antitumour Selenium and Germanium
Immune Modulation Germanium, Selenium, Zinc
Natural Killer Cell Activity Germanium, Selenium, Zinc
Antiaging Selenium, Diallyl disulphide
Antitumour Selenium and Germanium
Humoral Immunity Germanium and Allicin

Garlic's Cholesterol lowering activity

Human and animal studies have substantiated that garlic lowers serum cholesterol and triglycerides and increases the amount of high-density lipoproteins. Dietary induced atherosclerosis was significantly reversed in rabbits when fed garlic consistently for 21 days.

The incidence of major diseases associated with hyperlipaemia, such as cancer, diabetes and atherosclerosis, could be reduced with regular consumption of garlic. Garlic strengthens the blood vessels and equalises both high and low blood pressure. If you have had a heart attack, one of the key substances you should be including in your diet is garlic. Platelet aggregation superimposed on an atherosclerotic vessel is a major antecedent event, causing myocardial injury, infarction, and thromboembolic diseases. Studies have shown that garlic has great potential in inhibiting platelet aggregation and enhancing fibrinolytic activity.

Immune system modulation

Garlic may be a potent, non-specific biologic response modifier. Garlic has shown to reduce and destroy tumour mass. This was proportional to the dosage and length of administration.

Garlic is effective against toxic bacteria, viruses and fungus. It protects against infections and improves, tones and strengthens the entire physical condition of the body. It has a rejuvenating effect on all the cells in the body and it builds endurance and energy. It strengthens the body's defences against allergens.

Garlic is also a useful herb to use in problems relating to the respiratory tract. It helps to cleanse the body of excessive mucus and catarrh. So if you have the flu, garlic should be something you include in your diet, either fresh garlic or as a supplement.

Garlic has been established as an effective agent against influenza viruses, yeasts and fungi and is effective against typhus. It contains a factor, which reduces joint inflammation and swelling. As well as this, it contains a sugar metabolism factor, which makes it useful for treating both diabetics and hypoglycaemiam, as well as other irregularities of insulin and metabolism.

Garlic increases the body's ability to assimilate vitamin B1 by enhancing its absorption. Garlic is one of the richest sources of organic germanium and selenium, two trace elements used for enhancing the immune system. Selenium, vitamin C and zinc found in garlic contribute to the antioxidant capacity of garlic.


Garlic has been shown to be effective in the treatment of lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic poisoning. Some sulphur compounds bind heavy metals and other exogenous toxins, such as food additives - these additives include undesirable dyes, preservatives and sweeteners. Garlic is the richest source of organically bound selenium, which has been shown to provide some protection against heavy-metal toxicity.

Antioxidant activity

The free radical scavenger action of garlic may be explained by its germanium, glutathione, selenium and zinc content. The latter three are key components of the antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase.

Garlic may have great potential for retarding ageing, because it inhibits lipogenesis. Garlic may also play an adjunctive role in oncology therapy by neutralising the free-radical damage to normal tissues caused by radiation and chemotherapy. In addition to its role as an antioxidant, germanium activates or substitutes for oxygen, which may be the most powerful stimulant of the immune system.

No other substance, either natural or synthetic, can match garlic's proven therapeutic versatility and effectiveness, suggesting we should use a garlic supplement on a regular basis. Please inquire which one of our garlic range may be suited to you.

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The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

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