The medicinal value of garlic has been known since antiquity. Many ancient medical manuscripts extolled its value in maintaining vigor, warding off disease, and preventing infection. Recent research has greatly strengthened those early beliefs.
Research has shown that garlic extract is one of the most powerful inhibitors of atherosclerosis. A compound called allicin is thought to be the main beneficial ingredient in raw garlic. When garlic is chopped or crushed, an enzyme called allinase generates this allicin. However, heat destroys the enzyme and prevents the formation of allicin.
Most studies have been conducted using ground (homogenate) raw garlic and aged garlic extract, which is prepared from raw garlic stored in 15 to 20 percent solution of ethanol for 20 months. This process destroys the allicin, but releases newer compounds, such as S-llylmercaptocysteine, allixin, and selenium — all of which are antioxidants and have other beneficial medicinal effects.
Both animal and human studies have shown that garlic is a powerful weapon against atherosclerosis. Most of these studies, using animals prone to developing the condition, demonstrated a 50 percent reduction in the process, far exceeding the effectiveness of statins. (For the latest information on how to protect your heart, see my report “New Heart Revelations.”)
Keep in mind that a great number of the studies promoting the use of statin drugs never demonstrated a reduction in the actual condition (atherosclerosis) that causes heart attacks and stroke. Rather, the findings indicate that statins “reduce risk factors.” But, as I have written about many times, these “risk factors” often do not correlate that well with the condition.
Since 1975, there have been more than 46 human studies on the ability of garlic and garlic extract to lower lipids (cholesterol). Most of these studies have been randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies using garlic powder fed over a prolonged period to patients with extremely high cholesterol levels (hyperlipidemia). The studies demonstrated a drop in both cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Garlic also activates the enzyme that dissolves blood clots. This is especially important in the case of diabetics because overactivity of clotting is thought to be the basis for the high incidence of heart attacks and strokes in these individuals.
In addition, garlic extract prevents platelet aggregation — a process that occurs on the surface of unstable atherosclerotic plaque and is responsible for the sudden occurrence of heart attack or stroke. This has been confirmed both in animal studies and human studies. (The basis for much cardiovascular disease is inflammation. For a detailed discussion on inflammation and its role in many diseases, see my newsletter “Inflammation: The Real Cause of Most Diseases.”)
Garlic has a number of other beneficial effects on the blood vessels, such as relaxing vasospasm (spasms in the blood vessels) caused by stress, reducing arrhythmias (a leading cause of death in heart attacks), reducing free radicals within arteries, and significantly reducing the amount of heart muscle damage when a heart attack occurs.
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