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Aged Garlic Uses, Side Effects & Health Benefits

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Garlic (Allium sativum) is one of the most well-known members of the Allium or Onion family. It grows in many parts of the world and is one of the most popular culinary ingredients due to its strong smell and delicious taste. However, throughout ancient history, the primary use of garlic was for actually for its health and medicinal properties, rather than its culinary uses (Rivlin, 2001).

The use of garlic in a medicinal capacity was well documented by many major civilizations, including the Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese (Morihara et al, 2007). Garlic was used in Ancient China from at least 2000BC to help aid in both digestion and respiration. In Ancient India, it is named in important medical documents as a plant to aid with heart disease and arthritis. Throughout the middle ages and renaissance, it was touted for its disease-fighting properties.

Scientists now know that most of its health benefits are caused by sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed. Perhaps the most famous of those is known as allicin. However, allicin is an unstable compound that is only briefly present in fresh garlic after it’s been cut or crushed (Borlinghaus et al, 2014).

Other compounds that may play a role in garlic’s health benefits include diallyl disulfide and s-allyl cysteine (Zarezadeh et al, 2017). The sulfur compounds from garlic enter the body from the digestive tract and travel all over the body, where they exert their potent biological effects. The most commonly claimed benefit is reduced cholesterol, although garlic has also been shown to reduce blood pressure, boost antioxidants and relieve cold and flu symptoms.

General Information on Aged Garlic

Garlic is one of the most common culinary herbs in the world, being used by countless cultures around the world. The benefits of fresh garlic have been well documented throughout history, especially in regards to immune and digestive health. However, garlic can also be of tremendous benefit, especially in cardiovascular health, in the form of Aged Garlic Extract (AGE).

Aged Garlic Extract is made by allowing fresh chopped or minced garlic to age in some sort of ethanol-based liquid for a known length of time. This process allows the
conversion of unstable compounds like alliin and allicin into more stable and beneficial organosulphur compounds like S-allyl cysteine (SAC), S-allyl mercaptocysteine (SAMC), allixin and selenium, all of which are antioxidants (Elosta, et al, 2017).

What Is Aged Garlic Used for?

Aged garlic extract has been studied most often for its potential role in preventing coronary disease through the reduction of arterial plaque, the lowering of blood
pressure and cholesterol levels and the ability to inhibit blood platelets from sticking together.

Health Canada’s monograph on garlic encompasses the oral use of garlic bulb preparations and describes the use of garlic based preparations as “Used in Herbal
Medicine to help reduce elevated blood lipid levels (hyperlipidemia) in adults.  (Kojuri et al. 2007 ,  Macan et al. 2006 , Mills and Bone 2005, ESCOP 2003,  Kannar et al.
2001 , Blumenthal et al. 2000, Bradley 1992) and “Used in Herbal Medicine to help maintain cardiovascular health in adults.”  ( Kojuri et al. 2007 ,  Macan et al. 2006 , Mills and Bone 2005, ESCOP 2003,  Kannar et al. 2001 , Blumenthal et al. 2000, Bradley 1992).

Herbal Benefits of Aged Garlic

1) Helps Prevent Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the buildup of cholesterol, fats, and other substances in and on the wall of your arteries. This buildup is often referred to as plaque, and can cause your arteries to narrow, blocking blood flow. A number of studies have shown that AGE can help decrease this buildup and help slow or stop atherosclerosis (Budoff, 2006Wlosinska et al, 2020Shaikh et al, 2019).

2) Lowers Blood Pressure

A number of studies have shown that aged garlic extract is effective in reducing peripheral and central blood pressure in a large proportion of patients with uncontrolled hypertension (Reid et al, 2016Reid 2020). Studies have also shown that has the potential to improve arterial stiffness, inflammation, and other cardiovascular markers in patients with elevated levels which can result in better overall cardiovascular health in adults (Reid et al, 2016Reid 2020). This effect can be attributed to aged garlic extract & ability to decrease blood platelet adhesion and aggregation.

3) Lowers Cholesterol

A number of studies have shown that garlic and aged garlic extract may have positive effects on heart health by regulating cholesterol in individuals with elevated levels (Reid et al, 2016Aslani et al, 2016). These effect can have positive impacts on blood pressure levels as well as improving body mass index levels (Aslani et al, 2016).

4) Supports the Immune System

A number of studies have suggested that AGE supplementation may enhance immune cell function by stimulating their activity, and may be partly responsible for the reduced severity of colds and flu reported (Percival, 2016Arreola et al, 2015). This stimulation of immune cell function can result in decreased length and severity of cold and flu symptoms often meaning you can get back to work or school sooner (Nantz et al, 2012).

5) Relieves Stress and Improves Cognitive Function

A recent study from Japan found that aged garlic can significantly decrease stress- related hormones such as corticotropin-releasing factor, corticosterone, and cortisol (Hwang et al, 2019). Cortisol is one of the bodies most important hormones, and it is important to keep it balanced. Often, stressful events can cause cortisol levels to increase. Elevated cortisol levels in response to stress may interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and cause increases in weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease (Tsai, 2019Kivimäki & Steptoe, 2017).

FAQs

Can Children Take It?
While garlic used in cooking is fine for children, teens, and adults, aged garlic supplements should be discussed with your healthcare practitioner before being
introduced to anyone that is not an adult.

Are there any concerns with eating more garlic or adding Aged Garlic supplements to your health regimen?
Both garlic and garlic supplements can cause bad breath/odours and stomach upset. In terms of garlic supplements, you should speak with your doctor if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood-thinning medications or protease inhibitors.

What causes garlic breath and can I get rid of it?
Garlic breath is caused by a number of sulfur compounds released when the garlic is crushed, specifically allyl methyl sulfide. This compound can take the human body a few days to metabolize completely.

To mitigate the strength and duration of these sulfur compounds, try eating an apple or some raw mint after a garlicky meal. The polyphenolic compounds in both of these have been shown to help neutralize the odour. Adding parsley to your meal, or drinking milk, green tea, or lemon juice have also been shown to help.

In addition, make sure to brush and floss after a meal with large amounts of garlic, as getting rid of any bits of garlic in your mouth with help speed up the process.