Aged garlic extract


Aged garlic extract

The latest super supplement

Aged garlic extract is the latest super supplement on the block and is taking garlic to a new level – proving that sometimes things really do get better with age.

As a supplement or in the raw, garlic has for centuries been known for its health benefits. But a derivative of this superfood – aged garlic extract – is receiving some impressive attention from within the medical fraternity for its role in reducing blood pressure and has even presented alongside mainstream pharmaceutical companies at the American Heart Association.

Dr Karin Ried of the University of Adelaide, and now research director at the National Institute of Integrative Medicine, has been researching the health benefits of garlic since 2006. Following her own research into aged garlic extract, she now advises that it be considered in many instances as a first-option treatment for high blood pressure and cholesterol ahead of frontline pharmaceutical medications and along with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.

Backed by more than 700 clinical studies, a rarity for any natural supplement, aged garlic extract contains high levels of beneficial compounds not present in raw garlic and is described by naturopath Emma Sutherland as ‘garlic supercharged’.

The origins of aged garlic extract

Garlic possibly isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Japan, but aged garlic extract was discovered, and is today still partially produced, in a picturesque valley about an hour’s drive out of Hiroshima.

Following the Second World War, German professor Dr Eugene Schnell was tasked with the responsibility of restoring the energy levels and overall health of the Japanese population. Already familiar with the natural medicinal properties of garlic, Dr Schnell partnered with Japanese businessman Manji Wakunaga and together they introduced the concept of ageing and fermentation to garlic, a popular Japanese practice that is used to enhance the nutritional benefits of food.

What evolved through the ageing process was a product that exceeded expectations, as the chemical transformation the garlic underwent increased its potency beyond natural levels. In 1960, aged garlic extract was released to the Japanese market and is today taken commonly in Japan as a preventative health measure.

Why aged garlic?

The process of planting the garlic crop to seeing the supplement on pharmacy shelves take almost three years and begins with raw organic garlic, which is washed, peeled and chopped before being placed to soak in a diluted ethanol solution for 20 months.

Through the ageing process, harsh and irritative properties found in raw garlic are mellowed or eliminated and new beneficial compounds are created. In fact, after six months, the garlic is transformed into an antioxidant.

“There’s no denying the health properties of garlic, but raw garlic is quite chemically unstable,” says Sutherland. “As soon as garlic is cut, a chemical reaction occurs. The time it takes between cutting and cooking changes the compounds again, and then its structure can change again depending on the method of cooking,” she adds.

Some exciting research has been done into the benefits of aged garlic extract and can be reported on the following areas.

Beat blood pressure

High blood pressure affects one in three Australians, and with often unspecific symptoms, many silent sufferers can remain unaware of their condition. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to serious health issues such as heart attack, stroke or kidney disease.

Dr Ried conducted a 2012 study into the effect of aged garlic extract on blood pressure. Her research concluded that taking two capsules daily of aged garlic extract was enough to reduce systolic blood pressure by an average of 12 mm Hg, which in turn reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 16 to 40 per cent.

Dr Ried says that many people who suffer from high blood pressure have an uncontrolled condition, including a large number of people who are already taking blood pressure-lowering medication. “It’s for people such as this that alternative treatments to blood pressure management are explored further,” she says.

Cholesterol crusher

In May this year, Dr Ried led further research into garlic with specific focus on its effect on cholesterol. The results published in the May issue of Nutrition Reviews concluded that garlic supplements, including aged garlic extract, were associated with a reduction in high levels of cholesterol by eight per cent. This reduction can mean that for someone at the age of 50, the chance of a coronary event is decreased by 38 per cent.

“This research proves to be very exciting to the millions who suffer from high cholesterol, and shows that aged garlic extract could be a safe and effective alternative to pharmaceutical medication for many people,” she says.

“Side effects to cholesterol-lowering medication are common and this is another instance where an effective natural alternative is well received,” says Dr Ried.

Immunity booster

Garlic is a known natural cold and flu fighter, but taking a therapeutic dose of raw garlic can be hard to digest and won’t do your breath any favours.

The odourless aged garlic extract has been found to be even more effective in this application due to high levels of immune boosting antioxidants not found in raw garlic. Sutherland says she often prescribes the use of aged garlic supplements to patients due to its ability to support the body’s natural immune defences that fight and prevent colds and flu. “Aged garlic extract contains more antioxidants than ascorbic acid, known for its high levels of vitamin C. This means that you’re less likely to suffer from colds and flu, and if you do, the severity and duration of your illness will be less intense,” says Sutherland.

The versatility of aged garlic extract means that this is a supplement Sutherland suggests for patients from all walks of life. “The benefits for heart health are a significant discovery, but this isn’t just a supplement for those with high blood pressure or cholesterol. New research is continually revealing that we have only just discovered the tip of the iceberg of what we can treat and prevent by using aged garlic extract.”

Words: Cassy Small

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