Posted tagged ‘garlic health’

Garlic: Nature‚Äôs Antibacterial / Anti-fungal Remedy

February 26, 2010

Garlic (Allium sativum) is one of the most valuable food sources in the world. Since biblical times garlic has been used by Romans, Egyptian, Babylonians, and Hebrews for strength and endurance.

Allicin is the most powerful medicinal compound derived from garlic and provides the greatest reputed health benefits. Allicin does not occur in “ordinary” garlic, it is produced when garlic is finely chopped or crushed. The finer the chopping and the more intensive the crushing, the more allicin is generated and the stronger the medicinal effect.

Allicin exhibits antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, it is garlic’s natural defense mechanism. In order to protect itself from insects and fungi, garlic enzymatically produces allicin when it is injured. It also protects your cells and immune system in a similar manner.

Allicin’s potent antimicrobial activity was discovered in 1944 by Cavallito et al. Allicin received a patent for its antifungal activity in test tubes. However, no clinical trials have been performed with allicin and it was never developed into a drug or commercial product due to its instability, inability to be absorbed, and offensive odor. Allicin itself is considered to be of limited value inside the body for the following reasons:

  • Stomach acid destroys alliinase, preventing allicin production.
  • Intestinal fluids further diminish the amount of allicin that can be produced.

There is a significant loss of allicin when ingested and sent directly into the stomach. Alliinase, the enzyme which catalyzes the conversion of alliin to allicin, has been shown to be irreversibly deactivated at pH 3 or below, an acidic environment typically found in the stomach. Further, a 99% loss in allicin production was observed following consecutive exposure to simulated stomach fluids and simulated intestinal fluids which would occur when one takes a garlic powder orally.

To prevent the destruction of alliinase by stomach acid, some manufacturers have enteric-coated garlic powders in order to bypass the stomach. These enteric-coated pills allow garlic to be consumed and the allicin to be absorbed properly allowing your body the ability to receive all of the health benefits garlic has to offer.

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