LGC Biology Corner

 

The days topic- garlic or Allium Sativa if you are more familiar. This plant was first introduced by ancient Egyptians with divine properties, passed through ancient Greeks that except from divine and magical uses, still in Mediterranean area Garlic is used to expel the bad spirits and bad luck, they used it for its medicinal uses too. Garlic beneficial uses are mentioned in ancient Indian scripts but also it was/is used in Chinese medicine, showing that it was not a common knowledge for the Mediterranean cultures only but for the whole globe.

Garlic has many different species, some are under Protected Geographical Status in Europe and only a few have been investigated for its biological actions as Allium sativa. It’s a plant that has no actual nutritional value as the nutrients are in beneficial levels only at big doses (Numerous properties are gr). Although, its pharmacological actions are being investigated and the established ones are the cardiovascular effects, its cholesterol reducing properties along with the antioxidant properties linking to cancer and last but least garlic can be used to prevent colds regarding some preliminary data. The active molecules that can be found in garlic extracts are mainly polysulfides, S-allylcysteine, alliin and many more. These three are the main substances that are linked with garlics biological actions. But which are the well-established uses of garlic? The ones researchers have shown they truly exist.

For the heart…

To begin with the most common use of garlic is to reduce the blood pressure. Many studies have shown that kyolic based aged garlic extracts can be used as a therapy to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in hypertensives (Reinhart et. al, Ried et al., Varshney et al.). Researchers, nowadays, support this evidence by trying to figure the substance and the mechanism of action of garlic extracts. So far studies have shown that polysulfides like diallyl disulfide and diallyl trisulfide are responsible for these effects. The mechanism seems to be through a novel gasotransmitter H2S that can be released after the degradation of polysulfides. This small molecule acts in common pathways as NO and it might be the cause of garlic anti-hypertensive actions.

Another effect of garlic on the cardiovascular system is the regulation of cholesterol levels in hypercholesterinaemia. The studies held regarding cholesterol levels don’t have big pool of measurements so the conclusions are able to support a mild link of garlic supplementation and lower cholesterol and coronary artery calcium, both are associated with atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease (Gorinstein et al.). All these anti-atherosclerotic effects plus the antioxidant effect that garlic has are improving the endothelium function and the substance seems to be responsible for these responses is S-allylcysteine.

 Anti…. What?

As we said before alliin is a main substance of garlic extracts. Alliin is one of the antioxidant molecules found on garlic extracts and it seems to protect the blood cells from oxidative stress and regulate their immune responses (Salman et al.). Although that might be the answer to the protective effect of garlic on gastrointestinal cancers (Fleischauer et al.).

The winter is coming…

Lastly, garlic has been shown to prevent the occurrence of common cold. A meta-analysis study showed that garlic administered as a prevention of common colds can lower the occurrence of it comparing it to placebo treatment (Lissiman et al.). This effect might be caused due to the antioxidant and immune-protective effects of garlic. So, let’s suppose that this is earths way for a smelly TLC remedy for the colds.

To conclude with, garlic seems to have plenty of beneficial effects on human biology though the smell leads more and more people to get advantage of this properties in a less natural way by using odourless supplements of garlic. Our healthier and clearly more natural proposal…. Split the benefit with your beloved ones. Then you won’t have to care about that smelly mouth… share the love!

 

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