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Garlic: Antimicrobial, Cholesterol-Lowering Actions

Garlic: Antimicrobial, Cholesterol-Lowering Actions

Article by Arnie Gitomer

Evidence Mounts for Garlic’s Antimicrobial, Cholesterol-Lowering Effects

Israeli researchers recently examinedthe molecular mechanisms underlying the inhibitory effects of one of garlic’s active components, allicin, on a parasite, Entamoeba histolytica. They comment that their findings lend further support to the reasons for the widespread use of allicin and fresh garlic extract since ancient times as broad-spectrum, natural antimicrobial agents. This study demonstrates that allicin blocks the action of bacterial enzymes by reacting with thiols. The finding may explain garlic’s potential role in lowering cholesterol, since thiols are also crucial components of some enzymes that participate in the synthesis of cholesterol.

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1997;41:2286-2288.

Ginkgo Extract May Help Alzheimer's

An extract from the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree can stabilize and even improve dementia for up to one year. Researchers in New York and Boston found the extract stabilized or improved cognitive function and social behavior in patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease or multiinfarct dementia, a form of vascular dementia" for six months to one year. Although the mechanism of how it works remains unclear, the extract contains a number of compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some of these compounds may prevent molecular products of oxidation known as free radicals from causing damage to brain cells.

JAMA 1997;278:1327-1332.

Vitamin C Enormously Reduces Cataract Risk

Long-term use of vitamin C reduced the risk of early lens opacities - loss of transparency in a small area of the lens - by 77%, and lowered the risk of moderate opacities by 83% in a group of women whose average age was about 62 years old, according to researchers from Tufts University and Harvard University School of Medicine. The researchers note that none of the women who took vitamin C supplements for 10 years or more developed moderate opacities in the core of the lens. "At this point cataracts can be said to be causally related to oxidative stress." Vitamin C may work against oxidative stress by preventing compounds called Free radicals from causing molecular damage to lens tissue, particularly its proteins. Of the dozen studies on the issue, this new study is unique because the researchers have data on long-term supplementation, and it appears that one has to supplement (vitamin C) for a long period of time to enjoy the benefit.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1997;66:911-916.