Aged Garlic Extract

September 25, 2009 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

The wisdom that comes only after many years of living and learning is generally a desirable by-product of the aging process. On the other hand, many of the physical changes that are a part of the equation are almost always unwelcome. A similar dynamic occurs in the maturation of food. A certain degree of ripeness is necessary in order for most fruits and vegetables to be edible. But if they’re left to ripen for too long, they’ll spoil. However, there are certain instances where prolonged aging of food can yield medicinal properties. One example is the unique aging process that Allium sativum (garlic) sometimes undergoes.

Aged garlic extract (AGE) differs from dietary garlic and most garlic supplements because, as indicated by its name, it is naturally aged for 20 months. During this lengthy period, the garlic changes in a few important ways: 1) the more irritating and pungent properties of the bulb are rendered much milder; 2) a conversion takes place wherein certain phytochemicals that are typically found in raw garlic are transformed into other “sulfur-containing compounds”. The latter point is significant because these substances (gamma-glutamyl cysteine, S-allyl cysteine, S-allyl mercaptocysteine and S-methyl cysteine) are not normally found in cooked or raw garlic and are believed to be responsible for the unique health benefits ascribed to AGE. In addition, recent research presented in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition explains that AGE contains higher levels of certain antioxidant phenols than cooked or raw garlic. (1)

Potent cardiovascular protection is associated with AGE supplementation in three recent human studies. The latest trial was published in June 2009 in the journal Preventive Medicine. 65 patients who were at “intermediate risk” for heart disease were asked to take an AGE nutritional supplement or a placebo for one year. The specific supplement contained 250 mg of aged garlic, 100 mg of l-arginine (an amino acid), 300 mcg of folic acid, 100 mcg of Vitamin B12 and 12.5 mg of Vitamin B6. All of the patients had a coronary artery calcium scan (CAC) and a variety of blood tests at the beginning and end of the treatment period.

  • The accumulation of calcium (plaque) in the AGE group was “significantly lower” than in the placebo group.
  • Total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol and homocysteine levels declined.
  • HDL “good” cholesterol levels increased and there was a reduction in oxidative stress.

The authors of the study concluded that AGE “is associated with a favorable improvement in oxidative biomarkers, vascular function and reduced progression of atherosclerosis“. It’s quite possible that the addition of l-arginine and the supplemental B-Vitamins contributed to the overall efficacy of this supplement. Prior research suggests that these nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties and are supportive of healthy endothelial activity. Both of these characteristics tend to discourage tissue damage and dysfunctional arteries. (2,3,4,5,6,7,8)

In March 2006, another AGE study was presented in the Journal of Nutrition. This time, 1,200 mg of AGE or a placebo was administered to 23 “high-risk patients”. All of the participants were already on a prescribed aspirin (to improve circulation) and statin medication (to lower cholesterol) program. Both groups were followed for a one year period. The researchers tested the patients’ blood for S-allyl cysteine to determine whether they were complying with the therapy. By the end of the 12 month trial, the accumulation of arterial calcification had reduced dramatically in those receiving the aged garlic. Those given the AGE supplement progressed at a rate of only 7.5%. Those given the placebo exhibited a progression rate of 22.2%. (9)

A study appearing in the April 2005 issue of Phytotherapy Research demonstrated that AGE was an effective means of improving circulation (via improved endothelial function) in a group of 15 men with coronary artery disease (CAD). A marker used to determine healthy blood flow (FMD – flow mediated endothelium-dependent dilation) increased by 44% while the participants were taking the aged garlic. In this trial, the AGE garlic was once again given in conjunction with conventional care (aspirin and statin treatment). (10)

The idea that garlic can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease is not a new one. In fact, a recent population study from Italy determined that “intermediate” amounts of dietary garlic appears to reduce heart attack risk by up to 16%. A 2006 review from the Tufts University School of Medicine specifically singled out aged garlic as a potent cardio-tonic. The author of that summary points out several proposed mechanisms by which AGE may deliver protection: a) by combating inflammation; b) improving circulation; c) increasing antioxidant activity in the body; d) inhibiting the oxidation of LDL cholesterol; and e) reducing blood pressure and homocysteine levels. The report goes on to suggest that these same benefits appear to confer risk reduction as it applies to age-related dementia. (11,12)

Another reason to consider AGE is that it appears to counter physical fatigue. This can be a major issue in those suffering from cardiovascular disease. Moreover, an inability to stay active may contribute to disease progression and related issues such as obesity. (13,14)

Some of the studies I’ve cited today have successfully combined AGE with conventional medications. If you decide to try aged garlic and you happen to be on medications, I would suggest that you ask your doctor or pharmacist whether the combination is appropriate. There are some theoretical concerns about interactions mentioned in the medical literature. Until there is a more definite consensus about this issue, I think it’s important to err on the side of caution. (15,16,17)

I’m thrilled that research is being conducted on natural medicines like AGE. But please keep in mind that such studies are intended to specifically test the merits of this one supplement. They don’t ask the study volunteers to change their diets or to make other healthful lifestyle modifications. The only thing they’re instructed to do is to “pop a pill”. The pill itself may be a powerful, therapeutic tool, but if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness, make sure to not put all your eggs in one basket. A single pill is rarely the entire solution to any health problem. Rather, we need to look at every aspect of our lives and try to make any necessary changes that can help us find our way back to good health.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!

JP

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Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements

10 Comments & Updates to “Aged Garlic Extract”

  1. Sai Says:

    Greetings JP!

    This is a very good article. I cannot have raw garlic (for the smell) and this information about aged garlic is a very good news. I personally take Kyolic (Cardiovascular). It is good but when i take it after food i feel uncomfortable. I just have to figure out the correct time that i have take them (Given the Multivitamins, and Prescription meds). Nice to send a message to you after a long time.

    Great Post!

    Best Regards

    Sai.

  2. JP Says:

    Great to hear from you, Sai!

    Kyolic is a fine brand. I believe it is their “Formula #108 (Total Heart Health)” that was used in the recent studies I cited.

    The truth is that we all have to experiment to find the best way to use supplements. As an example, some people need to freeze fish oil capsules (soft gels) – prior to taking them – in order to digest them without any issues. Others need to take their vitamins in the middle of meals – rather than at the beginning or after eating. I’m sure you’ll find an acceptable solution too. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Davy Says:

    Are the AGC good benefits for melanoma?

  4. JP Says:

    Davey,

    A brief search only turned up preliminary evidence that suggests that aged garlic (and it’s components) may combat melanoma.

    http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/full/136/3/821S – This focuses on colon cancer but also discusses other malignancies that may be responsive to aged garlic.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8421600 – S-allyl cysteine is a natural substance found in aged garlic extract.

    Other laboratory studies hint that other components of garlic, such as ajoene, may one day become useful tools in the battle against this form of cancer.

    http://www.cancerletters.info/article/S0304-3835%2805%2900811-6/abstract

    http://www.cancerletters.info/article/S0304-3835%2803%2900772-9/abstract

    Be well!

    JP

  5. gotham Says:

    Nice article, but how do you age garlic? What are the steps involved?

  6. JP Says:

    Hi, Gotham.

    The aged garlic I’m referring to is manufactured under controlled conditions by a major supplement manufacturer (Wakungaga Nutritional Supplements). The process is described here:

    http://www.kyolic.com/category/introduction/

    Be well!

    JP

  7. JP Says:

    Updated 1/15/16:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26764327?dopt=Abstract

    J Nutr. 2016 Jan 13.

    Garlic and Heart Disease.

    BACKGROUND: Thousands of studies have been published based on animal and human studies evaluating garlic’s effects and safety.

    OBJECTIVE: We reviewed the available literature investigating the effects of garlic supplements on hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, C-reactive protein (CRP), pulse wave velocity (PWV), and coronary artery calcium (CAC), as well as available data on side effects.

    METHODS: We searched PubMed for all human studies using medical subject heading words through 30 May 2013 and assessed relevant review articles and original studies. Only double-blind, randomized, controlled trials and meta-analyses of double-blind, randomized, controlled trials were included. The review of articles and data extraction were performed by 2 independent authors, with any disagreements resolved by consensus.

    RESULTS: Garlic supplementation reduced blood pressure by 7-16 mm Hg (systolic) and 5-9 mm Hg (diastolic) (4 meta-analyses and 2 original studies). It reduced total cholesterol by 7.4-29.8 mg/dL (8 meta-analyses). The most consistent benefits were shown in studies that used aged garlic extract (AGE). A few small studies that used AGE also showed favorable effects on CAC, CRP, and PWV. Although garlic is generally safe, rare adverse reactions have been documented with limited causality established.

    CONCLUSION: We conclude that garlic supplementation has the potential for cardiovascular protection based on risk factor reduction (hypertension and total cholesterol) and surrogate markers (CRP, PWV, and CAC) of atherosclerosis. Larger studies are warranted to evaluate these effects further.

    Be well!

    JP

  8. JP Says:

    Updated 1/16/16:

    http://jn.nutrition.org/content/early/2016/01/13/jn.115.210427.abstract

    Aged Garlic Extract Modifies Human Immunity1,2,3

    J Nutr. 2016 Jan 13.

    Garlic contains numerous compounds that have the potential to influence immunity. Immune cells, especially innate immune cells, are responsible for the inflammation necessary to kill pathogens. Two innate lymphocytes, γδ-T and natural killer (NK) cells, appear to be susceptible to diet modification. The purpose of this review was to summarize the influence of aged garlic extract (AGE) on the immune system. The author’s laboratory is interested in AGE’s effects on cell proliferation and activation and inflammation and to learn whether those changes might affect the occurrence and severity of colds and flu. Healthy human participants (n = 120), between 21 and 50 y of age, were recruited for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel-intervention study to consume 2.56 g AGE/d or placebo supplements for 90 d during the cold and flu season. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were isolated before and after consumption, and γδ-T and NK cell function was assessed by flow cytometry. The effect on cold and flu symptoms was determined by using daily diary records of self-reported illnesses. After 45 d of AGE consumption, γδ-T and NK cells proliferated better and were more activated than cells from the placebo group. After 90 d, although the number of illnesses was not significantly different, the AGE group showed reduced cold and flu severity, with a reduction in the number of symptoms, the number of days participants functioned suboptimally, and the number of work/school days missed. These results suggest that AGE supplementation may enhance immune cell function and may be partly responsible for the reduced severity of colds and flu reported. The results also suggest that the immune system functions well with AGE supplementation, perhaps with less accompanying inflammation.

    Be well!

    JP

  9. JP Says:

    Updated 06/28/16:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27347407

    Biomed Rep. 2016 Jul;5(1):63-67.

    Intake of black-vinegar-mash-garlic enhances salivary release of secretory IgA: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study.

    Several previous studies have provided evidence that suggests the beneficial effects of garlic and black vinegar on human health, including benefits to immune function. The preliminary study indicated that the intake of black-vinegar-mash-garlic-containing food, created from aged garlic pickled in the mash of black vinegar, enhanced the release of secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) in the saliva. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of the food in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial. The trial was conducted in subjects aged between 30 and 60 years whose rate of salivary sIgA release was moderately low. Subjects consumed 2.49 g of placebo or black-vinegar-mash-garlic-containing food (active food) daily for 8 weeks. The data obtained with 54 eligible subjects (n=28 and 26 for placebo and active, respectively) were analyzed for efficacy. The rates of salivary sIgA release in the active food group (35.9±84.6 and 47.9±123.4 µg/min at weeks 4 and 8 of intake; changes from pretrial value) were higher compared to the respective rates in the placebo food group (-12.3±72.1 and -3.2±85.9 µg/min, P=0.028 and 0.082, respectively). These findings indicate that intake of black-vinegar-mash-garlic-containing food enhanced the intraoral immune response. There was no adverse event associated with the intake of active food.

    Be well!

    JP

  10. JP Says:

    Updated 09/15/16:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27627579

    J Med Food. 2016 Sep 14.

    Aged Garlic Supplement Protects Against Lipid Peroxidation in Hypercholesterolemic Individuals.

    The health benefits of raw garlic intake has been extensively studied, but little is known about the biological effects of aged garlic consumption. A randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-arm, double-blinded trial involving 41 hypercholesterolemic individuals was conducted to simultaneously examine and compare the blood lipid lowering and antioxidant effects after acute and extended exposures to aged and raw garlic supplements (1080 mg daily). Aged and raw garlic did not affect blood lipid concentrations in these hypercholesterolemic participants after acute and 13-week supplementation. The plasma and urinary F2-isoprostanes concentrations were significantly decreased after 13 weeks of aged garlic treatment. Aged garlic supplementation over 13 weeks also significantly decreased serum lipid hydroperoxide concentration and myeloperoxidase activity. Raw garlic treatments did not affect the F2-isoprostanes concentrations in blood plasma and urine, and lipid hydroperoxides in blood sera. Acute effects on the measured parameters were absent for both garlic treatments. In separate in vitro experiments, aqueous methanolic extract of aged garlic inhibited F2-isoprostanes formation and myeloperoxidase activity in freshly isolated human neutrophils to a greater extent than the raw garlic extract and S-allylcysteine at equivalent dosing concentrations. The aged garlic preparation was found to contain significantly higher total phenolic and S-allylcysteine contents than the raw garlic precursor. Our data showed that supplementation with aged garlic, not its raw garlic precursor, reduced oxidative stress and alleviated lipid peroxidation, possibly via the inhibition of myeloperoxidase. The differential antioxidant actions of the aged and raw garlic may be related to their different total phenolic contents and, to a lesser extent, their S-allylcysteine contents.

    Be well!

    JP

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