The Remarkable Immune-boosting Actions of AGE

The Remarkable Immune-boosting Actions of AGE

Garlic has been used traditionally throughout the centuries to support the body’s immune defenses to overcome sickness and to help increase energy level and vigor. Today, medical research confirms many of these health effects and more Specifically, natural, odorless aged garlic extract (AGE) shows more effectiveness than fresh bulbs of garlic in helping protect against disease and age-related conditions.

The most popular AGE supplement on the market is made from organically grown garlic by Wakunaga of America and goes by the name Kyolic®. Through a long process of extraction and aging at room temperature, the harsh volatile substances found in fresh garlic are converted to beneficial stable compounds, thereby increasing the levels of antioxidants above those in the fresh bulb. This gives AGE its power. AGE has been shown in clinical and preclinical studies to lower the risk of a wide range of diseases including cancer and cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases; prevent the toxicity of free radical-producing drugs and radiation, including UV; and enhance immunity.

Our Immune System and Health
Much of our health depends on an intact and vigorous immune system that protects against infectious bacteria, viruses, fungi and the development of cancer. A compromised immune system may enable bacteria and viruses that we encounter to trigger illnesses—and sometimes serious diseases that can lead to death.

In most cases our immune systems can handle a stunning variety of pathogens and microbes and overcome inflammation, but there is always a battle between a pathogen and the immune response, and once it goes into high gear, the winning side will determine if the result will be sickness or health. Our goal is to maintain a fortified immune system in order to protect us from invading microorganisms that cause colds and flu and combat inflammation, now known to play a critical role in cardiovascular disease as well as in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

The immune system is complex and multilayered. Inflammation is one of its first responses to infection and involves the release of substances called prostaglandins and leukotrienes, which attract white blood cells (leukocytes) and interferon that do the fighting.

Leukocytes comprise a wide range of immune cells, including phagocytes (macrophages, neutrophils and dendritic cells) that engulf foreign invaders; mast cells that reside in connective tissues and mucous membranes and regulate the inflammatory response most often associated with allergies; and natural killer cells (NK), which attack and destroy cancer cells and cells infected by viruses.

A subclass of the leukocytes are the B and T lymphocytes. T cells include killer T cells, whose function is to kill cells infected with viruses and other pathogens, and helper T cells, whose action is to determine which types of immune responses the body will make to a particular pathogen.

AGE Enhances Immunity
AGE has been shown in a wide range of preclinical and clinical studies to enhance the immune response, helping to mitigate infectious diseases, restore healthy inflammation levels and protect against the proliferation of abnormal cells. AGE intake has been found to enhance the phagocytic (cell-killing) activity of macrophages, increase T lymphocyte activity, increase the number and activity of NK cells and have anti-cancer effects. AGE also was found to inhibit the release of allergy-causing histamine and promote healthy inflammation levels by suppressing prostaglandins and enhancing interferon.

A randomized double-blind clinical study published in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of Nutrition showed that AGE administered to patients with inoperable colorectal, liver or pancreatic cancer resulted in a significant increase in the number and activity of the NK cells.

A study on AIDS patients with lower levels of NK cells that was published in the April 1989 issue of the German Journal of Oncology showed that AGE enhanced NK cells and helper T cells. The researchers reported that after a six-week intake of AGE at 1,800 mg/day, the level of NK cells rose to that of the healthy individuals! Helper T cells were also increased, and patients showed improvement in a variety of conditions, including herpes and candida infections and diarrhea.

AGE Protects Against UV-induced Immunosuppression
Studies in Australia on human volunteers have shown that immunosuppression by exposure to UV (ultraviolet) irradiation may be associated with increased incidences of skin cancer.

AGE has been found to quell the immunosuppressive effects of UV radiation. In a preclinical study published in the December 1993 issue of Photochemical Photobiology using contact hypersensitivity as the immune response, the authors observed that immunosuppression, induced by moderate exposure to UVB radiation (58 percent suppression) declined dramatically to 19 percent with the intake of AGE. The preclinical studies offer the possibility that AGE may also help protect humans against UV-induced immunosuppression, with a potential to lower the risk of skin cancer.

AGE Promotes Healthy Inflammation Levels
Oxidative damage and inflammation, in which prostaglandins play an important role, have been linked to the development of cancer, neurodegenerative disease and cardiovascular disease; AGE has been associated with the reduction of certain prostaglandins. In a clinical study published in the February 2002 issue of the Journal of Nutrition on nonsmokers and smokers, it was reported that dietary supplementation with AGE for 14 days showed reduced plasma and urine concentrations of prostaglandin 8-iso-PGF(2 alpha) by 29 percent and 37 percent, respectively, in nonsmokers and by 35 percent and 48 percent in smokers. Fourteen days after cessation of dietary supplementation, plasma and urine concentrations of 8-iso-PGF(2 alpha) returned to values that were no different from those before AGE consumption in both smokers and nonsmokers. The study indicates that AGE may help decrease proinflammatory substances and that AGE intake should be continuous in order to maintain protection.

AGE, Colds and Flu
The findings of a new clinical trial, presented in April 2011 at the Experimental Biology meetings in Washington, D.C., showed that AGE appears to be a powerful immunoprotector against colds and flu. In the double-blind placebo-controlled study, performed by Dr. Susan Percival and colleagues, 120 healthy volunteers, ages 21 to 50, received either 2.56 grams/day AGE (60 volunteers) or placebo (60 volunteers) for three months during the cold and flu season. Immune function was assessed by measuring NK cells and T cells; the effects of AGE compared to placebo on inflammation were determined by measuring the levels of inflammatory markers, which included interferon, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin 12 and C-reactive protein.

The investigators found that with the AGE volunteers, the severity of colds and flu was significantly less compared to placebo, though incidence was no different. AGE appeared to enhance immunity by increasing the levels and activities of T and NK cells as the first line of immune defense, enhance the activity of glutathione in lymphocytes, and significantly reduce inflammation markers.

This latest clinical study indicates that AGE holds promise as a powerful weapon against colds and flu due to its ability to support the body’s immune defenses.

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