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
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
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
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
AGE, Colds and Flu
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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