AGE—The Pathogen-fighting Herb

AGE—The Pathogen-fighting Herb

by Carmia Borek, PhD

Good health is founded upon a healthy and vigorous immune system. Our immune system protects us from infectious bacteria, viruses and fungi that invade our bodies and threaten disease and death. Yet, the battle between a pathogen and the immune response can go on unnoticed for some time, and the winning side will determine whether the outcome will result in sickness or health. Hence, maintaining a fortified immune system protects against infection, helps battle colds and flu, and combats inflammation. One of the most wellresearched nutritional supplements for immune support is Aged Garlic Extract (AGE). AGE is particularly impressive as several new studies show how this powerful nutritional supplement helps to protect against cold and flu as well as periodontitis- causing bacteria. For those who are serious about immune support, a high-quality AGE supplement such as any one of Kyolic AGE formulas by Wakunaga of America is an excellent choice.

Cold and flu sufferers take note. A recent study published in the January 2012 issue of Clinical Nutrition determined that Kyolic AGE may reduce the duration of the common cold or bout with flu by as much as 61 percent! The randomized, doubleblind, placebo-controlled trial recruited 120 healthy subjects (60 per group) to determine the effect of AGE supplementation (2.56 g per day) on immune cell proliferation and cold and flu symptoms compared to placebo. After 45 days of administering an encapsulated aged garlic extract or placebo to participants, investigators found that immune gamma delta T cells and immune natural killer cells (NK cells), which are the first line of immune defense, replicated more vigorously compared toplacebo. After 90 days of supplementation, the group consuming the aged garlic extract showed reduced severity of cold and flu symptoms (21 percent less) and a reduction in the number of days (61 percent fewer) and incidences (58 percent fewer) of cold and flu.

Additionally, the researchers found that AGE enhanced the antioxidant glutathione in the immune white cells (lymphocytes) and significantly reduced the inflammation marker interferongamma. This is significant as inflammation is an underlying component in many diseases.

The results of this study clearly suggest that supplementation with AGE enhances immune cell function and is in part responsible for the reduced severity of colds and flu.

Many have heard of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It’s the dreaded bacteria prevalent in hospitals and responsible for infections that can be deadly and is spreading to communities at large, contaminating otherwise healthy people and causing serious skin conditions as well as potentially life-threatening infections in many organs. Garlic compounds have been found to be effective in destroying antibiotic-resistant MRSA, potentially staving off infections.

Diallyl sulfides present in AGE act as natural antibiotics against MRSA. In a study published in the June 2007 Journal of Medical Microbiology, researchers fed diallyl sulfides to diabetic subjects after infection with MRSA. The study used 16 clinical MRSA isolates obtained from infected patients. The preclinical models were infected by injecting a solution containing MRSA. At 16 hours post infection, garlic extract, diallyl sulfide or diallyl disulfide was administered orally. The oral administration of these agents significantly decreased MRSA viability in the blood, liver, kidney and spleen. The clinical isolates decreased major markers of inflammation, supporting the potential role of these compounds in combating MRSA. To quote the authors of the study, “These data strongly supported the conclusion that garlic extract, diallyl sulfide and diallyl disulfide possessed multiple protective functions against MRSA infection, in which diallyl sulfide and diallyl disulfide could be considered as novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of MRSA infection.”

Periodontitis, caused by microorganisms that stick to and grow on the surface of teeth, is a set of inflammatory diseases that affect the tissues that surround and support the teeth. This disease causes a progressive loss of gum around the teeth that, if left untreated, can lead to the loss of teeth.

An in vitro preclinical study from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and published in the February 2012 online version of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, shows that lipid-soluble garlic compounds that are present in AGE can help fight the microorganisms that cause periodontitis. The in vitro antibacterial effects of diallyl sulfide (DAS) was studied against the Gram-negative bacterium Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (Aa), the key pathogen responsible for the severe form of aggressive periodontitis and other non-oral infections. Aa was treated either with garlic extract, allicin or DAS. The study found that garlic extract, allicin and DAS significantly inhibited the growth of Aa when compared to untreated control cells.

DAS-treated Aa cells also showed a complete inhibition of glutathione S-transferase activity which is important in metabolic reactions and needed for the viability of the microorganisms. The results suggest that DAS-induced glutathione S-transferaseinhibition may be involved in the death of the bacterial Aa cells. To quote the authors of the study, “These findings demonstrate that DAS exhibits significant antibacterial activity against Aa and this property might be utilized for exploring its therapeutic potential in Aa-associated oral and non-oral infections.”

Another study in the February 2012 Archives of Iranian Medicine addressed the therapeutic effects of garlic on humans. Saliva samples were collected from 40 subjects into vials that provided growth conditions for any microorganisms present in the saliva. One set of vials was exposed to a garlic extract while control specimens were prepared by the same method without exposure to garlic extract. All samples were incubated at 37°C for 48 hours. Assessments were made based on colony counts to determine the inhibitory activity of garlic extracts on oral salivary microorganisms. The results of this study showed that the garlic extract significantly reduced the microbial growth compared to the control group. The authors concluded, “According to our findings, garlic extract is effective in the reduction of an oral microbial population. It may be useful as an alternative product and new treatment modality with fewer side effects.”

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