Garlic, scientific name allium sativum, is an essential ingredient for cooking, it is excellent rubbed on slices of toasted bread and really delicious minced and added to the preparations of sauces and fillings. But garlic is also a powerful source of important substances for health. In fact, it is useful in reducing cardiovascular risk and tumors, has an antioxidant and antimicrobial effect, helps detoxification processes and is protective for the liver (Bayan et al, AJP, 2013). These properties are attributed to allicin, a sulphured substance that is produced when garlic is minced and chewed. But garlic is not only a healthy and tasty culinary ingredient, in fact, thanks to its properties, from garlic various herbal remedies are produced. These remedies, however, are not all the same, on the contrary, they differ from each other both for the processing method and for the substances contained, and therefore for their effects (Mathew et al, ljm). Before proceeding further and analyzing in detail the characteristics and properties of the different garlic supplements, it is good to observe that before taking this type of supplements it is better to ask your doctor for advice to avoid interactions with drugs that are in use. In fact, interactions with antiviral, antidiabetic, antiplatelet and heart drugs are reported (Berginc et al, Eur J Nutr, 2010).
Garlic powder contains alliin and is able to lower cholesterol levels and triglyceride. It is found in herbalist’s shops in the form of capsules.
Aqueous extracts of garlic
These supplements are antibacterial and protect the heart. Moreover, they stimulate the immune system and therefore are useful in case of colds, pharyngitis and recurrent bronchitis. Finally, these extracts of garlic are also an effective pesticide and can be used to keep insects and pests away from plants in the garden.
Oily extracts of garlic
The oily extract of garlic is obtained by steam distillation. This type of supplement has almost completely lost allicin but contains sulphides. The extract is antibacterial and stimulates the immune system (Arreola et al, Journal of Immunology research, 2015).
Aged garlic extract
In chemist’s and herbalist’s shops there is also another type of garlic-based supplement, which is very powerful according to several scientific studies that are certifying its properties, we are talking about aged garlic extracts. This is achieved when dried garlic is stored for about a year and a half in a 15% ethanol solution. Following this process, the properties of garlic change, a large amount of allicin is in fact lost while other substances such as selenium, S allyl cysteine and allixin, all stable and highly antioxidant compounds, increase their activity (Bayan et al, AJP 2013). Therefore, the aged garlic extract shows more antioxidant properties than fresh garlic and garlic powder. Thanks to these characteristics, aged garlic extracts are more effective against free radicals and are able to prevent the oxidation of LDL bad cholesterol which is a process recognized as the antechamber of arteriosclerosis (Elosta et al, Scientific reports, 2016 ). Not only that, this extract is also able to counteract platelet aggregation, and therefore helps to thin the blood, to lower blood pressure in case of hypertension, plays a role in improving the elasticity of blood vessels and counteracts inflammation (Ried et al, Integrated blood pressure control, 2016). For this reason, aged garlic extracts are beneficial in protecting the heart and counteracting the aging processes.