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The Word on HerbsGarlic
Dennis Blank Reporting On The First World Congress On Garlic And Health
For centuries there has been a mystical folklore about garlic and its magical healing ability. On blind faith, many used it to cure colds, flu and a whole shopping list of ailments. People knew garlic made them feel better, but they didn't always understand why.
Now scientists have discovered not only how certain microbial and cancer fighting chemicals from garlic work but why they work the way they do. With years of serious research behind them, these researchers are now convinced that garlic and aged garlic extract has been highly effective in reducing the two leading causes of death, cancer and heart disease and extending life itself.
This also has led them into new areas that show promise but need more research: garlic products could be very important in the overall effort to prevent yeast infections and breast cancer in women, two new growing health problems.
One of the leading authorities on garlic research, Dr. Robert I. Lin, chairman of the First World Congress of the Health Significance of Garlic and Garlic Constituents, suggests that a daily dose of cooked garlic or garlic extract along with good eating habits and o good lifestyle "can substantially reduce the risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease in society." He cautions users, however, against using row garlic for treating disease without proper medical supervision.
So much is being done that more than 40 researchers from 15 countries gathered recently in Washington, DC, to compare notes and set new directions.
They agreed that more research is needed to verify preliminary success of their experiments.
$20.5 MILLION STUDY
Underscoring the importance of garlic launched a $20.5 million study that will be scrutinizing garlic, along with other vegetables such as leeks and onions that may prevent cancer.
"Garlic is the best candidate as a cancer-fighting substance," says Dr. Herbert Pierson, the NCI scientist who will direct the five-year study. He pointed out that research in both China and Italy show a large reduction in stomach cancer by people who ate various forms of garlic on a daily basis.
Scientists believe the key players in garlic that make a very good medicine are its sulfur compounds. Although they are less certain of the chemical reaction that takes place, particularly when the growth of deadly cancer cells is restricted.
However, Dr. Lin discovered when garlic is cooked, processed, or metabolized, it releases what is called thiol or thiol reagents that may modulate the body's defense of cancerous cells. He also proved that these substances can protect the body against nuclear radiation and protect the liver against environment pollution.
Since radiation and pollution are important causes of cancer these substances may also protect us against cancer.
"It seems that garlic contains several kinds of anti-tumor promoting principles," says Japan's medical researcher Hoyoku Nishino.
STIMULATES IMMUNE CELLS
Even more interesting is the fact that garlic not only prevents tumor growth, but also stimulates immune cells, according to Dr. Benjamin Lau, physician and author of the book, Garlic for Health. "Garlic apparently stimulates the body's immune system, particularly enhancing the macrophages and lymphocytes, which destroy cancer cells," Dr. Lau said.
"We are understandably excited to see that a natural substance can have such impact on cancer prevention," he said. The Loma Linda University medical researcher performed a number of experiments using an garlic product and concluded that it prevents and suppresses cancer.
A group of researchers at UCLA just recently used an aged garlic extract to treat melanoma, a skin cancer that is spreading at alarming rates in the U.S. They also concluded that garlic suppressed the growth of cancerous cells.
In the meantime, three researchers at West Virginia University were concerned about the increase of bladder cancer. Led by Dr. Donald Lamm, the WVU researchers used aged garlic extract to fight the deadly cancer cells. "The highly beneficial reduction in tumor growth with aged garlic extract immunotherapy, "Dr. Lamm said, "suggests that it will prove to be a highly effective form of immunotherapy "
Dr. Lin and Dr. Oureshi studied the serum lipid reducing effects of garlic. Using a dose level that caused no adverse effects in chicks, there was a 50 percent reduction of LDL cholesterol. "This demonstrates the strong cardiovascular protective effects of garlic," Dr. Lin said.
Scientists also want to find out how much emotions and stress play in causing these deadly diseases.
Dr. Richard Kuentansky of Slovak Academy demonstrated that AGE reduces the stress-induced activation of the peripheral sympathetic symptom. Such a response is beneficial to the cardiovascular functions.
"In my own work with stressed patients," says Dr. Lau, "I have noted that those who use garlic regularly suffer much less from the effects of stress. Without more medical experimentation, the reasons why cannot be explained at this point," he said.
Dr. Lin points out that the use of garlic extracts on a daily basis as an anti-oxidant/anti-free radical agent, along with a good diet may lead to longer, more rewarding lives and may save billions of dollars in medical costs. "The expected benefits are subtle and preventive, and can only be achieved from long term consumption of proper amounts," Dr. Lin said.
Health Now November 1990