When garlic comes to mind, you probably think of its pungent taste and usefulness in cooking. However, garlic has been part of traditional herbal medicine for centuries, and kyolic garlic, a type of aged garlic extract that's also odor free, is recommended by practitioners for many common ailments. Modern science supports some potentially significant health benefits from consuming kyolic garlic.
The possible health benefits of the garlic plant, or Allium sativum, were recognized as early as the time of ancient Egypt and later in medieval Europe. Crushing garlic increases its medicinal properties because it converts an inactive substance in the fresh clove called alliin into a biologically active compound, allicin. Aging garlic extract to produce kyolic garlic helps remove its natural but pungent odor, while keeping the potency of allicin and several other garlic compounds. These components are antioxidants that help eliminate free radicals from your body, which are byproducts of digestion or exposure to toxins that can raise your risk of several health problems.
Consuming garlic extract can benefit your cardiovascular system, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University website. It suppresses a liver enzyme involved in cholesterol production, helping lower blood levels of low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol. Its antioxidant properties may also slow buildup of cholesterol-containing material called plaque in arteries, helping prevent atherosclerosis. In a study published in March 2001 in the "Journal of Nutrition," researchers found that laboratory animals fed a diet rich in kyolic garlic had significantly less fatty deposits in their aortas than control subjects. Another study published in March 2006 in the same journal found that garlic extract helped lessen atherosclerosis in a group of human subjects already taking medications for this problem.
Evidence also exists suggesting that garlic-derived extracts have anti-cancer properties. This may partly reflect the ability of garlic compounds to induce a self-destructive process called apoptosis in cancerous cells, according to the Linus Pauling Institute website, which states that garlic could also stop cancer cells from multiplying. Consuming garlic regularly is associated with lower rates of several cancers, notes the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website. These include stomach, colon, prostate and uterine cancer, as well as some cancers of the blood. These are promising observations, but large, randomized clinical trials are still needed to confirm garlic's possible protection against cancer.
Safety and Interactions
Consuming kyolic garlic is generally considered safe, although it might cause heartburn or gastrointestinal problems in some people. Garlic is a natural blood thinner, so it might interact with certain medications that also thin the blood, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It could also interact with medications used to treat HIV/AIDS or with birth control pills. Garlic is considered generally safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but you should nevertheless discuss its use with your doctor to determine if it might be helpful for you.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Garlic
- Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract: The Kyolic Difference
- Journal of Nutrition: Molecular Basis by Which Garlic Suppresses Atherosclerosis
- Journal of Nutrition: Aged Garlic Extract Retards Progression of Coronary Artery Calcification
- Drugs.com: Garlic
- Linus Pauling Institute: Garlic and Organosulfur Compounds
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cance Center: Garlic
Joanne Marie began writing professionally in 1981. Her work has appeared in health, medical and scientific publications such as Endocrinology and Journal of Cell Biology. She has also published in hobbyist offerings such as The Hobstarand The Bagpiper. Marie is a certified master gardener and has a Ph.D. in anatomy from Temple University School of Medicine.