Garlic

Learn how this natural supplement can cure your dog's ailments.

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Most of us who read the ads and labels for garlic preparations or supplements at health food stores are continually reminded of allicina volatile oil constituent of garlic. Once believed to be the definitive factor in garlics healing abilities, allicin represents only a segment of garlics complex, medicinally versatile chemistry. This is not to say that allicin is not useful; actually it is one of the most impressive broad-spectrum antimicrobial substances available in nature, with dozens of scientific studies to back up this claim. Researchers have found that allicin may be more effective against harmful microbes than tetracycline, a frequently prescribed antibiotic drug.2 And unlike conventional antibiotics, garlic works against many forms of virus and won't compromise populations of beneficial flora in the digestive tract when ingested in the appropriate amounts. 

Despite its clear value as a healing agent, allicin is not the only healing agent in garlic worth considering. In fact, the presence of allicin in garlic preparations is not required at all in many situations where garlic may prove beneficial. At least thirty other compounds contained in garlic have been shown to be useful for conditions ranging from skin disorders to cancer.

Allicin is an unstable compound that dissipates quickly when exposed to air, moisture, or heat. Unless special measures are taken to preserve it, the allicin content in many garlic preparations are nil by the time they reach someone who needs them. To confront this dilemma, several garlic preparations that have been standardized to allicin are available on the market. These extracts, powders, capsules, and tablets have had a certain percentage of allicin added in the laboratory to guarantee their potency.

Such formulas are safe and effective when used properly for specific antimicrobial purposes but are generally unnecessary and expensive for use in most other instances where garlic is indicated. And, despite the claims of many manufacturers, consumers can't tell if the allicin content in a standardized preparation still exists at the time of use. Unless a laboratory analysis is performed after the product has reached store shelves, theres no way of knowing whether the allicins potency has vanished from the formula.

Before you use a standardized formula, try to find out how the manufacturer can guarantee the allicin content in the product after it leaves the lab. If the companys answer is satisfactory, then bear in mind that many of garlics other medicinal constituents may be absent or overpowered by an unnatural abundance of allicin and that you will be using garlic in a manner beyond natures design. Regardless of what the manufacturer might say, nature endows garlic with a specific amount of allicin as well as hundreds of other compounds that serve unified purposes.

When we isolate a single constituent from the whole plant, we are no longer working within a natural context, and we limit the healing potential of that plant to the confines of what we know, as opposed to what might be possible. While scientists are beginning to understand how single chemical elements and compounds work in or on the body, we still know very little about how they work in a synergistic capacity. In this realm, just beyond our understanding, a great many healing secrets are waiting to be discovered. Any good herbalist will tell you that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.

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Janet   Bethlehem, PA

2/11/2012 6:32:15 AM

good article, thank you

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