Allicin from Garlic Boosts Flow of Blood to Protect the Heart

The chemical that causes garlic to give you bad breath may be the same one that protects your heart, according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Allicin is produced when garlic is chopped, crushed or chewed. It further breaks down in the body into a variety of sulfur-containing compounds, some of which cause a strong odor typically associated with garlic breath. But hydrogen sulfide can also have a relaxing effect on blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and decreasing the risk of heart attacks. Lower blood pressure also allows the blood to carry more oxygen to the body's organs, improving overall health.

Researchers took blood vessels from rats and immersed them in a solution of crushed garlic juice. They observed a 72 percent reduction of tension in the blood vessels. In addition, red blood cells that were exposed to small quantities of crushed garlic juice were observed to start giving off hydrogen sulfide immediately. The researchers found that the chemical reaction causing the emission of hydrogen sulfide appeared to take place mostly on the surface of the cells.

"Our results suggest garlic in the diet is a very good thing," said lead researcher David Kraus. "Certainly in areas where garlic consumption is high, such as the Mediterranean and the Far East, there is a low incidence of cardiovascular disease."

Garlic is also known for its anti-cancer abilities. Used topically, crushed garlic eats away cancer tumors on the skin. Used internally, garlic halts the growth of cancer tumors throughout the body, functioning as a natural, non-prescription "chemotherapy" agent that has no negative side effects.

Garlic is strongest in its raw state. The longer garlic is cooked, the more of its healing phytochemicals are destroyed. To use garlic medicinally, use small amounts of it raw, or cook it minimally. (naturalnews, 4.04.2008, David Gutierrez | Key concepts: garlic, allicin and blood vessels