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Aged garlic can protect your liver, show scientists

Do you frown upon the smell of garlic? Perhaps it’s time to ‘age’ it and use it as it may help you protect your liver. In a recent study, researchers from the Chettinad Academy of Research and Education, Chennai, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, and the University of Kalyani, West Bengal, have studied how aged garlic extract can help fight cancer and repair damaged liver. The results of the study were published in the journal Drug and Chemical Toxicology.

Garlic, or Allium sativum, has historically been a part of many cuisines around the world. Its medicinal uses are documented in many traditional systems of medicine. However, thanks to the sulphur-based compound called allicin, the unpleasant odour of raw garlic puts off many from eating it. Aged garlic extract can provide all the goodness of garlic minus the smell. It is produced by storing fresh garlic in ethanol for a long time, sometimes up to months. This process of ageing retains all the useful compounds found in raw garlic but not allicin.

The researchers of the current study used rats in their experiment to study the beneficial effects of aged garlic. They first treated the rats with two cancer-causing agents, p-dimethylaminoazobenzene and phenobarbital, which harmed the liver of the rats. When the rats showed signs of liver damage, they were treated with aged garlic extract daily to observe how it helps to repair the damage. 

Toxicity in a liver leads to accumulation of products like serum triglyceride, creatinine, urea, and blood urea nitrogen. The experiments by the researchers showed that aged garlic extract was able to reduce the above compounds, establishing the fact that the treatment was beneficial for the rats. The garlic extract also protected the liver by balancing the amount of blood glucose, HDL-cholesterol, albumin, and haemoglobin in the liver.

Besides the aged garlic extract, the researchers also studied the efficacy of a commercially available aged garlic extract called kyolic. It is prepared from organically grown garlic with an ageing process of up to 20 months. The kyolic extract showed the ability to control the growth of the liver cancer cells.

Although the beneficial properties of garlic and its extracts were known, this study presents a systematic assessment of the beneficial effects of generic aged garlic extract and the specific kyolic garlic extract. “Our study validates the use of aged garlic extract in the treatment of diseases causing liver toxicity including liver cancer”, say the researchers explaining the potential applications of their findings.