Garlic has been one of the most popular condiments. Garlic has also acquired a world-wide reputation in folklore including ancient civilizations, such as Egypt, Greece, Rome, Northern Europe, and China.
Historical and Traditional Use of Garlic
Condiment/flavoring preparations: With little effort, you can find numerous recipes calling for garlic as a condiment/flavoring. Most of these recipes require some method of processing and/or cooking. Boiling and baking, and also very simple processes, such as slicing, chopping, or grinding raw garlic, initiate many chemical reactions within the garlic and result in completely different chemical constituents compared to those originally found in the whole raw garlic cloves. Salubrious/Salutary preparations Preparation of garlic for beneficial use can be classified into the following two categories: 1. Topical/external use: Ground or sliced raw garlic cloves applied directly onto wounds or injuries. Used in this way, allicin, produced enzymatically from alliin, may play an important role in killing bacteria to prevent infections. However, allicin may also destroy tissues on contact, as previously mentioned, thus limiting the utility of its anti-bacterial properties and making it inappropriate for internal consumption. 2. Internal use: A number of recipes for the preparation of garlic for internal use are shown in the historical herbal books published in Europe, China and India. All of these recipes include some type of processing, such as boiling, baking, pickling or aging of raw garlic. In the Orient, aging is the unique and traditional method used to increase the benefits of herbs and to decrease or eliminate any toxicity. Hundreds of sulfur-containing compounds and unique amino acid derivatives formed through chemical and biological reactions, in addition to the non-sulfur compounds, contribute to the benefits of the internal use of garlic.
Recent scientific findings
Recent scientific findings have given validity to these traditional methods for preparing garlic. It is well-known that garlic cloves contain alliin and the enzyme, alliinase. Cutting or crushing garlic cloves activates alliinase, which catalyzes the reaction that converts alliin to allicin. However, allicin is an odorous, highly unstable and reactive/oxidative compound which readily decomposes to other sulfur-containing compounds (5, 6). Therefore, raw garlic and related preparations are chemically unstable and have been known to cause side effects, such as stomach disorders and allergic reactions when taken internally (7, 8). Thus, such preparations would be of limited application. Furthermore, since lack of bioavailability of allicin has been shown, garlic preparations containing allicin can be useful only for external application. On the other hand, processed garlic is rich in a variety of sulfur-containing compounds which may act synergistically or antagonistically to provide the benefits of garlic. Since these preparations contain little or none of the harsh and irritating compounds in raw garlic, they would cause less undesirable effects when consumed internally.
Aged Garlic Extract
A garlic extract, called Aged Garlic Extract, has been developed based on the traditional usage of garlic. Instead of using heat, Aged Garlic Extract is aged naturally for 20 months. The unique natural aging process adds greatly to the value of garlic:
- the harsh and irritating compounds are significantly reduced
- the pungent odor of garlic is also reduced
- sulfur-containing compounds, such as alliin and allicin, are converted to many other sulfur-containing compounds, which are mainly water-soluble. Aged Garlic Extract has been studied extensively and shown to have almost all known garlic benefits.