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Garlic

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Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. It belongs to subfamily Allioideae and family Amaryllidaceae. Garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent seasoning in Asia, Africa, and Europe. It has been used throughout its history for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
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Botanical Names
Allium sativum
Indian Names
Sanskrit : Lashuna Hindi : Lasun, Lessan, Lahsun Bengali : Rashun Gujarati : Lasan Kannada : Bellulli Malayalam: Vellulli Marathi : Lusson Oriya : Rasuna
Chemical Constituents
Garlic is used as a spice because of its strong taste. It contains different constituents which imparts it strong flavour and taste along with medicinal value. It contains volatile oil, allicin (S-allyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide), S-methyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide, enzymes such as alliinase, peroxidase, and myrosinase, ajoenes (E,Z-ajoene, E,Z-methylajoene, and dimethylajoene), protein, minerals, vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, etc. lipids, amino acids, and others. Health preparations made of garlic were analyzed for their content of the major amino acid found, i.e. alliin and its five major decomposition products 2-vinyl-[4H]-1,3-dithiin; 3-vinyl-[4H]-1,2-dithiin; diallyl disulphide; allylmethyl disulphide and diallyl trisulphide. These constituents were found out by using two high-performance liquid chromatographic methods (1). Diallyl disulfide is found to be the main compound in garlic oil. Other volatile compounds present include citral, geraniol, linalool, and α- and β-phellandrene. Prostaglandins were isolated from a homogenized garlic extract. High-molecular weight fructans and agglutinins were also isolated from garlic. Composition of garlic products depends on product form. Thiosulfinates (e.g., allicin) were found to be released only from garlic cloves and garlic powder products; vinyl dithiins and ajoenes were found only in products containing garlic macerated in vegetable oil; diallyl, methyl allyl, and dimethyl sulfide series components were exclusive to products containing the oil of steam distilled garlic .
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs, it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
Garlic is stated to possess many therapeutic benefits. Garlic’s strong odour is largely due to sulphur-containing compounds (e.g. S-allylcysteine sulphoxide), which are believed to account for most of its medicinal properties. Actually, garlic contains a variety of effective compounds that exhibit anticoagulant (anti-thrombotic), antioxidant, antibiotic, hypo cholesterolaemic, hypoglycemic, as well as hypotensive activities. Garlic has been found to possess antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity, anticancer activities (3). Garlic is well known for its hypocholesterolaemic property. It is claimed to prevent heart disease including atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Hydrogen sulfide is an endogenous cardio-protective vascular cell-signaling molecule present in garlic. Garlic is reported to prevent cardiovascular disease by multiple effects, one of which is the inhibition of platelet aggregation and its ability to do this has been extensively investigated in vitro. It is concluded that garlic inhibits platelet aggregation by multiple mechanisms and may have a role in preventing cardiovascular disease (4). Regular and prolonged use of therapeutic amounts of aged garlic extracts lower blood homocysteine levels and has been shown to prevent some complications of diabetes mellitus. Allixin, an active ingredient of Allium sativum is useful in the chemoprevention of cancer. A high-dose garlic preparation is also used in the treatment of Cryptosporidium parvum diarrhea because of its antibacterial properties. In China, phase II clinical trial has supported these studies .
Health Benefits
Allium sativum is one of the most popular herbs used worldwide to reduce various risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases. It is one of the herbs most commonly used in modern folkloric medicine. It is an effective remedy for many aliments such as heart problems, headache, bites, worms and tumours. Garlic is also alleged to help regulate blood sugar levels and act as antidiabetic agent. Regular and prolonged use of therapeutic amounts of aged garlic extracts has been shown to prevent some complications of diabetes mellitus (6). Garlic cloves are used as a remedy for infections especially chest problems, digestive disorders, and fungal infections such as thrush. Garlic has been used successfully in AIDS patients to treat Cryptosporidium in an uncontrolled study in China. It has also been used by at least one AIDS patient to treat toxoplasmosis, another protozoal disease (7). Allixin, a phytoalexin isolated from garlic, was examined for its effects on aflatoxin B1(AFB1)-induced mutagenesis using Salmonella typhimurium TA100 as the bacterial tester strain and rat liver S9 fraction as the metabolic activation system. The data indicate that the effect of allixin on AFB1-induced mutagenesis and binding of metabolites to DNA may be mediated through an inhibition of microsomal P-450 enzymes. Allixin may thus be useful in the chemoprevention of cancer .
Research References
1. Velíšek J., Roman K. and Jiří D. Chemical composition and classification of culinary and pharmaceutical garlic-based products Zeitschrift für Lebensmitteluntersuchung und -Forschung A 204 (2):161-164 2. Ivanova A., Mikhova B., Najdenski H., Tsvetkova I. and Kostova I. Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of wild garlic Allium ursinum of Bulgarian origin. Nat Prod Commun. 2009 4(8):1059-1062. 3. Martha T., Zainab M. A., Khaled K., Al-Qattan., Lemia H., Shaban and Muslim A. Anti-diabetic and hypolipidaemic properties of garlic (Allium sativum) in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats Int J Diabetes & Metabolism (2007) 15: 108-115 4. Khalid Rahman Effects of garlic on platelet biochemistry and physiology Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 2007 51(11):1335–1344 5. Fareed G., Scolaro M., Jordan W., Sanders N., Chesson C., Slattery M., Long D. and Castro C. International Conference on AIDS. The use of a high-dose garlic preparation for the treatment of Cryptosporidium parvum diarrhea. Int Conf AIDS. 1996 7-12; 11: 288 6. Chauhan N. B. Anti-amyloidogenic effect of Allium sativum in Alzheimer's transgenic model Tg2576. J Herb Pharmacother. 2003 3(1):95-107. 7. Najla H., Jean C. M. and Abdellfattah E. Compared ability of garlic (Allium sativum) extract or -tocopherol + magnesium association to reduce metabolic disorders and oxidative stress in diabetic rats Phytotherapy Research 25(6):821–827 8. Yamasaki T., Teel R. W. and Lau B. H. Effect of allixin, a phytoalexin produced by garlic, on mutagenesis, DNA-binding and metabolism of aflatoxin B1. Cancer Lett. 1991 59(2):89-94.