Garlic (Allium sativum) is an herb that is mainly used as a food in many countries, yet that fragrant bulb is also an important medicinal herb. This Allium sativum is good for healthy blood vessels, bactericidal in many infectious diseases and also useful against fatigue in general.
Some history on the use of garlic
The amount of garlic for the workers who built the Egyptian pyramids was indicated in hieroglyphs on the walls of the pyramids. From this information it could be deduced that a lot of garlic was eaten to better cope with the heavy labor and possibly also to prevent infections. Garlic was also given as a tonic to soldiers and athletes in ancient Rome. The anti-fatigue effects of garlic have recently been studied, showing an increase in physical strength and a faster recovery from fatigue or stress. Garlic’s anti-fatigue effect may be due to its stimulation of blood circulation and its antioxidant effect.
Various preparations of garlic
Although the pharmacological effects of garlic and its components have received much attention, little is known about the differences in effect of the different preparation methods of raw garlic. The most important methods of preparing raw garlic include: (i) garlic powder, obtained after drying raw garlic; (ii) garlic oil, obtained by steaming raw garlic; (iii) oil macerate, raw garlic in vegetable oil, (iv) aged garlic extract (AGE, Aged Garlic Extract), raw garlic extracted/matured for a long time. These preparation methods produce specific organic sulfur-containing components. The retention of the activity of alliin and alliinase in garlic powder depends on the conditions, such as the temperature at which it is dried. The main components in garlic oil are allyl sulfides, and those in oil macerates are allyl sulfides, vinyl dithiin and ajoene. AGE is made based on the method described in the US Pharmacopeia National Formulary (ASP NF) and a monograph of drug manufacturers selected by the World Health Organization.
In a nutshell, garlic slices are soaked in aqueous alcohol and extracted at room temperature for 10 months. As a result, AGE is less irritating and toxic and has many beneficial pharmacological properties. AGE contains not less than 0.05% S-allyl-cysteine (SAC), calculated on the dry matter. It also contains specific water-soluble sulfur components, S-allylmercapto-L-cysteine (SAMC) and S-methyl-L-cysteine (SMC). These specific components are not found in raw garlic, and are made from gamma-glutamyl-SAC (GSAC), gamma-glutamyl-SMC (GSMC), alliin or methiine after extraction/maturation of raw garlic for a longer period of time. Reported are antioxidant, cancer preventive and hepatoprotective properties. The anti-fatigue effect of garlic varies depending on the preparation method used, and AGE has been shown to be one of the prepared products that produces the most desirable effects.
Research: garlic against fatigue
Ushijima et al. investigated the effect of raw garlic juice, heated garlic juice, dehydrated garlic powder and AGE on physical strength and recovery from fatigue. They found that raw garlic and AGE made mice run longer on the treadmill and improved rectal temperature recovery time after immersion in cold water. It was assumed that the mechanism of the effect was related to the improvement of peripheral blood circulation, an anti-stress effect and improvement of nutrition. However, the effect of raw garlic was not dose dependent, and a high dose did not improve the effect.
Verma et al. investigated the effect of a six-week intake of garlic oil on cardiac performance and exercise tolerance in 30 patients with coronary artery disease. After a treadmill stress test at the start of the study, the subjects were given garlic oil in the form of four capsules twice a day for 6 weeks, and then the treadmill stress test was repeated. Garlic significantly reduced heart rate during the peak of physical exertion, and significantly reduced the workload on the heart, resulting in better exercise tolerance compared to the first test.
How does garlic work for fatigue?
Waste products resulting from the use of the muscles are excreted into the blood, causing fatigue and muscle pain. The peripheral circulation covers 90% of the total blood vessels in the body; the function of the peripheral circulatory system is the distribution of cells to organs via the blood, relaxation of the metabolism of organs and the removal of waste products. Thus, the peripheral circulation plays an important role in maintaining physical strength or promoting recovery from fatigue by supplying oxygen, nutrients and water and removing waste products. Effects of garlic on the peripheral circulation have been reported to include a decrease in blood pressure due to vascular relaxation, improvement of blood flow by changing lipid components and blood stickiness, acceleration of fever production, protection against vascular damage by free radicals,