Garlic, Inflammation and Atherosclerosis

Garlic, Inflammation and Atherosclerosis

Recent studies have shown that garlic extract is helpful at preventing inflammation which is a leading cause for atherosclerosis.

Before a person suffers from heart disease, stroke, or vascular disease, they generally suffer from atherosclerosis first. Atherosclerosis is the slow build up of either hard or soft plaque within the wall of the arteries. The buildup of hard plaque can cause the artery wall to become thick and hard leading to constriction of blood flow. A formation of soft plaque can actually end up breaking free from the arterial wall and become a clot within the blood stream.

One of the precursors to atherosclerosis as well as problems with the heart and circulatory system is inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s response to infection or the invasion of foreign substances in which white blood cells and certain chemicals in the body kick into overdrive and attack the invader causing swelling, redness and pain. Inflammation helps get plaque buildup started by causing cells to adhere to the walls of the blood vessels. These stuck on cells then migrate into the lining of the vessel thanks to cell adhesion molecules and facilitate the progression of atherosclerosis. Therefore, researchers believe that the key to preventing atherosclerosis and the subsequent heart and vascular disease is to prevent inflammation.

This is where garlic can come in handy.

Garlic has been grown and consumed by humans for more than 5000 years and during those 50 centuries, it has always been valued for it medicinal and beneficial properties. Garlic is loaded with antioxidants that help prevent free radical damage and it is also a powerful antimicrobial capable of killing off viral, fungal and bacterial infections. It has been used not only as something that adds a little pungent zing to food, but also as a means to prevent dysentery and gangrene in hospitals during the turn of the century.

In a recent study, artery cells were exposed to garlic extract in various concentrations then exposed to a protein that is known to cause inflammation for one day. Researchers found that garlic helped inhibit the cells from sticking to the cell walls. They also found that garlic helped decrease the number of cells that migrated to the blood vessel walls.

Because of these two factors, scientists now know why people who eat garlic on a regular basis have less inflammation related pain problems and are generally more heart healthy. Garlic helps decrease inflammation and by doing so helps prevent the onset of atherosclerosis.