Thursday, January 13, 2011

Study: Garlic May Keep Osteoarthritis at Bay

The pungent herb touted for its culinary versatility and medicinal benefits for centuries, may be a natural weapon to fight hip osteoarthritis, claims a new study.

According to researchers at King's College London and the University of East Anglia, garlic, a rich source of allium, not only protects against hip osteoarthritis, but also contains certain compounds that have the potential for developing treatments for the painful condition.

Professor Ian Clark of the University of East Anglia stated, "Osteoarthritis is a major health issue and this exciting study shows the potential for diet to influence the course of the disease.

“With further work to confirm and extend these early findings, this may open up the possibility of using diet or dietary supplements in the future treatment osteoarthritis."

Study details

Researchers exploring the impact of dietary patterns on the development and prevention of hip osteoarthritis studied 1086 healthy female twins aged 46 to 77 years who had no symptoms of the painful condition.

For the purpose of the study, the investigators assessed their eating habits and also carried out x-ray scans to determine the extent of early osteoarthritis in the twins' hips, knees, and spine.

The researchers found that women who had a high intake of garlic exhibited lower levels of osteoarthritis in the hip joint.

The benefits of garlic compounds explored

To examine the pharmacological benefits of garlic, the researchers focused on the allium compounds present in the clove.

They found that the diallyl disulphide, an organic sulfur compound, limits the amount of cartilage-damaging enzymes when introduced to human cells in the lab.

Lead author of the study, Dr Frances Williams from the Department of Twin Research at King's College London stated, "While we don't yet know if eating garlic will lead to high levels of this component in the joint, these findings may point the way towards future treatments and prevention of hip osteoarthritis.

"It has been known for a long time that there is a link between body weight and osteoarthritis. Many researchers have tried to find dietary components influencing the condition, but this is the first large scale study of diet in twins.

“If our results are confirmed by follow-up studies, this will point the way towards dietary intervention or targeted drug therapy for people with osteoarthritis."

The study, sponsored by Arthritis Research UK, the Wellcome Trust, and Dunhill Medical Trust is published in the 'BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders' journal.

Health benefits of garlic

Garlic not only makes food tasty but can also significantly aid in the healing and even prevention of certain medical conditions.

The wonder food has been known to treat high cholesterol, parasites, respiratory problems, poor digestion, and low energy.

Regular consumption of garlic helps lower blood pressure, controls blood sugar, and boosts the immune system. It has also been found to reduce the risk of esophageal, stomach, and colon cancer.

Garlic is a natural antiseptic, has the ability to fight infections and bacteria, and is an effective cure for warts and other skin problems.

Though garlic does not cause any serious side effects, people who are allergic to it or who consume it in large quantities may suffer from stomach irritation, heartburn, or flatulence.

Due to garlic’s blood thinning properties, people going in for surgery should consult their doctor before taking garlic supplements.


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