ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Pharoah's Wine Jar Yields Medicinal Secrets
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Breast-feeding Might Shield Women From Rheumatoid Arthritis
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
CANCER
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Vitamin D May Improve Melanoma Survival
CAREGIVING
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
What Moms Learned May Be Passed to Offspring
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
DIABETES
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Low Vitamin A, C Intake Tied to Asthma Risk
Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels
Is Your Refrigerator Getting Enough Attention For Your Raw Food Success?
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Walkable Neighborhoods Keep the Pounds Off
Preparing for a Chlorine Gas Disaster
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
EYE CARE, VISION
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
FITNESS
Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
The Brain Comes Alive With the Sounds of Music
Spread of Swine Flu in Japan Could Raise WHO Alert to Highest Level
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
MENTAL HEALTH
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
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Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret

TUESDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The same source of garlic's pungent aroma and taste may provide its benefits to health, scientists say.

They say an acid produced by the decomposition of an organic compound called allicin provides the food's health benefits.

It's long been suspected that allicin, which gives garlic its aroma and flavor, might also be a powerful antioxidant. But researchers haven't been able to determine how allicin works or how it compares to other antioxidants, which stop the damaging effects of free radicals on cells.

"We didn't understand how garlic could contain such an efficient antioxidant, since it didn't have a substantial amount of the types of compounds usually responsible for high antioxidant activity in plants, such as the flavonoids found in green tea or grapes," study leader Derek Pratt, a chemistry professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, said in a university news release. "If allicin was indeed responsible for this activity in garlic, we wanted to find out how it worked."

In a series of experiments, Pratt's team found that the decomposition of allicin produces sulfenic acid, which rapidly reacts with radicals.

"Basically, the allicin compound has to decompose in order to generate a potent antioxidant. The reaction between the sulfenic acid and radicals is as fast as it can get, limited only by the time it takes for the two molecules to come into contact. No one has ever seen compounds, natural or synthetic, react this quickly as antioxidants," Pratt said.

The study was published in the January issue of the journal Angewandte Chemie.

"While garlic has been used as an herbal medicine for centuries, and there are many garlic supplements on the market, until now, there has been no convincing explanation as to why garlic is beneficial," Pratt said. "I think we have taken the first step in uncovering a fundamental chemical mechanism which may explain garlic's medicinal benefits."

More information

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has more about garlic.



-- Robert Preidt



SOURCE: Queen's University, news release, Jan. 30, 2009

Last Updated: Feb. 10, 2009

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