[Sticky] Garlic Some Facts For The Fancier By Gordon Chalmers
GARLIC: Some Facts for the Fancier
Gordon A. Chalmers, DVM
Email: [email protected]
Garlic, whose scientific name is Allium sativum, is a common plant used worldwide for food. Since ancient times, garlic has been used for a variety of human ailments and problems, and even magical properties to ward off evil spirits have been attributed to garlic. In fact, it was once considered to be absolutely essential in warding off vampires! In more modern times, the use of garlic has been a topic of research, especially in human medicine. Garlic has been reported to have insecticidal, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties, as well as those of lowering blood sugar and fat levels, and reducing the dangerous plaques that bring about plugging of blood vessels that lead to heart attacks and strokes in humans. It seems that popular interest is greatest in Germany where garlic preparations for humans account for the largest sales of all over-the-counter drugs. How garlic affects racing pigeons is speculative, but here are some general facts gleaned about this plant from a few human medical and nutritional publications.
The principal, active agent of garlic is allicin, a sulfur-containing compound, which, with its breakdown products, produces the characteristic odor. The odor is related to the presence of sulfur. When the cloves are crushed, allicin is formed by the action of enzymes on a pre-existing chemical known as alliin. Other biologically active compounds related to allicin, such as ajoene, may be extracted from garlic as well. The positive effects of fresh cloves of garlic seem fairly certain, whereas information for modern commercial preparations in general is not very convincing, to say the least. One reason for the difficulty of showing the effectiveness of garlic is that many active chemical compounds in the cloves may be lost during processing --and this is a major problem with commercial products. For example, carefully dried sliced cloves seem to retain their potency, but extracts or oils prepared by steam distillation or organic solvents may have little activity. Cold-aged extracts have a reduced odor and may retain more of the activity of garlic. Allicin is known to break down during steam distillation for the production of the volatile oils used in many garlic preparations. As well, the alliin content of natural garlic can vary 10-fold.
There is also confusion about the issue of "odorless" garlic preparations. Some of them have no aroma, but neither do they contain any active ingredient. Some active preparations may not have an odor, but if allicin is released when the product is eaten, there is a very good chance that there will be a detectable aroma -- and it is the aroma that is one of the problems. Potency of garlic appears to depend on pungency, - that is, odor. Once garlic is dried into odor-free powders or pills, it loses some of the properties that may make it useful in health!
Distilling all of the information about garlic to a few simple statements is very difficult to do. However, it seems that, whatever the basis for its use, at the moment, fresh cloves are the superior source for the important ingredients of garlic. Other commercial preparations such as powders or oils may or may not be useful, since the processing procedures may dilute or eliminate the effective compounds. If you have a choice then -- and most of us do -- buy cloves of garlic from your grocery store and prepare fresh solutions as you need them. Given the "touchy" nature of the important, active compounds in garlic, it seems likely that heating or boiling crushed cloves above 60oC (140oF) (remember that water boils at 100oC (212oF), likely results in a major loss of key ingredients. On the basis of this information, it is logical that home preparations of solutions of garlic should not be heated, in order to retain the important compounds in the soution. Be aware that allicin is readily converted to a more volatile compound call diallyl disulfide -- which means that its effects can be transient.
Allicin is known to have antibacterial properties and has been said to be effective in concentrations as low as 1:125,000 (that is, one part allicin to 125,000 parts water). When compared with penicillin, allicin is said to have an activity that is about 1% of the activity of penicillin. Garlic inhibits the growth of, or kills, about two dozen kinds of bacteria (including Staphylococcus and Salmonella spp.), and at least 60 types of fungi and yeasts. Allicin appears to be the major chemical responsible for this effect. So if the aroma is destroyed by cooking or processing, and allicin is associated with the odor, garlic may lose its ability to fight bacteria, mold and yeasts.
In one recent study, researchers looked at the ability of garlic to kill the organism causing tuberculosis. They added an allicin-rich garlic extract to 30 strains of tuberculosis-causing bacteria growing in test tubes. A month later, the garlic had done critical damage to all 30 cultures. The trace minerals selenium and germanium are two constituents of Japanese garlic, and these minerals may have some effect by their activity firstly, as antioxidants, that is, substances that protect cells and tissues from the damaging effects of peroxides in the body.
Secondly they are important in the normal development of the immune system, and thirdly, they may have good activity as anti-cancer agents. Selenium itself has been shown to have a broad spectrum of anti-cancer activity in rats, for example.
On the other side of the coin, many cases of allergic reactions to garlic are known to occur in humans. Reactions such as dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) and asthma are reported. One investigator found that the maximum tolerable dose of fresh aqueous extract (i.e. extracted into a water-based solution) in humans to be 25 cc (slightly under one ounce). Amounts greater than this caused severe burning sensations in the esophagus (gullet) and stomach, as well as vomiting.
Some compounds extracted from garlic are similarly irritating to tissues in the mouth of humans. A possible benefit of garlic or its compounds may be its ability to increase mechanisms for eliminating substances such as cancer-producing agents. In some studies, garlic has been shown to have a stimulating effect on certain enzymes that are known to be effective in removing toxic (poisonous) substances from the body. These substances can damage body organs, and even lead to cancerous changes, so garlic may well provide some measure of protection.
In a laboratory study for example, mice were fed diallyl sulfide obtained from garlic, prior to being exposed to a cancer-causing chemical. Mice fed the garlic-derived compound had 74% fewer cancers of the colon (large intestine) than those that did not receive the garlic compound. It has also been shown in animals that the sulfide compounds of garlic can inhibit the development of cancer of the lung, large intestine, and esophagus. Unfortunately, there is no solid evidence that garlic can protect humans from cancer. This may be because it doesn't protect, or because few good studies have been done in humans.
The question about whether garlic is good for human hearts can't be answered yet. It is simply too early to tell. However, preliminary studies in humans and animals suggest that garlic may lower levels of artery-clogging fats such as LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and raise levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol. In rabbits and rats fed raw garlic or garlic oil, LDL cholesterol levels dropped and HDL cholesterol levels rose. The catch is that the amounts used were equivalent to 14 to 230 cloves per day for a human! Obviously it would be very difficult to stand too close to such a person! There may be other positive effects for blood vessels. Garlic appears to increase the time it takes blood to clot, and may help to dissolve clots that have already formed. Obviously one bad effect would be the failure to allow the blood to clot in individuals also on other drugs that are used for the same purpose -- in other words, bleeding could occur when garlic and certain other drugs are used together. Much, much more work has to be done to evaluate the effect of garlic on human and animal health.
Now what about the use of garlic in racing pigeons? It is a popular, widely used product, but solid, scientific information on its effects in pigeons seems to be scarce. Everything from cloves of garlic to powders, pills and oils are available in health food stores, grocery stores and by companies selling products for pigeons. Are there any real benefits, or are the "benefits" in the eye of the beholder, i.e. the fancier who uses garlic products? Everyone seems to have an opinion, but are there many facts? Little scientific information for racing pigeons seems to be readily available, but it should be possible to extrapolate information from work done in humans and laboratory animals to pigeons.
Firstly (and foremostly), logic based on a number of studies, says that the very best source of the good effects of garlic is fresh cloves of garlic. Manufacturing procedures in the preparation of garlic powders, liquids and oils can vary onsiderably, and since important, active compounds in garlic can be lost very easily when garlic is processed to produce these liquids and powders, etc., it seems best to avoid these products as they may contain few, if any, of the useful compounds in garlic. Further, it is best to crush cloves of garlic, and add them directly to drinking water for pigeons, rather than heating or boiling them, to avoid losing a number of key chemicals in the cloves. Remember that heating garlic cloves above 60oC (140oF) can cause the loss of odor and medicinal properties.
Secondly, garlic may provide a temporary antibiotic effect on disease-producing bacteria, fungi and yeasts, both in the digestive tract and body tissues, by reducing their numbers during the period that it is in the drinking water. Thirdly, the trace minerals selenium and germanium present in garlic may give a boost to the immune system of pigeons, to increase their ability to fight disease-producing organisms of many kinds. In domestic livestock, selenium is known to be important in the normal development of the immune system while the animal is growing in the uterus. A deficiency of selenium and Vitamin E has a definite adverse effect, because in such deficiencies, the development of the immune system is retarded. As a result, the newborn animal or bird may be completely or severely restricted from protecting itself against invading organisms of all kinds.
Fourthly, although dissolving blood clots (the cause of heart attacks and strokes in humans) or preventing their formation in the arteries of humans is important in human medicine, it is known that racing pigeons are highly resistant to the buildup of fatty substances in their arteries.
In humans, these fatty substances may clog blood vessels or they may induce the formation of a clot at the point where the vessel is narrowed by the fatty deposits, and result in a heart attack or stroke. In contrast to racing pigeons, some meat-producing breeds of pigeons are very susceptible to a buildup of fatty substances in their vessels. So garlic might be of benefit to meat varieties of pigeons, but as racing pigeons are highly resistant to this type of buildup, the benefit might not be so great in the blood vessels of racing pigeons.
Fifthly, garlic as a de-toxifying agent could have a role as a "blood purifier" or a "tissue purifier", so to speak -- whatever these phrases may mean, since they can and do cloak a great deal of the ignorance we all share on this subject. Both are meaningless expressions that really don't explain anything, but they are used commonly in the mystique of pigeon racing! That aside, there are indications that chemical compounds in garlic may assist the body to de-toxify, neutralize or eliminate noxious substances. In pigeons, the use of garlic after a race may assist the so-called "depurative" diets -- whatever that might mean -- in restoring a bird to normal racing condition. Whether lactic acidosis is a real problem in returned racers is still debatable, in my opinion. Because fat is unquestionably the major fuel for racing, and because the burning of fat for energy by racing birds is an aerobic process in the body, lactic acid-- which results when glycogen is used as fuel in an anaerobic process -- should not be produced, at least in any great amount. Braking and landing at the end of a race are very likely anaerobic processes, but the amount of lactic acid produced from such rapidly occurring events should be miniscule.
In theory, if it could be shown that birds actually sprint the last few miles of a race, much as a human marathon runner might sprint the last 100 yards or so, then there could be a good basis for believing that lactic acid -- one of the so-called "impurities" in the blood -- is produced, and that it needs to be eliminated. Lactic acid is known to be produced in human distance runners who sprint the last leg of a race. However, in most cases, usually a 20 minute "cool-down" walk will effectively "burn off" or eliminate the lactic acid from the system. It is known that pigeons that are not exercised reasonably soon after a long grueling race may develop marked swelling of the breast muscles that become hard and board-like. The birds become "tied up" and have difficulty flying from the floor to the lowest perches or nest boxes. Given this knowledge, it is possible, and indeed likely, that lactic acidosis is involved in such situations and that early workouts after a race would eliminate this problem. It is also possible that the use of crushed garlic cloves in drinking water at this time might add some extra benefit in allowing the liver and other organs to metabolize lactic acid and other compounds, and to help restore the birds to normal racing condition. I am aware that there are certain claims by fanciers about the use of garlic in dealing with problems in the respiratory (breathing) system of pigeons. Unfortunately, there was just nothing in the literature that was available to me to indicate that garlic was useful in dealing with the sinuses, trachea (windpipe) or lungs. This is not to say that garlic isn't useful in these organs -- it's just that I didn't read any reference to the effects of garlic on the respiratory system.
Dosages of garlic for pigeons are difficult to come by, particularly since there is such variabliity in the amount of the key chemical, alliin, (which is converted to the active compound allicin), in garlic cloves.
Garlic in racing pigeons remains quite an enigma, and as fanciers, many of us use it without really knowing why, but our ignorance is shared by many people, including the human and veterinary medical communities, who have only tantalizing bits of information to suggest that there may be a number of positive effects from the use of garlic.
Certainly, as indicated earlier in this article, studies in laboratory animals and humans suggest a number of desirable effects from the use of garlic. Whether these effects apply directly to racing pigeons is just not known at this time. However, present evidence from human and laboratory animal work, and the empirical experience of many fanciers, suggest that, when used judiciously, crushed cloves of garlic, used in drinking water, may be a useful product in the loft throughout the year, but especially during rearing and the racing season. At present, garlic-based oils, powders and pills are likely much less useful. Possibly newer developments in extracting the active principles of garlic may get around the present problems associated with current methods. Until these problems are solved, fresh cloves of garlic from the grocery store are still the best source of the medicinal properties of garlic. I hope that this sketchy outline of the potential value of garlic, and some of its risks, may stimulate more controlled research on its value (or lack of) in racing pigeons. There is much to learn! This article merely scratches the surface.
what a brilliant read
I've got loads of them mate, stay tuned. LOL
will do novices like me need all the help we can get lol
yer mate im a novice but i seem to know so much already its silly
Admin : https://www.ukpigeonracing.co.uk/
Enjoy the website and community.
I'm far from a pro. But give me the tools and I can perform miracles.
To become a successful fancier, you need the right education.
I was fortunate, I had two good mentors from the age of six.
Over the years, you pick up information that sort of fills in the gaps.
It's like a jigsaw puzzle, once you are in possession of all the pieces, you just have to figure out where they go.
im thinking of flying widowhood or roundabout this year i think im go for roundabout 😀 but my club every helpful and willing to tell me everythink
Admin : https://www.ukpigeonracing.co.uk/
Enjoy the website and community.
That's good mate, just wait while your on top of the sheet every week. They will clam up. LOL
anyways lets keep the topic to what its about and no go off ill make a post about this
Admin : https://www.ukpigeonracing.co.uk/
Enjoy the website and community.
Yep a great product ;we use it in combination with lemon Juice ; usley twice a week ; after using we give clean fresh water for 2 drinks then a probotic for 2 drinks ;to replace the good germs ;cheers Dave