Hyderabad, Aug 11: One may find it hard to connect the humble garlic with increasing the efficiency of insulin, but research by a team of scientists from the city-based Indian Institute of Chemical Technology has revealed that raw garlic is the best natural medicine for type 2 diabetes.
Regular intake of raw garlic cloves will help in not only improving insulin sensitivity but also attenuating metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome relates to health problems like obesity, decreased power of insulin and those related to the heart. Raw garlic will thus also help in bringing down one's body weight.
"Our work is interesting as it recommends diabetics to consume raw garlic to reduce insulin resistance," says Dr Sanjay K Banerjee, scientist, Division of Pharmacology, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology.
Stating that type 2 diabetes mellitus, characterised by peripheral insulin resistance, is a major lifestyle disorder of the 21st century, Dr Sanjay said it is for the first time that studies have been conducted to evaluate the effect of raw garlic on insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes mellitus. Earlier, raw garlic has been reported to reduce plasma glucose levels in animal models of type 1 diabetes mellitus.
Dr Sanjay said the hypoglycemic (lowering sugar level) effect of garlic is due to the presence of allicin and sulphur compounds. The IICT-CSIR study showed that reduction of body weight gain after garlic consumption could be responsible for improving insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes.
"Raw garlic homogenate (grounded and mixed) has been the major preparation of garlic subjected to intensive scientific study, as because it is the commonest way of garlic consumption. Our study demonstrates that raw garlic homogenate is effective in improving insulin sensitivity while attenuating metabolic syndrome and oxidative stress," he pointed out.
Dr Sanjay's team comprised Raju Padiya, Tarak N Khatua, Pankaj K Bagul and Madhusudana Kuncha. They selected male Sprague Dawley rats and divided into three groups. One of the groups was fed with fructose as well as raw garlic for eight weeks. The rats fed with raw garlic showed significantly reduced serum glucose, insulin, triglyceride and uric acid levels, as well as insulin resistance.
Allicin is the major bioactive compound in raw garlic paste. When garlic is chopped or crushed, allinase enzyme, present in garlic, is activated and acts on alliin (present in intact garlic) to produce allicin. For best results one should take raw garlic as cooking it will inactivate the enzyme that converts alliin to allicin. However, garlic power can be used.