Butcher's broom is so named because the mature branches were bundled and used as brooms by butchers. The young shoots were sometimes eaten as food. Ancient physicians used the roots as a diuretic in supporting urinary problems.
Saponins are thought to be responsible for the health actions of butcher's broom. These constituents are thought to help support the strength and tone of the veins and act as mild diuretics. They may also help lead to constriction of the veins, which helps blood return from the extremities. Butcher's broom extracts may also exert a mild anti-inflammatory effect.
Garlic is mentioned in the Bible and the Talmud. Hippocrates, Galen, Pliny the Elder, and Dioscorides all mention the potential use of garlic for the support of many complaints, including bloating, respiratory problems, poor digestion, and low energy. Its use in China was first mentioned in A.D. 510. Louis Pasteur studied the disinfectant action of garlic in 1858.
The sulfur compound allicin, produced by crushing or chewing fresh garlic or by taking powdered garlic products with allicin potential, in turn produces other sulfur compounds: ajoene, allyl sulfides, and vinyldithiins. Aged garlic products lack allicin, but may have activity due to the presence of S-allylcysteine.
Garlic's cardiovascular supportive effects were illustrated in a four-year clinical trial on people 50-80 years old with atherosclerosis. It was found that consumption of 900 mg of a standardized garlic supplement helped support the reduction of arterial plaque formation by 5-18%. The benefits were most notable in women. Garlic also helps to support the inhibition of platelet stickiness (aggregation) and helps support the increase fibrinolysis, which results in a slowing of blood coagulation. It is mildly antihypertensive and may have antioxidant activity.
The classical essay on Ayurveda, Sushrita Samhita, describes the use of guggul for the support of a wide variety of complaints, including joint pain and weight gain. One of its primary indications was as a supportive for a condition known as medoroga. This ancient diagnosis is similar to the modern description of atherosclerosis. Standardized guggul extracts are approved in India for helping lower elevated serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Guggul contains resin, volatile oils, and gum. The extract isolates ketonic steroid compounds known as guggulsterones. These compounds have been shown to help support the cholesterol- and triglyceride-lowering actions noted for guggul. Guggul can help support the lowering of serum triglycerides and cholesterol and LDL and VLDL cholesterols (the bad cholesterols). At the same time, it can help support the increase of levels of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). As antioxidants, guggulsterones can help keep LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, an action which protects against atherosclerosis. Guggul has also been shown to help support the stickiness of platelets - another potential effect that can help lower the risk of coronary artery problems. One double-blind trial found guggul extract may be useful for helping lower cholesterol levels. Other clinical trials in India (using 1,500 mg of extract per day) have confirmed guggul extracts can help improve lipid levels in humans.
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