Bear Paw Garlic: Product Information
What is AIM Bear Paw Garlic?
AIM Bear Paw Garlic ™ is a unique form of garlic. It is not derived from Allium sativum, the species of garlic sold in supermarkets and used in garlic supplements. Rather, AIM Bear Paw Garlic ™ comes from Allium ursinum, a wild species of garlic found in central Europe.
Unlike A. sativum, A. ursinum has never been successfully cultivated. (Apparently, the eighth-century ruler Charlemagne attempted to cultivate the plant for medicinal purposes, but there is no record of his success.) A. ursinum is found in areas of damp woods and wooded ravines and flourishes in the hills and mountains of central Europe. Its name is derived from the claim that bears, after awakening from winter hibernation, consume wild garlic to regain strength (ursinum is Latin for "bear"). Although most of us think of the distinctive garlic bulb and cloves when considering garlic, the active substances in A. ursinum are found in its green leaves.
Although largely unknown in the United States, in 1989, A. ursinum was called "the new star" of garlic in the German health journal Therapiewoche (Therapy Week) and, in 1992, was declared the European medicinal "Plant of the Year" by the Association for the Protection and Research on European Medicinal Plants.
Garlic has a long history as a healthful plant, having been used for medicinal purposes from as early as 3,000 B.C. Garlic is made up of sulfur compounds; amino acids; minerals, such as germanium, selenium, and zinc; and vitamins A, B, and C. Allicin, a sulfur-containing compound in garlic, is traditionally believed to be primarily responsible for most of the suggested benefits of garlic. Allicin is also responsible for garlic's unique odor.
A. ursinum and A. sativum share these constituents as well as a number of benefits. Both types of garlic help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, have antioxidant properties, and have antifungal and antibacterial properties. However, A. ursinum has a number of advantages over A. sativum.
A. ursinum contains allicin and its related forms, as well as more ajoene (a degraded form of allicin) and its related forms, more y-glutamyl peptides (GLUT), and more than 20 times as much adenosine.
Current opinion states that the y-glutamyl peptides and ajoene result in an increase in the difference across the membrane of the vascular smooth muscle. This, in turn, results in a widening of blood vessels, which maintains healthy blood pressure.
y-glutamyl peptides have also been demonstrated to inhibit the actions of angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE), an enzyme released from the kidneys which regulates blood pressure.
Adenosine helps increase blood vessel width and can also reduce platelet aggregation (blood stickiness). It also acts as a muscle relaxant and as a protectant against poisons, such as caffeine.
A. ursinum is also odorless; although, when you first open AIM Bear Paw Garlic, the garlic odor is unmistakable. However, upon digestion the garlic odor is not as noticeable. This is because the leaves of A. ursinum contain substantial amounts of chlorophyll, which binds nitrogen compounds during digestion and thus prevents the development of the smell associated with the breakdown products of garlic. As well, allicin is found in lower concentrations in the leaves of A. ursinum. However, the lesser amounts of allicin are replaced by other related sulfur-containing constituents, so none of the benefits of allicin are lost.
In summary, A. ursinum has all the benefits of the A. sativum products that are found on the market. However, A. ursinum has three advantages over this domesticated garlic: 1) It has more of the active substances; 2) It has active substances not found in cultivated garlic, or found only when large quantities are taken; 3) It is odorless.
What do European publications have to say about A. ursinum?
"Accordingly Allium ursinum contains much more ajoene and an about twenty fold higher content of adenosine than its 'cultivated cousin.' Just these substances are the ones to which, according to recent studies, an essential part of the known allium effects such as reduction of cholesterine, inhibition of thrombocyte-aggregation, drop in blood pressure, improvement of blood-rheology and fibrinolysis are attributed."
Therapiewoch (November 1990)
"Allium ursinum is superior to Allium sativum, since the latter has been over cultivated through several thousand years to a one-sided form."
Allgemeine Hom”opathische Zeitung 211 (1966)
"It is known of Allium ursinum that it possesses cholesterol and blood pressure regulating characteristics."
Natur Heilpraxis mit Naturmedizin (November 1995)
"The water and ethanol extracts of wild garlic were able to reduce the intensity of generated radicals. Thus, it can be assumed that Allium ursinum has significant antioxidant properties."
Torek, et al. Central Research Laboratory, Pecs, Hungary
The sulfur compound allicin has traditionally been credited for garlic's beneficial effects. However, this may not entirely be the case. Allicin is no doubt partially responsible for garlic's benefits. But many other substances may act individually or synergistically to produce benefits.
Dallas Clouatre, Ph.D., says, "The general public has been led to believe that all of the primary active constituents are in the lipophilic fractions of garlic, e.g., alliin, allicin, ajoene, etc. This is contrary to the scientific findings-it has been known for more than a decade that the odorless water-soluble fractions of garlic are equal to the oil-soluble fractions in their effects."
The allicin balloon is further deflated by comments found in John Heinerman's The Healing Benefits of Garlic. He cites the sulfur compounds (such as allicin), but also adenosine, as having beneficial effects. He mentions that allicin is extremely unstable and may not be what it is thought to be: "Don't be persuaded that just because a particular garlic product claims it contains significant amounts of allicin, this makes it superior to others without it."
A. ursinum is handpicked in the spring during a one-week period. It is harvested in the alpine regions of central Europe, in particular Switzerland. Because it is wild and cannot be cultivated, only the leaves are cut; the bulb remains in the earth to ensure future supply.
Once the leaves are harvested, they are processed quickly. They are cleaned, washed, dried, and milled under low temperatures. During this processing, adenosine levels are monitored to guarantee at least 1,100 mg/kg.
- Clouatre, Dallas, Ph.D. Alpine Wild Garlic. San
Francisco: Pax Publishing, 1995.
- Sendel, et al. “Comparative Pharmacological
Investigations of Allium ursinum and Allium sativum.”
Planta Medica 58 (1992).
- Because AIM Bear Paw Garlic® shares many of the
benefits of Allium sativum, any of the many books on this subject would be valuable.