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GARLIC MAY KNOCK THE BREATH OUT OF AIDS

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Garlic, an aromatic herb lauded by ancients for its medicinal value and portrayed in folklore as a way to ward off vampires, may play a key role in the battle against AIDS, a researcher says.

"We feel this is a tip of a good iceberg. We think five years from now, three years from now, it will be confirmed," said Dr. Tariq H. Abdullah, director of the Akbar Clinic of Panama City during a recent visit to Pensacola.Abdullah, whose study showed seven AIDS patients in Jacksonville and New Orleans improved after taking garlic extract, will present his findings at the 5th International AIDS Conference this week in Montreal.

"You can't take seven of anything and say it's certain that this is what's going on," said Abdullah, who will present his findings Thursday. But results are "suggestive that garlic can play a very helpful role in the treatment of AIDS patients, and more studies are justified."

There were initially 10 patients in the study, including those with the AIDS virus but no symptoms to those with full-blown acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Three patients in advanced stages could not comply with the regimen and died.

The other seven were given a special garlic preparation as a food supplement for 12 weeks in his study last year. They were given about .16 ounces daily for the first six weeks then .35 ounces daily for the remainder of the time.

By the end of the test period, all seven showed a three- to 14-fold increase in the activity of key immune cells, called "killer" T cells. Abdullah said the killer cells are believed responsible for destroying virus-infected cells, equating their action to the way the video game "Pac-Man" gobbles dots on a screen.