Garlic Effective for Antibiotic-Resistant Urinary Tract Infections
In a previous article we revealed new research findings that have determined that the bacteria that cause many urinary tract infections are getting stronger and stronger. So strong, in fact, that they have become resistant to most antibiotics.
This of course means that to a greater and greater degree each day, modern medicine is running out of effective treatment tools to combat such infections that are resistant to antibiotics. While all urinary tract infections are not untreatable by antibiotics, the pace at which urinary tract infection bacteria are becoming antibiotic-resistant means that within a few years, modern medicine will have no more drugs to fight urinary tract infections.
What do we do?
Can garlic fight off antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infections?
Garlic has been shown to be antibiotic in numerous studies. Again and again, garlic has proved to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi infections.
And yes, garlic has been used for thousands of years to fight off various types of infectious diseases. It is a fundamental part of nearly every traditional ancient form of medicine.
The question, however, is whether garlic can also fight bacteria infections that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. After all, if a bacteria strain is strong enough to evade multiple antibiotics, it is a pretty strong bacteria strain, right?
And if it can fight off some of modern medicine’s most powerful drugs, what chance does a common herb – often found growing like a weed – have against such a strong bacteria strain?
This is precisely what a new study has investigated, with surprising results.
Bacteria cultures from 166 UTI patients studied
Researchers from the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences of India conducted a study that tested bacteria cultures drawn from 166 patients with urinary tract infections.
The pathogenic bacteria found included E. coli, Enterobacter species, Klebsiella species, Staphylococcus aureus and P. aeruginosa.
Initial testing on the bacteria found that 93 of these 166 cultures taken from the patients were resistant to four or more antibiotics.
This means that 56 percent of the patients – a majority of the patients – had urinary tract infections that were resistant to multiple antibiotics. Over 95 percent of the cultures were resistant to penicillin and ampicillin, and over half were resistant to ciprofloxacin.
The researchers then produced a garlic extract from fresh garlic bulbs. The extract was made by crushing fresh garlic and then blending with water and filtering out the separated extract. This is called a cold water extract.
The researchers tested the 93 bacteria cultures that were resistant to multiple antibiotics. They found that 82 percent of them – 76 out of the 93 – inhibited the growth of the bacteria significantly. This significant level was measured as being greater than a zone of inhibition of 10 millimeters.
Antibiotics didn’t match garlic’s antibiotic potential
When the 76 cultures were tested against a host of common antibiotics typically prescribed for drug-resistant urinary tract infections – their zones of inhibition ranged from 11 to more than 20 millimeters.
The researchers found that:
“This provides strong evidence for the antibacterial potential of fresh garlic extract in multi-drug resistant infections, where most of the available antibiotics are not effective.”
The researchers found that the garlic extract inhibited growth among these bacteria at a minimum concentration of 35 milligrams per milliliter. This is termed the ‘minimum inhibitory concentration” or MIC.
How does garlic work?
Garlic’s ability to inhibit the growth of infectious bacteria has been the topic of much debate. Studies have shown that it stimulates the increase of the body’s own immune cells through the stimulation of particular cytokines. Others – such as the study above – show that garlic also works directly, inhibiting bacteria.
One of garlic’s more astonishing abilities comes in the form of interrupting the communications between bacteria that allow them to increase their colony strength. A 2005 study from the Technical University of Denmark found that garlic reduced the ability of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria to conduct quorum sensing.
This study was confirmed in 2010 by researchers from India’s Punjab University.
Quorum sensing might be compared to the internet or television broadcasting. Signals are sent between bacteria and throughout the whole group, signalling how and when to expand their colonies. If this is interfered with, their colonies will not grow.
The Punjab University researchers stated:
“In vitro data showed decreased elaboration of virulence factors and reduced production of quorum-sensing signals by P. aeruginosa in the presence of fresh garlic extract.”
Garlic’s antibiotic constituents
Garlic contains over 400 known medicinal constituents, of which some are antibiotic in themselves. In combination they form a tremendous force over bacteria and fungi.
Some of garlic’s constituents found to be antibiotic include ajoene, allicin, allyl-methyl-thio-sulfinate, diallyl-tri-sulfide, and methyl-allyl-thiosulfinate.
Allicin in particular is quite easy to extract from fresh chopped or crushed garlic by soaking in water – although alcohol will more readily extract it. But allicin will also degrade within three hours in water at room temperature, and within 20 minutes when heated.
Correspondingly, as the above and other studies have found, fresh garlic provides the greatest antibiotic potency. A dehydrated garlic powder in a capsule or tablet will likely not contain much of garlic’s antibiotic potency. This is because some of these antibiotic constituents are destroyed or degraded in the presence of heat.
As for odor-less garlic, much of garlic’s odor comes from its sulfur content. And as noticed above with the list of antibiotic constituents, many of these are sulfur-oriented.
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Harjai K, Kumar R, Singh S. Garlic blocks quorum sensing and attenuates the virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2010 Mar;58(2):161-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-695X.2009.00614.x.
Bjarnsholt T, Jensen PØ, Rasmussen TB, Christophersen L, Calum H, Hentzer M, Hougen HP, Rygaard J, Moser C, Eberl L, Høiby N, Givskov M. Garlic blocks quorum sensing and promotes rapid clearing of pulmonary Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. Microbiology. 2005 Dec;151(Pt 12):3873-80.
Bergner P. TheHealing Power of Garlic: The Enlightened Person’s Guide to Nature’s Most Versatile Medicinal Plant. Motilal UK, 2001.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn our health around. As I drove home that night, I realized this knowledge should be available to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with nature by surfing, hiking, running, biking and according to Dad, being a total beach bum.