In a study published in the Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, researchers at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani found that even crude garlic extracts were effective against multidrug-resistant strains of bacteria where antibiotic therapy had limited or no effect. “This provides hope for developing alternative drugs, which may be of help in fighting the menace of growing antibacterial resistance,” the researchers say.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is the second most common infectious disease encountered by family physicians. About 150 million people worldwide are diagnosed each year with UTI, at a total treatment cost in the billions of dollars. Although UTI is usually treated with antibiotics, emerging antimicrobial resistance is leading researchers to explore traditional medicines and herbal products for alternative solutions.
Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used for the treatment of ailments since ancient times. A wide range of microorganisms, including various bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses, are sensitive to garlic preparations. Allicin and other sulphur compounds are thought to be the major antimicrobial substances in garlic.
In the study, the researchers found that 56% of 166 bacteria strains isolated from the urine of people with UTI showed a high degree of resistance to antibiotics. However, about 82% of these antibiotic-resistant bacteria were found to be susceptible to a crude aqueous extract of A. sativum. According to the researchers, this is the first study to report the antibacterial activity of aqueous garlic extract against multidrug-resistant bacterial isolates from infected urine samples leading to UTI.
The researchers conclude that there is evidence that garlic has potential in the treatment of UTI and perhaps other microbial infections. The team is currently using animal models to investigate the bioavailability, side effects and pharmacokinetic properties of garlic in more detail.
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