Why garlic is great for UTI’s

More than 50 per cent of all women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) in their lifetime. Every year around the world 150 million people are officially diagnosed with a UTI and it is no picnic. The symptoms can come on quite suddenly and include painful/stinging urination, urinary frequency (feeling the need to wee a lot), urinary urgency (feeling like you need to wee right now!), and even lower abdominal pain. Most often UTIs are treated with antibiotics but as in all areas of bacterial infection antibiotic resistance is becoming a problem. So the search for other ways to deal with antibiotic resistant UTIs has its own urgency and a new study has found that garlic may be part of the answer.

Garlic is an amazing bulb. Not only can it keep colds at bay and balance your cholesterol, it can apparently act as vampire repellent should you have problems with the un-dead. As a medicine it has been prized across the centuries. The first garlic prescription that we have evidence of was written on a clay tablet and comes from the Sumerian civilisation in about 3000 BCE and garlic was popular among many ancient civilisations from Europe to China. Across many cultures there was an upper class dislike for garlic that arose mainly from the view that its smell indicated that it was ‘vulgar’ or common. The peasantry however, have loved it and viewed it as a cure-all. Over the centuries the upper class resistance to using garlic dropped, mostly out of necessity, and by World War I British, French and Russian medical officers were using garlic to treat infected battle wounds. It is this antibacterial action of garlic that made researchers want to test it against UTI.

The new study involved isolating 166 bacteria from the urine of people with UTIs. Of these bacteria 56 per cent showed a high level of resistance to standard antibiotics. However, 82 per cent of those bacteria that were antibiotic resistant succumbed to a crude aqueous extract of garlic.

This the first study to show that garlic can be effective against a range of antibiotic resistant bacteria involved in UTIs. This was a laboratory study and so further research needs to be done into the absorption, bioavailability, and side-effects of garlic in people with UTIs. However, this is encouraging preliminary data and given a few thousand years of proven efficacy in treating infection, garlic is well worth consideration in supporting UTI treatment (in consultation with a health professional once UTI is present).

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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