Tag Archives: garlic

Image: Left: Biomphalaria sp., the intermediate host for S. mansoni. Right: Bulinus sp., the intermediate host for S. haematobium and S. intercalatum. Center: Adults of S. mansoni. The thin female resides in the gynecophoral canal of the thicker male. Credit: DPDx

Garlic might help millions suffering from a nasty parasitic worm infection

Schistosoma mansoni might not be as famous as other nasty parasitic worms like flatworms or roundworms, but outside the U.S. this pesky bugger infests more than 200 million people. Symptoms range from rash to organ damage to paralysis. For years, patients have had to rely on drugs that ward off the infection, but for remote or communities in the developing world this may be out of the question. There’s a widely available remedy found almost anywhere in the world though, according to Egyptian researchers. And it’s so cheap that it literally grows in the ground: garlic.

Image: Left: Biomphalaria sp., the intermediate host for S. mansoni. Right: Bulinus sp., the intermediate host for S. haematobium and S. intercalatum. Center: Adults of S. mansoni. The thin female resides in the gynecophoral canal of the thicker male. Credit: DPDx

Image: Left: Biomphalaria sp., the intermediate host for S. mansoni. Right: Bulinus sp., the intermediate host for S. haematobium and S. intercalatum. Center: Adults of S. mansoni. The thin female resides in the gynecophoral canal of the thicker male. Credit: DPDx

Schistosoma mansoni causes Schistosoma infection, also known as bilharzia – a disease for which there is no vaccine. The only treatment is a drug called praziquantel, which is quite effective. Lately a wave of resistance to the drug has got a lot of doctors worried prompting scientists to look for alternatives treatments. Schistosomiasis is considered one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

In the lab, some studies reported promising results. During clinical trials, however, these have fallen disappointing short.

Hopefully, the same might not apply to garlic which was found to destroy the infection in mice, according to recent study published by researchers at the Ain Shams University, Cairo. They worked with several groups of mice to study the effects of garlic during the six week trial: control, garlic control, untreated infection, and garlic-treated infection.

It’s well known that garlic has both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Schistosoma infection causes inflammation, so it was not surprising to see garlic oil given to the infected mice produced fewer biomarkers of inflammation.

Again, this wasn’t surprising to anyone. The real highlight, however, was that the garlic oil therapy only worked for mice in their first week of infection. If the garlic was given two to three weeks after the mice became infected showed only mild improvements. This result clearly showed the importance of inflammation in the early stages of infection. It may be that later on the worms are too strong to be affected by the garlic, and in the first week these are rendered weaker and more susceptible to immunological clearance. Though it wasn’t tested, the Egyptian researchers reckon praziquantel must become more effective under these conditions.

Let’s just hope clinical trials confirm these findings can be transferred to humans.

1,000 year old garlic remedy treats styes and MRSA better than modern antibiotics

A 1,000 year old Anglo-Saxon ‘eye salve’ made from onion, garlic, wine and part of a cow’s stomach wipes out 90 percent of antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) – much better than most modern antibiotics. It also does a great job at treating styes, small abscesses on the eyelid.

Image: © The British Library Board (Royal 12 D xvii)

“Take cropleek and garlic, of both equal quantities, pound them well together… take wine and bullocks gall, mix with the leek… let it stand nine days in the brass vessel…” – so goes a thousand year old Anglo-Saxon recipe to vanquish a stye, an infected eyelash follicle. The 9th Century ‘eye salve’ recipe was found in a manuscript in the British Library. Initially, linguists had to translate it from ye olde Anglo Saxon, and then other researchers recreated it and tested its efficiency. They were absolutely shocked to see just how effective it was.

“We did not see this coming at all,” said microbiologist Freya Harrison, the lead researcher, in the press video below. “We thought that Bald’s eye salve might show a small amount of antibiotic activity. … But we were absolutely blown away by just how effective the combination of ingredients was,” she added in a press release.

Recreating an ancient potion

Image credits: Softpedia.

Of course, creating a millennium old potion is no easy feat – even after figuring out all the needed ingredients, they still needed to find them – and finding authentic ingredients can be quite difficult in the modern world. They had to hope for the best with the leeks and garlic because modern crop varieties are likely to be quite different to ancient ones, even the organic and heritage ones. The recipe also mentioned brass vessels, which are hard and expensive to find at the moment, so the team used glass bottles with squares of brass sheet immersed in the mixture. Bullocks gall was easy, though, as cow’s bile salts are sold as a supplement for people who have had their gall bladders removed. Wine was also do-able – they used wine from a vineyard that existed since the 9th century.

The full, translated recipe is:

  • Equal amounts of garlic and another allium (onion or leek), finely chopped and crushed in a mortar for two minutes.
  •  Add 25ml (0.87 fl oz) of English wine – in this case, taken from a historic vineyard near Glastonbury.
  • Dissolve bovine salts in distilled water, add and then keep chilled for nine days at 4 degrees Celsius before straining through a cloth to remove particulates.

It was a crazy idea – just crazy enough to work. Taken individually, the ingredients had little effect on MRSA, but together, it was almost like magic. But after nine days of stewing together, the potion had killed all the soil bacteria introduced by the leek and garlic.

“It was self-sterilising,” says Harrison. “That was the first inkling that this crazy idea just might have some use.”

Ancient medicine, modern problems

Image credits: The Epoch Times.


The medicine worked so good, that researchers actually wanted to see how it does against MRSA – antibiotic resistant cultures of bacteria that are very hard to deal with, even with the most powerful antibiotics. They shipped the concoction to United States where it was tested on in vivo mouse wounds as a topical treatment. It wiped out most of the MRSA cells after just 24 hours – even better than modern antibiotics. Vancomycin, the antibiotic generally used for MRSA, had comparable results.

The team presented their findings at the Annual Conference of the Society for General Microbiology, in Birmingham, on Monday. However, they still don’t know how it works – and why.

“The big challenge is trying to find out why that combination works,” says Steve Diggle, another of the researchers.

The fact that you need to wait 9 days for it to become active doesn’t make things easier – the entire lab smelled like garlic by the time everything was done.

“With the nine-day waiting period, the preparation turned into a kind of loathsome, odorous slime,” says Michael Drout of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.

But even so, it’s worth it. MRSA is a growing problem, which a recent report has predicted will kill 300 million people by 2050. Finding something that deals with this problem, especially something so simple and cheap could be monumental.


Shorties: garlic as a guilty pleasure

Garlic is one of those things you can’t be indifferent about. You either love it, hate it, or love and hate it. This is exactly the reason why 100 Helsinki shoppers were interviewed and asked what they think abut garlic, and how much they are annoyed by it, compared to other social odors.

The most common belief was that garlic has a good taste, is healthy, but has an unpleasant smell. Users and non-users showed distinctly different belief patterns. However, it wasn’t nearly as unpleasant as researchers were expecting it to be. The most annoying social smells were considered to be sweat and alcohol, while garlic and aftershave were considered the least annoying.

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