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Using garlic to cure bacterial infections  RSS feed

Ollie Taylor
Posts: 19
Location: Brisbane, QLD, Australia
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Hey permies

I recently wrote my first ever article, and had it published by geoff lawtons outfit, permaculturenews.org (woohoo!)

I thought i would share it on here too - it is to do with my own personal experience at using crushed, non-irridiated garlic to cure a bacterial staph infection.


Being a product of the 1990s British state education system, I grew up with a very ‘conventional’ western mind-set towards science and medicine. I have always been naturally sceptic of medicine applied through plants, even while hearing the tales my grandmother had told me of Camomile lotion helping rashes, and ginger helping a bad stomach. But these were always remedies you purchased in bottles and packets, carefully tested and scrutinised by the infallible knowledge of the modern pharmaceutical scientist. Believing that plants could be used to help alleviate or cure medical problems? That was pure witchcraft, akin to dancing under a full moon on a Tuesday to help a sprained ankle, or rubbing crystals on your eyelids for the flu. To think that only a few decades later, I was putting aside the advice of registered doctors, and getting my medicine from my modest balcony garden.

The beginning of my (so far short) journey into herbal healing started when I got some pretty nasty battery acid burns, while I was working in a metal scrapyard in Australia. One of the products we recycled was the lead from lead acid batteries – the ones under the hood of every car/van. It was my job to weigh, stack, and wrap the batteries onto a pallet before sending them away for processing. It just so happened that one morning, a battery I picked up fell apart in my hands, spreading a lovely solution of 38% Sulphuric Acid on to my arms and hands. The somewhat minor burns turned into irritated skin, and due to the dirty environment I worked in, ended up being infected with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (1). A quick trip to the doctor should get that sorted, right? Well, 4 months later, and countless courses of Bactoban, Flucloxacillin, and two other antibiotics I cannot remember, yielded nothing except a slice out of my pay check.

It was thanks to google, and a desperation not to look like my skin was falling off, that I found a forum post with many people promising that crushed garlic, cures staph infections (2). The original post states –

‘Freshly crushed raw garlic kills all or almost all harmful bacteria, including staph, on contact. One study (Walton, Herbold & Lendegren 1936-1938 – Journal of Food Science) even showed that the vapours alone from nearby crushed raw garlic killed all bacteria, including staph, out to 8″ away just from the fumes.
Numerous other studies, such as Abdou et al., 1972 have confirmed that crushed raw garlic kills staph on contact.’

This had my statement had my brain ticking. Peer reviewed proof that a plant can treat bacterial infections? Is this the evidence I needed to extend the true value of plants into the medical realm too? A bit more digging soon yielded much more recent journal releases on the subject, including the testing of garlic compounds on a variety of types of problematic bacteria, with positive results (4) (5) Importantly too, garlic based compounds can seemingly overcome the problems in treatment associated with antibiotic resistant strains of Staph, such as MRSA.(3) This gives us humans a good avenue for treatment of bacteria which is learning to dodge our best scientific efforts.

So, I was sold. I had found a bridge between my steadfast belief in the scientific world, and my love and belief in the intrinsic value of plant life. Maybe all those old wives tales were based in truth? After doing some reading though, I realised I could not just rush out to the shop and eat 40 garlic cloves and consider the problem fixed and do a little celebration dance. There are a few things that have to be adhered to when working with garlic as a healing agent – the garlic used must be non-irradiated, and it must be chopped or crushed and allowed to breakdown into the powerful compound allicin.(6) (For those organic pest control users out there, allicin is the compound which naturally protects the plant against pests, and can be used as a spray-solution to protect your crops (7)

To ensure you are working with non-irradiated Garlic, you are best off growing it yourself, or sourcing it from a local grower. Second to this – organic, nationally grown Garlic is your next best bet. A simple test for non-irradiated Garlic is to take a clove, and using a sharp knife, slice long-ways through the middle of the clove. You should end up with a centre that has a healthy green shoot, ensuring that the clove is still living and not blasted with radiation. Most imported garlic is irradiated to stop it sprouting and spoiling. You want to find a glove with an intact endosperm (the green bit) like this one.

For treatment of my staph infections, I made a poultice and applied to directly to my wounds I mixed it with coconut oil, as I found that using it directly was far too strong, and burnt very harshly. I also bathed in a mix of 1-4 activated garlic per bathtub. As garlic is gram-negative, and staph is a gram-positive bacteria, the garlic compound actively seeks out the staph bacteria and helps neutralise it. The allicin is not degraded further when suspended in a water solution, so chucking it in the bath will do a decent amount of good. I soaked for an hour or so, making sure I submerged my whole body every now and again.

After around a week of garlic baths, and topical application, my wounds had lost all of their redness and tenderness, and were starting to heal up. Within a few weeks, it was all seemingly gone, and within a month, a test by my doctor showed that I tested positive for the bacteria. After such a long period of pharmaceutical medicine had failed, my doctor was amazed with the work garlic had done. But, he said to me with a touch of dismay in his voice, he would likely lose his job if he recommended it to any patients.

Globally, as we approach a post-industrial society, medical knowledge of this sort is going to become invaluable. Laboratories, factories and scientific communities will not exist in the current format forever. That understanding of a unavoidable transition away from the availability of modern medicine, coupled with the increasing resistance from bacteria towards antibiotics, makes this plant based medicine a powerful and effective tool for anybody. As permaculturists, we need to work on healing our decimated ecosystems, bringing life back to our deadened soil, and reinvigorating long-suppressed communities. In order to do this in the most effective manner, we need to be healthy, and strong. I believe that this tiny glimpse into effective herbalism provides us with proof that we can achieve true health, with a thriving garden and the correct knowledge. With something as simple and true as a few cloves of garlic. My Year 9 science teacher would be mortified.



(2) http://www.mrsa-forum-usa.com/index.asp?forumID=16059&subject=Garlic-and-staph

(3) Antibacterial activity of a new, stable, aqueous extract of allicin against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15250668

(4) In vitro activity of an aqueous allicin extract and a novel allicin topical gel formulation against Lancefield group B streptococci

(5) http://www.researchpublications.qmul.ac.uk/publications/staff/21841.html

(6) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allicin

(7) http://www.doityourself.com/stry/using-garlic-as-a-natural-pesticide

Let me know what you all think - I will try to answer any questions I have on using garlic, since I did a load of research when i had my own infection going on, and might be able to shortcut you to the right direction if you have a specific problem

Also please critique the article if you fancy! It is my first shot at writing, so any criticism is taken with eager thoughts.

peas and glove

jimmy gallop
Posts: 196
Location: east and dfw texas
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good luck with this and congratulations
garlic has a lot of uses some we have yet to find
I use fermented garlic regularly and feel much better when i do.
Bryant RedHawk
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Posts: 2844
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Hau, Ollie Taylor, Great article you've written.

"I grew up with a very ‘conventional’ western mind-set towards science and medicine"

I studied to be a doctor, even aced the M-cats so I know that mind set very well and also used to believe in "Modern Medicine".

"the infallible knowledge of the modern pharmaceutical scientist"

Shouldn't that be "the totally fallible knowledge?" The more I learn the less I think of Modern Knowledge, especially that of the Medical world I have now thrown aside.

For instance, "doctors think they can cure cancers now, but infact the patients that survive are lucky beyond belief, since the western world still believes in Random poisoning of every cell in the body via Chemotherapies that are not cell specific. Even though it is well known that one of the things cancers do to the blood vessels that feed them is to enlarge the pores so more blood cells nourish the cancer cells instead of the surrounding healthy tissues. Seems to me that they should be using large chain chemo rather than the antiquated small chain chemo. Why are the doctors still using Darwin's theory the wrong way? How smart is it to poison every part of a body when it would be better to target the offensive tissues only?

I too use Garlic. I use it for many things, one of which is to relax and open my blood vessels for better circulation.

I have lost all faith in Modern Medicine. My wife and I now only use it when it is the only option left. Otherwise we use our knowledge of herbology and healing foods almost to exclusivity. We are now much healthier because of our use of the old ways.

Again Great Article, I award you my days apple.

Roy Hinkley
Posts: 264
Location: S. Ontario Canada
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A few weeks ago I developed a nasty sinus infection. Irrigation with the usual salt water helped clear things but the addition of a teaspoon of raw honey to the water helped clear it from my sinuses.
In the meantime the infection had moved to my lungs. At 55 I've never been able to clear up a lung infection without antibiotics, sometimes a double dose.

I was looking for a way to use garlic to help and found a recipe online (I can't remember where now - I did so much searching).
Anyway, the recipe was for a cough syrup - it goes like this.
Mince an entire head of garlic cloves
add to 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
add 1/2 cup raw honey

Let steep overnight, strain out garlic, take 1 teaspoon hourly. By the recipe it's very soothing for the raw throat and performs as advertised (I think it would make a great marinade for fish or pork BTW)
I was keeping the infection at bay but not really getting much better.
The website said when you eat garlic much of it comes out through your lungs when you breathe - the strong odour seems to make me believe it.

I made another batch of the cough syrup but this time began to eat the garlic a spoonful every hour. Amazing!
After one day I felt much better, 3 days and there was no more thick yellow guck to cough out.
I'm sold. This will now be part of my first defense when I start to feel "off".

Ghislaine de Lessines
Posts: 204
Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
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I forget the exact illness I had trouble shaking off years ago but my naturopathic doctor told me to eat a whole bulb of garlic each day for four days. It seemed a bit miraculous to me when it worked!
Fire me boy! Cool, soothing, shameless self promotion:
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