Garlic inhibits TB bacteria, finds research

Garlic extract be used to reduce drug resistance, treatment cost.

Ali Usman January 29, 2012


Researchers have found another medical use for garlic: it can help contain bacteria that cause tuberculosis.

According to a research it can be effectively used in the treatment of tuberculosis. Garlic is already known for its anti-tumour, anti-hyperlidemic (helping lower abnormally elevated lipid levels) and anti-microbial properties.

“It is worthwhile to utilise garlic as a natural supplement with other standard Anti Tuberculosis Therapy,” the research paper titled Anti-Mycobacterial Activity of Garlic Against Multi-Drug Resistant and Non-Multi-Drug Resistant Mycobacterium Tuberculosis states in its conclusion. The research was conducted by Abdul Hannan, Chairman of the Microbiology Department, UHS; Muhammad Irkam Ullah from the Biochemistry Department; Muhammad Usman from the Microbiology Department; Shahid Hussain of the Immunology Department; and Muhammad Absar of the Microbiology Department, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia.

The paper recommends that garlic extract be used to reduce drug resistance and reducing the cost of management of disease.

The researches studied the inhibitory effects of garlic on 20 cultural isolates. Of these 15 were isolates of Multi-Drug Resistant TB and five were non-multi drug resistant TB cultures. The paper says that garlic showed inhibitory effects in both. Garlic does not kill the bacteria or cure the disease.

The paper states that garlic extract can be helpful in containing multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), which is “a major concern… particularly in developing countries”. Currently MDR-TB is treated with intense chemotherapy for up to two years, which damages the patient’s immune system.

Even though Professor Dr Abdul Hannan is excited, he is cautious. He says that though garlic could contain tuberculosis bacteria, even MDR TB, “it doesn’t mean that a TB patient could be cured if he is given lots of garlic”. Dr Hannan says that this research was the first step towards finding something substantial, “We need next to find which ingredient in garlic inhibits bacterial growth.”

Not all doctors are convinced by the study. Dr Saulatullah of the Post Graduate Medical Institute (PGMI)’s Chest Medicine Department is sceptical.

It cannot replace medicines, the efficacy of which is already proven, he says. “Garlic can be used as a supplement while treating TB,” Dr Saulatullah says.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2012.


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