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‘How garlic could stop MRSA deaths’

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What did the media report?

The media reported that patients who have suffered for years with weeping, infected wounds have been cleared after a course of garlic pills and creams.

What did the research show?

Researchers attempted to test the efficacy of stabilised allicin, a sulphur-based compound derived from garlic that helps give it its distinctive smell, in patients after it had previously shown promise in the treatment of MRSA in laboratory experiments in 2004.

They followed 52 volunteers with MRSA infected wounds who previously been treated unsuccessfully with antibiotics. Subjects were asked to take up to 1,350mg of stabilised allicin capsules per day and spray a stabilised allicin liquid on the affected area three times daily. There were no controls and no mention was made of whether subjects were still taking antibiotics for their infection.

The researchers said that ‘most’ subjects recovered fully from their MRSA infection between eight and 12 weeks after allicin treatment started, though larger wounds took up to 18 weeks. The trial, which will be published in the journal Advances in Therapy in September, was funded by Allicin International Limited, which makes allicin supplements.

What did the researchers say?

Dr Ron Cutler, principle microbiologist and researcher at the University of East London, said: ‘This is a breakthrough in the fight against MRSA. We have long known that stabilised allicin is very active against MRSA in the lab and these results from volunteer studies show it can be effective in treating humans.’

What does this mean for nursing practise?

Martin Kiernan, vice president of the Infection Prevention Society and nurse consultant in infection prevention and control at Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust in Lancashire, said: ‘It must be borne in mind that current commercially available products may have not the same level of activity against MRSA as the formulations that have been tested. These findings will not be a miracle cure for MRSA but they may provide another useful weapon in the armoury if the evidence from future studies supports the promise of the initial work.’

British Journal of Biomedical Science (2004) 61: 71-74

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