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Can Garlic Cure Syphilis?

author image Ivana Kawikova
Ivana Kawikova has been publishing in peer-reviewed research journals since 1993. She holds an M.D. from Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Goteborg, Sweden. Kawikova completed her post-doctoral training in immunology and served on the research faculty at Yale University for 10 years.
Can Garlic Cure Syphilis?
Cloves of garlic. Photo Credit: morisfoto/iStock/Getty Images

Syphilis is well known disease caused by a spirochete microorganism called Treponema pallidum. If you suspect that your are infected, see your doctor as soon as possible and start your treatment at early stages to prevent possibly grave consequences. The antibiotic treatment became available in the mid-20th century. Though the numbers of cases decreased since then, the disease has not been eradicated yet.

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Transmission of the Infection

You may get syphilis through a sexual contact with an infected person or from blood, either by receiving untested blood transfusion or via needles shared during iv drug administration. An infant may become infected during the birth if the mother has syphilis. From the site of entry, Treponema rapidly moves to local lymph nodes and can spread to your whole body via blood. Your immune system cannot fully control the infection even if you are healthy. Without adequate treatment, the disease may keep progressing slowly for many years.

Symptoms and Stages of Syphilis

About 3 weeks after contact, a painless ulcer develops at the site of entry, like the glans of penis in males or vulva or cervix in females. The disease is most infectious at this time. If you are not treated, you will develop additional symptoms 2 to 10 weeks later. They include a reddish-brown rash, enlargement of lymph nodes and fatigue. At that time, Treponema may be found in the wall of your arteries and in your brain, where it continues to have detrimental effects. After a latent period of several years, you may develop further symptoms, depending on which organ is mainly affected. Serious presentation of the disease includes dementia and neurological deficits, as well as aneurysm of the aorta that carries high risk of sudden death.

Treatment of Syphilis

The drug of choice for syphilis is benzathine penicillin G. If you are allergic to penicillins, there are several other antibiotics that your doctor may prescribe. Recent reports also demonstrated that even a single dose of azithromycin can be sufficient at early stage of syphilis and that this single dose is as effective as classically used penicillin G.

The Role of Garlic in the Treatment

Multiple cultures have praised garlic throughout the history of medicine. Garlic contains substances with anti-microbial properties. This was shown for example for Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Garlic may also assist clearance of the microorganism, as shown for Pseudomonas aerugionsa. Thusfar, effects of garlic extract on Treponema palidum have never been tested, either in vitro, nor in vitro. Given the seriousness of the disease, it is imperative to diagnose whether the disease that you have is syphilis, preferably at the early stage, and treat it with well-tested medications, such as penicillin or azithromycin. Whether garlic can be beneficial during such treatment is also not clear.

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  • J Infect Dis.A phase III equivalence trial of azithromycin versus benzathine penicillin for treatment of early syphilis. Hook EW 3rd et al; June 2010, pages 1729-35.
  • Org Biomol Chem. Polysulfides as biologically active ingredients of garlic. M├╝nchberg U et all; May 2007, pages 1505-18.
  • Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. Absence of antimycobacterial synergism between garlic extract and antituberculosis drugs. Abbruzzese MR et al; October 1987, pages 79-85.
  • Microbiology. Garlic blocks quorum sensing and promotes rapid clearing of pulmonary Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. December 2005, pages 3873-80.
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