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December 29, 2003

Garlic Ingredient Wipes Out Hospital Superbugs In Tests

An ingredient in garlic may offer one of the best defences against hospital superbugs, research shows. The compound is said to be effective even against highly resistant strains of the notorious MRSA bug, which has claimed many lives.

Tests by Dr Ron Cutler, a microbiologist, showed it can cure patients with MRSA-infected wounds "within days", he said. Allicin, which occurs naturally in garlic, not only killed known varieties of MRSA, but also new superbug generations resistant to "last-resort" antibiotics such as vancomycin. The findings will be published in the Journal of Biomedical Science in the new year.

Dr Cutler, from the University of East London, said: "Antibiotics are increasingly ineffective [against MRSA]. Plant compounds have evolved over millions of years as chemical defence agents against infection. Garlic has been used in medicine for centuries."

MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) causes 2,000 deaths in UK hospitals each year, mainly by infecting surgical wounds. Dr Cutler is starting clinical trials.

By John von Radowitz
The Independent - UK