Could garlic oil be a cure for Lyme disease?

Is there nothing garlic can’t do? The unassuming, yet over-achieving little white bulb is now being touted as a possible treatment for a condition known for being hard to beat – Lyme disease.

According to a paper penned by researchers from John Hopkins University, in clinical trials garlic oil as well as cinnamaldehyde oil, a component of cinnamon bark, completely sterilised the stationary phase culture of the B.burgdorferi species of bacteria. B.burgdorferi is believed to be the pathogen responsible for Lyme disease.

The paper published in the journal, Antibiotics, also claims that, at concentrations of 0.05{648ff2b140dd79f8b10f01740237e66061b7c0f8b396ba52d99047c684c8722c} garlic and cinnamaldehyde completely eradicated regrowth of the B.burgdorferi species. This is important to note as regrowth of the bacteria is a major impediment to full recovery for Lyme disease sufferers.

Lyme disease is commonly treated with a course of antibiotics for up to a month, however many sufferers – up to 20{648ff2b140dd79f8b10f01740237e66061b7c0f8b396ba52d99047c684c8722c} – report their symptoms persisting long after their course has finished. Recent studies have shown that B.burgdorferi can develop ‘dormant persisters’ that are not affected by the kind of antibiotics currently prescribed for Lyme disease.

These ‘dormant persisters’ may explain why some sufferers of Lyme disease do not respond to the usual treatment, however firm evidence for this has yet to be found.

The study also found that, at higher concentrations of 0.1{648ff2b140dd79f8b10f01740237e66061b7c0f8b396ba52d99047c684c8722c}, pimento oil, myrrh oil, hydacheim oil, and Litsea cubeba oil achieved similar results to garlic and cinnamaldehyde.

It’s important to note that the findings outlined in the paper came from a trial conducted on cells in a controlled laboratory environment. Much larger studies on animal subjects, followed by human subjects would be needed to ascertain if similar results could be achieved within the human body.

Until recently Lyme disease was believed to be a condition confined to the United States, however a growing number of cases have been reported in Australia in recent years.

In 2012, the Lyme Disease Association of Australia reported over 200 known cases of Lyme disease in Australia, with over half the people affected claiming they had not recently travelled overseas.

In the United States, B.burgdoferi is usually transmitted by a tick bite with a distinctive ‘bulls-eye’ red rash appearing a few days later.

Other less specific symptoms include neck stiffness, headaches, nausea, general weakness, fevers, chills and muscle and joint aches and pains.



Feng, J.; Shi, W.; Miklossy, J.; Tauxe, G.M.; McMeniman, C.J.; Zhang, Y. Identification of Essential Oils with Strong Activity against Stationary Phase Borrelia burgdorferi. Antibiotics 2018, 7, 89.

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