Can Garlic Help With A UTI?

As it turns out, garlic may be good for more than just warding off vampires. Aside from adding extra flavor to your favorite dish, garlic also comes with numerous health benefits. According to the Cleveland Clinic, garlic can improve heart health, combat acne, fight fungus, reduce swelling, and increase immunity. But is it possible it can do even more?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection affecting any part of the urinary tract — particularly the bladder or urethra (via the Mayo Clinic). It's often characterized by excessive urges to urinate, burning, discomfort, or urine that is cloudy or strong in scent, amongst other symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, both men and women are susceptible to UTIs. UTIs can develop for different reasons, including bacterial contamination of the urethra from the anal region, and it may be contracted through sexual activity.

You might have heard that cranberry juice may be helpful in the prevention of UTIs, and while there is some evidence to suggest that cranberry products may aid in prevention to a small degree (via the University of Michigan Health), is it possible that garlic can do the same — or more?

Garlic may help prevent reinfection

A 2014 study published in the scientific journal Case Reports in Medicine examined 2 different patients, each with recurrent UTI infections that were resistant to antibiotic treatment. Their findings showed that through a combination treatment of cranberry tablets, probiotics, L-arginine, and parsley and garlic tablets, the infections had cleared up. Furthermore, one of the cases showed that when the patient ceased taking the garlic tablets, in particular, reinfection occurred after 2 months' time.

Similarly, a 2015 study conducted by the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences in India also indicated that garlic extract may be an effective treatment against UTIs unresponsive to antibiotic drugs. In the study, over 80% of the unresponsive UTI-causing bacterial strains studied showed responsiveness to garlic extract. Researchers concluded their findings, stating, " ... there is evidence that garlic has potential in the treatment of UTI and maybe other microbial infections. However, it is necessary to determine the bioavailability, side effects and pharmacokinetic properties in more detail."

Because more research is still needed on the topic, garlic should not be used as a substitute for proper medical treatment. If you believe you may be experiencing a urinary tract infection, be sure to consult with your physician for an official diagnosis.