Essential oils from garlic can kill Lyme disease bacteria


According to a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, oils from garlic and several other common herbs and medicinal plants show strong activity against the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.


The study also suggests that these oils may be especially useful in alleviating Lyme symptoms that persist despite standard antibiotic treatment. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.


The study included lab-dish tests of 35 essential oils that are pressed from plants or their fruits and contain the plant’s main fragrance, or essence. The researchers found that 10 of these, including oils from garlic cloves, myrrh trees, thyme leaves, cinnamon bark, allspice berries and cumin seeds, showed strong killing activity against dormant and slow-growing persister forms of the Lyme disease bacterium.


The researchers hope in the near future to continue their investigations of essential oils with tests in live animals, including tests in mouse models of persistent Lyme infection. If those tests go well and the effective doses seem safe, the team expects to organize initial tests in humans.

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