Using garlic vaginally

Garlic (Allium sativum) is one of nature’s most powerful antimicrobials, and several studies have highlighted garlic’s biofilm-busting capacities. Garlic interferes with microbial communication methods (quorum sensing).

Garlic is useful because lactobacilli are resistant to some degree to the impacts of the garlic, so while many lactobacilli may die from the garlic, many others will not.

While garlic has not proved very useful at this stage for vaginal yeast infections​1​, it may have some use in other minor imbalances or flora disruptions such as bacterial vaginosis due to its impact on biofilms​2​. There is one case report of successful treatment of ureaplasma​3​.

Studies into using garlic for bacterial vaginosis exist, with varying degrees of success. It’s not a magic bullet, but it can definitely help, seems to be the general gist of it so far.

Why would we use garlic vaginally?

Garlic is a great source of many compounds that demonstrate antimicrobial impacts. These compounds can interfere with a microbe’s ability to adhere to surfaces (cells, implants like catheters and intrauterine devices (IUDs)) and build biofilms.

Biofilms are a sticky layer that protects a microbial colony from treatments like antibiotics and the host immune system.

Safety first, kids!

Garlic is not always fun to use vaginally – you may be able to taste it at the back of your throat (even though it’s in your vagina), you may smell of garlic, and it may cause irritation and sometimes nausea. You can overcome these impacts by doing garlic treatments while you sleep or for just an hour at a time, but see how you react. Everyone’s a bit different.

Sometimes cloves can ‘get lost’ or be hard to get out, so you’ll need to use a needle and thread to create a string, like a tampon string, so you can pull it out when it’s time.

What you’ll need

Organic garlic is best, but any garlic will do. It should be fresh. 

We recommend using the clove uncrushed. Using a sturdy type of thread and a needle, secure the clove to the thread, leaving enough that the end sticks out of your vagina a little like a tampon string.

Push the garlic clove into your vagina, right up near the cervix, with the string visible. Remove in the morning.

There is some evidence that garlic is only active for about an hour after it is inserted, so you can also feel free to use garlic in the day for short periods.

Does garlic actually work?

The effectiveness of garlic on common vaginal issues is not well understood.

It is unlikely to do you any harm, however, so it could be worth a try if you’re not sure what else to do.

Can I take garlic orally instead?

In one study, garlic taken orally didn’t have much impact on vulvovaginal yeast infections, but another study into BV found garlic to be as effective as a moderately effective antibiotic.

While taking garlic pills orally or eating raw garlic is known to be useful for your overall immunity, it has limited capacity when taken orally to impact vulvovaginal flora. The impact is likely to rely on multiple factors, including the type of pathogen present, the severity of the condition and underlying health factors.

You can take garlic orally, but don’t expect it to magically cure your vagina. It might be useful to use garlic orally and vaginally at the same time to boost the effects of both if you want to go down that route.

What does the research say?

A 2014 randomised clinical trial​4​ found that therapeutic effects of oral garlic on BV were similar to that of metronidazole, with the antibiotic group experiencing significantly more side-effects from treatment. (Metronidazole is not famous for being especially effective at treating BV, however.)

A 2015 study​2​ found that garlic was effective against biofilms of:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Bacillus cereus
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Escherichia coli
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae

A 2019 study​5​ found that fresh garlic extract had in-vivo and in-vitro antibacterial and antibiofilm activity against:

  • E. coli
  • P. aeruginosa
  • K. pneumoniae
  • Serratia marscens
  • Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA)

A 2015 study​6​ found allicin, the main compound responsible for garlic’s antimicrobial actions, was effective against Proteus mirabilis planktonic and biofilm cells.

References

  1. 1.
    Watson C, Grando D, Fairley C, et al. The effects of oral garlic on vaginal candida colony counts: a randomised placebo controlled double-blind trial. BJOG: Int J Obstet Gy. Published online December 6, 2013:498-506. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.12518
  2. 2.
    Mohsenipour Z, Hassanshahian M. The Effects of Allium sativum Extracts on Biofilm Formation and Activities of Six Pathogenic Bacteria. Jundishapur J Microbiol. Published online August 25, 2015. doi:10.5812/jjm.18971v2
  3. 3.
    Bekut M, Brkić S, Kladar N, Gavarić N, Božin B. Garlic clove applied as vaginal suppository – A case report. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. Published online August 2018:97-100. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2018.05.017
  4. 4.
    Mohammadzadeh F, Dolatian M, Jorjani M, Alavi Majd H, Borumandnia N. Comparing the Therapeutic Effects of Garlic Tablet and Oral Metronidazole on Bacterial Vaginosis: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Iran Red Crescent Med J. Published online July 5, 2014. doi:10.5812/ircmj.19118
  5. 5.
    Farrag HA, Hosny AE-DMS, Hawas AM, Hagras SAA, Helmy OM. Potential efficacy of garlic lock therapy in combating biofilm and catheter-associated infections; experimental studies on an animal model with focus on toxicological aspects. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal. Published online September 2019:830-840. doi:10.1016/j.jsps.2019.05.004
  6. 6.
    Ranjbar-Omid M, Arzanlou M, Amani M, Shokri Al-Hashem SK, Amir Mozafari N, Peeri Doghaheh H. Allicin from garlic inhibits the biofilm formation and urease activity of Proteus mirabilis in vitro. FEMS Microbiology Letters. Published online April 2, 2015. doi:10.1093/femsle/fnv049


Original price was: USD $9.95.Current price is: USD $0.00. ex GST/VAT/TAX
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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
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