Garlic: A Natural Cure for Warts
A lipid extract of garlic may be a useful treatment for warts and corns, reports a study in the International Journal of Dermatology (2005;44:612–5).
Warts are noncancerous skin growths caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Various strains of HPV can cause warts to form on different parts of the body. Common warts occur on the hands and fingers, while plantar warts are found on the bottoms of the feet. Warts may range in appearance from flat to raised, smooth to rough, and flesh-colored to slightly red. They can spread from person to person by direct contact through tiny cuts or breaks in the skin. About two-thirds of warts heal on their own within two years; however, new warts may appear during this time. For multiple warts or for those that are bothersome or persist for longer than two years, treatment may be desired.
Options for wart removal include topical preparations such as salicylic acid (Compound W™), cryotherapy (freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen), or removing the wart with an instrument called a curet and heating the underlying tissue to kill the virus and decrease the likelihood of recurrence. Topical preparations are not always effective and may cause redness and burning of the surrounding tissues, and surgical treatments can be painful or cause scarring.
Corns are areas of thickened skin on the feet due to pressure and friction. Tight-fitting shoes and toe deformities can contribute to corn development. Treatment may involve soaking the involved areas and removing the dead skin with a scalpel or acid solution.
Garlic has been shown to have antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. The new study examined the use of two different extracts of garlic for wart and corn treatment on 42 people. Five participants applied a water extract of garlic and 23 participants applied a lipid extract of garlic (the fat-soluble portion of the garlic) to the affected areas two times per day until partial or full recovery was achieved. A control group of five people applied the neutral solvent that was used to prepare the lipid extract to the affected areas two times per day for 20 days.
Application of the lipid garlic extract resulted in complete disappearance of warts in all cases after one to two weeks of use. In addition, 80% of corns resolved within two to three weeks of treatment with the lipid extract. The water extract of garlic resulted in the disappearance of smaller warts and partial improvement of larger warts after 30 to 40 days; corns were only partially improved after two months of treatment with the water extract. The control group showed no improvement. The lipid extract of garlic was associated with some local irritating effects such as burning, redness, blistering, and temporary darkening of the skin around the treated area.
The results of the current study suggest that a lipid extract of garlic appears to be an effective and relatively safe alternative to conventional therapies for the treatment of warts and corns.
Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. She is a co-founder and practicing physician at South County Naturopaths, Inc., in Wakefield, RI. Dr. Beauchamp teaches holistic medicine classes and provides consultations focusing on detoxification and whole-foods nutrition.
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