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Mechanism of Action of Topical Garlic on Wound Healing

Alhashim, Minhal, MD, FAAD*,†,‡,§; Lombardo, Jamie, MD†,‖

doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000001382
Original Article

BACKGROUND Allicin, the active component of garlic, has been shown to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic has also been used historically by many cultures to heal wounds. Several animal studies have shown that garlic extracts increase the rate of wound healing and decrease the rate of infection.

OBJECTIVE Fibroblasts play a key role in wound healing. Here we hypothesize that fibroblasts are being activated by allicin, leading to more organized and rapid wound repair.

MATERIALS AND METHODS Six rats were each given 2 surgical wounds. One side was treated with a 30% garlic ointment while the other was treated with Vaseline for two weeks. A biopsy was taken from each scar site and histopathology with Immunohistochemistry was performed to quantify the number of fibroblasts and proliferating fibroblasts in each site.

RESULTS The wound biopsies had more proliferating fibroblasts in the scars treated with the 30% garlic ointment than in the scars treated with Vaseline with a p-value of 0.0175 at two weeks post op and 0.081 at 6 week post op.

CONCLUSION This data tells us that allicin is acting on fibroblasts as there were more proliferating fibroblasts in the garlic treated sites than in the other sites.

*Integrated Dermatology of Fairfax, Washington, DC;

University of North Dakota, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Grand Forks, North Dakota;

King Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia;

§Tufts New England Medical Center, Dermatology Department, Boston, Massachusetts;

San Antonio Military Medical Center, Pathology Department, Fort Sam Houston, Texas

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Jamie Lombardo, MD, San Antonio Military Medical Center, Pathology Department, 608 Saddle Cove, Cibolo, TX 78108, or e-mail:

The surgical and anesthesia equipment used in this study was loaned by the Biomedical Research Center. The ointment used was developed and patented by M. Alhashim. The remaining author has indicated no significant interest with commercial supporters.

© 2018 by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, Inc. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.
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