Researchers are interested in Listerine mouthwash


Researchers are interested in Listerine mouthwash

The famous mouthwash Listerine would be effective against gonorrhea, significantly limiting the presence of the bacterium responsible for this STI in the mouth and throat of infected persons.

The mouthwash “Listerine” is used to kill the germs responsible for bad breath, but it could also prove useful against another germ: Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This bacterium is responsible for gonococcal gonorrhea, or Gonorrhea also called colloquially “hot piss.”

Researchers are interested in Listerine mouthwash
Researchers are interested in Listerine mouthwash

In a preliminary research *, researchers at the Carlton Sexual Health Center in Melbourne reveal that daily rinsing and gargling with this product could be an inexpensive and easy way to help control the spread of this sexually transmitted infection (STI). The primary sites of infection of Neisseria gonorrhoeae are the urethra, cervix, vagina, anorectal region but also the oropharyngeal region.

The number of cases of this STI is increasing in many countries, notably because of the declining use of condoms. Moreover, France is no exception, since the Haute Autorité de Santé states that “the surveillance data highlight a body of evidence which makes it possible to consider an upward trend in the annual number of infections with N. gonorrhea since 1996, Which accelerated in 2009 “.

Significant reduction of bacteria

However, the rise in gonorrhea increases the risk of occurrence of N. gonorrhea strains resistant to antibiotics, “which makes the need for a preventive measure that does not rely on the more urgent condom,” attest Researchers. To evaluate the effectiveness of this mouthwash, the latter conducted a laboratory test.

Researchers are interested in Listerine mouthwash
Researchers are interested in Listerine mouthwash

They applied to cultures of N. gonorrhea of various dilutions of this mouthwash (Listerine Cool Menta and Total Care, which both contain 21.6% alcohol). By way of comparison, a salt water solution was applied in a similar manner to an identical set of cultures. After one minute of waiting, the two products significantly reduced the number of N. gonorrhea on the culture plates, in contrast to the saline solution.

A clinical trial was then conducted with 196 homosexual, and bisexual men tested positive for pharyngeal gonorrhea and returned to be diagnosed at this sexual health clinic in Melbourne. Almost one-third of the participants (58) were still positively tested for the presence of the bacteria in their throat during this second visit.

A preventive measure to be deepened

Thirty-three of them were assigned to a rinse and gargle with Listerine for one minute and 25 of them to a rinse and gargle with saline. Pharyngeal specimens were taken before and after the experiment and analyses showed that the proportion of viable gonorrhea in the throat of men in the Listerine group was 52%, compared to 84% among those in the saline group.

Researchers are interested in Listerine mouthwash
Researchers are interested in Listerine mouthwash

Also, people who used mouthwash were 80% less likely to be tested positive for pharyngeal gonorrhea five minutes after gargling compared to men using saline. Nevertheless, the researchers admitted that the monitoring period was very limited so that the effects of the product could be short-lived. However, another larger clinical trial is currently underway to confirm these results and whether the use of mouthwash can curb the spread of gonorrhea.

“If we have shown that daily use of mouthwash reduces the duration of untreated infection and the probability of N. gonorrhea acquisition, this intervention could have a very significant impact on the control of Gonorrhea in men who have sex with men, “the researchers conclude.

In France, the High Authority of Health states that “infections with N. gonorrhea are predominantly diagnosed in men, although the population of infected women is undoubtedly underestimated because of the mostly asymptomatic character of this infection STI, and the lower susceptibility of the diagnosis by culture than in men. ”

The infection is treated with antibiotics associated with a local treatment (creams, ovules). If not taken care of, it can lead to infertility for both sexes and joint infection.

* Antiseptic mouthwash against pharyngeal Neisseria gonorrhoeae: a randomized controlled trial and an in vitro study.


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