Listerine might be able to treat gonorrhea when antibiotics can’t

Having an STI is no fun, but they are, for the most part, treatable. Except ones that are antibiotic resistant, like “super gonorrhea,” which has so far been untreatable with medicine. But do not fear: a new study shows that Listerine might cure gonorrhea and possibly other bacterial infections. Do not go rush and douse your genitals in Listerine just yet (no judgement if you thought about it), because more research needs to be done.

Researchers at Australia’s Melbourne Sexual Health Center took a bunch of different kinds of Listerine and dilution and had 58 men with gonorrhea of the throat gargle with them while a control group gargled with a saline solution. And it worked. After gargling, the men got a throat swab for gonorrhea and only 52 percent of them tested positive, which sounds like a lot, but compared to the 84 percent who tested positive after the saline solution, it’s not bad.

Listerine might also be a good prevention measure, researchers found, since people who rinsed with Listerine were 80 percent less likely to test positive for the virus at all. The study didn’t try Listerine on other body parts, and it was just tested on men, so the results aren’t totally comprehensive — but if you use Listerine on the daily, it might be doing more than hiding your bad breath. They should put that in the commercial.

Apparently, a hundred years ago when Listerine was introduced on the market, the manufacturers claimed that it was a “cure” for gonorrhea, so at least now there’s some proof.

This is pretty good news, especially since gonorrhea rates are on the rise in the United States. With 395,000 reported cases in 2015, infection rates are up 13 percent since 2014. For some reason, men are more likely to get it than women, who are usually asymptomatic. Not only are rates of gonorrhea up, there is also a new strain that’s so far been untreatable with antibiotics (gonorrhea can usually be cured with a cocktail of two). Doctors are calling it “super gonorrhea,” though it doesn’t sound all that super.

News that certain dilutions of a simple mouthwash can knock it out in the throat means there’s hope. And it’s cheaper to develop than new antibiotics. Eric Chow, the lead author of the study, told The Huffington Post, “Use of mouthwash could reduce the duration of infection and hence could reduce the number of gonorrhea cases. If the number of gonorrhea cases [reduces], it will minimize the use of antibiotics.”

They’re doing a larger study now on 500 men and trying out different brands of mouthwash to see what works best. Please don’t put Listerine on your genitals yet, but a swish before going down on someone might not hurt.