Eric Bakker N.D.May 6, 2022

One of my personal favourite herbal medicines when it comes to any acute infections (any) in my clinic is called berberine.

Eric Bakker Naturopath » Recipes » Berberine

One of my personal favourite herbal medicines when it comes to any acute infections (any) in my clinic is called berberine. Plants that share similar indications when it comes to effective yeast infection treatment are Golden seal (Hydrastis canadensis), Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium), and Goldthread (Coptis chinensis). But what do these plants all have in common? They all contain a high content of berberine that is antibacterial, antiparasitic and antifungal that is an effective immune enhancer.

How Does Berberine Work?

Goldenseal and Barberry in particular contain high levels berberine that has positively stimulating effect on the immune system. This effect is strongest no doubt is in mucous membrane tissues found in the vagina, mouth, and especially the digestive system. Berberine has been shown to possess excellent antimicrobial activity against a wide variety of microorganisms some of which are found in the vagina, like candida albicans, e coli, staph aureus and many others. Different types of preparations of goldenseal and barberry especially have been used both orally in teas, capsules and in liquid herbal extracts, and intra-vaginally in douches and as suppositories.

I don’t think of berberine containing herbs as candida specifics, but more adjuncts, meaning they are perfect to add to a candida cleansing and inhibiting dietary supplement because they:

  1. Enhance the activity of stronger anti-fungals like caprylic and undecylenic acid
  2. Work in the background by killing bad bacteria and parasites, allowing stronger anti-fungals to do they job more easily.
  3. Unlike most anti-fungals, they support the mucous membranes and have an immune enhancing and cleansing effect on the mucosa of the throat, vagina and digestive system.
  4. Act as liver tonics and help the body secrete bile, good to use when detoxing.

Intestinal Parasites

Berberine has demonstrated growth inhibition of Giardia, Entamoeba histolytica, Trichomonas vaginalis, and leishmania donovani as well as several other well-known parasites and many different types of detrimental bacteria. Studies of berberine have shown in particular that it markedly decreases the parasitic load and can rapidly improve somebody’s immune system profile. Test tube studies have revealed that berberine inhibits the multiplication and inhibits the maturation of parasites. It is a most effective anti-parasitic herbal medicine and in my opinion is a must when treating any chronic yeast infection.

Rifles and shotguns

Because of its ability to affect both yeast but especially parasites and bacteria, Golden Seal and/or Barberry are a logical choice in cases where multiple infectious agents in any yeast infection are involved. And when a person has a chronic yeast infection, they won’t just have a candida overgrowth, they most probably will have a case of dysbiosis (called SIBO today) and have an imbalance of many potentially “bad” bacteria, fungi and parasites at the same time, and this is where berberine is effective, just like GSE. Instead of one shotgun we now have two shotguns when we go hunting for candida. I tend to see garlic, tea tree oil and oregano oil as rifles (strong and specific high powered anti-fungal action) and GSE and berberine as shotguns (a more widespread action on bacteria, yeasts and parasites). What a blast, no pun intended ;-

Precautions with Berberine

Don’t take a berberine extract by itself for more than two weeks, it is OK to have berberine as part of a formula in a lower dose for more than two weeks but you wouldn’t want to take for example straight liquid Golden Seal or Barberry for any longer than two weeks. The reason being is that they are quite potent and may irritate the mucous membranes. Also, don’t take when pregnant.


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