Barberry Proven to Treat Tapeworm Parasite Infections

barberry treats parasites

Photo by Sergey Rodovnichenko

By Case Adams, Naturopath

The best of us are irked by the notion of having a tapeworm. It is like an alien growing inside our bodies.

Yet nature provides solutions, even to an alien-like growth of tapeworm.

In fact, university researchers have determined that the traditional anti-parasitic herb known as Bayberry has the ability to kill and inhibit growth of the tapeworm parasite known to cause Echinococcis.

What is Echinococcis?

The tapeworm parasite is produced by the ingestion of one or multiple species of Echinococcus. After ingestion, eggs will form in intestines and cysts will form which can attach to the intestines and grow larger – feeding off the intestinal matter. Often the cysts will penetrate the intestinal walls and infect the liver and even the lungs in advanced stages.

Typical treatment consists of surgical removal of the cysts from the intestines and organs. Anti-parasitic drugs such as mebendazole and albendazole are often prescribed, with varying degrees of success. Often these anti-parasitic drugs do not kill all the cysts and the parasites return. Sometimes the parasites adapt to the drugs – and become multi-drug resistant (MDR).

Barberry shown to treat Echinococcis

Yet researchers have found that a natural compound Berberis vulgaris – or the common herb Barberry – is significantly anti-parasitic.

As the researchers confirmed, “Many studies have shown that Berberis vulgaris has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic effects.”

But they wanted to determine whether Barberry also had the ability to kill tapeworm parasite cysts. So they removed Echinococcus cysts from the intestines of infected sheep (the most common form of Echinococcus parasitic infection for humans is from eating animal meat derived from infected animals – and an entire herd can sometimes become infected.)

The researchers exposed the parasite cysts to varying dilutions of Barberry extracts in the laboratory – duplicating the environmental conditions within the intestine. They also used saline and hypertonic saline solutions as control tests.

The researchers found that every dilution of Barberry killed cysts, and the strongest dilution of 4 milligrams per milliliter of solution also had the strongest cyst-killing ability – achieving a dose-dependent killing effect. But 2 mg/ml, 1 mg/ml and 0.5 mg/ml also killed cyst cells as well.

Just what is Barberry?

Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) is a thorny berry bush that grows throughout Europe and Asia, as well as Europe and the Mediterranean regions. Barberry’s berries are often made into jam and consumed as a summer fruit.

The extract of its fruits and leaves have been used traditionally for many centuries by herbalists for a variety of infections, inflammation, colds, fever and influenza.

The active constituent in Barberry is berberine, which is a potent antifungal and antibacterial ingredient. If taken in too high of a dosage, berberine can also be toxic.

A 2007 study found 22 different constituents in Barberry, including oxyacanthine and berbanine.

Berberine extracted from other herbal compounds such as Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) and Goldenthread (Coptis chinesis) and Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium) has been shown to be antimicrobial and antifungal as well as anti-parasitic. As review from s 2000 Journal Alternative Medicine Review stated:

“Berberine extracts and decoctions have demonstrated significant antimicrobial activity against a variety of organisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoans, helminths, and chlamydia.”

Barberry’s other medicinal benefits supported by other research

A number of studies over the past few years have shown Barberry’s healing effects. Multiple laboratory studies have shown it can help with kidney stones and urinary tract infections. Other studies have shown its ability to scavenge free radicals. Other research has shown its ability to protect the liver. Berberine is also known to help cardiovascular conditions.

Barberry root extract
Barberry liquid extract

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Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.

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