Oregon Grape is a blood purifier and liver cleanser. It releases stored iron from the liver into the blood stream. It has also been used in kidney and digestive tract disorders. The berberine alkaloid contained in Oregon Grape is antibiotic, but not listed anywere I can find as anti-protozoan. Aside from a recipe in “Herbs for Pets” by the Tilford’s, I can’t find mention of using Oregon Grape for parasites.

The Tilford’s recipe is: 2 parts Oregon Grape, 2 parts licorice, 2 parts cleavers, 1 part garlic. Give 1/4 teaspoon for each 20 pounds of body weight twice a day for 10 days.

The herb in their recipe that should be most effective against giardia is garlic, in my opinion. Cleavers and Oregon Grape are both cleansers and should help to relive toxicity making itself known by the itchy skin condition, which may be causing feather plucking.

Don Wells did some research using GSE against giardia. His article is below. In support of his studies I read this from “Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care” by CJ Puotinen:

Holistic physicians and veterinarians experimenting with grapefruit seed extracct, which is safe for internal use, have found it effective in treating staphylococcus, streptococcus, salmonella, amoeba histolytica (a protozoan parasite) and other parasites, etc.

According to Allan Sachs, a nutritionist and chiropractor, “amny prestigious universities and independent laboratories have tested grapefruit seed extract against more than 50 fungi, 20 bacteria and a host of viruses and protozoa. In almost all of these cultures grapefruit seed extract exhibited significant antimicrobial activity at low concentrations.” The liquid extract has a bitter, unpleasant taste, but manufacturere offer a debittered powder in capsules. Both are conveninet for hikers and campers who travel with their dogs. nearly every lake in North America carries Giardia lambilia, a microscopic parasite that causes intestinal disease.

Holistic veterinarians are just beginning to use grapefruit seed extract as a natural antibiotic, immune system booster, candida treatment and parasite preventative. Some theorize that its antimicrobial activity enhances the action of herbs such as goldenseal and echinaca, which can be used to prevent or cure respiratory diseases, viral infections and other contagious illnesses. For example, blends of grapefruit seed and echinacea clear Chlamydia infections in cockatiels and other birds, mastitis and uterine infections in dogs and farm animals, infections in infant puppies and kittens and a host of other conditions.

The extract has been used in combination with astragalus, barberry, white oak bark, witch hazel, clendula, slippery elm, pau d’arco, artmesia, milk thistle, dandelion, plantain, and other herbs to augment their healing activity.

Our own Heike used it sucessfully in conjunction with echinacea. I personally am not crazy about GSE because of my personal experience with it as being ineffective…..which is contrary to its purported ability to wipe out all normal flora and fauna of the digestive tract, as some broad spectrum antibiotics do.

If you want to use it, be sure to treat afterwards with probiotics and digestive enzymes.

Most holistic vets, according to information given at a holistic vet conference I attended awhile back, consider that allopathic treatments for parasites are more effective than holistic treatments and relatively safe. Thus, they usually recommend using conventional drugs for parasites


I live in the West and Giardia is not a major thing around here. I see it mainly in imported birds and reptiles. Generally Finches, many softbills and an occasional parrot will show up with it. Cockatiels seem to have a lot of sensitivity to Giardia and its an ongoing problem it seems all over the country. We are much drier then you are down in Florida and this helps us maintain Giardia free flocks it seems? Whether or not you would need to constantly use GSE or not I cannot say. Here I used it for a week in some imported finches from Africa and that was all they needed. In herp (reptiles for the uninitiated) seem to respond equally as well. I have mainly used it in old World Chameleons. I have not used the product yet in Cockatiels because I don’t keep them. It would be an interesting thing to see the results for them down in Florida!

One of the major problems with teils I feel is that they reinfect themselves constantly in aviaries because Giardia has a spore state outside the body and can easily survive for quite some time when not in its adult form.It would be extremely important to disinfect and eliminate any cysts that could reinfect after or preferably during treatment.

What started me to investigate the Giardia and other Flaggelate problems and how to eliminate them with GSE was a report by a Government M.D. who reported better results with no side effects from the GSE versus other treatments such as Metronitazole( Flagyl). I think one of the biggest problems in getting a bird treated in water is dependant on how much it drinks. Cockateils dont take in that much water and that certainly could be a problem for effective treatment.

Are you POSITIVE that this is effective?

I am as positive as I can be at this stage. I did before and after microscopy on the birds droppings as well as had floats taken for the local lab. Flagelates are not easy to demonstrate under a scope. They only live a short time out of the body. In all samples taken from absolutely positive animals, no evidence of infection was found after a week(7 days) treatment.

Please understand this is in the West not florida so further follow up and more frequent treatment might be necessary there. So far I have seen absolute dead on proof that this natural Grapefruit Seed product works very well as a deparasitizer for Protozoans such as Giardia. I have used it in reptiles as well as finches with known Giardia as well as Trichomonads. In both cases after one week of treatment in the water the birds show absolutely no sign of Giardia! Ten drops per gallon seems to work well for me.

Don Wells

Can this be used when they have babies in the nest?

I have not tested it so far on chicks in the nest. I do use it at a rate of a couple drops per pint container for handfeeding formula with no observable problems at all.

Don’t mind at all. I just don’t want this to be construed by some folks as the end all treatment. GSE is a natural Phenolic compound and Phenols are known to have long lasting effects that often don’t show up for years to come. So far so good! Its lived up to its claims so far in my experience, which has been: 1. Tested against yeast infection in small chicks with Candida albicans in crop and intestinal tract. Completely cleared it from the birds along with immune boosters given at same time.It tends to leave the gram positives alone also which I liked. But I do add microbials back after treatment.

2. Giardia and Trichomonads were effectively wiped out/controlled in both reptiles and birds treated for a week period at ten drops per gallon. I suspect this treatment will vary depending on water consumption of some birds?

3. I am now running parasite fecals on reptiles as far as worms and higher forms of parasites other then Flaggelates and other Protozoans such as Amoebas. It will be interesting to see those results because herps and birds are very similar regarding parasites as well as internal structures. It is often noted that birds are reptiles with feathers on! I have a hard time locating parasitized birds for my tests.

Hope this helps. Don

Note: About Phenols

Hi, Understanding phenolic compounds: Phenol is a basic building block of many important plant constituents. Phenolic compounds may be simple in structure or a complex combination of a range of basic molecules. One of the simple phenolics is salicylic acid, which is found often in combination with sugar, forming a glycoside. (eg wintergreen and meadowsweet herbs) This chemical has antiseptic, pain-killing and anti-inflammatory properties and is used by allopathic medicine in the form of acetylosalicylic acid, better known as aspirin.

Eugenol, the pain-killing oil found in cloves, and thymol for oil of thyme both have similar effects to salicylic acid. Part of the antiseptic action of bearberry on the urinary sustem can be explained by the presence of the phenol hydroquinone.

Many natural plants contain phenols, as Don said. When used in the complete plant form, other substances in the plant act with the phenols to lessen any harmful effects.

The problem with most synthetic produced by chemical manufacturers is that the the active component of interest is synthesized all by itself, so the other plant products are missing. That is why synthetic medicines have so many side-effects. Aspirin by itself, although beneficial in many ways, is pretty hard on the stomach. The naturally occurring form found in white willow bark, is less likely to cause this problem.

Many of today’s drugs were derived from the plant kingdom. Personally, I wish they had done a better job by including all of the plant components. (Like herbalists do 🙂 gloria

Giardia Testing

From: the Amazon <>

Just a heads up. I had a long discussion with a friend of mine who is on a campaign to get rid of Giardia, to get it properly diagnosed and treated, and to make vets and birdkeepers aware of its prevalence.

This friend, Deb Arbogast, has had experiences herself with Giardia, and since learning as much as she has, she’s telling everybody who’ll listen. She says it needs to be tested for properly, with a fecal trichrome test taken from 3 successive days of first morning poops (taken within 15 minutes of the pooping). A lot of vets are using ELISA tests, which are not accurate.

So, Deb and her husband have started a website and are working on a non-profit organization, called She’s recommending that anybody with a plucking bird get the bird tested. Birdsafe is issuing tubes for the poop to be held in (with polyvinyl alcohol for preservation), and there’s a vet who’s sending the poops off to the lab, and Deb lets you know the results.

I’m having a CAG who came here a week ago tested. He plucks quite a bit, and looks uncomfortable to me. If he tests negative, great! But I want to be sure. If he’s got Giardia, most probably the vets who’ve seen him in the past would not have tested for it. The person who placed him here says he’s been vetted, and believes the problem is behavioral. We’ll see.

You can go to for more information, and you can contact Deb and Joe (her husband) from there.