Natural Treatments for Giardia

Natural solutions for giardia

Dear Annie – Can you suggest any natural treatments for giardia? Because of old scar tissue that impacts both my large and small intestines I have a tendency toward giardia infections. I have recurring infections once to twice per year.  I have an herbal formula that works well during flair-ups.  What can I do to prevent its recurrence?

This is a great question!  Thank you for asking. Let’s take a closer look at Giardia.

About Giardia

Giardia is a microscopic parasite found all over the world.  It is the most frequently diagnosed intestinal parasitic disease in the United States. Exposure to the giardia parasite causes a diarrheal illness known as giardiasis. Infection happens by ingesting the giardia cysts in soil, food, or water that has been contaminated with feces (poop) from infected humans or animals.  Giardia Cysts are protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive for a long time. The hard outer shell even makes them tolerant to chlorine.  While the parasite can be spread in different ways, water (drinking water and recreational water) is the most common mode of transmission.

Life cycle and infection of the giardia parasite

Infection occurs by the ingestion of cysts.   The cysts escape their encapsulation in the small intestine. Once released from their hard shell, two adult parasites emerge. Adult parasites are called trophozoites. These trophozoites remain in the small intestine, where they multiply.  Encystation (returning to the cysts) occurs as the parasites moves toward the colon. At this point we may find the cysts in non-diarrheal (seemingly normal) feces. The cysts are infectious when passed in the stool and shortly afterward. They can pass from person-to-person, person to animal or animal to person.

giardia life cycle

Signs and symptoms may vary and can last for 1 to 2 weeks or longer. In some cases, people infected with the giardia parasite have no symptoms.  Sometimes the symptoms seem to resolve only to come back again after several days or weeks.

Acute symptoms for Giardia include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Greasy stools that tend to float
  • Stomach or abdominal cramps
  • Upset stomach or nausea/vomiting
  • Dehydration (loss of fluids)

Other, less common symptoms include itchy skin, hives, and swelling of the eye and joints. 

Time as a natural treatment for giardia

The body usually resolves Giardia infestations on its own in a few weeks.  For some people, the symptoms get worse and can re-occur.  If the symptoms are recurring, even months apart, the giardia was not completely cleared from your system or re-infection has occurred.  Some people don’t have any symptoms and become carriers.  Either way the first thing to do is to see your doctor, get the test done and confirm the diagnosis.  Other gut issues that can cause these same kinds of symptoms.  You want to be sure what’s going on and that your headed in the right direction. 

Natural Treatments for Giardia

With confirmation of the diagnosis of recurring Giardia, natural treatments for giardia involve a multi-dimensional approach.

  1. Inhibit the growth of the giardia protozoa – Use the herbal treatment your satisfied with for 10 days on and 5 days off for 3 months.  Or consider the herbs discussed below. 
  2. Follow the protocol even if you have no signs or symptoms. 
  3. Improve gut health.
  4. Encourage healing of the old scar in the abdomen.

Regardless of the recommendations ALWAYS trust your body, instinct and intuition.  If you have adverse reactions, your symptoms get worse, or you are simply questioning if this is the correct route for you.  Take a pause, stop your herbs and call your health care professional or herbalist.  You may need a personalized protocol not possible on this blog.  If you would like personalized suggestions I would love to hear from you.  Contact me here with your questions and reactions.

Step 1 – Inhibit the Growth of Giardia

Barberry root, a natural treatment for giardia
Image by zibik from Pixabay

There are many herbs that inhibit the growth of giardia and other parasites while healing gut mucosa.  Herbs like Goldenseal root, Oregon Grape Root and Barberry Root are some of the most often recommend. These herbs can also be used as a preventative in cases of recurring giardia infection.  All three herbs above contain Berberine, an alkaloid responsible for their anti-microbial and anti-protozoa actions.  Pretty handy to have on hand when discouraging the growth of bugs, bacterial overgrowth and parasites.  Each is a digestive and liver tonic. All stimulating the release of protective enzymes from the stomach and pancreas, and increasing bile secretions. All three also promote healthy intestinal flora. 

Monarda as part of natural treatments for giardia
Image by bernswaelz from Pixabay

Other herbs that may be helpful as natural treatments for giardia in its active or inactive phase are Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), Black Walnut Hulls (Juglans nigra), Holy Sage (Artemisia ludavesiana), Sweet Leaf (Monarda fistula), Chaparral (Larrea tridentate) and Oregano (Origanum vulgare). 

Step 2 – Improve Gut Health

Healthy gut flora is the best defense against all kinds of parasitic infections.  In the same way, poor gut health can leave us open to a myriad of seemingly unrelated issues.  In fact, if you’re experiencing any chronic issues, it’s wise to include the gut in your healing strategy. This is especially true if the digestive, immune or nervous system is involved. 

To enhance gut health;

  • Add enzyme-rich foods to the diet.  Examples of enzyme-rich foods are pineapple, bananas, papaya, figs, beets and essentially all fresh fruits and vegetables. 
  • Take a probiotic supplement.  Probiotic supplements go a long way to jump starting the gut by adding healthy microflora.  When purchasing a probiotic, look for a supplement with between 50 and 75 billion CFU’s (colony forming units).  Choose a supplement that has 10 or more probiotic strains, such as Bacillus coagulans, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus thermophilus strains.  Click the following link to watch a great blog post from US Health about probiotic supplements.
  • Add fermented foods to your diet.   Naturally fermented foods are rich in beneficial enzymes and probiotics.  ¼ cup of raw organic sauerkraut or kombucha gives you many native probiotic strains with CFU’s in the trillions rather than billions.  Naturally fermented foods include Miso, Soy Sause, yogurt, Tempe, Buttermilk, Sauerkraut, picked veggies, kombucha, sourdough bread and many more.

Step 3 – Heal Abdominal Scar Tissue

Scarring can occur inside the body as well as on the surface of the skin.  the process of scarring is a natural part of the healing process.  A scar forms when a wound is deep and the body must create several layers of collagen to cover, connect and fill the tissue.  Healing a deep, internal scar is possible yet will require continuous effort.  Especially if the scar is an old one.  That means ongoing daily attention to the area involved.

Abhyanga or self-oil message may be the of most benefit.  Some of my favorite herbs for healing old scars are Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica), Frankincense (Boswellia sacra and others), and Helichrysum italicum. Click Here for more information about how to use herbal oils for healing and how to preform a self-oil message.

Herbs to Help Heal Scar Tissue

  • Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) – Encourages healthy connective tissue repair.  Gotu Kola works especially well for those who have extensive scar tissue. 
  • Frankincense (Boswellia carterii and others) is often used to remodel and smooth out scar tissue.  It also helps relieve inflammation and promotes healthy tissue growth. 
  • Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) essential oil is highly recommended for reducing inflammation. This herb or essential oil is often used for it’s ability to diminish or dissolve old scars and prevent the formation of new ones.
  • Rose hip oil (Rosa spp.) – A vegetable or carrier oil that when added to your formula helps the other oils absorb deeply into tissue.

Recipes for Natural Treatments of Giardia

A possible formula to inhibit the growth of Giardia

Adapted from a formula suggested by Cascade Anderson Geller ND at the Medicines form the Earth Botanical Medicine Conference in 2009.

Giardia Treatment Formula - To prevent the growth of the Giardia parasite.
Add equal parts
*Oregon Grape root (Mahonia spp)
*Barberry Root (Berberis spp)
*Chaparral (Larrea tridentata)
*Monarda (Monarda fistulosa)
Take 1/3 to ½ teaspoon 3x per day, (for 1-2 teaspoons total per day) for 10 days (depending on your weight).  Then take a break for 3-5 days.  Repeat for 3 months. (1 month per year or recurrence after symptoms have ceased).

Enzyme Smoothie

A yummy (and beneficial) recipe for an enzyme smoothie by Cascade Anderson Geller ND.
¼ fresh pineapple
½ fresh papaya
5 figs
¼ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
½ to 1 cup plain cultured yogurt
Water or juice to thin as desired
Directions – Place in a blender or food processer adding liquid to a desired consistency.  Drink 1 or 2 times daily for 10 days.  Take a few days break then continue for an additional 5 days.

Use fruit as fresh as possible.  When preparing your smoothie, remove as little of the skins as possible, because the largest quantities of enzymes are contained in the skin.

Recipe to resolve scar tissue

One Possible Recipe to help heal scar tissue
3 cups (by volume) Gotu kola herb
Organic Avocado or Sesame oil
¼ cup Rose Hip Seed Oil
Frankincense Essential Oil
Helychrysium Essential Oil
Place Gotu Kola herb in a quart canning jar.  Fill the jar with vegetable oil.  Be sure to leave enough head room to shake.  Place cap securely on jar.
Put jar in a dark warm place shaking every day for 2 weeks.
Stain and discard the herbs
Add ¼ cup Rose Hip Oil to herbal oil blend
In a separate jar or small bowl mix essential oil blend with 3 parts Frankincense to 1-part Helychrysium.  35 drops Frankincense to 10 - 15 drops Helychrysium per cup oil.
For every 2 cups oil add ½ teaspoon or 50 drops of essential oil blend.
Swish the oil mixture gently around for several minutes and let set over night.
Warm before each use.

To use, apply warm oil in a counterclockwise motion to the whole of the abdomen.  Work from below the breasts all the way down to the hips. 

Product Suggestions for Natural Treatments of Giardia


Individualized and standard herbal formulas are available online at Wonderment Gardens LLC.  As a clinical herbalist I am always happy to assess your personal needs and design a protocol specifically for you.  Please click here for information about ordering a formula, individual tincture or setting up a consultation. 

CTR Ointment

Wonderment Gardens LLC makes a lovely Complete Tissue Repair (CRT) ointment designed to speed the recovery of the body’s connective tissues including bones, tendons, ligaments, muscle and skin. Apply the ointment directly over an area where scaring is present.

Protozoa Formula for the natural treatment of Giardia

To help resolve or prevent protozoa or parasitic infections of the gut and digestive tract.  Including SIBO, Dysentery and Giardia. Handcrafted by Annie Jones and Wonderment Gardens LLC

Affiliate Product Suggestions

Genestra Brands Berberine formula

Genestra Brands makes a very nice Berberine compound made with Goldenseal root, Barberry root, Barberry root bark, Oregon and Grape root. All great herbs. And all indicated for the natural treatment of giardia.

IntestiClear – Advanced Intestinal Support for Humans

This looks like a well formulated mixture to take care of those NASTY & DANGEROUS INTESTINAL INVADERS. IntestiClear contains Wormwood, Cloves, Black Walnut Hull, Chanca Piedra, Gentian, Ginger, Garlic

Physicians choice Probiotics

A great probiotic for adults with a minimum or 60 billion CFUs. This Acidophilus probiotic with a prebiotic blend includes 10 strains: Lactobacillus acidophilus (La-14), Lactobacillus casei (Lc-11), Lactobacillus paracasei (Lpc-37), Lactobacillus salivarius (Ls-33), Lactobacillus plantarum (Lp-115), Bifidobacterium lactis (Bl-04), Bifidobacterium bifidum (Bb-02), Bifidobacterium longum (Bl-05), Bifidobacterium breve (Bb-03), Lactobacillus bulgaricus (Lb-87).

Thank you for reading for reading my blog. I hope you found it interesting and helpful.  It would be a pleasure to hear from you. And I would love would love for you to share your thoughts, reactions and experiences. And I invite you comment below. As always you may contact me via e-mail or through the message. Hope to hear from you soon.

Blessings and Good Health to you



Mandelbaum, Richard; Underused Medicinal Plants of Eastern North America, 2018 American Herbalist Guild lecture notes.

Geller, Cascade Anderson.  Herbal Formulas for the digestive tract:  2009 Medicines from the Earth Lecture notes.

Frances, Deborah RN, ND.  Natural Therapies for Older Adults:  2005 Medicines from the Earth

Corsican Helichrysum: The New Gold Rush By David Crow, L.Ac. 2015 Southwest Conference for Botanical Medicine


These statements and products have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. If you have a health concern or condition, consult a physician. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing any new exercises.

Herbs taken for health purposes should be treated with the same care as medicine. Herbal remedies are no substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. If you are serious about good health, you’ll want to combine diet, exercise, herbals, a good relationship with your doctor and a generally healthy lifestyle. No one of these will do it alone.

This information is designed to be used as part of a complete health plan. No products are intended to replace your doctor’s care, or to supersede any of his/her advice or prescriptions.

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