Do herbal antibiotics work?

I caught a stomach bug.

Either that, or I had Giardia.

Whatever it was, I couldn’t keep anything in my system.

I thought the bug would have cleared on its own within 48-72 hours, but it didn’t.

My husband said, “C’mon, you gotta go to the urgent care. This is not normal.”

He was right.

I dropped 7 pounds in 3 days, literally, right into the toilet!

At the urgent care medical center, they would have probably prescribed me a round of antibiotics.

I haven’t taken antibiotics in a couple of decades because I haven’t needed them, and I didn’t feel like I needed them now.

Plus, antibiotics can be harsh on the digestive system, the microbiome, the immune system, and contribute to a host of other problems like[1]:

So, I hunkered down and instead of getting a prescription for antibiotics with potential negative side effects, I high dosed on ALL of the berberine herbs I had in my house: barberry, goldenseal, and Oregon grape root.

And, within a few hours, the problem cleared. Literally – just a few hours.

Berberine herbs are inexpensive, generally safe, and have been used as natural antibiotics in Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas, Ayurvedic Medicine, Native American medicine, and Eastern/Western Herbalism.

Berberine is an alkaloid found in specific plants that has been scientifically shown to reduce/eliminate symptoms of[2]:

  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Joint problems
  • Low bone density
  • Depression
  • Cognitive decline
  • Formation of cancer cells

Below are the three berberine-rich, natural antibiotic herbs that I took to heal my condition.

Japanese Barberry – Berberis thunbergii

Japanese Barberry is an invasive species that grows in the Northeastern United States. I am so grateful for this herb.

I’ve heard that plants grow exactly where they are needed, and for me, this rings true.

When I was struggling with symptoms of Lyme Disease, barberry was one of the main herbs in the herbal protocol I used for healing.

It’s a powerful antimicrobial and has shown effectiveness at inhibiting E. coli, Streptococci, Salmonella shigella, Giardia, and Candida albicans.[3]

That means it’s a really good one for gut infections.

Goldenseal – Hydrastis canadensis

Goldenseal was one of the first herbs I had ever heard of when I first got into natural healing over two and a half decades ago.

It’s got a solid reputation for its ability to heal respiratory infections, colds, ulcers, and it regulates blood sugar (diabetes).

Native Americans used goldenseal to treat skin diseases, ulcers and gonorrhea[4].

It was wildly popular as an antibiotic alternative in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, and because of that, it was severely over harvested in the wild.

It’s an endangered plant.

I only purchase goldenseal from companies that are sourcing cultivated goldenseal so the wild populations can have the time and space they need to flourish again.

Herpbharm is one of those companies that is sourcing well.

Oregon Grape Root – Berberis aquifolium

I first read about Oregon Grape Root in Matthew Wood’s book, The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism.

It’s one of my favorite books to learn about herbs and how they affect the body, and who they would potentially be good for.

When I learn about an herb, whether I have symptoms or not, I like to try it on myself to see how it feels.

In Matthew Wood’s book he says that Oregon Grape is best combined with Burdock (another one of my favorite herbs) and used for people that are dry and thin, and tend toward constipation.

I tried it on myself for a week, as I tend toward “dry and thin,” and I felt a difference in the health of my skin.

Since that initial experiment with Oregon Grape Root, it’s been sitting in my home apothecary for about 5 years.

Luckily, herbs steeped in an alcohol base (tincture) have a long shelf life (between 3-5 years or longer).

So when my gut went out of whack, the Oregon Grape Root went in to do some work.

I combined all three of the above “antibiotic” herbs (as tinctures) in a high dose. I used two full droppers of each, 4x throughout the day, in a little bit of water.

It only took a few hours for my intestines to begin feeling better and I stopped running to the bathroom.

On the second day, I had zero symptoms but, continued taking the herbs in a smaller dose, just to make sure I got whatever the heck had infiltrated my system.

Day two was two full droppers of each herb 3x throughout the day.

By day three, I felt completely back to normal.

As a safety, I took one more dose of each – 1 dropperful of each 3x throughout the day.

Do herbal antibiotics work?

In my experience… heck yeah!

Have you had experience with any of these herbs?



[3] Invasive Plant Medicine, Timothy Lee Scott, Healing Arts Press 2010, pg. 188