Giardiasis: pathophysiology and management

Altern Med Rev. 2003 May;8(2):129-42.


Giardia, a common human parasite, can cause significant morbidity; however, natural medicine has great potential to influence the course of Giardia infection. The most beneficial way to treat giardiasis naturally may be through a combination approach, utilizing both nutritional interventions and phytotherapeutic agents. Nutritional intervention aims to reduce the acute symptoms of Giardia and help clear the infection. This can best be achieved by consuming a whole-food based, high-fiber, diet that is low in fat, lactose, and refined sugars. Additionally, ingestion of probiotics and wheat germ assists in parasite clearance. Numerous medicinal herbs show promise in the treatment of giardiasis. Berberine-containing herbs, garlic, and the Ayurvedic formulation Pippali rasayana currently have the most clinical evidence supporting their use. Blending the nutritional interventions and phytotherapeutic agents outlined in this article can minimize Giardia symptomatology and aid clearance of the parasite, without significant ill effects. As such, this therapeutic strategy should be considered the first-line approach. Antibiotic use may best be reserved for cases that fail to respond to initial treatment with natural measures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fiber / therapeutic use
  • Garlic
  • Giardiasis / diet therapy*
  • Giardiasis / drug therapy*
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic
  • Phytotherapy / methods
  • Piper
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use
  • Triticum