(Excerpt from Essentialbird yahoo group)

I am going to write out a comprehensive treatment protocol for chronic giardia and candida that is based on the program I used to treat my Princess of Wales, Monkey. This will be specifically for Lynn, whose Lovebird Squeaky has chronic giardia and candida, but I will put it in the files for others to use. The doses will need to be adjusted, but the rest of the information will be for general use.

Monkey had giardia (and candida) for five years or so before I was able to get a diagnosis of giardia. I took her to many vets with the symptoms of self- mutilation, anorexia, lethargy, depression, scream-plucking-out pin feathers, drastic loss of feather color, peeling skin, itching skin, dry, thickened skin and so on. I suspected that she had giardia, but all tests came back negative. The problem with giardia testing is that once giardia becomes chronic, the giardia organisms have formed cysts, which are encapsulated egg-like structures that can bury themselves deep in the lining of the intestines, away from the blood supply. The cysts can hibernate for very long periods. Cysts and live organisms can be shed intermittently, so that a single dropping sample in the vet’s office is likely to produce a negative result even when a bird is loaded with giardia. Finally, I purchased a test kit from Birdsafe and took droppings first thing in the morning so that the entire night’s dropping would be stored up and more likely to contain detectable giardia organisms or cysts. I took between six and nine samples, one every three to five days or so over a period of one month, and placed all of these samples in the single testing vial. I then sent this in to be tested and got a positive result. This testing protociol is outlined below:


You can buy a giardia trichrome test kit through the Birdsafe store online. It’s hard to find the kit on the website so if you can’t find it, you may want to email the owner for help. ( is the current web address.) When you get the kit, I recommend that you use the very first dropping of the morning as your sample. Make sure you gather the dropping within a minute or two of its being dropped:) Place a small amount of this dropping into the vial which contains a preservative and shake the vial to distribute the preservative. Repeat this every three days for six mornings – this way you will cover a large time span with a single test. The first dropping of the day contains material from a long period of the night and so is the most likely to contain visible giardia cysts or organisms. Since giardia is only shed intermittently, the numerous samples gives you an excellent chance of picking up giardia on at least one of the mornings.

Another challenge I faced with Monkey was that her long-term giardia caused severe malnutrition. Giardia robs the intestines of the oil-soluble vitamins and this sets up a chain reaction of malnutrition. In particular the skin and feathers become dry and overly thick with keratin. The imbalanced skin chemistry leads to candida, a fungal skin infection. The candida eventually becomes systemic at which point the bird is truly miserable, itching uncontrollably all over the skin, fatigued, anorexic and so on.
By the time I got a positive giardia diagnosis for Monk, several different vets told me that she could not be cured with conventional medicines because these medicines do not kill giardia cysts. I began to experiment with natural treatments, and I am sorry to say, the experimenting went very badly for several years. Here is what I remember trying, all unsuccessfully:

– grapefruit seed extract (this caused vomiting)

– berberine extract (this caused vomiting)

– olive leaf extract (no effect)

– calendula spray (little effect)

– oregano leaf (no effect)
– aloe leaf sprays (made her worse)
– Parazyme pills (no effect)
– Paragone pills (no effect)
– garlic and pumpkin seeds (no effect)
– oregon grape leaf (no effect)

Finally, I resorted to a very strong herbal treatment that worked. I am now convinced that this is one of the only possible herbal (or other) that can work for birds with chronic giardia and candida. I used a combination of wormwood, cloves and black walnut hulls in a tincture called Clarkia (there are other brands of this same herbal combination under different names). Cloves actually kill giardia cysts, which makes Clarkia enormously effective for giardia. The Clarkia cannot reach the embedded cysts in the intestinal walls, however, and for this reason, the treatment needs to be lengthy and after the treatment, a preventive protocol is required for the rest of the bird’s life. Clarkia is very effective for candida as well as giardia, and works much more quickly on the candida. During Monk’s curative treatment, I combined the Clarkia drops with neem leaf powder to make a slurry. (Neem is a good anti-giardia herb, but not a complete stand-alone cure as far as I can tell. It is, however, highly effective for candida.) I also gave Monkey neem leaf tea baths daily for her candida skin infection, and used Young Living Thieves or Purification essential oils (alternating) on a kleenex in her cage six days per week to further ensure that the candida was completely eliminated. Her cage was thoroughly disinfected with grapefruit seed extract every day. I fed her a natural diet with various supplements to repair the nutritional damage done by the giardia. The treatment lasted several months after which I repeated the giardia testing with the multiple samples (as described above and in the files) on multiple occasions over the next three years. Each test was negative, and Monk’s symptoms slowly cleared. I knew the treatment was working right away because the lethargy, anorexia and depression cleared up within a week or two. The plucking and malnutrition symptoms took months to years to clear.

Here is the breakdown of the treatment I used for Monkey. I will give numbers for a 47gram Lovebird so that Lynn can use these doses for Squeaky.

1. A whole foods diet as outlined in my article “A Whole Foods Diet for Parrots“. I found with Monkey, and feel strongly, that pellets are not a good idea for a bird with giardia. Pellets are a form of highly concentrated nutrients, most of them synthetic, and this will be processed as another stress to the digestive and immune system of a sick bird, rather than as simple, supportive nutrition. Monkey did very poorly when I tried to feed her pellets during her illness.

2. Zoo Med Avian Plus vitamin/mineral powder used as directed on the label to correct the nutritional imbalances (note that additional supplements are not a good idea because giardia birds are sorely stressed and need a very simple program in order for their bodies to do all the work of healing the tremendous damage that giardia causes). For the same reasons I state above about pellets, I feel that these vitamin/minerals should be used sparingly and should be the only source of synthetic nutrients in the diet.

3. Grapefruit seed extract used as a cleaner and also as a disinfectant (you can’t overdo this) – dose of 6 drops per ounce of water.

4. Filtered water for drinking and bathing (giardia lives in water and contaminated drinking water needs to be eliminated as a possible source infection).

5. Neem leaf tea baths – warm baths once daily where the entire bird is submerged up to the head for about a minute (see the files under Single and EOs to see how to make neem leaf tea in an article called Using Neem Leaf for Birds). The neem baths can be downgraded to neem leaf tea spray baths as soon as the skin improves. Use the sprays for as long as needed once or twice daily.

6. Young Living Thieves blend alternated with YL Purification blend essential oils. I placed five drops of Thieves on a kleenex three times daily and then the following day I used five drops of Purification three times daily – six days per week. This can be continued until the skin irritation/itching and candida infection is cleared.

7.  Clarkia tincture mixed with neem leaf powder (from Neem Tree Farms in Florida) – for a 47 g lovebird (Squeaky) I would use four drops of Clarkia mixed into 1/16 teaspoon neem leaf powder three times daily (you may need to add a little water to make it easy to suck into a syringe for dosing). Use this for two weeks and then take one week off. Repeat the two weeks on and one week off for a total of four sessions or eleven weeks. After the eleven weeks, taper the treatment down by doing it for five days per week twice daily for another month, then go to three days per week twice daily for another month or two, and finally go to four days per week once daily for the rest of the bird’s life.

CAUTION: YOU MUST START SLOWLY WITH CLARKIA – use only one drop per dose for the first day or two, and then gradually increase up to the full dose.

8. Primal Defense probiotic – this needs to be dosed in a syringe at least two hours apart from the Clarkia. I would use 1/16 teaspoon once per day for Squeaky (47 grams). Mix the PD with a little water to make a slurry for dosing via syringe. Use this throughout the eleven week treatment. After the eleven weeks, sprinkle the PD onto soft foods once or twice daily for the rest of the bird’s life.

9. I took (and still do take) Monkey outdoors on every possible sunny day for at least one hour, because sunlight affects a bird’s entire nutritional status, particularly by supplying vitamin D, one of the oil soluble vitamins that is disrupted by giardia. Sunlight is essential to repair the skin damage caused by this disease.

And that’s all there is to it!

Lainey Alexander

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, or by any veterinarian. All information, including any product or technique mentioned, is for educational purposes only. None of the information is intended to diagnose or treat any disease.