Garlic, Berberine & Spleen Extracts:
Garlic, Berberine & Spleen Extracts
Broad-Spectrum Support Against Antibiotic-Resistant
Lane Lenard, PhD
The initial alarm arose from Japan. A
child recovering from heart surgery had acquired a bacterial
infection that was not immediately cured by the usual
antibiotic, vancomycin. Fortunately, the bacteria ultimately
succumbed to a higher dose of vancomycin plus other drugs.
Medicine's primary defense against bacterial infections includes
antibiotic drugs like vancomycin and dozens of others. For all
their killing power, though, one of the main weaknesses of these
drugs is that bacteria are becoming quite proficient at finding
ways to defeat them. Antibiotic resistance, as this ability is
called, has been a growing threat ever since penicillin use
became widespread in the 1950s.
As bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics, the drugs
commonly used to kill them may lose their effectiveness, partly,
as in the Japanese case, or completely. If you become infected
by one of these resistant bugs, you'd better hope that some
other drug will be more effective. So far, there's always been
another antibiotic to try, but those days are about to end.
Several bacteria have recently been identified which have become
multi-drug resistant, a frightening prospect modulated only by
the knowledge that, in each of these cases, vancomycin still
worked. That's why the news from Japan set off such alarms all
over the world. These bacteria had apparently found a way to
neutralize vancomycin. The only saving grace was that this
particular strain was still susceptible to higher doses of
vancomycin and to several other antibiotics.
A Warning Shot
According to one state public health official, the Japanese case
was a warning shot across the bow. Because of the way that
bacteria promiscuously pass genes back and forth including the
genes that control antibiotic resistance most infectious disease
experts now anxiously await the inevitable news that the gene
for vancomycin resistance has found its way into bacteria that
are already resistant to all other drugs.
Once loose in the world, a 100% antibiotic-resistant superbug
would be impossible to stop using our current drugs. Although
superbugs will probably be no more virulent than ordinary
bacteria, the fact that drugs cannot stop them means they are
free to grow and infect nearly unchecked. For some people, an
otherwise treatable infection with such an organism could be a
Of particular concern in the Japanese case was that the
causative organism, Staphylococcus aureus, is one of the most
common bacteria in the human environment, comfortably at home on
the skin of one person in 10. As long as S. aureus remains on
the outside of the body, it is benign. However, if it breaches
the body's mechanical defenses and enters the blood stream, such
as after surgery or traumatic injury, it can cause serious, even
It wasn't long after the Japanese case came to the world's
notice that other cases of antibiotic resistance started to
appear elsewhere, including the U.S. In one case, a patient on
dialysis due to advanced kidney disease died from a fatal
blood-borne infection caused by S. aureus that had started out
as being resistant only to methicillin, but within 4 months,
developed vancomycin resistance as well.
Nor is S. aureus the only bacterial species that has developed
vancomycin resistance. Enterococcus species are among the most
common microorganisms that normally inhabit the human
gastrointestinal tract. Enterococci are also the third most
frequent cause of hospital-acquired infections and are often
involved in outbreaks of food poisoning. In one study, 10% of
all enterococci tested were resistant to vancomycin. In another
study, 14% of patients admitted to the hospital for any reason
were colonized with a vancomycin-resistant strain of
Another potentially dangerous bacteria is Streptococcus
pneumoniae, (Figure 1) the most frequent causes of sepsis (a
serious systemic infection) and meningitis (a potentially fatal
brain infection). Multi-antibiotic resistant strains of S.
pneumoniae have been widely observed. If this organism were to
add vancomycin resistance to its gene collection, these already
serious infections would become untreatable. Should any
Staphylococcal, Streptococcal, or Enterococcal superbug find its
way into the community, it could be a catastrophe.
Immune Defenses: Keeping Pathogens Off the Beach
In the absence of effective antibiotics, your only real defense
against a superbug is your immune system, which may or may not
be up to the challenge. Functioning optimally, the immune system
can usually handle most bacterial infections easily, provided
the number of bacteria are not overwhelmingly large. But if your
immune system is subpar, due to illness, age, poor nutrition, or
other factors, bacteria, including superbug species, will find
it far easier to gain a beachhead, begin to proliferate, and
soon overwhelm the body's defenses. Antibiotic resistance has
arisen largely as a result of the misuse of these powerful
drugs. When the dose used is too small or the time course of
treatment too short, resistant organisms are more likely to
survive, reproduce, and pass their resistance on to their
offspring and also to other unrelated bacteria. At best, these
drugs can function only as adjuncts to the body's inborn immune
defenses, which must always be the last bastion against any
bacterial onslaught. As demonstrated by AIDS and other immune
deficiency diseases, in the absence of an effective immune
response, even the most powerful antibiotics are ultimately
Figure 2. Streptococcus pneumoniae chain
The Ideal Antibiotic
The ideal antibiotic should not only kill bacteria, it should
also promote optimal immune function. Effective as today's
pharmaceutical antibiotics are in extreme cases, they can be life saving they do only part of the job. Because inadequate
dosing and inconsistent use of these drugs is a major cause of
antibiotic resistance, they are appropriate only for treating
ongoing infections. They cannot and should not be used for
preventing disease on a chronic basis. Furthermore, antibiotics
kill only bacteria, and are useless against infections caused by
viruses, fungi, parasites, and worms.
An alternative, and in many cases preferable choice is a
combination of natural antibiotics, combined with various immune
VRP's new UniBiotic is a specialty formula which
synergistically combines berberine, garlic, echinacea, and
spleen extract to support natural immune response and to
directly attack infectious organisms. UniBiotic is effective not
only against many bacteria, but also against many protozoa,
worms, and fungi.
Herbs containing berberis alkaloids, including hydrastis
canadensis, Berberis vulgaris, and Berberis acquifolium (Oregon
grape) have a long history in folk medicine. Native Americans
used hydrastis and Oregon grape to soothe inflamed tissues in
cases of respiratory, digestive, or genitourinary conditions
related to allergy or infection, as well as skin conditions,
such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema. In European, Asian, and
North African folk medicine traditions, Berberis vulgaris was
used to treat diarrhea and fevers and to prevent hemorrhage.
In laboratory studies, berberine, the most important of the
berberis alkaloids, has been shown to have antibiotic,
immunostimulatory, anticonvulsant, sedative, and hypotensive
(blood pressure-lowering) activity, among other effects. Of
these, its antibiotic effects have aroused the most interest.
Although not as potent as many prescription antibiotics,
berberine exhibits a broad spectrum of antibiotic activity that
includes a variety of bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. Among the
bacteria that are vulnerable to berberine are Staphylococcal,
Streptococcal, and Enterococcal species. Berberine also inhibits
the growth of yeasts, such as Candida, which often overgrow and
cause a secondary infection after ordinary antibiotic treatment.
Not only does berberine kill bacteria, it also helps boost
immunity, in part by increasing the blood supply to the spleen
and by activating macrophages.
Berberine is used clinically to treat acute diarrhea caused by a
variety of pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli, Klebsiella,
Giardia lamblia, and Vibrio cholerae. It can be used to great
advantage prophylactically when traveling in areas with poor
During a widespread plague in early 18th century Marseilles,
France, four condemned criminals recruited to bury the dead were
noted to be immune to the deadly infection. What was their
secret? They had been drinking a concoction of garlic soaked in
wine that came to be known as vinaigre des quatre voleurs (four
thieves vinegar) and is still available in France.
Garlic as a means of warding off infection and other medical
uses has been practiced since the dawn of civilization. Records
of its use date back more than 5,000 years in India, 3,000 years
in China, and 1500 years in Egypt.
Garlic and its active ingredient allicin have broad-spectrum
activity against many types of bacteria, viruses, worms, and
fungi. Low doses of garlic are particularly lethal to such
bacteria species as Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Brucella,
Vibrio, Salmonella, and many others. Some studies have shown
that garlic can inhibit the growth of bacteria that have
developed resistance to one or more conventional antibiotic
drugs. In addition to its bactericidal effects, garlic has also
been shown to boost immune function.
Garlic's antimicrobial activity was noted by Pasteur in 19th
century France and used by Dr. Albert Schweitzer to treat
amoebic dysentery in Africa earlier in this century. It was also
used as an antiseptic for preventing gangrene during World Wars
I and II.
Echinacea is one of the most popular natural herbal remedies in
common use today. It is used especially for preventing or
treating common infections, such as colds, flu, and urogenital
Like berberine and garlic, Echinacea has its roots deeply
imbedded in folk medicine. Echinacea is derived from nine major
species of perennial herbs that are native to northwestern North
American, in a band stretching from Texas to Saskatchewan. It
was used by Native Americans to treat more illnesses than any
other plant. Among its most common uses were to promote healing
of wounds, burns, abscesses, insect bites, internal infections,
toothaches, and joint pains. It was also used as an antidote for
rattlesnake bites. Around 1870, commercial medicines containing
Echinacea began to appear and became popular with many
physicians as a local anesthetic, stimulant, deodorant, and as a
treatment for internal infection and malignancies. During the
1930s, German researchers demonstrated that extracts of certain
Echinacea species had
The important pharmacologic constituents of Echinacea include
polysaccharides, flavonoids, caffeic acid derivatives, essential
oils, polyacetylenes, alkylamides, and various miscellaneous
chemicals. These factors contribute to the herb's ability to
promote tissue regeneration, reduce inflammation, and stimulate
immune function. Its diverse immuno-modulatory activities
include promotion of movement of white blood cells (neutrophils,
monocytes, and eosinophils), solubilization of immune complexes,
neutralization of viruses, activation of T cells, production of
interferon, and secretion of lymphokines. These actions result
in enhanced macrophage phagocytosis, antibody binding, natural
killer cell activity, and increased numbers of T cells and
polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs).
About the size of a fist and weighing in at about 7 ounces, the
spleen is a spongy, dark purple organ situated in the upper left
abdomen, just behind the lower ribs. The largest mass of
lymphatic tissue in the body, the spleen plays a vital role in
immune function. Among its activities are producing white blood
cells (WBC), which engulf and destroy bacteria and cellular
debris, and destroying worn-out red blood cells and platelets.
The spleen also serves as a reservoir for blood, which can be
tapped in times of hemorrhage to prevent shock.
Since the 1930s, it has been known that taking bovine spleen
tissue extracts elevates WBC counts in patients with serious
diseases such as malaria and typhoid. Bovine spleen extracts are
popular in Germany for treating serious infections and for
stimulating immunity in people with cancer.
The key immune-stimulating components of spleen tissue extracts
are tuftsin and splenopentin, both of which have been shown to
exert profound immune-enhancing activity. Tuftsin helps mobilize
macrophages to engulf and destroy foreign particles, such as
bacteria, cancer cells, and cellular debris. A tuftsin
deficiency is marked by frequent infections.
Splenopentin enhances the immune system's response to regulating
compounds, such as colony-stimulating factors (e.g.,
interleukin-3 and others) that stimulate the production of WBCs.
Splenopentin also enhances the activity of natural killer (NK)
cells, which target cells that have become infected with viruses
or turned cancerous. NK cells are the body's first line of
defense against cancer.
Infectious diseases used to be the world's most frequent cause
of death. That all changed with the introduction of penicillin
and the many other antibiotics that followed in its wake.
So confident was the pharmaceutical industry that it had
conquered the problem of infectious disease, that in the 1980s,
they gave up looking for new antibiotics. What they didn't take
into account was the explosive growth of antibiotic resistance
among the world's bacteria. Now, while new drugs are in the
works, they are several years behind the curve, and the bacteria
are about to pull away. The superbug isn't here yet, but most
infectious disease experts believe it's only a matter of time.
At their best, conventional antibiotics have never been the
ideal treatment for infections. Although usually effective at
what they do, i.e., killing disease-causing bacteria, they also
kill off many of the body's indigenous'and beneficial bacteria,
sometimes seriously disrupting the body's natural ecological
balance. As a result, side effects like diarrhea and vaginal
yeast overgrowth/ infection are extremely common consequences of
a bout of antibiotic use. Antibiotics, of course, are completely
ineffective against viruses or other nonbacterial pathogens.
Now, with the spectre of an impotent armamentarium of
antibiotics looming, it's time to look elsewhere for infection
protection. The ingredients in UniBiotic have been demonstrated
over centuries even millennia to help prevent and treat
infections naturally and safely. Only in the last few years have
we begun to understand how they work. The synergistic
combination of ingredients in UniBiotic, including berberine,
garlic, Echinacea, and spleen extract, appears to fight
infections by two principal strategies:
- Directly killing bacteria, viruses, worms, and fungi.
- Stimulating and enhancing the natural
immune response, which is ultimately the most important
defense against infections of all kinds.
Because overuse and misuse of antibiotics are largely
responsible for the development of antibiotic resistance, it
seems that these powerful and potentially lifesaving drugs
should be used cautiously and only when all else has failed. In
the meantime, it also makes sense to maximize your immune
function as a matter of course, and not wait until you may need
an antibiotic. In this way, when the superbug or some other
serious pathogen comes calling, you'll be ready for it.
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