Berberine treats mucoid enteropathy in bunnies

I have had intermittent, random difficulties with rabbit kits ages 3-10 weeks of age getting mucoid enteropathy (enteritis). I think I may have found an effective treatment. Berberine, an extract from the goldenseal plant, inhibits Clostridium perfringens, a bacteria which is believed to cause enteropathy when it goes into overgrowth. 6 days ago, when the litter was 5 weeks old, a kit turned up with enteropathy. I gave him half a capsule of Berberine, and he cleared up within a couple of hours, which is really amazing. That was just one kit, and obviously not a statistically valid sample. (UPDATE: Berberine in the drinking water shows no therapeutic value for treatment or prevention of mucoid enteropathy; it must be given to rabbits by mouth as a thin paste.)

[Keywords: mucoid enteropathy, mucoid enteritis, Clostridium, diarrhea]

The kits are now 6 weeks old, and today another turned up with enteropathy. (I had forgotten to withdraw their food pellets for overnight, although I had given them lots of hay.) It was a more mild case than is typical, perhaps because of the Berberine in the water bottle. He might have recovered on his own just fine, but I gave him an oral dose of a half capsule of Berberine, and he bounced right back. Still not statistically valid, but interesting.

I have no idea if the amount of Berberine I gave the kits was a correct dosage. I figured, they were probably going to die anyhow, so I had nothing to lose by giving them half a capsule.

Affected kits must be given a diet only of plain grass hay and water for a couple of days, with pelleted rabbit feed offered very sparingly and gradually later on.

This is the Berberine I purchased.Berberine extract of the goldenseal plant at Amazon.com

Kits sick with mucoid enteropathy are extremely difficult to treat and almost always die within hours after onset of the illness. I have tried all of the advice I was given by other rabbit breeders, which included treating the rabbits for coccidia, treating them for e. cuniculi, not full-feeding kits, and giving kits unlimited plain grass hay, and yet cases have continued to occur. In my own experience, treating their symptoms with Immodium and simethecone drops was only partially successful. In contrast, my limited experience so far in treating the sick kits with Berberine has shown it to be very effective, and worthy of further investigation.

(UPDATE) I quit feeding my brome horse hay to my rabbits, and there has been a great reduction in enteropathy cases. I now give them timothy hay, purchased in bulk from Kammalop.com, who get it from Oxbow Hay Company.

(UPDATE/January 7, 2016) I have two junior does that are now 15 weeks old, that were saved by dosing them with Berberine. When they were two weeks old, they began to have episodes of enteropathy, with the mucoid diarrhea. I treated them aggressively with Berberine, and they bounced back, only to get sick again several days later. That pattern continued for several weeks, with the bunnies getting sick, and then recovering after treatment with Berberine. By the time they were 10 weeks old, they stopped getting the diarrhea episodes. They are now becoming beautiful young does, and I am very glad that I made the effort to save them.

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