Exploring Lyme disease with Herbs

Lyme disease is ‘on the rise’ and sadly, has arrived in Ontario! Lyme Disease, is a topic, I’ve written about before and want to share some ideas today. I do not work with Lyme patients myself, so refer  clients to those with in depth treatment experience.  I have, however, taken many classes and continue to read extensively about this devastating infectious disease, which presents such a series of problems and has stricken a number of my friends. I promise to include references and referral info below.

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease and,
is thought to be one of the fastest growing infectious diseases today.

Some say that the CDC reports approximately 10,000 new cases per year but it is believed that it is closer to 200,000+ new cases. Did you know that, in addition to a tick bite, Lyme can be transmitted through  breast milk, semen, tears, saliva, as well as bites from mosquitoes and mites?

Lyme symptoms can mimic other diseases:
Alzheimer’s Disease
ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
Fibromyalgia
MS
Parkinson’s Disease
Rheumatoid Arthritis

This makes it difficult to determine whether a patient has Lyme or another disease.  Lyme patients can go undiagnosed until they are ‘fully’ into a chronic state.

Lyme Disease Symptoms:

Here are some ~ there are so many more:

Back pain (unexplained)
Chills (suddenly without a cold or flu present)
Fevers
Insomnia
Swollen glands (ongoing)
Sore throat
Joint pain
Swelling in ankles, elbows, fingers, hips, knees or toes
Numbness in arms or legs
Muscle weakness
Twitching of muscles (facial or other)
Confusion ~ Difficulty thinking
Concentration difficult ~ unable to absorb new info
Short term memory loss
Mood swings
Panic attacks
Motion sickness and on-off dizziness
Weight gain (unexplained)
Hair loss (sudden)
Blurred vision
Hearing problems, including buzzing, ringing in ears, decreased hearing

Experts who work with Lyme patients, have learned to recognize certain combinations of these symptoms. Treatment is started immediately. THE BEST IDEA?  If experiencing changes that feel odd or uncharacteristic of you or a family member. Go to an expert immediately. Do not play around with any of the 1000s of websites offering ideas for treatment. This Lyme disease is a tricky one to treat and beat.

There is a common belief, that all Lyme disease will be indicated by a rash (erythema migrans), which is a painless bull’s-eye shaped blotch, about the size of a silver dollar. This is indeed an indication of the presence of Lyme. But. Did you know that this rash exists in only 50% of the time? It can take a month to appear, when it does, which adds to the confusion.

So.. What to do?
This troublesome, often debilitating situation offers many questions and answers can be unreliable and  ‘sporadic’. My humble suggestion would be to locate a specialist at the first sight of this rash or if you have any inkling that you have been exposed, or if odd symptoms appear in a ‘cluster’.

There are some very well respected books written, and herbal protocols do exist, which have been shown to be repeatedly successful.

Stephen Harrod Buhner is a well known expert in the herbal world, as author of 15+ books on various subjects. His “Lyme protocol” is widely revered and respected. His website contains a wealth of information. His best-seller, “Healing Lyme” is a ‘go to’ in the herb world and a treasured member of my library.
Healing Lyme: Natural Healing of Lyme Borreliosis and the Coinfections Chlamydia and Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis, 2nd Edition

Healing Lyme

Healing Lyme Disease

LYME DISEASE PREVENTION ideas (from Stephen Buhner)

The primary herb for prevention is astragalus. Stephen recommends a minimum of 1,000 mg daily if you live in a lyme endemic area. This will keep the immune markers high that need to be high to prevent infection or, if you are infected, to keep the disease symptoms as minimal as possible.

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Astragalus, famous for it’s adaptagenic qualities and deep immune system support, can be a very good idea for anyone ~ also a live-enhancing strategy for any of us wanting a ‘prevention strategy’.
Buy locally from your own herbalist – capsules
Nova Nutritions Astragalus 1000 mg 120 Capsules
 or bulk cut/sifted 
Starwest Botanicals Organic Astragalus Root Cut and Sifted, 1 Pound Bulk

For new tick bites, Stephen typically recommends taking astragalus – 3,000 mg daily for 30 days, 1,000 mg daily thereafter, indefinitely.
Also: using a paste made of andrographis tincture^^ mixed with green clay, the paste applied on the tick bite area can often prevent an active infection.

Here’s the ‘core protocol’ from Stephen’s book:

• Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) (Source Naturals Resveratrol with 500mg Polygonum cuspidatum per tablet) – 1-4 tablets 3-4x daily for 8-12 months; Online here.
• Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) (Raintree) – 1-4 tablets 3-4x daily for 2-3 months, then 2-3 capsules 3x daily;
• Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) (HerbPharm tincture) – 1/2 to 1 tsp upon rising and at lunch;
• Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) – 1,000mg daily (not to be used in chronic lyme)

I am sharing these ideas purely for information and educational purposes. Readers should ensure they check with their medical practitioner as well. I suggest that the best plan is to work with both allopathic and herbal protocols for the best results. Stephen feels that the antibiotics and the herbs together can be the optimum path. Check out his site for a more complete protocol, and see the link for his book, below.

He is also now recommending Ashwagandha (Withania) to help with brain fog and sleep problems –
1000 mg at night, just before bed. Purchase locally or online here.

Green Dragon Botanicals is owned and operated by Timothy Scott who is an herbalist, acupuncturist, writer, and gardener living in southern Vermont. I met Tim years ago and was found him to be a wealth of knowledge. He is a sincere healer on a mission, now, with his wife to grow a lot of the protocol herbs and help as many people as possible.
He received a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and studied psychology and general health sciences in undergraduate school, and has been in private practice since 2002. Tim has apprenticed with Stephen and knows about Lyme first-hand, having had the challenge and healed himself with Buhner’s protocols. Here’s the products page for your reference.

LYME PHILOSOPHY
Rather than making it a priority to kill the lyme spirochetes in any form, Stephen’s approach to managing lyme disease is as follows:
1. Support collagen structures so that damage to the body systems ceases;
2. Enhance immune function so that the body can deal with the organism itself;
3. Shut down the inflammatory pathways the spirochetes initiate, especially in the CNS;
4. Treat symptoms;
5. And only then, try and kill the spirochete.
 
My dear friend, Kate Gilday, operates Woodland Essence in New York State. She has some excellent resources for you here.
Kate’s company carries the Andrographis^^ mentioned above.
Here’s another online source from Banyan Botanicals:  here.
 

One of the most daunting aspects of the whole ‘lyme disease’ picture is the fact that these organisms, called ‘spriochetes’ are ingenious, and continue to evolve and change shape and location within the body. They secrete exopolysaccharides and exoproteins, which actually form an armoured shell around a community of ‘bugs’. The so-called ‘shells’ (called biofilms) make it difficult for any remedies including anti-biotics to penetrate. Then, if that’s not odd enough, they actually communicate with each other, within their communities. Yikes.

In addition to the disease itself, many sufferers of Lyme also have co-infections like these:
Babesia
Bartonella
These can be more harmful than the Lyme itself. Any approach will include ideas for addressing these and more.

In addition to these herbal ideas, homeopathic remedies can provide us with some answers too. In homeopathy, we look at symptoms as a focus, rather than the disease. This is an entirely different system of healing and very well respected. Cindee Gardner is an internationally renowned Homeopath, Molecular Biologist, Herbalist, Nutritional Counselor and Educator. I have read her articles for years and include her information here.

Her website has a very indepth article which helps to explain her ‘take’ on Lyme and what she does with her patients. Here’s that link.

Per Cindee:
“‘Homeopathy is a system of medicine that diagnoses illness by using the symptoms of a patient to treat the whole body. In other words, no matter what label the orthodox system decides to put on a particular collection of symptoms at a particular time- Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, whatever- the homeopathic response is to treat the whole person, using the symptoms as the guideposts. That is not to say the orthodox diagnosis is unimportant a proper diagnoses can determine which  homeopathic nosodes to use as these are made from molecules of the organism causing the infection, which can be of help.

She encourages her patients to use a hot tub, sauna, steam bath or plain ol’ hot bath with herbal teas** to boost the immune system. This all important system’s function is increased naturally during a fever, while virus and bacterial growth is slowed, weakening its hold. This helps the body ward off invading organisms. There are portable ones that are affordable to use at home that can be purchased for under $300.00.”  I will include some ideas for ** herbal teas in the next week or two.

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Much of my understanding of the body and the way this nasty Lyme disease works, is from reading this amazing text by Michael Friedman. I include it here for those who want a deeper understanding of the body:

Michael Friedman, ND is a naturopathic physician and medical herbalist. He graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1998 and was adjunct instructor of endocrinology at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Dr. Friedman is the author of the medical textbook Fundamentals of Naturopathic Endocrinology, which is an excellent reference book. I had the pleasure several times of attending his lectures at the International Herb Symposium over the years.
Fundamentals of Naturopathic Endocrinology by Michael Friedman (2014-10-08)
 

I will continue to add more resources as I become aware of them, and as time permits.
I hope that you have found this helpful. It’s a longer post than my normal ‘bite-sized’ piece, but it’s a huge topic.  I often use my affiliation with Mountain Rose Herbs to suggest an easy way to find the herbs I talk about in my posts. These herbs are of excellent quality and cost exactly the same ~ Studio Botanica receives a small Thank You.

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8 Comments

  • Lyme is a terrible disease. So sad that I can’t enjoy the outdoors around my region. Good to know I have preventative herbs like Astragalus to help me.

    • Thanks Em. Stayed tuned for indepth post on this wonderful plant ally PLUS some recipes in the next while, too. My faves!

  • This is an excellent post, Carol! I will HAVE to get Stephen Buhner’s book and look into his protocol more! I live in an area where deer ticks are common and people come down with Lyme disease from time to time. I’m definitely going to look into using the prevention dose of Astragalus during the warmer months just to be on the safe side! Also, have you looked into high doses of vitamin C at all? When my kids came down with whooping cough, I researched it quite a bit, and it’s often used for bacteria and viruses that encapsulate themselves for protection from the immune system. It helps to break that encapsulation down so our immune systems can be more effective. I just wonder if any practicing herbalists have tried that with their clients. I know that Shoshanna Easling of Bulk Herb Store crafted her High C Tea specifically for her Lyme Disease so maybe that info is out there somewhere and people see the value of incorporating it into their Lyme protocols. Thanks again for a great article!

    • I hope you do get it and find it helpful. Definitely have used and continue to use Vitamin C til ‘bowel tolerance’ as an excellent immune helper. I have a couple of Vit C tea recipes on Studio Botanica. Will check out her recipe and compare. It’s all so important, isn’t it? Good wishes!

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