Lyme disease (Borreliosis) and the infections that often accompany it (Lyme complex) are taking center stage in the news, in our awareness, in our lives.
The spectrum of Lyme disease and co infections knows no boundaries, gender, age or class distinctions. The infections are not carried by deer ticks alone. About any insect that transmits blood is a potential carrier of Borrelia and accompanying bacterial and viral infections. Dogs and cats can also transmit some of these infections. The bacteria that cause the infections of Borreliosis (Lyme disease) Bartonella, Babesia, Mycoplasma, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Spotted Fever Ricketsia (Rocky Mountain spotted fever) are stealth pathogens. Meaning they have the capacity to evade the immune system of their host be it human or other mammal. They are clever, adaptive and changeable. It is with great humility and respect I approach treating the infections, the symptoms they cause and the person who has them.
A Few Facts on Lyme Disease
Lyme disease, Bartonella and mycoplasma can be transmitted via blood, bodily fluids, in utero, breast milk, mammal’s milk, and sexual fluids. Babesia is a blood parasite much like malaria is. It is treated much like malaria. It can only be transmitted via blood sharing, transfusions, and needles.
I don’t use a “kill the enemy/invader” approach. My goal is for my client to start feeling better as soon as possible regardless of whether or not any killing agents (antibacterial herbs or drugs) are being used. Though I use a number of herbs that are known to have antibiotic, antimicrobial, antiviral properties, those particular actions are not why I first choose a protocol though all the actions of an herb are considered. The herbs I use, Japanese knotweed for instance, is not only antibacterial and active against Borrelia and Bartonella, and it is also strongly anti-inflammatory, is an immune modulator, treats arthritis and increases micro circulation thus getting blood to the interior and exterior parts of the body and brain. If this herb can help someone start to feel even subtly better the chances of compliance to implement a larger protocol is much greater.
I encourage people to make their own medicines if at all possible. To start with I often have them make an herbal infusion to build good blood, strong blood with good nutrients, oxygen and circulation. I want to initiate a protocol that reduces the impact of stress, lift a person’s spirits and start to build core energy. The following herbs are chosen on the basis of specific actions and constituents to build good blood. The infusion with dried herbs:
- Nettle leaf; urtica dioca: iron, zinc, potassium, diuretic, nutritive to kidneys, drying and warming, circulatory stimulant, cleansing to kidneys, bladder, and urinary tract.
- Rhemannia glutinosa; cured, not raw, moistening, laxative, kidney nutritive and complements nettle leaf.
- Raspberry leaf rubis idaeus: source vitamin C, iron, magnesium, b vitamins; soothing and astringent to digestive system particularly the stomach reduces nausea.
- Milky oats (preferred) or oat straw Avena Sativa; nourishes the nervous system, calms, relaxes, builds good nerves. Calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, b vitamins, flavanoids, potassium, antioxidant, polysaccharides, depression, exhaustion, low libido in men and women, dryness, soothing to brain and nervous system, increases healthy blood flow.
- Alfalfa, Medicago Sativa; nausea, vitamins, A, C, E and K4, calcium, potassium, phosphorous and iron. Is nutritive to kidneys, bladder, and prostate, increases urine flow. It is anti inflammatory and therefore useful for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, nausea, bleeding disorders and asthma. It may lower blood sugar. Immune modulator and stimulant.
- Red clover, Trifolium pratens; for glandular stagnation, cysts, lifts the spirit, gives hope. Use only the first flowers that bloom, not subsequent ones. Fresh or dried tincture or infusion. Can also be used as a poultice over swellings and cysts.
- Dandelion leaf, Taraxacum officinale; bitter, diuretic, liver stagnation, fever, bone infections, recalcifies bones and teeth.
- Burdock Root, Arctium lappa, sweet, mucilaginous so soothing to everything it touches including inflamed stomach and intestines while being a mild bitter. Blood cleanser and mover, boils, scurvy, rheumatic affections, acts on liver, kidneys and lymph.
Lyme Disease Awareness
- The best ways to prevent an infection are to use a combination of awareness of your environment and your body, immune system support, stress reduction, a good essential oil tick and insect repellant (they are not all equal)
- The best way to remove a tick if you find one attached is to put a drop or two of peppermint essential oil directly on the tick. Use a cotton Q-tip and slowly rotate it over the top of the tick just enough to irritate it. It won’t take long for the tick back out. At that point use a tincture of Andrographis Paniculata mixed with kaolin or green clay and apply to the site of the bite. Wrap and change every three hours. Signs of infection can happen within hours, days, weeks or…never. They can range from flu like symptoms with fatigue to brain inflammation and neurological symptoms.
- In the early stages of infection it is best to use Astragalus membranaceous 1,000 mg three times daily to support the immune system. Astragalus is contraindicated in late stage and chronic Lyme disease. Homeopathic Ledum Palustre as soon as possible after an insect bite; either 30 c 4 pellets three times daily or 200c one dose on first day followed by homeopathic Hypericum 200 c one dose on second day as preventatives to infection.
- Keep in mind ticks are not the only transmitters of Lyme complex infections. Mosquitoes, biting flies, mites, fleas are known to transmit infections and probably some spiders.
- Three words; immunity, immunity, immunity.
Prevention is Stronger Than Just Cure
The use of adaptogenic and lymphatic herbs, especially in our stressful lives, is key to prevention of illness. Especially when an infection of any sort is present, the endocrine and lymph systems of our bodies work especially hard to keep us in balance. Adaptogens are a category of herbs that support and nourish the endocrine system and help our bodies and spirits adapt to the impact of stress and mitigate stress responses. The lymphatic system is responsible for moving dead and dying cells, bacteria and viruses from our bodies. They keep things moving in the right direction. Not all adaptogenic and lymphatic herbs are equal in their actions. The importance of knowing your body, what it needs and how it responds can not be over emphasized. A combination of analytics (understanding the herbs and their actions) along with a feeling sense (how does this feel, how does this organ feel?) will serve one extremely well.
Eleutherococcus, (Siberian Ginseng)
Holy Basil, (Tulsi)
Gotu kola (specific application for the brain).
I also put Vitamin C in this category.
Red Root, (ceanothus americanus) but I don‘t use this if Babesia or malaria is present as they coagulate blood,
Cleavers (Gallium) Red clover (Trifolium Pratense),
The core protocol for Borreliosis (Lyme disease)
There are numerous herbs that can be used to treat symptoms of Borreliosis and coinfections. The following herbs are foundational to treating a good deal of symptoms. The protocols can be expanded fairly extensively from there.
Japanese knotweed, polygonum cuspidatum, anti-inflammatory, increases micro circulation, analgesic, anti spirochetal, antibacterial. It is contraindicated with blood thinning drugs and before surgery.
Cat’s Claw, Uncaria Tomentosa, for immune stimulant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, depression. It is contraindicated with blood thinning drugs, immunosuppressive drugs, and pregnancy or before surgery. Uncaria Rhynchophylla is anticonvulsant, anti seizure, neurological protectant, and smooth muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory. Rhynochophylla should not be used with drugs that lower blood pressure.
Andrographis, Andrographis Paniculata: anti bacterial, anti viral, analgesic, antidiarrheal, antimalarial, antispirochetal, antitumor, hepatoprotective, vermicidal, hypoglycemic, immune stimulant. There are a number of potential side effects the predominant one being an allergic reaction; hives. If this or any other side effects happen discontinue use. Contraindicated in immunosuppressive drugs, may have a synergistic effect with isoniazid and may increase clearance rate of theophylline.
With any herbs mentioned here I suggest starting at low doses, work with one herb at a time for four to seven days before adding a second herb. Once a number of herbs have been introduced they can be combined. The herbs are flexible; doses can be adjusted up or down depending on responses. In treating any infection the initial and ongoing approach is to address symptoms, build bodily systems and modulate immune responses and flexibility through herbal support and nutrition. And don’t give up.
Disclaimer: The advice in this article is that of clinical herbalist Julie McIntyre, however it is recommended that you seek personal advice from a medical professional when treating Lyme disease and its co-infections.
For extended reading and herb monographs see the resources below
Buhner, Stephen Harrod, Healing Lyme; Natural Healing of Lyme Borreliosis and the Coinfections Chlamydia and Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis, Second edition, Silver City, NM, Raven Press, 2015.
- Natural Treatments for Lyme Coinfections; Anaplasma,Babesia and Ehrlichia, Rochester, VT, Healing Arts Press, 2015
- Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections; Complementary and Holistic Treatments for Bartonella and Mycoplasma, Rochester, VT, Healing Arts Press, 2013.
Wood, Matthew, The Book of Herbal Wisdom; Using Plants as Medicines, Berkley, California, North Atlantic Books, 1997.