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Herbal Products for the Treatment of Chronic Lyme Disease.


Lyme disease is an ever-increasing problem in the United States, especially in the Northeast quadrant of the United States. Treatment protocols established by conventional medicine are geared towards acute infection of Borrelia Burgdorferi with antibiotic therapies with subsequent symptom treatment for recurring flareups of Chronic Lyme Disease (CLD) using anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, narcotics and antidepressants. Patients with CLD can become debilitated and disabled if the infection is not controlled or eradicated. The repeated use of antibiotics creates microbial resistance towards that therapy and further weakens the immune response. Studies have shown that prolonged courses of IV antibiotics in particular, do not substantially improve long-term outcome for patients with a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease and can result in serious harm, including death. (1)

I am convinced that the medical model of treatment for CLD falls short of reasonable, and there are many proven treatments that are not considered. There is much literature which indicates that the use of herbal/botanical intervention can help resolve the symptoms and progression of CLD. It is my desire to offer a small sampling of some well-studied and proven effective treatments for your consideration when treating patients with CLD.


Borrelia can be considered a "stealth microbe". It is spread primarily by ticks. The acute infection is noted with low grade fever, occasional chills, fatigue, stiff neck and transient muscle aches. The "bulls eye rash" is not always present. The tick saliva contains substances with Immunomodulatory activities capable of inhibiting host defense reactions (hemostasis, inflammation and immunity reactions), (2) give Borrelia enough time in the bloodstream to find tissue, usually collagen filled tissues like cartilage and brain, to penetrate deeply and shield itself from immune system function and antibiotics. When under extreme assault from the immune system or antibiotics, Borrelia progressively shifts from its spirochete form to round form (cyst) (5) making it unaffected by the immune assault. This gives it the "stealth" nomenclature.

It should also be noted that Borrelia has no gene coding for toxins that can harm the host (4) but survival of the microbe requires collagen. To access the nutrient collagen, Borrelia causes the manipulation of cytokines to cause tissue inflammation, which in turn breaks down the tissue of the surrounding collagen rich environment. Most symptoms associated with CLD originate in joints, brain, muscle, eyes and skin: the collagen dense areas of the body. Most symptoms are due to the inflammatory response of these cytokines. The release of proinflammatory mediators play contributory roles in the pathogenesis of Lyme disease. (6)

Synthetic antibiotics are potent and are subject to bacterial resistance with continued use. They indiscriminately kill normal flora and disrupt the normal microbiome which can lead to negative impacts on wellness and health. Medicinal plants, however, contain a spectrum of hundreds, or even thousands, of chemicals designed to suppress microbial function without disrupting the normal flora and microbiome. Furthermore, many support the immune function, have low toxicity and can be used continually for long durations without negative effects. Bacterial resistance is rare. (27)

The following herbals are good options for treatment for CLD. Used Synergistically, these herbals can work very efficiently to reduce inflammation of cytokines, provide strong antimicrobial function to suppress a variety of microbes that are hidden in your system and stimulate the healing systems of your body.

Resveratrol from Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum):

This herbal offers exceptional antimicrobial protection against a wide range of stealth microbes. It has been shown to be antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and an anti-candida agent. It is a primary herbal antimicrobial for Lyme disease and Mycoplasma treatment. It protects the endothelial cells from Borrelial damage which stops the bacteria from penetrating deeper into the body and, over time, denies them the nutrients to survive and replicate. It significantly reduces the symptoms and reduces the amount of further damage to the body. (28) It also functions as an anti-inflammatory and supports immune function. (7,8,9)

Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata):

Widely used in treatment of Lyme disease, this herbal is used as an antiviral, antibacterial and antiparasitic. Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated the ability to reduce the length and severity of chlamydia, dysentery and pathogenic strains of E. Coli and many common viral illnesses. It is active in treatment of parasitic diseases. (29) it also offers significant liver protection. It enhances natural killer cells (NK cells) and cell mediated immunity while reducing proinflammatory cytokines. (10,11,12,13)

Cat's Claw (Uncaria tomentosa):

Cat's claw is considered an immunomodulator by reducing inflammation. It is commonly used for treatment of arthritis. It is known to inhibit the production of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha while augmenting the production of IL-lbeta. It also has properties that demonstrate healing of the GI tract. (14,15)

Chinese Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis):

Chinese Skullcap is known for it's antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is a great immunomodulator by reducing the cytokine cascade. It is a potent synergist for antimicrobial herbals. Used commonly for mycoplasma and Bartonella. When using for Lyme, it stops the inflammatory response which ultimately interferes with the pathogens' ability to find and enter target cells, gather nutrients and reproduce. (30)

Also known for its sedative properties, it is helpful in inducing sleep. It modulates both the Thl and Th2 immune response. It also inhibits the Cox-2 expression. It has known anti-inflammatory properties. (16,17,18,20)

Garlic with stabilized allicin (Allium sativum):

Garlic has long been known as a potent broad spectrum antibacterial as well as having antiviral, antifungal and antiparasitic properties. It has demonstrated strong activity against Borrelia (19) there is strong evidence that Allium has the function of antimycobactrial agents together with their cytotoxic, immunomodulatory, and hepatoprotective activities. (21) It has shown tremendous results particularly against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. (22)

Sarsaparilla (Smilax glabra, medica):

Sarsaparilla is commonly used in Lyme protocols. It is thought to bind exotoxins debris when pathogenic bacteria are killed off. It offers antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is more commonly used for treatment of psoriasis. It is a potent anti-inflammatory and has antioxidant properties. (23,24,25)


Clearly, this is just a small sampling of some of the most utilized and practical botanicals for your consideration when treating CLD. All have been studied and deemed appropriate for treatment when faced with a patient who has had less than satisfactory results with the traditional allopathic regiment. We should appreciate that Borrelia is considered a "stealth pathogen", has tremendous potential to do damage, replicate freely and uninhibited, and leave many with serious disability. At the very least, using these options have far less side effects, have better long-term tolerance and better overall outcomes of symptom reduction. Managing the Borrelia cycles to ultimately reduce its capacity to continue to cause further damage is proven to be much better left to the botanical/herbal treatment protocols.

About the Author:

Dr Bouffard Received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport Iowa in 1995. He is the only Board Certified Chiropractic Internist as well as the only Diplomate of the American Board of Clinical Nutrition in the State of Maine. He practices in Boothbay Harbor. When not working, helping people live healthy and well, he enjoys world travel and sailing.


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by: Ronald P. Bouffard, BS, DC, DABCI, DACBN
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Author:Bouffard, Ronald P.
Publication:Original Internist
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2019
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