Natural Supplements & Botanical Medicine Blog

New Study Shows Cryptolepis Treatment Eradicates Lyme Spirochete

Up to 60% of western black legged ticks are infected with species of Borrelia that cause Lyme disease. On the East coast, 50-60% of western black legged ticks are infected with species of Borrelia that cause Lyme disease.

Herbal Antibiotics Shown Effective For Healing Lyme Naturally In New Study Where Cryptolepis Sanguinolenta Extract Completely Eradicated Lyme Spirochete.

A recent study looked at several antimicrobial and antiparasitic herbs as compared to the controls of prescription doxycycline and cefuroxime (Feng, 2020). The botanicals with “good” to “strong” activity against Borrelia included Cryptolepis sanguinolenta, Juglans nigra (Black walnut), Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed), Artemisia annua (Sweet wormwood), Uncaria tomentosa (Cat's claw), Cistus incanus, and Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese skullcap).

For those without access to antibiotics or aversion to pharmaceutical use, herbal antimicrobials taken internally can be used effectively to address the suspected infection, either instead of prescriptions or in addition to them.

The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) recommends that those experiencing Erythema migrans (bullseye-rash) undergo antibiotic therapy for four to six weeks.

In fact, Cryptolepis sanguinolenta extract caused complete eradication of the spirochete, while doxycycline and cefuroxime could not fully eradicate B. burgdorferi.(Feng, 2020)

This research makes a powerful case for using herbal antibiotics in addition to or instead of pharmaceuticals. 

You may also consider taking homeopathic Ledum and Apis, two remedies excellent at addressing puncture wounds and insect bites and stings. Dr. Alexis Chesney, a Lyme literate Naturopathic physician, put together a very helpful Tick Preparedness Kit that contains herbs, homeopathics, and items for tick removal and storage.

The Tick Preparedness Kit has everything
you need to treat a tick bite

by Dr. Alexis Chesney

Preventing Lyme and other tick borne diseasesAs described in the book Preventing Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases by Alexis Chesney ND. 
*Book sold separately

  • Tick Twister by O’Tom (there are other tools for removing ticks, but this one is my favorite and, in my experience, the most effective)
  • Small ziplock bag (for collecting the tick)250w Tick Preparedness Kit
  • Andrographis tincture with dropper
  • Homeopathic Ledum palustre 30C
  • Homeopathic Apis mellifica 30C
  • 4 ounce Deer Tick Bite Formula

*4 ounce tick bite prophylactic formula specific to the types of ticks in your region (default Deer Tick Bite Formula) 

Dr. Chesney's New Tick Kit...

 

The Controversy of Lyme Diagnosis

Diagnosis of Lyme disease is surprisingly controversial. Testing for Lyme and co-infections is complicated, and in acute cases, it can lead to false negative results that cause misdiagnosis and allow the disease to become chronic.

Standard testing involves a two tiered test: first, an ELISA is used to detect antibodies and if it is found positive, a Western Blot is performed to confirm the initial diagnosis. The problem with this testing technique is that the ELISA is not a sensitive test, especially during the first few months of infection.

The 2 Tiered Testing for Lyme Disease is positive in less than 30-60% of patients infected with Lyme disease.

2 Tiered Testing For Lyme Disease by the CDC

The MarDX Western Blot (which tests for ONLY Borrelia burgdorferi species and is used by most standard laboratories) is much more sensitive than the ELISA and detects Borrelia burgdorferi more often, but can still give a false negative more than 30% of the time.

In addition to issues with test sensitivity, there is the matter of timing. It can take weeks for IgM to become positive and over a month for IgG to show a Lyme infection, so testing too soon after a tick bite may not be accurate (CDC, 2021).

If a patient is not mounting a strong immunological response to Lyme, it is hard to detect antibodies in the patient’s blood, which is what ELISA and Western Blot testing investigate. Performing a urine PCR, which looks for DNA of Borrelia burgdorferi, is more accurate. 

To complicate matters further, if you are only looking at Borrelia burgdorferi, you will miss the presence of other species of Borrelia that cause Lyme disease and TBRF.

Antibody and PCR testing does not test for co-infections, so you may receive a false negative, despite clinically showing signs of infection. For these reasons, it is important to be tested for all of the common co-infections of Lyme disease, including Babesia, Mycoplasma, Bartonella, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia, none of which are detected by any Lyme test.

Once again, being proactive and treating comprehensively is the best approach.

Specialized laboratories like IGeneX or Vibrant Wellness can be used for proper testing of all tick-borne diseases.

 864x374Lymecore Botanicals herbal supplements 166117859

An Unusually Natural Way of Doing Things.
The Science Behind The Herbs

Before we dive into natural interventions that are useful to treat and heal Lyme disease, it is extremely important to understand how Lyme develops.

In a fascinating study published in 2019, researchers in Amsterdam found that tick saliva is not only the medium through which the pathogenic bacteria enter their hosts, it also contains a mixture of proteins that disarm the body’s immune system. This protects Borrelia from any natural defenses that you would normally mount to infection (Nuttall, 2019).

We have also learned that once a tick bites, the saliva further decreases normal immune function by slowing blood coagulation and other aspects of wound healing.

This way, the tick can continue to feed for a longer period, while also transmitting higher loads of Borrelia in the process (Pham, 2021). Together, the tick saliva and Borrelia further manipulate the biochemistry of the body to degrade connective tissue. Collagen is rich in nutrients that nourish Borrelia, so the bacteria tends to migrate to areas high in collagen–like joints– in order to feed themselves and reproduce (Zambrano, 2004). This ultimately makes the collagen-dense connective tissue in the body an ideal place to host bacteria and let Lyme disease thrive.

An Herbal Arsenal

Because of the complexity of spirochetal infection, prescription antibiotics may not be a cure-all for Lyme disease.

When we focus simply on killing a pathogen, we miss the opportunity to bolster the body’s own defense mechanisms. As a licensed Naturopathic physician, I believe in utilizing a comprehensive approach to Lyme disease, attacking the pathogen at every step, while also supporting the body’s innate healing wisdom with whole plant medicines.

"When we focus simply on killing the pathogen, we miss the opportunity to bolster the body's own defense mechanism...My focus is making the body inhospitable to the infection while healing the body."

~ Dr. Myriah Hinchey               

Addressing the immune system imbalance that the proteins in tick saliva create as well as inhibiting movement of the infection is a crucial step in treatment.

Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) counteracts the exact modulation of the immune system that tick saliva and pathogens initiate and maintain to keep infection going (Bani, 2006).

One of the immune molecules that spirochetes alter in the body is NF-kB (Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta), which feeds inflammation. Spirochetes stimulate NF-kB to drive inflammation, breaking down tissues from which they need to feed (Parthasarathy, 2014).

Inhibiting NF-kB to prevent excessive inflammation is a very important goal in pharmaceutical drug development, as this pathway affects many other inflammatory diseases as well, including various cancers, COVID-19, and Alzheimer’s disease. Luckily, this is where herbalism shines.

Among the masses of botanicals that are available to the general public, there are a good number of herbs that show NF-kB inhibiting properties and have the scientific research to back them up. Among my favorites are Astragalus membranaceus, a legume that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries, most notably as a general immune system enhancer.

A 2020 study showed that the herb alleviates inflammation specifically through the NF-kB pathway (Dong, 2020). Astragalus also has the benefit of being an adrenal adaptogen, balancing the body’s stress response and fighting fatigue (Huang, 2021).

Another natural remedy which you may have seen at your local health foods store is Cordyceps militaris, a type of fungus that has been historically used in folk medicine to improve immune function.

Its ability to modulate NF-kB was identified in the 2000s, and a recent study from China showed that different preparations of the fungus (water, 50% ethanol, or 70% ethanol extract preparations) could encourage the immune system to operate in different ways (Lee, 2020). This is a tremendous development in the individualized approach to healing Lyme disease, as different people will need different aspects of their immunity adjusted to effectively eradicate the infection. In addition to its anti-inflammatory actions, this botanical reduces fatigue (Song, 2015) and is a potent antioxidant (Rupa, 2020). 

There are a multitude of other medicinal herbs that I combine to naturally treat Lyme disease and co-infections but the last I will discuss in this article contains high levels of resveratrol; helpful for relieving Lyme-associated inflammation. 

Resveratrol (a flavonoid found in foods like grapes, wine, peanuts, and soy), is highly concentrated in an herb called Japanese knotweed, Polygonum cuspidatum.  Not only does Japanese knotweed stop the inflammatory NF-kB cascade (Diaz-Gerevini, 2016), it also inhibits the growth of Spirochetes at several different developmental stages of the parasite (Feng, 2020). Lastly, resveratrol is highly neuroprotective, which can be very helpful for the brain fog associated with Lyme infection (Wiciński, 2020).

Putting It All Together

Early Detection & Immediate Prevention Is key!

Begin by making your environment and your body inhospitable to ticks and the pathogens they harbor.

  • Perform tick checks on yourself and your children daily.
  • If you find a tick, properly remove it, send it off for testing.
  • Immediately, begin prophylactic herbal immune balancers, herbal anti- inflammatories, and herbal antimicrobials to prevent infection of the pathogens that cause Lyme disease and co-infections.
  • When you receive the tick testing results, add the proper prescription antibiotics or antiparasitics if necessary while remaining on the herbals.

Continue this for four to six weeks or as prescribed by your physician, and seek the care of a qualified Lyme literate specialist for further guidance.

 

SUMMARY: Healing Chronic Lyme Naturally For 2022, Is All About Back-To-Basics Immune System Care

As I mentioned before, a rock-solid foundation for health is essential to a properly functioning immune system.

Continually work to achieve proper nutrient levels by eating nutrient dense foods and avoid those that are processed and filled with sugar; drink an adequate amount of water; get enough rest; and manage your stress in order to support normal and healthy inflammatory responses.

Naturopathic physicians are incredible resources for those interested in making lifestyle changes to support health and wellness, and we are fortunate enough to live in a state where naturopathic medicine is covered by most major medical insurances.

Take advantage of the knowledge and support of a qualified Lyme literate physician (ILADS.org) along your Lyme journey. It can make all the difference!

About the Author

Myriah Headshot Tao 500wIn addition to naturally treating patients with complex illness stemming from underlying tick-borne disease at TAO in Connecticut, Dr. Myriah Hinchey created LymeCore Botanicals® to provide quality clean and effective herbal formulas for Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections, and is highly active in sourcing, testing, and overseeing production of the herbal formulas she uses to treat her patients. 

Dr. Hinchey also founded LymeBytes™, a multimedia company dedicated to educating patients and other practitioners about Lyme disease and tick-borne illness and focuses on bringing Patients, Practitioners and Resources together for healing Lyme disease.

FINAL v04 Horizontal LymeBytes Symposium Logo

15 CEUs for Naturopathic Physicians (ND)

*Video & slides from the event available through our event app

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD). (2021, January 8). Diagnosis, Testing, and Treatment. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/faq/index.html 
Bani S, Gautam M, Sheikh FA, Khan B, Satti NK, Suri KA, Qazi GN, Patwardhan B. Selective Th1 up-regulating activity of Withania somnifera aqueous extract in an experimental system using flow cytometry. J Ethnopharmacol. (2006, Aug 11);107(1):107-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2006.02.016. Epub 2006 Apr 5. PMID: 16603328. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16603328/
Diaz-Gerevini, G. T., Repossi, G., Dain, A., Tarres, M. C., Das, U. N., & Eynard, A. R. (2016). Beneficial action of resveratrol: How and why?. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 32(2), 174–178. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2015.08.017
Dong, N., Li, X., Xue, C., Zhang, L., Wang, C., Xu, X., & Shan, A. (2020). Astragalus polysaccharides alleviates LPS-induced inflammation via the NF-κB/MAPK signaling pathway. Journal of cellular physiology, 235(7-8), 5525–5540. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcp.29452
Feng, J., Leone, J., Schweig, S., & Zhang, Y. (2020). Evaluation of Natural and Botanical Medicines for Activity Against Growing and Non-growing Forms of B. burgdorferi. Frontiers in medicine, 7, 6. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2020.00006
Huang, W. Y., Youk, J. S., Han, B. K., Heo, W., Yun, B. S., Kim, J. S., Koo, Y. T., Hwang, K. A., Yoon, J. A., & Kim, Y. J. (2021). Improvement of Fatigue Symptoms and Endurance Capacity by the Combined Administration of Cervus elaphus L., Angelica gigas Nakai, and Astragalus membranaceus Bunge. Journal of medicinal food, 24(6), 577–585. https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2020.4743
Lee, C. T., Huang, K. S., Shaw, J. F., Chen, J. R., Kuo, W. S., Shen, G., Grumezescu, A. M., Holban, A. M., Wang, Y. T., Wang, J. S., Hsiang, Y. P., Lin, Y. M., Hsu, H. H., & Yang, C. H. (2020). Trends in the Immunomodulatory Effects of Cordyceps militaris: Total Extracts, Polysaccharides and Cordycepin. Frontiers in pharmacology, 11, 575704. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2020.575704
Nuttall P. A. (2019). Tick saliva and its role in pathogen transmission. Wiener klinische Wochenschrift, 10.1007/s00508-019-1500-y. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00508-019-1500-y
Parthasarathy, G., & Philipp, M. T. (2014). The MEK/ERK pathway is the primary conduit for Borrelia burgdorferi-induced inflammation and P53-mediated apoptosis in oligodendrocytes. Apoptosis : an international journal on programmed cell death, 19(1), 76–89. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10495-013-0913-8
Pham, M., Underwood, J., & Oliva Chávez, A. S. (2021). Changing the Recipe: Pathogen Directed Changes in Tick Saliva Components. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(4), 1806. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041806
Pokutnaya, D., Molaei, G., Weinberger, D. M., Vossbrinck, C. R., & Diaz, A. J. (2020). Prevalence of Infection and Co-Infection and Presence of Rickettsial Endosymbionts in Ixodes Scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) in Connecticut, USA. The Journal of parasitology, 106(1), 30–37.
Ruiz-Núñez, B., Pruimboom, L., Dijck-Brouwer, D. A., & Muskiet, F. A. (2013). Lifestyle and nutritional imbalances associated with Western diseases: causes and consequences of chronic systemic low-grade inflammation in an evolutionary context. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 24(7), 1183–1201. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2013.02.009
Rupa, E. J., Li, J. F., Arif, M. H., Yaxi, H., Puja, A. M., Chan, A. J., Hoang, V. A., Kaliraj, L., Yang, D. C., & Kang, S. C. (2020). Cordyceps militaris Fungus Extracts-Mediated Nanoemulsion for Improvement Antioxidant, Antimicrobial, and Anti-Inflammatory Activities. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 25(23), 5733. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25235733
Song, J., Wang, Y., Teng, M., Cai, G., Xu, H., Guo, H., Liu, Y., Wang, D., & Teng, L. (2015). Studies on the Antifatigue Activities of Cordyceps militaris Fruit Body Extract in Mouse Model. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2015, 174616. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/174616
Walter, K. S., Carpi, G., Caccone, A., & Diuk-Wasser, M. A. (2017). Genomic insights into x the ancient spread of Lyme disease across North America. Nature ecology & evolution, 1(10), 1569–1576. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0282-8
Wiciński, M., Domanowska, A., Wódkiewicz, E., & Malinowski, B. (2020). Neuroprotective Properties of Resveratrol and Its Derivatives-Influence on Potential Mechanisms Leading to the Development of Alzheimer's Disease. International journal of molecular sciences, 21(8), 2749. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21082749 

Zambrano, M. C., Beklemisheva, A. A., Bryksin, A. V., Newman, S. A., & Cabello, F. C. (2004). Borrelia burgdorferi binds to, invades, and colonizes native type I collagen lattices. Infection and immunity, 72(6), 3138–3146. https://doi.org/10.1128/IAI.72.6.3138-3146.2004
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