Natural Remedies for Lyme Disease
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne bacterial infection that is caused bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Sometimes Lyme disease is also known as Lyme borreliosis.
The bacterial infection is passed to humans through the bite of infected ticks Ixodes scapularis, commonly known as blacklegged ticks or deer ticks, which are usually found in grassy or wooded areas.
After the infected tick has been in place for about 36 to 48 hours the bacteria pass through the skin and spreads throughout the body, through the bloodstream affecting various parts of the body.
Anyone person who lives and spends more time outdoors in areas where the disease-carrying ticks are prevalent have an increased likelihood of getting Lyme disease.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease usually appear within three to 30 days after being bitten by an infected tick. Most often the characteristic symptom of Lyme disease is the appearance of erythema migrans, which is a rash shaped like a bull’s-eye.
Other common symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Joint and muscle pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Weakness of the limbs
Can Lyme Disease Be Cured?
Most patients with Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a course of antibiotics and usually the symptoms resolve after a few weeks of antibiotics. People who receive early treatment with antibiotics usually get better without any complications.
But sometimes antibiotics fail to resolve the symptoms in up to 20 to 25% of patients treated for Lyme disease and they continue to remain sick or get worse even after the antibiotic treatment.
If Lyme disease is not treated it can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system causing complications such as severe headaches, muscle, joint, and tendon pain, Bell’s palsy (facial paralysis), cardiac (heart) problems and neurological disorders.
Many patients may suffer debilitating effects of the disease necessitating the need for a novel treatment against bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Hence many physicians have begun using natural methods such as good nutrition, supplements and herbal medicines to treat patients with Lyme disease.
Chronic Lyme disease may make a person feel hopeless. But there are lots of alternative options and finding the one that suits the patient’s needs can help them to get better.
Alternative therapeutic options may produce significant side effects in patients and should be administered only under the supervision of a physician who has the knowledge of their potentials and toxicities.
Natural Remedies For Lyme Disease
Some of the natural remedies for Lyme disease, that may help patients who haven't been successfully treated with the standard antibiotic treatment include:
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- Essential Oils
- Herbal Medicines
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
- Reducing Stress
- Support System
- Other Natural Treatments
Acupuncture can relieve symptoms like anxiety, stress, pain and sleeplessness which are often associated with Lyme disease. Since some studies have shown that acupuncture can strengthen the immune system it may help to treat Lyme disease altogether.
The symptoms of Lyme Disease often arise from the inflammation that is caused by the disease. By avoiding inflammatory foods, the symptoms can be reduced and eliminated.
People with Lyme disease should avoid alcohol and foods that could cause inflammation such as processed foods, sugar, caffeine, gluten and dairy products. Patients can also go on an elimination diet to find out what foods triggers the symptoms. Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables which have anti-inflammatory benefits would also be helpful in reducing inflammation.
Chlorella is a type of algae, which has detoxifying and antioxidant properties. As Chlorella binds to toxins and helps to eliminate them it is recommended for patients with Lyme disease.
Chlorella may also help avoid Herxheimer reaction, a condition where Bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi causes inflammation in the body during the process of being killed.
Essential oils are concentrated liquids which are extracted from plants. Some essential oils are known for their high antibacterial properties and can kill bacteria. They are highly antibacterial and can be mixed with a carrier oil and applied topically.
In a laboratory setting, essential oils such as clove bud, cinnamon bark and oregano essential oils have killed the bacteria without any regrowth. However, more study is essential on the usage of essential oils for treating Lyme disease in humans.
Bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi dislikes heat and oxygen. Since exercise generates heat and brings oxygen to all parts of the body it is advisable to do regular exercise every day.
Research has shown that herbal medicines are highly effective against Bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, in laboratory testing, in test tubes, compared to antibiotics such as doxycycline and cefuroxime.
Herbal extracts at 0.25%-0.5% had better action against the stationary phase bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi culture, than the control antibiotics doxycycline and cefuroxime, which are commonly used in the treatment of Lyme disease.
However additional studies are needed to further evaluate the effectiveness of herbal medicines in treating people with Lyme disease.
According to various studies carried out, herbal medicines that have been effective in their ability to kill B. burgdorferi in test tubes include:
- Artemisia annua (Sweet wormwood)
- Cistus incanus
- Cryptolepis sanguinolenta
- Juglans nigra (Black walnut)
- Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
- Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese skullcap)
- Uncaria tomentosa (Cat’s claw)
Herbal medicines produce significant side effects and patients should not attempt to self-treat with these herbal medicines due to their potential side effects and lack of clinical trials.
Two common herbs, Cat’s Claw and Bandero (an extract produced from the bark of the Otoba parvifolia) are usually administered together, because they have been clinically proven to act against bacteria Borrelia species. The combination of the two herbs is effective against the shape-shifting behavior of the bacteria Borrelia species.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Exposure to 100 % oxygen at a high pressure is involved in Hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It’s often done in a room called as hyperbaric oxygen chamber to promote healing.
A case study in 2014 reported that hyperbaric oxygen therapy was used to treat Lyme disease in a person who hadn’t responded to antibiotics. However, more large-scale studies and research about hyperbaric oxygen therapy is needed to understand whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an effective treatment for Lyme disease.
Stress can be reduced by meditating, exercising, sleeping more or spending time with friends and family.
Some research findings shows that a natural sugar-free sweetener called Stevia, can kill bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, that causes Lyme Disease. The study was done on isolated bacteria and it is not entirely certain if stevia would kill the bacteria in the body.
However, bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi produces a protein matrix called biofilm creating treatment resistance, hence stevia is recommended because it is considered as a biofilm disruptor.
Many supplements are believed to have immune-boosting qualities and can naturally treat Lyme disease.
Patients with Lyme disease would benefit from taking the following supplements:
- Alpha lipoic acid
- Fish oil
- Olive leaf
- Probiotics (especially if antibiotics are taken)
- Trace minerals
- Vitamin B-1
- Vitamin C
However, there is no evidence that any of the supplements, can completely get rid of Lyme disease.
Consuming supplements in minimal quantities is recommended, since the gut can become overwhelmed and may not be able to handle too much supplements.
Eating about six cups of leafy greens or brightly colored vegetables every day is better for good gut health, instead of taking a lot of supplements.
Healing Lyme disease, like any other illness is also dependent on emotional health. The cure from Lyme disease is a long process which takes time. Having supportive people around can be helpful in the healing process.
Other Natural Treatments
Many other natural alternative treatment options are offered to treat Lyme disease including:
- Bee venom
- Energy and radiation-based therapies
- Nutritional therapy
- Photon therapy
- Stem cell transplantation
Currently no research is available to prove the efficacy of these treatments and in some patients, the treatments may be more harmful.
New Therapeutic Options
New therapeutic options pave the way for clinical research to help patients with persistent Lyme disease. Newer therapeutic options may help people with chronic symptoms caused by persistent bacteria that have not been killed by conventional antibiotic treatment.
What to keep in mind while Trying Natural Remedies for Treating Lyme Disease
Natural treatments could be toxic or dangerous just like traditional treatments.
Natural treatments may also interact with other medications or supplements a person is taking and could be harmful. It is necessary to check with the doctor first before trying any natural treatments as they can help a person avoid any risky medication interactions. The doctor would help confirm whether the medications or supplements that a person is currently taking will cause interaction with the natural treatment that a person is interested in trying.
Sometimes when combined with medical treatment natural treatment may be beneficial and might improve a person’s health.