by Dr. Bill Rawls
New research suggests garlic oil and other essential oils can kill Borrelia burgdorferi and treat chronic Lyme disease. Dr. Bill Rawls reveals the potential dangers of this approach, plus offers safer, more effective natural solutions. Learn more about overcoming chronic Lyme disease here.
Question: Can Garlic and Essential Oils Cure Lyme Disease?
Hello everyone, this is Dr. Bill Rawls. I want to let you know about a study that was featured in the newsletter of the prestigious Johns Hopkins Medical University.
The title of their newsletter was “Plant compounds that may be better than antibiotics for treating persistent Lyme disease.” The study was published in the journal Antibiotics, and while it might seem like a step in the right direction, it still shows they’ve got a long way to go before they really understand Lyme disease.
The study was an in vitro study. That means it wasn’t done in living models like mice or rats. It was done in a test tube, or more appropriately, a Petri dish. And they basically took Borrelia persister forms — the kind of Borrelia that rolls up into a little cyst that’s resistant to antibiotics and also immune cell functions — and had this in the Petri dish. And they put in 35 different essential oils to see if they would have an effect.
They found that 10 of the oils actually performed better than any known antibiotic for killing persister forms. But again, you’ve got to recognize this was in a test tube, not a living model, which means there might be some problems with that. You have to get the medicine in people.
When you look at the essential oils that they chose — clove, cinnamon and some of the others — these are the most toxic essential oils out there. These oils in their most pure form can burn skin and certainly can burn mucous membranes. So, there’s a high level of toxicity with these things, even more so than with antibiotics.
Interestingly, one of the most potent oils was actually garlic oil. Now garlic, we think about just cloves of garlic or eating garlic, but garlic essential oil is something different altogether. It is highly caustic. You’ve got to be very, very careful with it.
So, while it’s interesting that they have value for killing microbes, there is concern about using these oils for treatment of Lyme disease. Because you’ve got to get them into a person, which can be a real problem.
Aromatherapy can work, but still you’ve got to really dilute concentrations much lower than they used in these studies, or it’ll burn the lungs. Same goes with the skin. I’ve used these oils plenty of times, and they’re really nice for joint rubs, but you have to use really low concentrations of the 10 oils mentioned, or you’re going to really burn someone’s skin. You have to be careful. It’s hard to get the concentrations in the body.
This isn’t the first account that essential oils can be used to treat Lyme disease. While I was struggling with Lyme disease myself, I was looking at every different option. I had good success with herbs, and became aware of different protocols on the Internet where they were actually using essential oils. They were putting drops of essential oils in capsules and taking them orally.
I wanted to get the full range of experimenting with natural therapy, so ordered all the different oils, which included many of the ones on the list in this study. I got capsules, put the drops in the capsules, followed the protocol, and I was only able to go a couple of days. It just really burned my stomach and intestinal tract.
I found that it wasn’t an ideal therapy. I wouldn’t take it off the table. I think all of these things can have value in certain cases, but I certainly wouldn’t list essential oils as a primary therapy for Lyme disease.
So, when you come around to persister forms of Borrelia, the only thing that really, truly works is your immune system, and suppressing the microbes for a long time. And that’s where herbs, regulars herbs, come in.
Now herbs are the aqueous-base chemicals, which includes some of the essential oils, usually with a water alcohol extraction. But it’s not the same thing as essential oils, which are just the pure oils from the plant, which have a much higher level of toxicity.
The nice thing about herbs is you can use your herbs for long time. You can use them for months or years. I’ve been taking herbs for years and years. So, if you suppress these bacteria long term, you boost your immune system at the same time, which is ultimately how you’re going to basically wear these things down.
Maybe there’s a place for essential oils, but I think you have to be really careful with them. I would definitely put premier herbal therapies as your primary therapy, and save these heroic therapies — antibiotics, oral essential oils, and some of these other things —for if nothing else is working.
The other problem with this approach is that all the researchers were looking at was Borrelia. And we now know that Lyme disease is a polymicrobial infection. It involves many microbes. So, the same thing goes with herbal therapy: You’re getting a broad range of coverage that is suppressive long term, and you’re boosting the immune system. Which is what you have to do to get over Lyme disease.
So, even though this study is valuable, I think you have to take it with a grain of salt, and not necessarily put this up front compared to a lot of other, more important therapies.
Dr. Rawls is a physician who overcame Lyme disease through natural herbal therapy. You can learn more about Lyme disease in Dr. Rawls’ new best selling book, Unlocking Lyme.
You can also learn about Dr. Rawls’ personal journey in overcoming Lyme disease and fibromyalgia in his popular blog post, My Chronic Lyme Journey.