Herbs are my gold-standard therapy for chronic Lyme disease, and they also have a restorative effect on the body. I prefer herbal remedies because they have a long-standing history of use throughout the world, are backed by solid scientific studies, have an excellent safety profile, and are affordable and accessible. Herbal therapy was critical to my personal healing from chronic Lyme disease.
Herbs serve as a primary therapy or a complement to many other healing tools. The benefits of herbs are far-reaching and include:
- Providing antimicrobial properties against bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi
- Normalizing immune system communications
- Boosting immune system functions
- Reducing inflammation
- Restoring homeostasis or balance in the body
- Protecting at the cellular and mitochondrial levels
- Providing essential nutrients to the cells
- Delivering antioxidant powers
But which herbs are the best options to support the body’s natural healing abilities? The following are foundational herbs to jumpstart recovery, reduce symptoms, and improve your health. It’s important to note that there are many other herbal possibilities as well. For more information on herbs, visit Dr. Rawls’ Herbs & Ingredients Database.
Native to the Amazon, cat’s claw is a staple among Lyme disease protocols due to its antimicrobial qualities. It contains immune-modulating properties to dampen an overactive immune system, reduces inflammation, and has historical use in alleviating the pain associated with arthritis.
Andrographis originates from India and contains antibacterial, antiviral, and antiparasitic properties to combat a variety of microbes. The herb has immune-enhancing, cardioprotective, and liver-protective qualities. It’s often a staple among natural Lyme protocols as well.
Since the beginning of time, garlic has been used for medicinal purposes. Its main antimicrobial constituent is called allicin, and it has antiprotozoal, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It also helps to support the immune system and balance the flora of the microbiome.
Japanese knotweed with resveratrol has been used for centuries in traditional Asian medicine, and it’s a potent antioxidant with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Japanese Knotweed may assist in eradicating bartonella bacteria.
The root of this thorny plant has been used throughout the tropics for inflammatory conditions of the skin, connective tissues, and the bowel. Sarsaparilla binds to and helps dispose of endotoxins that are released from microbes during die-off.
Immunomodulation & Symptom Reduction
Reishi, a medicinal mushroom, has adaptogenic qualities and is antimicrobial and immune-modulating. The herb reduces inflammatory cytokines and supports the immune system’s ability to combat pathogens. Reishi also supports the liver and heart.
Native to Tibet, cordyceps is a fungal species that grows on a specific type of caterpillar. In addition to bolstering immune function, the herb helps combat fatigue, inflammation, and cellular damage.
As a multi-purpose herb, Chinese skullcap has antimicrobial properties, decreases cytokines, and supports immunity. It works synergistically with other herbal remedies to enhance their effectiveness. It also has low-levels of naturally-occurring melatonin, which may help to induce sleep.
A traditional herb in Chinese medicine, rehmannia inhibits allergic responses and modulates immune functions. The herb may be valuable for reducing autoimmune responses in illnesses like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It supports adrenal function, contains potent anti-inflammatory properties, and has adaptogenic qualities to ease stress.
Cellular & Detoxification Support
Glutathione is an essential antioxidant inside cells that protects the mitochondria from free-radical damage during the generation of energy. It’s also essential for phase II detoxification in the liver, and it enhances detoxification processes, contains antioxidant properties, and fortifies immune functions.
NAC (n-acetyl cysteine)
Another potent antioxidant, NAC is an essential component for the formation of glutathione inside cells. It inhibits cytokines, the inflammatory messengers stimulated by microbes. It also slows the breakdown of collagen, inhibits biofilms, and protects nerve tissue.
Daily Nutrients & Cardiovascular Support
Hawthorn supports heart function by increasing blood flow to the organ, strengthening contractions of the heart muscle, and improving circulation by dilating blood vessels. This allows increased oxygen delivery to tissues and assists in normalizing blood pressure.
Pine Bark Extract
Antioxidants and other compounds in pine bark extracts, such as French maritime pine bark, inhibit platelet aggregation (blood thinner), reduce vascular inflammation, improve the integrity of blood vessels, and enhance blood flow to the tissues.
Native to southern Europe and North Africa, milk thistle has been used in its native lands for thousands of years as a remedy for jaundice and other liver conditions. Silymarin, the primary active component of milk thistle, offers potent antioxidant protection and has been found to induce the regeneration of liver cells.
Herbal therapy has thousands of positive treatment outcomes, a rich history of use worldwide, and supportive clinical and laboratory studies. In the last couple of years alone, Johns Hopkins University released two studies showing the antimicrobial properties of herbs against borrelia and babesia in vitro (outside of a living organism). Plus, herbs have a low potential for side effects, are easy to take, and have a low relative cost.
Because herbs have a low potential for toxicity and an excellent safety profile, they provide an enormous advantage for long-term use in chronic Lyme disease. Additionally, herbs don’t disrupt normal flora; they help to balance the microbiome.
For many people, herbal therapy offers the most cost-effective, natural solution, and it’s not likely to carry the same sticker shock as different combinations of drug therapies. When you factor in time, energy, and money spent on tracking down treatment approaches, herbs rise to the top for their efficacy and safety for budget-conscious people.
Dr. Bill Rawls’ Treatment Guide
Want to see more Lyme disease treatment ratings? See What Dr. Rawls has to say about popular treatments and therapies in his Lyme Disease Treatment Guide.
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2. Feng J, Zhang S, Shi W, Zubcevik N, Miklossy J, Zhang Y. Selective Essential Oils from Spice or Culinary Herbs Have High Activity against Stationary Phase and Biofilm Borrelia burgdorferi. Front Med (Lausanne). 2017 Oct 11;4:169. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2017.00169
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