Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the publication of new data finding that seven herbal medicines are highly active in test tubes against B. burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, compared to the control antibiotics, doxycycline and cefuroxime. Published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, the laboratory study was primarily funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation and supported in part by the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. The study was a collaboration between researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, California Center for Functional Medicine and FOCUS Health Group, Naturopathic.
“Since traditional antibiotic approaches fail to resolve symptoms in up to 25% of patients treated for Lyme disease and many suffer disabling effects of the disease, there is a need for novel treatment proven effective against B. burgdorferi,” said the paper’s co-author Sunjya K. Schweig, MD, CEO and co-director, California Center for Functional Medicine and Scientific Advisory Board Member, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “Because patients are currently turning to herbal remedies to fill the treatment gaps left by antibiotics, this research is a critical step in helping clinicians, as well as patients, understand which ones may offer the most potential benefit.”
According to this laboratory study, carried out by Prof. Ying Zhang’s group at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the seven herbal medicines that have the ability to kill B. burgdorferi in test tubes are:
- Cryptolepis sanguinolenta
- Juglans nigra (Black walnut)
- Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
- Artemisia annua (Sweet wormwood)
- Uncaria tomentosa (Cat’s claw)
- Cistus incanus
- Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese skullcap)
It is important to note that each of these products have the potential to produce significant side effects in patients, and should be taken only under advisement of a clinician knowledgeable of their capabilities and toxicities.
Of these products, the Cryptolepis sanguinolenta extract caused complete eradication, while doxycycline and cefuroxime and other active herbs did not. This extract has been used for the treatment of malaria as well as the tick-borne infection Babesia, a malaria-like parasite. This study is believed to be the first time this extract has been documented to have a potential impact on B. burgdorferi, and additional laboratory and clincial studies should be conducted to investigate the potential role Cryptolepis sanguinolenta could play in the treatment of Lyme disease.
Further, Cryptolepis sanguinolenta and Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed) showed strong activity against both growing B. burgdorferi (MIC=0.03%-0.06% and 0.25%-0.5% respectively) and non-growing stationary phase B. burgdorferi.
In contrast, Stevia rebaudiana, Andrographis paniculata, Grapefruit seed extract, colloidal silver, monolaurin, and antimicrobial peptide LL37 had little or no activity against stationary phase B. burgdorferi.
“Our hope is that findings from this study could point to new therapeutic options for doctors and their patients, and pave the way for clinical research to help patients with persistent Lyme disease,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.
These data may provide a basis for the clinical improvement of patients who take herbal medicines, particularly those whose chronic symptoms may be due to persistent bacteria that are not killed by conventional Lyme antibiotic treatment. However, it is critical to note that additional studies are needed to further evaluate the seven active botanical medicines identified in the study. Patients should not attempt to self-treat with these herbal medicines due to potential side effects and lack of clinical trials with these products.
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