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Cowden Protocol

Chronic Lyme, a persistent problem

Chronic Lyme disease is the controversial third stage of this multi-stage illness. While medical experts agree that for some, problems and symptoms persist after the standard protocol has been administered. What they don’t agree on is whether these persistent problems should be treated with antibiotics, and for how long. Also in question is the use of the term “chronic.”

According to the
CDC, what many call "chronic Lyme disease," is properly known as "Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome" (PTLDS). Doctors can follow protocol and treat patients who have been diagnosed with early-stage Lyme.

The fact that there is no insurance code for chronic Lyme, or PTLDS, means that many doctors will not treat chronic Lyme with long-term antibiotics.

Dr Lee Cowden, whose Lyme protocol has helped many, including me, agrees about the debilitating effects of long-term antibiotics. Dr Cowden would rather the patient detox and kill the Borrelia bacteria with herbal tinctures such as Cumanda, Samento, Banderol and others which will not punch holes in the gut lining and create problems in addition to the Lyme infection.

Stephen Buhner’s core herbal protocol for Lyme includes Cat’s Claw, Sarsaparilla, Japanese Knotweed and Eleuthero. Stephen is also devoted to helping Lyme patients and his alternative treatments are soundly researched. Many people opt to self-treat with these or other herbal protocols while also still on the doctor-prescribed antibiotics. Stephen has told me that his core protocol will not interfere with standard antibiotic treatment.

My personal approach to treating chronic Lyme, or “late-stage” Lyme as my doctor called it, did include treatment with long-term antibiotics (six months). After that, I embarked on the
Cowden protocol for a couple of years. During that time, I would never have had the stamina to work full-time outside my home. My work as a freelance writer allowed me to keep hours that fit with my quirky schedule of daily napping, frequent breaks, and staying in bed all day when I simply had zippo energy. Talking to sources over the phone, writing propped up on pillows, and a supportive, compassionate partner smoothed the brutal lows and quickened the recovery time.

However, my long healing journey has been successful for one main reason, and it isn’t just afternoon naps or diet or exercise, or love, or even the expensive
Resveratrol that makes the difference -- but all of those do definitely have their place. The real key is a continual re-commitment to healthy living every day, through several daily practices that address and acknowledge these four fundamental areas: my intentions, behaviors, my culture and shared values, and the social systems that play a major, yet somewhat invisible, role in life.

Chronic Lyme or PTLDS will continue to dampen and depress our spirits if left untreated. And long-term antibiotics may not be the answer.




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Actively healing from Lyme

“The more you see, the more you care. The more you care, the more you participate.”
-- Diane Hamilton

As a supporter of a multi-faceted approach to healing chronic Lyme, I try to read widely and
consider many different types of advice from a wide range of teachers and experts. The quote
above is from one of my meditation teachers. She is referring to the benefit of developing
the ability to see more perspectives. To see is to acknowledge and recognize the value in a
perspective that may be different from one we normally take.

I think this is valuable advice, particularly in light of
Lyme treatment where so much contention
divides doctors, limiting their points of view instead of expanding them. Does it have to come
down to “either/or” choices between Western medicine and natural or alternative therapies?
Or can we embrace a healthy “both/and” perspective to include whatever works best for each
individual?

What works for one of us may not work for another. Further, what works at one stage may
not be best for another stage. In my own case, it’s taken some careful experimenting to find
out what works. For example, I began treatment on what used to be known as an “antibiotic
cocktail,” which included several different strong antibiotics administered orally for at least six
months. But when I couldn’t afford to continue, I started the
r Cowden's updated Lyme protocol">Cowden protocol. I stayed on that
for about three years. I switched to Teasel root extract after that. And now, I take a handful of
supplements every morning and remain stable and healthy.

But the key to my current state of good health, I’m convinced, is that multi-faceted approach. I
am devoted to strengthening my body as well as stretching it, so I do strength training exercises
as well as yoga. I cured a frozen shoulder using these exercises a few years ago, when most of
my
Lyme symptoms were well on their way out. I knew another woman at the time who suffered
from the same painful condition in her shoulder. She was able to afford treatments administered
by a chiropractor, who used electricity to break up the adhesions. She regained use of her arm
about a year into treatment. My arms continue to get stronger and feel fine, all through simple
push-ups and yoga. We both got the treatment we needed. Hers was passive. Mine was active.

When we do whatever we can to help ourselves heal, we become stronger and more aware.
Our healing is not only in the hands of the doctors, although I thank god for good doctors
every day. It’s in our own hands as well. It isn’t an either/or situation. It’s a both/and. Trust your
instinct. Read tons. Use every approach you can think of, diet, exercise, meditation, study,
medicines -- prescription and/or complementary or alternative.

In the New Year, let’s continue to use all our awareness to develop a more comprehensive path
of healing from Lyme at any stage. Let’s see more perspectives, allow ourselves to care more
deeply, and participate more vigorously in our own healing.
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Chronic Lyme and Antibiotics

Q. Hello,

I am new to Lyme Disease... come from a very holistic background, eat a whole food
organic diet, etc. Will not bore you with details and get to my point.

Any idea on the current train of thought on IV antibiotic treatment for people with
chronic
lyme
? I will also be taking a holistic approach, but am also trying to get the latest info on
antibiotic treatment before my visit with the infectious disease md.

Thank you!

A. Thanks so much for your question. I get where you're coming from, as I've always
been a health-foodie myself. Lyme blindsided me too. Through diligent attention to
my cross-training approach -- including body, mind, spirit and shadow practices daily
-- I am completely well. And I was almost dead. Sounds dramatic, but it's true.

Your question is specifically about IV treatment for chronic Lyme, and I'll tell you,
it's a complicated answer. For one thing, the term "
chronic Lyme" is not a condition
widely agreed upon in the medical world. Whether or not a chronic state of Lyme
disease exists seems to completely depend on whom you ask. Doctors are people
and people have their biases. I noticed recently that the
CDC has changed their
information on their website to reflect that there is a condition which they say is more
properly called “Post-Lyme disease Syndrome,” or PTLDS. The article states that the
cause of PTLDS is as yet unknown.

My bias is to go with a cross-training approach, which I have laid out on our website.
This is what we call "100 Perspectives," which is the way I think about my practices,
the body, mind, spirit and shadow practices that I mentioned. Please read about it
and see what you think.

The notion of long-term
antibiotics (IV and/or oral) is hotly debated. Although I
know that some are grateful for antibiotics long-term, I am also a huge proponent of
attacking the bacteria from every angle. The daily practices are not simply tacked on
to my life, they’re central to it. This is what has worked for me.

Dr. Lee Cowden, whom I've interviewed several times, is a worldwide expert on Lyme
treatment. He's not pro-antibiotics for the long-term. He sees that they can cause
worse problems than the Lyme bacteria can for the intestines. He is in favor of long-
term herbal tinctures, which do not damage the intestines when used as directed in
his protocol. His protocol worked for me as well. We need to bear in mind that the
intestines play a major role in our immune system, so Dr. Cowden’s message is a
significant note of caution, in my opinion.

I suggest that you listen to the
audio interviews on our website that feature Dr.
Cowden. (Many are free for the public to access - go to our blog and do a search.)
He will teach you so much and give you a lot of food for thought, all very positive.


All my very best to you on your healing journey,
Suzanne

Here's more information about Dr. Cowden and the
Cowden protocol.


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Alternative treatment for Lyme - Cowden Condensed Protocol

The latest Cowden protocol -- Cowden Condensed Support Program -- was featured last summer (2010) in an article in The Townsend Letter by the Lyme Disease Research Group. Personally, I had brilliant results from the original Cowden protocol and it’s gratifying to see Dr. Richard Horowitz’s very positive results as well. Alternatives to conventional antibiotic treatment for Lyme often seem difficult to track and trust, however there is no lack of scientific methodology from this medical group in Connecticut and the University of New Haven.

There is also good news in that the condensed protocol is more affordable than the original version. The protocol is available through Nutramedix or through your LLMD.

In Vitro Effectiveness of Samento and Banderol Herbal Extracts on the Different Morphological Forms of Borrelia Burgdorferi

by Akshita Datar, Navroop Kaur, Seema Patel, David F. Luecke, and Eva Sapi, PhD
Lyme Disease Research Group
University of New Haven

There is an alternative clinical treatment option gaining wide use, called Cowden Condensed Support Program, that utilizes several herbal extracts designed to eliminate microbes in Lyme disease patients. Richard Horowitz, MD, president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Educational Foundation (ILADEF), has prescribed this protocol for over 2000 of his patient and reports that it has been effective for more than 70% of them. The two herbal agents from the Cowden Condensed Support Program selected for this study are Samento (a pentacyclic chemotype of Cat's Claw [Uncaria tomentosa] that does not contain tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids), with reported antibacterial and antiviral properties, and Banderol (Otoba sp.), known to have antibacterial, antiprotozoal and anti-inflammatory effects.10-12 Both herbal agents are used during the first two months of Cowden Condensed Support Program, then in rotation with other antimicrobials for the duration of this 6-month protocol.

For further information about the Lyme Disease Research Group’s work, please listen to Dr. Eva Sapi in our Interviews with Experts series.


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Healing from Lyme - Part 1

Q.  I noticed in the article you said that your symptoms are gone and your health vastly improved. What did you do to get to that point and how long did it take you?

A. My healing journey is still ongoing, and since Lyme changed my perspective on pretty much everything, I’m always vigilant about the consequences of my everyday choices. I’ve learned how critical it is, when dealing with any serious disease, to approach healing from as many directions as possible. This is called an ‘integral’ approach and there are four general life areas that come under consideration. I’ll get into all four areas in this multi-part post.

First, I’ll give you the general picture of the medicines and supplements I took and still take. To begin with, my doctor put me on a treatment protocol of antibiotics including Omnicef and Zithromax. He also started me on a regime of homeopathics and vitamin supplements to support my immune system. Here is a partial list of the supplements that I took everyday for the first year:

probiotics
cod liver oil
bromelain
thymucin
lithium
dermaliq
CoQ10
quercetin/bromelain
copper
garlic
vit E
vit C
MSM
pekana
L lysine
Noni
liquid chlorophyll
zinc
psyllium

After six months, my doctor recommended that I stop the oral antibiotics and begin IV treatment with the antibiotic Rocephin. I had been through a rough time physically and emotionally, and though I felt better, I didn’t feel anywhere near 100%. In addition, I didn’t have health insurance, and I understood the cost of the IV and the new antibiotics would be around $20,000. Financially, my illness had already set me back in two fundamental ways. First, I hadn’t been able to work full time. And second, I had spent a great deal of money on the medicine and supplements needed already. It was a pretty disturbing place to be. My doctor was a naturopath, and typically did not treat illness with antibiotics. I knew my condition must be very serious if he thought I needed the Rocephin.

I had to decide what to do. After agonizing over it for a week or so, I chose not to go with the IV, but decided to start the Cowden protocol. There was no lapse of time between ending my oral antibiotic protocol and beginning the Cowden, an alternative protocol that I had researched, consisting of Samento, Burbur, Banderol and a number of other herbal tinctures that originate in the Amazon. These native plants have been used to treat malaria for a thousand years or more. I felt like I could make it work.

The Cowden routine worked very effectively for me, and although it took a long time (several years) I’m happy with the results. The cost, while not cheap, was a fraction of what the Rocephin IV treatment would have been. Currently I’m on a break from the r Cowden's updated Lyme protocol">Cowden protocol. About a year ago I tapered off of it, and began taking a low dose (3 drops 3 times daily) of teasel root tincture which I still take. I made this decision after reading about it and interviewing a couple of herbalist/physicians who had found it to be immensely helpful for their patients.

It took me six years to get to the point where I feel normal again. It wasn’t a quick trip. More like an excruciatingly slow journey. Normal, to me, means that I can enjoy my family and friends and take time for them. I can pursue my personal and professional goals and work long days if I so choose without crashing, I can sleep through the night every night, and I can exercise rigorously every day. I can make plans for the future.

In my opinion, exercise and diet are more important than anybody will tell you. I consider Lance Armstrong and all the athletes I’ve had the honor of interviewing for our Lyme success stories to be my solid gold role models.

Next, I’ll give a bit of backstory and talk about what happened before I found my naturopath. What can happen when the doctors don’t know about Lyme disease and prescribe the wrong medicine?


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Dr Cowden's updated Lyme protocol

Are you treating Lyme disease symptoms after having received a late-stage diagnosis? The problem for many of us who are healing from Lyme is that we know antibiotics are tough on our systems. While I have no doubt that longer term antibiotic protocols are key in killing the Lyme bacterial complex, I've talked to a lot of people who are either severely allergic to antibiotics, simply can't tolerate them after a long period, or have no health insurance coverage and can't pay out of pocket.

Which leaves us with what alternatives? It's very scary to hear your doctor tell you that in order to treat you for Lyme you must have antibiotics, when you a) can't tolerate them physically, or b), you can't afford them financially.

A friend of mine asked me about Lyme the other day. She'd heard that I'd been very sick and wondered if I was feeling better. It was such a huge pleasure to realize that I hadn't mentioned Lyme once to her, since we met a year or so ago. Speaking from my own experience only, I have found that treatment with a combination of methods, including behavioral changes, nutrition and diet and rigorous exercise has worked really well. Not as quickly as I'd like, that's for sure! But these days I consider myself to be living a healthy, Lyme-free life. In part, I achieved that goal with the help of Dr Cowden's protocol, using Samento and Cumanda and a host of other supplements.

Dr. Wm Lee Cowden says that he has discovered that “antibiotics do seem to work fairly well in a lot of patients. But, if they've had the illness for longer than six weeks, the chance of antibiotics getting rid of the infection, in my experience, is pretty unlikely, pretty remote. So, they're basically just guaranteeing that they'll stay on antibiotics for the rest of their life."

“The problem with staying on the standard pharmaceutical antibiotics long term," he says, "is that you kill off the friendly bacteria in your gut, and you cause an overgrowth of fungus in your gut, so then you trade one problem for another."

(The above quote is from my article on the effectiveness of Dr Cowden's Lyme protocol, in the Townsend Letter - The Examiner of Alternative Medicine, April 2007.)

PROTOCOL FOR LYME BORRELIOSIS From Wm. Lee Cowden, MD

Please also note Dr Cowden's condensed support program, updated February 17, 2009.
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Zeolite and Dr. Cowden's therapy

Chelation therapy helps detoxify the body by removing heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury. This type of therapy is commonly used in treating lead poisoning and heavy metal toxicity, but is not supported by conventional doctors as a way to help patients heal from other serious conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, autism, and Lyme disease. However, some alternative medical practitioners and patients claim to get significant results with chelation. Cilantro and alpha lipoic acid are among the natural chelators used by many people seeking to remove low-level poisons such as mercury and lead, which can be transmitted from a polluted environment, from their systems.

Zeolite is another substance used as a chelator. What is it? Zeolites are natural minerals formed thousands or even millions of years ago, that work as other chelating agents do, absorbing metals from your system, and drawing them out so your body can eliminate them. When the body's immune system is supported its natural healing mechanisms simply work better.

Dr. Lee Cowden, a renowned physician who treats Lyme patients, and spends much of his time and energy teaching other doctors his method for treating Lyme patients, emphasizes the necessity to detoxify the body of metals in order to thoroughly treat Lyme disease and prevent reinfection. He recommends Zeolite as a chelator. You can now order Zeolite through Nutramedix (http://www.nutramedix.com), the company that offers all of the herbal supplements listed on Dr. Lee Cowden's core protocol for treating Lyme.
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