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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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Following up with Samento & Banderol

A reader commented that he has tried Samento and Banderol and didn’t get results. Another reader mentioned that ‘diet is everything.’ I feel so strongly about this and want to put in another pitch for taking personal responsibility in our own healing. I wholeheartedly agree that Samento and Banderol alone won't cut it. I wonder if antibiotics alone can heal us, and personally doubt they can do it all (unless the Lyme disease is caught early enough). I believe that in order to be effective healing agents, antibiotics, as well as herbal and other complementary therapeutics, should be positioned as part of a whole approach. That approach includes diet and exercise and a host of other factors that I’ve written about in ‘100 Perspectives.

My own history of healing from Lyme seems similar to that of the person who responded, LymeAngl, although I followed the
r Cowden's updated Lyme protocol">Cowden protocol for four years (after treating for six months with powerful antibiotics), taking 30 drops 3x daily, alternating between Samento and Banderol.

LymeAngl’s point about diet being everything is critical in my opinion. I have had a healthy diet my entire life, but then went gonzo with healthy food, fresh organic juices daily, fresh sprouts and fresh dark green everything, such as spirulina, chlorella, and leafy greens when I learned I had Lyme. I maintained that frenzy of healthy food consumption long after my horrid symptoms and the ‘daily dizzies’ began to slowly fade. Today, 6 years after my diagnosis, I am a devotee of a clean diet and exercise and believe they are two very important branches of a healing path.

I have written here about slipping off the health food wagon, the results of which have been disastrous for me. Beer and wine don’t work. Sugar is the worst. Coffee I can handle very infrequently, but I stay healthy now because I pay close attention to my daily habits. I exercise MORE, not less, as I get older; I consume no sugar or alcohol, and I have never been a soda drinker. I drink more water than most people are probably able to (because I'm fortunate to work at home, near the loo). I hardly ever drink coffee but I do drink green tea. I don't have a sensitivity to gluten which is fortunate. My diet includes a fair amount of dairy but I stay away from cow milk, which has never worked for me. Goat cheeses, lots of herbs and spices, and as much fresh organic produce as I can swing. I read labels voraciously and have learned to attend pot lucks and dinner parties without caving in to peer pressure, while at the same time not devolving into a buzz-killing 'health food lecturer' about the evils of sugar. Everyone is aware of the dangers by now & they need to wake up and make their own choice. It does, however, never cease to amaze me how much actual junk food people can consume, all while fervently believing that their diet is perfectly healthy. I’m a people person, always have been, so people’s quirks and imperfections tickle me to no end, but sometimes it's just too surreal to witness how strong the disconnect can be between somebody’s words and their actions.

For example, the other day I sat and watched someone woof down a sugary maple scone and a cup of coffee with sugar & cream, while describing to me her newly found enthusiasm for ‘cleansing.’ When I pointed out that scones are probably not the best cleanse-food she pouted, saying she had to have SOME fun. Ridiculous. What's “fun” is living life the way you choose to every day, not strangling in the grip of your own unconscious habits, not being held prisoner by disease.

I'm convinced that the key to healing from serious disease is to approach it from as many angles as you can discover. Never give up.

Please read about my "100 Perspectives."



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Samento & Banderol found significantly effective in Lyme treatment

A tick-borne, multisystemic disease, Lyme borreliosis caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi has grown into a major public health problem during the last 10 years. The primary treatment for chronic Lyme disease is administration of various antibiotics. However, relapse often occurs when antibiotic treatment is discontinued. One possible explanation for this is that B. burgdorferi become resistant to antibiotic treatment, by converting from their vegetative spirochete form into different round bodies and/or into biofilmlike colonies. There is an urgent need to find novel therapeutic agents that can eliminate all these different morphologies of B. burgdorferi. In this study, two herbal extracts, Samento and Banderol, as well as doxycycline (one of the primary antibiotics for Lyme disease treatment) were tested for their in vitro effectiveness on several of the different morphological forms of B. burgdorferi (spirochetes, round bodies, and biofilmlike colonies) using fluorescent, darkfield microscopic, and BacLight viability staining methods. Our results demonstrated that both herbal agents, but not doxycycline, had very significant effects on all forms of B. burgdorferi, especially when used in combination, suggesting that herbal agents could provide an effective therapeutic approach for Lyme disease patients. -- from article in Townsend Letter, July 2010

Samento and Banderol are found to be important herbal allies, in this study conducted by our friends at the Lyme Disease Research Group of the University of New Haven. In our interview with Eva Sapi, PhD, director of the graduate program in Lyme disease research, she promised that she was quite determined to find an effective agent that would "kill the bug -- and soon." So, this study is proof that Dr Sapi is following through with her promise. It is a hopeful note in the battle against the nasty bacterial complex we know as Borrelia burgdorferi.

Personally, I am very excited about these findings. Samento and Banderol have been my medicine of choice for several years. These herbal extracts have certainly been effective, helping me pull myself out of a painful, groggy nightmare and get my life back on track. Those two herbal tinctures daily, plus a host of other supportive supplements, a regular exercise routine, and a sugar-free, whole-foods diet, have made all the difference. Samento and Banderol have truly been my allies in this cross-training approach to healing.

Please read the entire article reporting on the study, which you can find on the website of the Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine. The article is titled: 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

Members, to learn more about the work of the University of New Haven Lyme research program, please listen to our interview with Dr Eva Sapi. You will also find more information about Lee Cowden, MD, and his herbal protocol.



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Ever reached a crossroads in treatment?

Have you or your Lyme doctor chosen to supplement or substitute your treatment using herbal therapies, homeopathic remedies, or other alternative treatments? Over the years, I've noticed that a fair number of people who are undergoing Lyme treatment at some point decide to switch to, or at least try, herbal remedies, traditional Chinese medicine, rifing, super-oxygenation, or other alternatives to conventional antibiotic treatments. It seems that a lot of us reach a crossroads at some point in our healing journey, and have to make an important decision.

In my case, I treated with heavy doses of antibiotics for six months, and over that time period I slowly emerged from the hell of the symptoms I was experiencing. I'd been diagnosed in a late stage of Lyme, and the treatment had been as hard on my body as the original symptoms, or even worse. Actually it was impossible to tell which was worse, the treatment, which made me re-experience the original symptoms, or the sickness itself. After six months of treatment I had returned to work and was feeling generally better, but was unable to continue antibiotics for financial reasons. I reached the end of that six-month period and although I was relieved to get off the antibiotics, my doc was clearly worried about a relapse. I kept up my herbal and vitamin supplements, which were super-expensive but proving to be well worth the cost. I was curious about Samento, so I started Dr Cowden's herbal antibiotic protocol as soon as possible after I took my last conventional pill. I've always been proactive regarding staying healthy, so getting enough sleep, regular exercise and eating a good quality Mediterranean diet are my staples.

For many reasons (not only financial), Lyme patients decide to try herbs, or many other types of treatment such as HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen treatment), rife machines, Vitamin C and salt, or other compelling treatments. For example, Matthew Wood, the renowned herbalist I spoke with a couple weeks ago, tells us he's treating Lyme successfully with the common herb, teasel, and that instead of killing the bacteria, teasel warms up the body's environment and lures the bacteria out from its hiding places to be killed off by the body's own immune defense system.

In some cases, people I've talked to say they simply had an inner compulsion to switch up treatments. Evidence exists to support changing types of antibiotics because the Lyme bacteria will grow accustomed to one type of treatment, and just stop responding to it.

How did you or your doctor respond when you reached such a crossroads in your Lyme treatment? If you made changes in your treatment along the way, how did your switch effect you? Has it been positive, challenging, or pushed you into a new level of healing?

 
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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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Effects of Cumanda & Samento in treatment of Lyme disease

This is a really useful report, especially for those of us who are using herbal therapies to complement antibiotic treatment. It is Dr Richard Horowitz's findings on his use of herbs, such as Samento and Cumanda, among others, in treating patients who have Lyme disease and co-infections.

Herbs, Hormones & Heavy Metals: A study of CAM therapies in the treatment of Chronic Lyme Disease.


This tidbit is from the opening of his paper. Gave me a chuckle:

The History of Medicine
• 2000 BC Here, eat this root
• 1000 AD That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer
• 1850 AD That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
• 1940 AD That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
• 1985 AD That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
• 2007 AD That antibiotic does not work anymore. Here, eat this root.


Dr Richard Horowitz
4232 Albany Post Road
Hyde Park, NY 12538
845-229-8977
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Treatment of Lyme and CFS with Samento

Medical research reveals Lyme disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to share not only similar symptoms, but in some cases identical gene expression as well. In my conversation with Dr. Andrew Wright of the UK, he said he thinks that CFS is caused by a bacterial infection, and in many cases it seems to be the same bacteria, Borrelia, that is at the root of Lyme disease. He discussed the success of Samento, his preferred treatment of both illnesses, and his desire for more medical studies to be conducted on the long-term treatment of Lyme and CFS with herbal antimicrobials. As Samento has no effects, is safe and more well-tolerated than antibiotics, he says it's his first choice for treatment. Read more here.
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Definitive Lyme test and Samento

Tests for Lyme seem to be deliberately confusing. Is there a definitive test or isn't there?

Dr. JoAnne Whitaker, Eleanor Fort and Lida Mattmann, PhD, have patented one. The Q-RiBb, which tests for antigens instead of antibodies is definitive because it locates actual Lyme bacteria in the body. Through the Bowen Research Lab in Florida, these physician/researchers have tested hundreds of people and found Lyme bacteria to be the cause of numerous misdiagnoses, among them MS, ALS, Parkinson's disease, fibromyalgia, CFIDS, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiac arrythmias. Dr. Whitaker has reason to suspect that Lyme is a pandemic that is being repressed by the medical-industrial complex.

People who have been misdiagnosed and subsequently treated for Lyme disease are getting well. The Lyme pathogen is hardy, tenacious and difficult to kill, but medical doctors with the courage to help their patients heal are finding holistic protocols that work. Samento, Cumanda and other Peruvian herbs, which have only become available in the US since 2001, are rising in popularity among the Lyme population, many of whom are quite sophisticated in finding ways to heal from a disease that the conventional medical community is too frightened to acknowledge.

For information about Samento and Cumanda, click here

Click here to join the LDRD and listen to our interview with Dr. Joanne Whitaker and many other Lyme literate physicians
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