Lyme Disease Research Database Independent reporting on all aspects of Lyme Disease

Stephen Buhner

Herbalist Julie McIntyre

People seek out clinical herbalist Julie McIntyre when they have reached the end of their rope. They may call her after having received a formal Lyme diagnosis. They may have already spent thousands of dollars on standard protocols and are still battling symptoms. Then there are those who are desperate for help, but don’t believe in antibiotics and put their trust in plant medicines instead. She often hears horror stories from Lyme patients who are “completely and totally frustrated with mainstream medicines.”

Standard medical doctors don’t normally talk to patients as though they are adults with minds of their own. When I’m sitting on that cold steel table it always feels like the doctor is using a tone reserved for imbeciles. “Can da widdle patient take a nice, big breath for me?”
This is absolutely not the case with Julie, who currently works with Lyme patients in 17 countries around the world via Skype, and in-person when feasible. A holistic healer treating Lyme since 2003, Julie uses her intuition and “everything she’s got,” when analyzing how best to treat each person. “Lyme is insanely complicated,” and each person is uniquely affected, she says.

Instead of talking at her patients, she actively listens. She hears what they say, the words they use, and how they describe themselves. She learns about them in every way she can, including observing their body language, examining their fingernails, and also noting the quality of their voice. “The voice tells a lot,” she says.
herbal-protocol-lyme
Most people suffering with Lyme, she says, also tell her their illness has become their greatest teacher. People understand that the illness is changing them profoundly, working in psycho-spiritual ways that most of us would never seek out willingly.

To guide patients through the process of healing from Lyme and co-infections, Julie uses her partner Stephen Buhner’s herbal protocol. But she also “innovates a lot,” always treating each person on a case-by-case basis. For example, she may add in homeopathic remedies and amino acids for one, and for another she may have them blend their own tinctures, therefore gaining a hand in their own healing process.

Where IS the immune system anyway?
The immune system, while it is a system of biological structures, it is also a system of processes. Think of it as a field inside and outside your body. Julie’s work focuses on the immune system’s many parts, such as our emotions. The immune system includes our guts—both physical and non-physical, as in gut feelings. The enteric brain is the gut brain, and it is in constant communication with our head brain. Our bodies believe what we say, Julie says, and our white blood cells respond instantly.

Herbal protocols can be used alone or concurrently with conventional medicine. One of the many benefits of plant medicine is that is it “highly flexible, and perfectly forgiving,” says Julie. “I am not dogmatic, and the plants aren’t either.”

Her advice is to support the immune system by supplementing with herbs and foods such as reishi mushrooms, ashwagandha root, rhodiola, and astragalus. She mentioned a rock rose and tea from Greece, called cistus incanus, which is used both as an immune modulator and as a bug spray. To prepare as tea, use 1 tsp in 8 ounces hot water, steep ten minutes and drink at least two cups a day.  

“It’s important to know when enough research is enough research,” she says. There is a lot of wisdom in accepting that “this shall pass,” and a vital key to healing is to regain something that many of us lose along the journey, a sense of trust. “Trust the plants, trust the medicines, trust your own body.”

But how can we trust nature, when nature is the thing that got us into this trouble in the first place? I asked, and Julie agrees it’s a bit of a paradox. Short of living in a high-rise guarded by guinea fowl and donning a hazmat suit every time you venture outdoors, how do you protect yourself from dangerous critters the size of a pinhead?

Her response, in three words, “Immunity, immunity, immunity.”

Strengthen your immunity with plants and foods, but also nurture your emotional health, a key component of the immune system. It’s vital to find something that brings you joy and do it every day. Engage with the people who lift you up, and laugh everyday. It is almost impossible to heal alone. All of us need loving and supportive relationships, especially when healing from chronic illness.

For further information about Julie McIntyre, Stephen Buhner, and the Buhner protocol, please visit gaianstudies.org.
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New Lyme bug and natural antibiotics

A friend and I had made a date to see a matinee. I was getting ready to leave when she called.

“I'm sick,” she managed hoarsely. “The flu.”

So instead I drove to Whole Foods, my pharmacy of choice, and foraged through the produce department for lemons, oranges and fresh ginger. In the spice aisle I picked up a jar of cayenne pepper for topping off a hot citrus-ginger drink. All fall and winter this immune-strengthening drink has helped keep me well.

I let myself into my friend's apartment building, pushed the elevator button and rode up to her floor. I could hear coughing from another apartment as I knocked on her door. She opened it and stepped back, covering her mouth with the sleeve of her bathrobe. She's a nurse, so taking precautions is simply commonsense. I set my offerings down in her kitchen.

We waved and air-hugged from across the room. I promised I would not catch it. As soon as I got home I washed my hands well.

If you've been lucky enough to not catch it yourself, it's hard to miss the prevalence of stories about this winter's flu epidemic. Common also are stories about the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of the flu vaccines and prescription drugs designed to combat the bug or virus causing the terrible problems.

My bias is to bone up on prevention. I know it's sometimes impossible to ward off these nasty critters, but I've managed to stay out of harm's way for a good long while now, and I like to think my hot lemon & ginger drink with two shakes of powdered red pepper on top,is helping.

I decided that I needed an antidote to all the dire flu-bug warnings – and also to the unwelcome news story about the latest Lyme-like bug in the US, the
Borrelia miyamotoi (more on that in a minute). So I picked up Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria. This is a good time to revisit the sound advice of master herbalist and author Stephen Buhner.

Stephen has a thorough scientific approach and vast knowledge of healing herbs. His thoughtful, user-friendly writing is informative and comforting, even when describing the “rise of the superbug.” This is his alarming account of the increasing powerlessness of conventional antibiotics.

In this book, Stephen investigates natural alternatives to conventional antibiotics for treatment of drug-resistant bacteria. If you want to hear a sound argument for using herbal or plant-based antibiotics, check it out. He generally includes as much information as you would want about each herb. One thing I adore about Stephen's books is that he includes recipes for making tinctures, teas, tonics and soothing soups. If you are a DIY'er like me, you'll like that too.

Strengthening the immune system is the first line of defense. As Stephen says: “Countless studies have found that the healthier your immune system, the less likely you are to get a disease and the more likely you are, if you do get sick, to have a milder episode. This is especially true in diseases such as Lyme.”

Bear in mind, not all flu-like symptoms are an indication that you have the flu. Another bacteria carried by deer ticks is now being investigated. It also causes a Lyme-like fever and symptoms resembling flu.

This organism, the
Borrelia miyamotoi, was first discovered in Japan in the mid 1990s and detected in deer ticks in Connecticut in 2001, and California in 2006. Lead research scientist Dr. Peter J. Krause at Yale explains.

Sources:
Buhner, Stephen Harrod (2012-07-17).
Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria. Workman Publishing. Kindle Edition.

http://www.enterprisenews.com/topstories/x459332883/Yale-researchers-discover-new-tick-borne-illness



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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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Alternative Lyme treatments

A friend asked for some advice about her Lyme protocol. She doesn't want to take antibiotics and would like to attempt an all-natural Lyme protocol.

I reminded her that I don't give advice. I'm an editor, not a doctor, and besides, it seems to me that depending on what stage of the disease you have, the symptoms of Lyme and the specific quirks of our immune systems truly complicate the challenge. The more people I interview about their experience with Lyme and its co-infections, the more I find out that I don't know. You've heard that old saying about the moment you recognize that you don't know anything is the beginning of wisdom? It's like that.

Although many of the Lyme-aware doctors we've interviewed for the "Interviews with Experts" series prescribe antibiotics for Lyme disease treatment, many people dealing with this multistage illness have incorporated other protocols into their routine at one point or another. Herbal tinctures, nutritional supplements and oxygen therapy are good examples of alternative or additional treatments, and I've had reports of excellent results with various combinations of these. Rife therapy has reportedly helped a lot of Lyme patients as well.

I've written about Dr Lee Cowden's herbal protocol in a special issue about Lyme protocols in the Townsend Letter, and he's featured in our Experts series. I'm interested in hearing more about the results of Dr Richard Horowitz's protocol, because he incorporates some of the Cowden herbs, and we're looking forward to adding his voice to our series.

I told my friend that the best advice I could offer is to tune in to the experts, and also listen to a catalog of stories about people from all walks of life, rich and poor, old and young, who have battled the tiger and now live vital, post-Lyme lives. I believe everyone has something to teach us, and that everyone is at least partially right. It's our job to decipher what's right, and what works, for us on our individual healing journeys.

I have had profound results from Dr Cowden's protocol. However, when I was first diagnosed my doctor insisted that I take antibiotics, which I remained on for six months.

I'm moved by my friend's sincere quest to heal from Lyme without going the pharmaceutical route. So, I thought I'd post this question to you: Have you had significant and long-lasting results from purely herbal protocols, such as the treatments recommended by Dr Lee Cowden, or Herbalist Stephen Buhner?
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