In medicine, when an infection becomes chronic, we generally consider that either the immune system is failing to control the infection, such as in HIV and AIDs, or that the infection is able to hide from the immune system, such as with the herpes virus that causes cold sores. Evidence suggests that chronic infection with any of the microbes associated with Lyme disease symptoms, falls into both categories.
When treating chronic infections, many mainstream immunological approaches attempt to boost the immune response with a vaccine, or by applying cytokine therapy. Cytokines are chemicals that your immune system uses to communicate and regulate reactions against disease-causing (pathogenic) organisms or cancerous cells. Pharmaceutical therapies that manipulate cytokines are currently used in the realm of HIV, autoimmune conditions, and some cancers. But did you know that many botanicals, particularly those used therapeutically for hundreds to thousands of years, are potent cytokine manipulators?
Take Baical Skullcap, for example. Its scientific name is Scutellaria baicalensis, and it’s been used in Asian medicines for at least 2000 years. A quick pubmed search of its manipulation of cytokines, reveals over 150 research papers. A review of turmeric (Curcumin) and cytokine manipulation, brings up well over 1000. There’s a reason these botanicals are central to some effective and popular Lyme Disease treatment protocols. Including this:
Bacteria, including those that contribute to chronic Lyme disease symptoms, form dense protective barriers around their communities called biofilms, that antibiotics and our immune cells are challenged to breach. Antibiotic protocols include a lot of sneaky approaches designed to disrupt bacterial biofilms and improve delivery of the antibiotic to the bacterial community. It often means taking multiple antibiotics and bio-film busting nutraceuticals at once with well-designed timing through the day and week to hit the bugs at sensitive stages of their lifecycle. These medical professionals are surprised to learn that many botanicals already contain biofilm disrupters and bacterial-communication (quorum sensing) disruptors.[i] It’s an all-in-one system that is very effective if the right botanical combination can be matched to the right set of symptoms. In other words, botanical protocols, (particularly those taught by Stephen Buhner), are designed to restore optimal immune system function by manipulating your cytokine balance and the bacteria’s communication and protection strategies.
Infections by such organisms as HIV, herpes, and now Lyme disease, teach us that single-pronged strategies designed to kill microbes, aren’t enough. Optimizing immune system function is crucial. And this is where naturopathic, functional, and integrative medical approaches excel.
 Chronic Lyme disease is best understood as an umbrella term denoting infection with not only Borrelia bacteria, but also at times the microbes we call “co-infections”, such as mycoplasma and bartonella. Please see previous blog articles, here.