Natural Remedies for Lyme Disease

Beware of ticks sign in woods

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Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It is spread through the bite of infected ticks.

Ticks are very small, and their bites—which can occur anywhere on the body—are usually painless, so you may not immediately be aware that you have been bitten. In most cases, the tick must be attached to the body for 24 hours before Lyme disease is transmitted. 

The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease usually start within three to 30 days after you’ve been bitten by an infected tick. Many people experience flu-like symptoms after being bitten, while more serious symptoms show up weeks after the bite. Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Chills
  • Fatigue 
  • Fever
  • Headache 
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Rash (shaped like a bullseye) 
  • Swollen lymph nodes

If left untreated, symptoms can worsen to include Bell’s palsy (facial paralysis), severe headaches, muscle, joint, and tendon pain, cardiac (heart) problems, and neurological disorders.

Most cases of Lyme disease can be managed and treated with two to three weeks of antibiotics. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and how long after the bite you were diagnosed, you may need a longer course of antibiotics to clear up the infection. Many people turn to natural remedies to help treat Lyme disease.

Essential Oils for Lyme Disease

It is believed that many essential oils have antimicrobial activities, and some people with persistent Lyme disease symptoms have turned to essential oils to help reduce symptoms of the disease. 

Researchers tested 34 essential oils against B. burgdorferi in the lab (not in humans) and found cinnamon bark, clove bud, citronella, wintergreen, and oregano show strong activity against the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, even more effectively than daptomycin, the “gold standard” antibiotic many people with Lyme disease are prescribed.

These results indicate that essential oils show promise as treatments for persistent Lyme disease, but clinical trials are needed in order to show their effectiveness in humans.

When used properly, most essential oils are safe and free of adverse side effects. However, it is important to use them carefully. They can irritate the skin if not properly diluted, and some should not be taken internally.

Purchase high-quality essential oils that go through testing to ensure the product is safe to use. Follow the usage and dilution instructions on the label carefully. Talk with your healthcare professional before using essential oils to avoid drug interactions with any medications you are taking.

Naturopathic Treatment 

Naturopathic treatment for Lyme disease takes a whole-body approach. Your naturopathic practitioner will evaluate your diet, lifestyle, immune status, environment, and any other medical conditions you have to come up with a treatment plan.

Licensed naturopathic practitioners who are able to prescribe pharmaceuticals may use antibiotic treatment in combination with natural approaches.

Your naturopathic Lyme disease treatment may include a combination of nutritional and lifestyle counseling, homeopathic remedies, herbs, and dietary supplements that are recommended based on your specific symptoms and needs.

The goal is to support your body’s immune system, promote healthy detoxification, and protect and repair the body. Many people choose to seek naturopathic treatment as a complementary therapy and follow the recommended protocol in combination with antibiotic medication that has been prescribed by their primary care physician.

Research on the efficacy of naturopathic treatment for Lyme disease is limited.  

Herbs for Lyme Disease Treatment

Herbs have been used as a medicinal treatment for thousands of years. Many people have turned to herbal remedies to help provide relief from Lyme disease when antibiotics didn't completely help eliminate symptoms.

One research study found that a combination of doxycycline (antibiotic) and baicalein (the active ingredient found in Chinese skullcap) provides additional healing benefits. According to a 2020 laboratory study, seven herbal medicines have been shown to kill B. burgdorferi in test tubes:

Garlic has antibacterial effects and may help prevent tick bites. One study determined that people who took garlic supplements reported fewer tick bites than the placebo group. Garlic essential oil has been shown to eliminate the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

Garlic can interact with certain medications, so speak with your doctor before using it to prevent or treat Lyme disease. 

Stevia—a natural sweetener and sugar substitute derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant—may be effective in treating Lyme disease. A study published in the European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology discovered that stevia extracts are more effective in killing Lyme disease bacterium in the lab (not tested in humans) than the standard antibiotics.

Chelation Therapy

Chelation therapy is a method that involves removing heavy metals from the bloodstream. Some people believe that Lyme disease symptoms are linked to heavy metal toxicity in the body caused by environmental factors (e.g., pollution, lead exposure) and turn to chelation therapy to treat Lyme disease. 

A chelating agent is a molecule that binds with heavy metals in the body and eliminates them through the kidneys. Chelation therapy may be given as an oral preparation or by intravenously administering saline and a chelating agent such as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA).

Chelation therapy is approved by the Food and Drug Administration when administered by a licensed practitioner. It is used to treat lead poisoning. Some alternative practitioners use it for additional applications, including atherosclerosis and arthritis.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that Lyme disease is caused by or worsened by heavy metal exposure, and chelation therapy is not a proven treatment for Lyme disease. 

Other Natural Treatments

There are many natural treatment options offered to treat Lyme disease. A 2015 study identified 30 alternative treatments, including:

  • Acupuncture
  • Bee venom
  • Energy and radiation-based therapies
  • Enemas 
  • Magnets
  • Nutritional therapy
  • Photon therapy
  • Sauna
  • Stem cell transplantation

There is currently no research to prove the efficacy of these unconventional treatments, and in some cases, the treatments may be more harmful than helpful.

A Word From Verywell 

If you’re living with Lyme disease or have had a recent tick bite, it is important to see your healthcare professional. At this time, antibiotics are the only proven treatment for Lyme disease. It is best to get treated as soon as possible if you have or suspect you have Lyme disease. 

Natural remedies are considered to be complementary therapy rather than a replacement for traditional treatment from a healthcare professional. Some people choose to use natural therapies in combination with antibiotics offered to help treat the disease.

Speak with your doctor before opting for any natural or herbal remedies, as some remedies may have interactions with prescription medications you are taking.

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