healing lyme philosophy

Rather than making it a priority to kill the lyme spirochetes in any form, Stephen’s approach to managing lyme disease is as follows:

1. Support collagen structures so that damage to the body systems ceases;

2. Enhance immune function so that the body can deal with the organism itself;

3. Shut down the inflammatory pathways the spirochetes initiate, especially in the CNS;

4. Treat symptoms;

5. And only then, try and kill the spirochete.


core protocol (lyme disease)

Here is a brief look at the stripped down core approaches to treating Lyme and some of its co-infections. Stephen highly suggests buying his relevant books so that you can see the full expanded protocols. This is just a starting place; the full protocols are much more sophisticated, especially the listings for the many accompanying symptoms that often need to be addressed.

1. Japanese knotweed root (Polygonum cuspidatum)
• Powder: 1 tsp – 1 TBS of the root powder 3x daily. Start at the lower dose and work up, OR . . .
• Tincture: ¼ – 1 tsp 3-6x daily, OR . . .
• Tablets (Green Dragon Botanicals): These are normally labeled as resveratrol on the bottle. They are in fact knotweed root standardized for resveratrol content. (Note: Don’t use grape resveratrol; it won’t work very well.) Some comments on tablet dosages below:

2. Cat’s claw bark (Uncaria tomentosa)
• Powder:
1 tsp 3x daily, OR . . .
• Tincture: ¼ – ½ tsp 3x daily, OR . . .
• Tablets/capsules (Green Dragon Botanicals): 1–4 500 mg tablets/capsules 3x day.

3. Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata)
• Capsules: Begin with a small dose and work up. I would recom­mend 600 mg (1 capsule) 3x daily to begin with, for one week. Then, if there are no side effects, increase the dose to 2 capsules 3x daily. Please check the side effects on this herb: Unpleas­ant allergic reactions can occur.

4. If you have neuroborrelliosis, add: Gou-Teng (Uncaria rhynchophylla)
Tincture: ½ – 1 tsp 3–6x daily, depending on severity of brain infection.

5. Collagen support protocols (see book) are often essential, as well.

maximum core dosages

Japanese Knotweed capsules (Source Naturals Resveratrol with 500mg Polygonum cuspidatum per tablet)

150 lb adult: 1-4 tablets 3-4x daily
100 lb adult: 10 tablets total daily split into three doses
60 lb child: 5 tablets daily split into three doses, tincture is probably better here
30 lb child: 3 tablets daily split into three doses, but would prefer tincture for child this small

Japanese Knotweed tincture
150 lb adult: 1 teaspoon 3x daily
100 lb adult: 2/3 teaspoon 3x daily
60 lb child: 1/3 teaspoon 3x daily
30 lb child: 1/5 teaspoon 3x daily

Cat’s Claw capsule (Raintree brand)
150 lb adult: 1-4 tablets 3-4x daily
100 lb adult: 10 tablets total daily split into three doses
60 lb child: 5 tablets daily split into three doses, tincture is probably better here
30 lb child: 3 tablets daily split into three doses, but would prefer tincture for child this small

Cat’s Claw tincture
150 lb adult: 1 teaspoon 3x daily
100 lb adult: 2/3 teaspoon 3x daily
60 lb child: 1/3 teaspoon 3x daily
30 lb child: 1/5 teaspoon 3x daily

Astragalus capsule for new tick bites – not to be used in chronic lyme
150 lb adult: 1,000 mg daily
100 lb adult: 1,000 mg daily
60 lb child: 1,000 mg daily
30 lb child: 1,000 mg daily

Astragalus tincture for new tick bites – not to be used in chronic lyme
150 lb adult: 1 teaspoon 3x daily
100 lb adult: 1 teaspoon 3x daily
60 lb child: 1/2 teaspoon 3x daily
30 lb child: 1/3 teaspoon 3x daily

Note: Additional herbs can be added based on your symptoms. Read this article for more on the latest updates to the Healing Lyme protocol.

To purchase herbs, see: herb source listing

lyme disease prevention

The primary herb for prevention is astragalus. Stephen recommends a minimum of 1,000 mg daily if you live in a lyme endemic area. This will keep the immune markers high that need to be high to prevent infection or, if you are infected, to keep the disease symptoms as minimal as possible.

new tick bites

For new tick bites, Stephen typically recommends taking astragalus – 3,000 mg daily for 30 days, 1,000 mg daily thereafter, indefinitely. Also: using a paste made of andrographis tincture mixed with green clay, the paste applied on the tick bite area can often prevent an active infection. See also: recent tick bites.


Stephen generally recommends the use of a Sida acutaAlchornea cordifolia, and Cryptolepis sanguinolenta blend for the treatment of babesia these days: ¼-1/2 tsp 3x daily. You could as well do ¼ tsp of each of these three tinctures 3x daily. These three tinctures can be purchased from woodlandessence.com. You can also use just one of those herbs; his first choice is Sida acuta, second is Cryptolepis sanguinolenta. Stephen no longer recommends artemisinin or artemisia for babesia infections. It can work, but whatever you are treating, Sida acuta will work better, especially for babesia or bartonella.

See also: babesia.


Research is ongoing, this is the most up-to-date protocol:

Sida acuta tincture (from Woodland Essence or julie@gaianstudies.org) ¼ tsp 3x day for 30 days

Hawthorn tincture, same

Japanese knotweed, (tincture, same dose (from same sources as Sida acuta, above), or capsules from Green Dragon Botanicals 2 capsules 3x daily)

EGCG 400mg +- daily

Houttuynia (Yu Xing Cao – 1st Chinese Herbs, powder – use “LYME” code at checkout for 10% off) 1 tbl daily

L-arginine 5000 mg daily in divided doses

Milk Thistle seed, standardized, 1200 mg daily
All for 30 days.

PLEASE NOTE: If you have active herpes, chicken pox, or shingles DO NOT USE L-arginine.

See also: bartonella


see: ehrlichia


Serrapeptase: 1 capsule daily on empty stomach – this will help break the mycoplasma cell walls open and make them more vulnerable to the herbs;

Cryptolepis as a systemic antibiotic. 1 tsp 3x daily (woodlandessence.com);

Gluten-free diet: Mycoplasma actually likes gluten so you should avoid it, and white sugar as well and also nuts and seeds and any oils that come from them;

Bee pollen to help replace the amino acids that the mycoplasma are consuming – 1 TBS daily in the a.m.;

To help adrenals and energy Stephen recommends the muscle tone formula from Woodland Essence which is composed of pine pollen, aralia, and American ginseng tinctures – 1 dropperful 3x daily;

If your energy is really low the use of eleutherococcus tincture (HerbPharm brand only) is essential. 1 tsp a.m. and noonish;

A general multi-vitamin supplement plus extra C, D, E, CoQ-10, beta-carotene, quercetin, folic acid, bioflavoids and biotin are necessary and helpful when recovering from a mycoplasmal infection.

See also: bacterial co-infections.



Stephen suggests reading his book on fasting, The Fasting Path (see bookstore), as fasting has shown some of the best results with tough to treat candida. He has also had success with a tincture combination: desert willow and chapparo amargosa – equal parts of the tinctures blended together. 1/2 tsp 3x daily for 30 days or so. You can get these from Bear Creek Herbs (505-388-5035) in Silver City, NM.


PLEASE NOTE: If you have active herpes, chicken pox, or shingles DO NOT USE L-arginine.

CAUTION: About one percent of people (one out of a hundred) using andrographis report allergic reactions. Primarily the reaction shows as a rather severe skin rash; essentially hives. This will resolve if you stop taking the herb, though it might take a week or so. Anti-inflammatories such as cortisone creams are not necessary; it will clear up on its own. Please pay attention to any skin reactions you might have to the herb and discontinue it if you have a reaction. If you are one of the very few that does experience a reaction, you can continue the rest of the herbs in the core protocol, simply deleting andrographis.

NOTE: Two people have reported rises in liver enzyme levels on the protocol. The cause is unknown. Andrographis, knotweed, and smilax are all herbs used historically for liver problems, all are specific for healing liver disease. That increases in liver enzymes has occurred is odd since the herbs are specific for lowering those levels; they are good liver protector herbs and have been traditionally used for liver disease for millennia. This reaction is very unusual and the only reason I can find for it is personal reactivity to one of the herbs. The best thing to do if you do experience increases in liver enzymes is to stop the protocol and then reintroduce the herbs one at a time to see which one is the problem.

NOTE: A few people have experienced loss of taste on the protocol. The herb responsible for this has not been identified but I think it is probably the knotweed as that plant does cause, sometimes, alterations in taste. It can take up to 3 months to correct itself after the herb has been discontinued.


The assistance of a qualified health care provider familiar with all dosage outlines, contraindications, and herb/drug interactions outlined in Healing Lyme, and familiar with your personal health history and current symptoms is strongly suggested. Nothing in this column is intended to replace the expertise and care of a qualified health care practitioner. The material is intended for educational purposes only.

“This protocol was incredible. After only a few weeks most of my symptoms were gone. After six months all my symptoms were gone… it has given me my life back.”

– Amazon review by Joseph

latest Q & As.

3 yr old with lyme

Dear Stephen, my 3 year old was diagnosed with lyme last May. Do you suggest we treat herbally?

read more

Family with lyme

Dear Stephen, I’ve had lyme and have birthed and nursed two children before I knew my diagnosis. They do not show symptoms currently. Should I still treat them?

read more


Dear Stephen, What are you views on the role of cannabis in lyme healing?

read more

Citrobacter freundii

Dear Stephen, Do you know of any natural remedies for the rather resistant bacteria Citrobacter freundii?

read more

Kava kava for insomnia?

Dear Stephen, I was wondering what you thought about the herb Kava kava as a treatment for insomnia?

read more
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Stephen Harrod Buhner
master herbalist, author, Earth poet

Stephen Buhner is an Earth poet and the award-winning author of fifteen books on nature, indigenous cultures, the environment, and herbal medicine including the acclaimed book Healing Lyme: Natural Healing & Prevention of Lyme Borreliosis & Its Co-infections. His work has been profiled in The New York Times, CNN, Good Morning America and other media throughout North America and Europe. Since October 2006, Stephen has tirelessly answered hundreds of questions from those following his herbal protocol through his Q & A column. more about the man

the books.



Published in 2005, Healing Lyme examines the leading scientific research on lyme infection, its tests and treatments, and outlines the most potent herbal medicines and supplements that offer help – either alone or in combination with antibiotics – for preventing and healing the disease. It is the essential guide to lyme infection and its treatment. Thousands of people have used the protocol to successfully manage their symptoms. read more





Bartonella and Mycoplasma

A guide to the natural treatment of two of the most common and damaging coinfections of lyme disease–bartonella and mycoplasma. This book reveals how these conditions often go undiagnosed, complicate Lyme treatment, and cause a host of symptoms–from arthritis to severe brain dysfunction. It outlines natural treatments for both infections, with herbs and supplements for specific symptoms and to combat overreactions of the immune system. Also reviews the latest scientific research on bartonella and mycoplasma coinfections and how treatment with antibiotics is often ineffective. read more



Anaplasma, Babesia and Ehrlichia

A guide to the natural treatment of three coinfections of lyme disease. In this book, Stephen Buhner reviews the latest scientific research on babesia, ehrlichia, and anaplasma. He reveals how these three conditions often go undiagnosed, complicate the treatment of lyme disease, and cause symptoms from headache to seizures. He also outlines effective natural treatments with herbs and supplements for specific symptoms and to combat overreactions of the immune system and the inflammation response. read more




Herbal Antivirals

Take control of your health with herbal antivirals. As traditional medications become less effective against today’s potent and aggressive viruses, natural alternatives are proving capable of fighting off many common viral threats. Stephen Harrod Buhner offers in-depth instructions on how to prepare and use herbal formulations to prevent and treat infections such as SARS, influenza, and encephalitis. These natural remedies will fight off disease and strengthen your immune system, keeping your family healthy and happy. read more




Herbal Antibiotics

With antibiotic-resistant infections on the rise, herbal remedies present a naturally effective alternative to standard antibiotics. Herbal expert Stephen Harrod Buhner explains the roots of antibiotic resistance, explores the value of herbal treatments, and provides in-depth profiles of 30 valuable plants, noting the proper dosages, potential side effects, and contraindications of each. This comprehensive guide offers sound information on herbal alternatives to standard antibiotics, making it an indispensable addition to every family’s medicine cabinet. read more

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