By Karen Lee Richards*
Lyme disease is a complicated illness that is not always easy to treat, particularly when it has gone undetected for several years. While the proper course of antibiotics may kill the Borrelia spirochetes, they don’t heal the damage already inflicted on the body of the Lyme patient. In fact, antibiotics add to the problem because as they kill the Borrelia, they also destroy the body’s good bacteria.
As a result, in addition to systemic bacterial infection, Lyme patients generally have a weakened immune system and widespread cellular damage. This is why in addition to antibiotic therapy, many of the top Lyme experts recommend a variety of supplements to rebuild and support the overall health of their Lyme patients.
The Borrelia spirochetes are extremely adaptive organisms. They’re opportunistic, attacking the most vulnerable areas in their victim’s body. For this reason, the specific needs of every Lyme patient are different. For some, neurologic symptoms may be the most distressing, for others it may be joint pain or overall immune dysfunction. Each individual is unique and it’s important that healthcare practitioners address the patient’s specific needs when recommending supplements for Lyme.
If you search for supplements and herbs for Lyme disease, you will find dozens – possibly hundreds – of different suggestions. Ideally, it’s best to be treated by a certified holistic healthcare practitioner who is knowledgeable about Lyme disease. If that’s not possible, review the supplement protocols of several Lyme experts and try to choose one that best meets your individual needs.
The following chart is a compilation of many of the vitamins, minerals and herbs most often recommended by Lyme experts.
|Probiotic: Kefir||2-4 oz. daily||Encourages growth of good bacteria. Probiotics are especially important when taking antibiotics because they help to replenish the good bacteria killed off by the antibiotics.|
|Probiotic: Acidophilus||2 with each meal|
|CoQ10||300-400 mg daily||Protects brain and nervous system, improves cellular function and boosts energy. The ubiquinol form of CoQ10 is best for adults. WARNING: Do not use while taking the anti-Babesia drug atovaquone (Mepron, Malarone) because CoQ10 interferes with the action of the medication.|
|Alpha Lipoic Acid||300 mg twice a day||Facilitates entry of CoQ10 into mitochondria|
|Vitamin B Complex (B-50)||One B-50 pill each morning with food.||Supports cellular function, helps fight infections, improves neurological health. Vitamin B6 is especially important for Lyme patients.|
|Magnesium||400 mg daily in divided doses||Helpful for muscle soreness, cramps, heart skips, tremors, weakness, energy and cognition. Higher doses may cause diarrhea.|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil or Krill Oil)||1000 mg daily||Anti-inflammatory and supports cellular and neurological function.|
|NT Factor||As directed on label||Addresses mitochondrial damage and increases energy levels.|
|Acetyl L-Carnitine||1500-2000 mg daily||Dr. Burrascano recommends taking acetyl L-carnitine and SAM-e together to improve memory, mood and cognition. Acetyl L-carnitine also supports heart and muscle function.|
|SAM-e||400 mg daily|
|Vitamin B12||25 mg daily||Supports central and peripheral nervous system, improved immune function and improved energy. Sublingual tablets or injections are necessary for proper absorption.|
|Green Tea||At least 4 cups daily or the equivalent in capsule form||A powerful antioxidant, supports central nervous system.|
|Cordyceps||As directed on label||A Tibetan mushroom remedy that helps increase stamina and endurance|
|Citicholine||500-1000 mg twice daily||Helps cognition and memory. Must use long-term to notice benefits.|
|Reishi Extract||As directed on label||Studies have shown reishi extract to augment function of Natural Killer Cells and macrophages.|
|Transfer Factors||As directed on label||Supports activation of the pathogen-killing effects of the cellular immune system. Therapy consists of taking both a general stimulator plus an infection-specific transfer factor.|
|Glucosamine||As directed on label||Supports joint health.|
|Vitamin C||1000-6000 mg daily||Supports healthy connective tissues.|
|Vitamin D3||2000-4000 units daily||Can help reduce pain and body aches and supports immune and hormone function.|
|Creatine||20 gram daily loading dose for 5 days; then 4-10 grams daily maintenance||Supports blood pressure, strength, stamina and heart function. Creatine product should contain taurine and a carbohydrate for optimum effect. Take with plenty of fluid.|
|Milk Thistle||175 mg daily||Supports liver function.|
|Vitamin A||3000-5000 IU daily||Supports bone growth, cell differentiation, healthy eyesight, proper gastrointestinal and respiratory function, and tissue repair; helps improve immune function and fight infectious disease.|
|Cat’s Claw (Samento)||1-4 tablets 3 to 4 times daily for 2 or 3 months; then 2-3 tablets 3 times daily||Supports immune modulation; blocks neurotoxic effects; has an anti-microbial effect on spirochetes. Quinovic acid glycosides in cat’s claw are similar to the quinilones widely used as antibiotics. IMPORTANT: Use only the TOA-free form of cat’s claw. (TOA stands for tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids.)|
|Japanese Knotweed (can be found in some forms of Resveratrol supplements)||1-4 tablets 3 to 4 times daily for 8 to 12 months||A potent antioxidant with protective effects on the brain and calming effects on the central nervous system; thought to shut down the inflammatory pathways initiated by the spirochete. According to Lyme expert Stephen Buhner, it works synergistically with antibiotics, significantly improving their effectiveness.|
Protocols for Treating Lyme Disease with Supplements and Herbs:
Subscribe to the World's Most Popular Newsletter (it's free!)
In our Lyme disease books section, you will find resources on treating Lyme disease naturally, including supplement and herbal protocols.
* Karen Lee Richards is ProHealth’s Editor-in-Chief. A fibromyalgia patient herself, she co-founded the nonprofit organization now known as the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) and served as its vice-president for eight years. She was also the executive editor of Fibromyalgia AWARE, the very first full-color, glossy magazine devoted to FM and other invisible illnesses. After leaving the NFA, Karen served as the Guide to Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for the New York Times website About.com, and then for eight years as the Chronic Pain Health Guide for The HealthCentral Network.
Axe J. “Natural Strategies to Cure Lyme Disease.” Dr. Axe – Food Is Medicine.
Burrascano J.J. “Nutritional Supplements in Disseminated Lyme. July 2008.
Forsgren S. “From a Source of Profound Insight Comes Hope: A Master’s Update on the Treatment of Lyme Disease.” Public Health Alert, April 2010.
Howenstine J. “Curing Lyme Disease with Samento.” News with Views. April 17, 2005.
Montes S. “Supplement Recommendations for Lyme Disease.” Whole Health MD.
Singleton K. “Diet and Important Supplementation.” The Lyme Disease Solution. February 1, 2008.
Last Updated: 4/24/15
Previous Article: Lyme Disease Exercise