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Herbs for Organ Support During Lyme Treatment

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Throughout the duration of treatment for Lyme disease and Lyme disease co-infections, I have been lucky enough to avoid any major organ damage. After my first year of treating Lyme disease with antibiotics, I began to feel as if I would seriously damage my organs if I continued with aggressive, long term antibiotic treatment. With this realization came another one that significantly changed the course of my treatment and thus my entire future and most likely saved my organs from irreparable damage as well – I realized antibiotics were not right for my body and I needed a more supportive protocol. So, I began treating strictly with herbs, including ones to support my organs throughout treatment. I understand that antibiotics help many people and am therefore not arguing against them (as that is a personal decision made between doctor and patient); rather, I am saying that in any course of treatment, I believe adding in methods of organ support is crucial to the overall healing process. The following herbs are the ones I have personally used to successfully support my own organs during treatment:

Kidneys: It is important to support kidney function when treating Lyme disease in order to aid in the elimination of toxins released from bacterial die-off, thereby preventing or reducing the severity of herxheimer reactions and/or kidney failure.

  • Ginger: Ginger is a potent antioxidant that helps filter toxins out of the kidneys. However, it can increase the potency of other medications, herbs and supplements, so it is best to start slow to see how you react. I prefer to consume ginger in the form of tea, as ginger tea promotes wakefulness and is a great alternative to coffee in the morning.
  • Dandelion: Dandelion has strong diuretic properties and helps strengthen the kidneys. [1]
  • Parsley: Parsley is great for flushing toxins out of the kidneys. I personally like to include it in my morning smoothies to help flush out any accumulated toxins from the previous day or night.
  • ….and of course, it is essential to drink plenty of water and maintain electrolyte balance to ensure proper kidney functioning.

Heart: Lyme disease and Lyme co-infections are notorious for causing cardiac problems, such as Lyme carditis. So, it is crucial to support cardiac health and heart circulation. Thus far, hawthorn and motherwort have helped me do just that to an immaculate degree.

  • Hawthorn: Hawthorn is a notorious cardiotonic, most notable for its usage in preventing congestive heart failure. It strengthens the heartbeat, increases blood flow to the heart, combats cardiac arrhythmias and more. For this reason, it is often suggested as a remedy for Lyme-induced cardiac arrhythmias. [2]
  • Motherwort: Motherwort is another superb herb for the heart, due to its ability to strengthen and normalize the heartbeat among other things. It also helps protect the heart by relaxing the central nervous system, thereby calming a racing mind and a racing heart in the face of stress, anxiety and fear. In my experience, it does so exceptionally well, with its effects being close to miraculous.

Brain: Lyme disease wreaks the most havoc on the area of the body that is the most stressed, both at the moment of infection and any point thereafter. For many, this is the brain, for obvious reasons. As a result, severe and debilitating neurological manifestations from Lyme disease and Lyme co-infections in the brain are not uncommon. Protecting the brain from further damage, and eliminating, if not reversing symptoms from previous damage, can greatly reduce the degree to which a person with Lyme disease suffers. I have tried numerous methods for alleviating the neurological effects of Lyme disease and Lyme co-infections, and have found the effects of the following herbs to far surpass the effects of others I have tried:

  • Kudzu Root: Kudzu root has potent neuroprotective actions, and reduces inflammation in the brain and central nervous system. Due to its ability to reduce brain swelling, it is especially useful for headaches caused by encephalitis.
  • Cannabis: Cannabis is a strong neuroprotective agent that significantly reduces brain swelling. When I was dealing with severe encephalitis from Lyme disease, I would take cannabis oil before bed and it would significantly reduce my brain swelling to the degree that I felt clear headed and able to function when I woke up the next morning. Furthermore, studies have also shown that cannabis not only protects the brain from damage, but actually reverses brain damage and promotes growth of new brain cells as well. [3]

Liver: Since the liver screens toxins from the blood, it is essential to support it so that it is able to handle the increasing toxin load that occurs during bacterial die off. Otherwise, the toxin load can become too great for the liver to handle, essentially greatly increasing a person’s risk for liver disease. Milk thistle is one of the most well known herbs for liver support, and has been used to support healthy liver function for over 2,000 years.[4] I have personally used it for 5 years now, and have had zero problems with my liver to date.

  • Milk thistle: The active ingredient in milk thistle, flavonoids known as silymarin, help protect and restore the liver. They reverse previous damage to liver cells and prevent any further damage from occurring.[5]

Lymphatic System and Spleen: The lymphatic system collects dead cellular material and toxins from bacterial infection and die-off and can easily become clogged in patients with chronic Lyme disease. Typically, exercise plays a crucial role in keeping lymphatic fluid flowing in order to ensure proper detox. Unfortunately, many with Lyme disease are unable to exercise enough to promote healthy lymphatic drainage, if they are able to exercise at all.   As a result, using an herb that effectively supports lymphatic functioning is strongly suggested.

  • Red Root: Red root helps clear dead cellular debris from the lymphatic system, and is highly effective at supporting the body in its ability to reduce swelling, inflammation, and/or infection in any part of the lymphatic system, including the spleen. [6]

As previously mentioned, the herbs listed in this article are ones I personally found to be of most benefit. However, there are many other supportive herbs and supplements that have proven successful for people, so I strongly encourage researching all of your options before making any definitive treatment decisions.

As always, please remember to consult with your doctor or a healthcare professional before adding any new herbs or supplements to your protocol.

This article was first published on ProHealth.com on August 14, 2016 and was updated on May 2, 2021.


Shelley M. White is trained in herbalism and nutrition, and is the author of Cannabis for Lyme Disease and Related Conditions: Scientific Basis and Anecdotal Evidence for Medicinal Use. She has written for various websites, including Collective Evolution, Mind Body Green, Natural News, The Mind Unleashed, and the Examiner. Her work has also appeared in print publications, such as The Townsend Letter, SKUNK Magazine, and Public Health Alert.

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