I used to buy into the idea that the only treatments worth focusing on when treating Lyme disease and coinfections were those that primarily focused on killing the bacteria. After all, “kill, kill, kill” is a commonly adopted attitude by Lyme patients and doctors alike –and for understandable reasons. In fact, if you are anything like me, you deem protocols based solely upon relieving the fear, anxiety, depression, rage, or other psychological symptoms invoked by these infections once they invade the brain as luxuries that you cannot afford because buying things intended to kill the bacteria is of primary importance. I learned the hard way that the problem with this seemingly logical view is you end up white knuckling your way through the severe psychological distress that occurs during treatment.
So, it is with my sincerest hope that my brutal wake up call to the urgent need to modulate psychological functioning during treatment will help other people with Lyme disease who are in psychological distress and feel there is no escape from it. I’m here to tell you there is, and while this is strictly my opinion and not medical advice, modulating brain functioning is perhaps the most important aspect of Lyme treatment and is just as essential as any protocol designed to kill the bacteria. After all, you can give someone the best treatment in existence, but if they are hysterical, depressed, fearful, and prone to bouts of explosive rage and so on, the odds of it working are greatly diminished.
Unhealthy physiological holding patterns are created in the body when chemicals from negative emotions are constantly being released, thereby generating more symptoms and leaving the body with less energy to work in conjunction with physical treatments to achieve complete and permanent healing. As a result, I feel it is of the utmost importance to find natural non-invasive ways to reduce psychological symptoms during treatment, rather than strong psychotropic pharmaceuticals that often do more harm than good in the long run. The following herbs helped me do so to an almost miraculous degree, and I pray they do the same for you:
Lyme Herbs for Psychological Support
1. Motherwort: Motherwort is good for fear, hysteria, and anxiety. It is calming, and in larger doses acts as a sedative, which can help with anxiety related sleep issues. It is especially beneficial in cases of extreme fear due to infection in the brain, as it relaxes the musculature of the brain to reduce the physiological holding patterns created by fear.
2. Calamus Root: When I feel ungrounded, like my energy is scattered, and it’s hard to think straight, calamus root is my go-to herb. Due to its unique ability to correct energy imbalances, calamus root has been used as a remedy to help people feel more grounded for hundreds of years. It is also helpful for depression, as well as anxiety and full blown panic attacks.
3. Coral Root: Coral root is great during times of stress, especially ones in which a person feels as if their world is falling apart. The effects are most prominent when used on a long-term, daily basis.
4. Pasque Flower: Pasque flower tincture is helpful for anxiety and feelings of melancholy, distress, and doom. It is beneficial for people who are prone to catastrophic thinking and who suffer from a “gloomy mentality.” Unfortunately, when it comes to Lyme disease, it is easy to fall under both categories. The wealth of information regarding treatment options, costs, and so on can easily pave the way to catastrophic thinking. When combined with the general feelings of depression that occur when sitting at home for weeks, months, or years on end during treatment, your mind can easily give way to the presence of a gloomy mentality.
I have found the effects of pasque flower and coral root to be most beneficial when taken simultaneously. Therefore, during prolonged periods of extreme stress, I take a mixture of both up to six times a day to help me meet demands on a mental level. This has proven to be extremely effective for me.
Subscribe to the World's Most Popular Newsletter (it's free!)
5. Indian Pipe: Indian Pipe tincture combats random bouts of sadness, as well as acute anxiety and panic that result from an overload of sensory data or external input. Therefore, it is often helpful in cases of acute onset of anxiety or panic due to overstimulation from auditory or visual stimuli, which is common in people with neurological Lyme disease. It may also reduce the anxiety that occurs when a person is trying to process an overwhelming amount of treatment information, thereby enabling them to make more sound decisions regarding what protocol is best suited for their individual needs.
6. Curcumin: According to studies, curcumin is extremely effective at easing depression and anxiety. In fact, one study even found its effects on depressive to be of greater benefit than some pharmaceutical drugs. Aside from general anxiety and depression, I and many other Lyme patients I know have found that it also reduces physiological depression –a sense of depression that is felt more on a physical level than on a mental level. You feel depressed, but are apathetic toward the feeling with little to no perceived mental involvement with it.
7. Cannabis: Cannabis can serve as an antidote to a variety of psychological manifestations, including but not limited to, depression, anxiety, OCD, and even schizophrenic-like symptoms. It is important to keep in mind that there are many different strains of cannabis, with some being better for certain psychological symptoms than others. If cannabis use is legal where you live, and you wish to use it for psychological support, your doctor or local dispensary can help you identify which strain is best for you.
As you can see, most of these herbs offer support in more than one area of psychological distress that Lyme patients often endure, making them exceptionally useful in many cases. However, 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 July 1, 2016 and was updated on November 17, 2020.
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’ (visit www.cannabisforlyme.comto learn more). 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’.
1. Buhner, Stephen H. Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections: Complementary and Holistic Treatments for Bartonella and Mycoplasma. Rochester,VT: Healing Arts Press, 2013.
2. Mcdonald, J. “Sweet Flag / Bitterroot: Acorus Calamus, A. Americanus.” Jim McDonald. Accessed June 19, 2016 from http://www.herbcraft.org/calamus.html.
3. Tripathi, A. K., & Singh, R. H. (2010). Experimental evaluation of antidepressant effect of Vacha (Acorus calamus) in animal models of depression. Ayu, 31(2), 153–158. http://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8520.72374.
4. Schar, D. “Common Name: Pasque Flower | Scientific Name: Anemone pulsatilla.” Dr. Schar. Accessed June 20, 2016 from http://doctorschar.com/pasque-flower-anemone-pulsatilla/.
5. Bruntil, H. “Plant Connection: Indian Pipe.” Heather Bruntil. October 28, 2014. Accessed June 20, 2016 from http://bruntil.com/wp/plant-connection-indian-pipe/.
6. Wu, A., Noble, E. E., Tyagi, E., Ying, Z., Zhuang, Y., & Gomez-Pinilla, F. (2015). Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 1852(5), 951–961. Published online December 27, 2014. Doi: doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2014.12.005
7. Ji, S. “Groundbreaking Study Finds Turmeric Extract Superior to Prozac for Depression.” GreenMedInfo.com. July 19, 2013. Accessed June 22, 2016 from http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/groundbreaking-study-finds-turmeric-extract-superior-prozac-depression#_ftn1
8. White, Shelley M. Cannabis for Lyme Disease and Related Conditions: Scientific Basis and Anecdotal Evidence for Medicinal Use. South Lake Tahoe, CA: BioMed Publishing Group, 2015.