Lyme Disease Community
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Avatar universal

Can anyone comment on the safety of herbs to treat potential Lyme?

Hello again,

In my last thread, I mentioned how I've been experiencing an array of progressively worsening neurological symptoms over the course of the past ~9 years. I also mentioned that the herbalist/acupuncturist I visited said my symptoms sound consistent with Lyme and prescribed me an herbal formula called Lightning Pearls by Classical Pearls. He did not prescribe the formula specifically for Lyme, but Lyme is one of the conditions the formula is designed to address. His stance seems to be that he can't say for sure that I have Lyme. He can only say that I have a lot of neurological issues that are consistent with Lyme, but it doesn't really matter because the formula is designed to address a wide range of neurological/brain issues.

After seeing a GP, internist, neurologist, and psychologist to no avail, I really want to believe that these herbs will be my answer. However, I'm also afraid that they're going to wind up making my condition worse rather than better. After taking them the first time, I felt very brain fogged (almost to the point of disorientation), off-balanced, and very sensitive to stimuli like bright lights and sounds. The 24/7 headache that I have also felt about 10 times worse. I phoned him, and he said that sometimes when people have adverse reactions to formulas, it means that the formula is working but is just working too fast and they need to lower the dosage. Who knows.

So yeah. Is anyone familiar with the ingredients in this formula who can comment on whether it's safe? I did show the bottle to my GP, and she said she didn't see anything harmful in the ingredients and urged me to try the pills, but I'm just a bit paranoid after my initial reaction to the formula. I am already always miserable with the dozens of symptoms I already have, and I just want to know that any new substances I instroduce into my body won't harm me further.

The ingredients are:
Eleutherococcus gracillistylus (wujiapi), Lilium brownii (baihe), Angelica dahurica (baizhi), Lonicera japonica (jinyinhua), Forsythia suspensa (lianquiao), Angelica sinensis (danggui), Ligusticum sinense (chuanxiong), Scrophularia ningpoen
sis (xuanshen), Smilex glabra (tufuling), Artemisia apiacea (qinghao), Dispacus japnicus (xuduan), Gingko biloba leaf (yinxingye), Acorus gramineus (shichangpu), Curcuma aromatica (yujin), Lycopus lucidus (zelan).
40 Responses
Avatar universal
I don't know enough about herbs to say anything about each of those, but you might google/search for "Herxheimer reaction" -- it is symptoms that get worse when treatment is started, such as you taking the herbs, or taking antibiotics.  You'll see references to this as a "Herx" for short.

What is happening is a worsening of symptoms as the medication kills the bacteria and they release toxins or whatever into your system, which makes you feel lousy for a few days.  If the Herx is too strong, then back off on the dosage is the usual fix so that it's a milder reaction.  Also bear in mind that you could be allergic to something in the herbal mix from Mother Nature's medicine chest.  It's good that you can talk with your doc about it.

Herxes can also happen on antibiotics, not just herbs.  Someone else here takes Curcumin, I think, but I don't know any more than that:  I went the antibiotic route for the most part, but still take some herbal capsules every day.

Having a knowledgeable advisor like your GP is a very good thing, since herbs = medicine.
Avatar universal
Right, I've certainly heard of people getting worse before they get better; I've heard it described as a "detox" reaction rather than the Herx effect, though. I just don't know whether I can trust that that's actually going on.

Another major concern I have is that, while the Lightning Pearls doesn't contain an ingredient called aconite, other formulas by Classical Pearls do. Aconite is highly toxic, at least in certain states, and has been used on the tips of spears in the past due to its toxic properties. Since the herbalist said he plans to incorporate other formulas in the future, I fear that the others may contain the ingredient. He told me that aconite isn't toxic, but plenty of other sources say that it is. This is what WebMD has to say about it:

"Do not use aconite. Aconite root is UNSAFE when taken by mouth. All species of the plant are dangerous, and so are processed products. Aconite contains a strong, fast-acting poison that causes severe side effects such as nausea, vomiting, weakness, sweating, breathing problems, heart problems, and death.

Some people use aconite in a cream or lotion that is applied to the skin. This practice is also dangerous. The poisons in aconite can be absorbed through the skin, causing severe side effects."


So yeah, that makes me wary of the company in general.

Bleck. I just wish I knew what to do haha.
1763947 tn?1334055319
Check out your other post for my comment on herbs
Avatar universal
Hmm, that's good research you are doing.  I doubt I would take the stuff myself, based on that write up. I've read in the past about a similar situation, some other medication, tho, and had your same concerns.  

Herbalists think their own thoughts, and sometimes I think they get carried away ....  then again, so do mainstream docs, in a different direction.  Only human, after all.  Who knew.

Wikipedia has a short but informative piece on 'Herxheimer Reaction.'  Take a look.
Avatar universal
Artemisia and curcuma are used to treat lyme disease.
Artemisia has to be combined with antibiotics or very effective bacteria killing herbs (teasel or banderol and samento), otherwise it will actively make you wore not beter.
Curcuma halps a lot with neurological symptom relief in many people but doesn't kill the lyme.
Eleutherococcus is supposed to help your adrenal gland and mood but again, it will not kill lyme.

I have never heard of any of the other herbs being used by lyme experts to treat lyme. Thaty doesn't mean they are not used - I am far from bein an expert - but I can tel you without a chadow of a doubt that this product is NOT one of the accepted/proven protocols used by lyme experts.

The ones which ARE tried and tested and prescribed by lyme experts - by which I mean actual MD type doctors full-time-specialied in lyme, who happen to also have studied herbs, rather than herbalists who happen to be dabbling in lyme disease - are the following protocols

Cowden protocol (most famous and also most expensive)
Augsburg protocol (well known in Europe and presented at Ilads 2010 (it's explained on the ILADS DVD - as far as I know it's not really used outside Europe)
Buhner protocol - created bya  leading herbalist and presented at ILADS, tested by ilads docs - I don't know what track record this has
There's one other protocol that starts with L, I cannot remember th e inventor's name but that is also veyr successful - if anyone remembers it please tell me!

If you are not following one of these protocols, chances are someone is tinkering with your health adn my own doctor (who developed the Augsburg protocol) said they will very likely make you worse not better - using the wrong herbs, or the right herbs at the wrong doses, can do a LOT of harm.

Taking artemisia without something to kill the bacteria will basically burst open lots of borrelia cysts and fill you with active infection, which then starts breeding and causing damage all over your body.
I would hazard a guess that this could be why you feel so ill now.

I seriousloy think you need to find a lyme expert and do not trust your health to anyone else.

The vast majority of lyme experts want you to take a mix of antibiotics and herbs. If you take herbs only, you have to accept that you are fighting with weaker weapoins adn there has to be a really good reason for choosing this route (eg in my own case, my doc persuaded me to do this because I'd reached the point where the side effects (imunosuppression)  were outweighing the benefits.
Avatar universal
Thank you!!  Well said, excellent information to have.
Avatar universal
:O Dang. Thanks for all of the (scary) info! Since the artemisia is in an herbal formula, I'm not taking it alone per say; however, I have no idea whether any of the other ingredients work to prevent it from causing cysts to burst.

Since it's been confirmed that there are no LLMDs in my state, let alone my area, I think I'm about ready to just give up on all fronts and accept that this is how the rest of my life is going to go. I can't really handle trying to sort through anymore conflicting information; I've been doing it for 8 years, it's doing me in faster than whatever physical issue I have. Sorry to bee so negative; I'm just really frustrated and disheartened. I appreciate everyone's input, though; thank you!
Avatar universal
Did you email to ILADS for a referral?

What part of Georgia are you in?  (no need to answer if you don't want to, thought we might be able to dig up a doc name for you)
Avatar universal
Yes, they're the ones who informed me that any doctors who have tried to approach Lyme in a progressive manner in Georgia have been attacked by the state medical board. I live in the Savannah area. It's okay, though; you don't have to do any digging for me. :)
Avatar universal
Okay, glad you're on top of things.  I know when I was realllly bad off, I had trouble telling the difference between the front door and the coat closet.

I didn't realize Georgia was hostile to LLMDs, but I've read that Texas is.  Sigh.

I just searched

                          LLMD Savannah

and got lots of hits (mostly people looking for an LLMD, but crowdsourcing can work), including a link to a Ga Lyme Disease Assn that might have some help.

Let us know how you do, and take care, now.
Avatar universal
That's scary, and that's exactly the type of cognitive state that I'm afraid I'll wind up in in the future. I told the herbalist that I was afraid the herbs would "mess with my brain," and he laughed and said, "They're not going to mess with your brain," but losing any further cognitive functioning is terrifying to me given that I already have issues with memory, concentration, and just thinking straight.

It doesn't surprise me that Georgia takes that attitude toward Lyme; this is pretty backwards state in more way than one.

I'll look into the GA Lyme Disease Assn and keep you all updated when/if I have updates. :)
Avatar universal
Given you're not getting great results and are isolated from a doctor and are not getting good results from the herbs, why not see what you can do with nutritional supplements?
I've made major progress like that, they are NTO going to cause problems the way herbs will, it is safe to use nutrients yourelf provided you do the basic research on dosages.

eg magnesium helps amazingly with neuro issues
Choline is very good at improving memoery and some other cognitive function

I culd writye you another small essay on nutrients if you like, tell if you'r einterested and I'll give you doses and the whole lot.

Meantime, download the Burrascano doc from ilads . com and read his section on nutrients, which is brief but includes most of the best ones.

Sorry about all the typos BTW.
I'm tired adn too lazy to go back adn correct them!
Avatar universal
Haha, I noticed I had a ton of typos in my own posts; no worries!

I have tried a few nutritional things on my own over the years, but I always felt as though I was fumbling in the dark since I didn't know WHAT I was "treating" let alone what to take to treat it. I've tried omega 3, magnesium, B vitamins, multivitamins, probiotics, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin C, fish oil, and God knows what else. I've also tried eating "clean," eating all raw, and eating my own version of a ketogenic diet (I was a vegetarian at the time). The ketogenic thing did seem to help quite a bit, but I almost passed out about 2 weeks in both times I tried it, so I had to go back to consuming carbs.

I never really stayed on anything too long, however, because, as I said, I didn't feel like I even knew what I was doing. I would definitely appreciate your input on nutritional things to try. :)
Avatar universal
I got a massive fungal (yeast) infection throughout my body from the yeast-based probiotics my doc prescribed, and in the process of killing that, I stripped my diet down to vegetables and protein to starve out the yeast (in addition to antifungal meds from the doc).  

Here's the point:  when the yeast infection was whipped, I realized I felt better on a simpler diet, and have kept it that way for a couple of years now.  I have gone gluten-free (so no wheat) and no dairy (don't digest it well; it's genetic, runs in the family), and eat fresh food whenever possible.  

Fruit, vegetables, olive oil, fish, occasionally turkey or chicken, sometimes eggs (now that the entire medical profession is hysterical about eggs, tho I've also read it's simply individual body chemistry that causes higher levels of cholesterol and less the intake that matters), and that's it.

Sounds boring, but it's not ... and I'm back to what I weighed when I was 20 without any effort at dieting at all.  I eat all I want, never hungry, and haven't felt this good for a long time.  Yeah, I'm extreme about it, and that wouldn't work for everyone, but even tidying up the diet a bit could help.  Try eliminating one thing like wheat for a couple of weeks and see if you feel better -- if not, then it's probably not an issue for you.  Oh, and I stay away from soy -- it seems to irritate my body somehow.  This means reading labels on cans ... like tuna:  nearly every tuna can in the grocery store has soy added.  Go figure.

And you gotta understand:  I always loved sweets and soft drinks and bread and practically lived on them.  Now, they have absolutely no power over me.  There are so many chemical additives in food these days that it makes even me wonder if it's not part of what ails us.  

So, I don't stick to a fixed diet, I just eat the kind of food my grandparents ate ... minus the bacon fat used for cooking (virgin olive oil tastes better too.  :)  Anything you can do to simplify your diet could help.  Try it and see.
1763947 tn?1334055319
To add to Jackies comment, I went off of all sugar and feel better than before. I had developed type 2 diabetes from the lyme along with low thyroid and other stuff. Taking sugar out of my diet worked really well and now anything sweet makes me sicker.
Avatar universal
Hm. The herbalist currently has me on a probiotic; I hope that's not causing further issues.

I just got off the phone with him and asked what I should be doing in terms of diet, and he listed all of these foods that I should possibly avoid. Some of them like eggs I didn't think were an issue; I thought the organic ones I bought were GOOD for my brain since they're high in omega 3s.

Next time I get a chance to go to the grocery store, I'm going to stock up on clean, simple foods. I've been eating pretty poorly lately because I haven't felt up to going shopping and have also been really behind on work.
Avatar universal
mojo's comment about low thyroid triggered another memory here -- I too had low thyroid when I had Lyme and was on thyroid supps for a while, then as I got better, taking the supps made me totally hyper (and hyperthyroid), so I went off them.

Lyme does indeed mess with thyroid function.
Avatar universal
You say above:  "Hm. The herbalist currently has me on a probiotic; I hope that's not causing further issues."

My situation was quite unusual, I think, due to a genetic susceptibility to fungal infections that seems to run in my family, looking back on it.

AND ... most probiotics are bacteria-based, NOT yeast-based.  Only the yeast-based ones could contribute to a yeast infection, and my case was very unusual -- my LLMD said he had 'never' seen that happen before.

Look at the label on the bottle.  If it is acidophilus, then it's not yeast-based.  Only the formulation Saccharomyces boulardii (aka S. boulardii) is yeast-based.  That's the chemical name, not the brand name, so read the label.
Avatar universal
Ah, glad to know that the issue occurs with yeast-based products and is rare. Mine is bacteria-based luckily.

As for thyroid functioning, would basic labs have tested for that? According to my neuro, my numbers were all find aside from my B12 levels.
Avatar universal
The lab would only have tested whatever your doc checked off on the lab order sheet.  If you don't want to approach the doc, then call the lab, tell them you had lab work done in (month and year) and you'd like copies of ALL the results in full.  The lab doesn't own the test results -- you paid for them, they're yours, as far as I know.
Avatar universal
I believe the CDC rules on labs is that they cannot give results to a patient directly.  Only a doctor can.  If you are unable to get them from the ordering doctor, you can ask the lab to send them to a new doctor that you specify. Then you can get a copy from the new doctor.

HIPAA (Federal law) says you are entitled to copies of your medical records. Doctors' offices cannot say No when you ask.
Avatar universal
Great :)  My doctor's assistant said she'd print off a copy for me, so hopefully I won't run into any issues. If I do, I'll talk to my GP since she said she was going to ask the neuro to forward my labs to her anyway.
Avatar universal
Herbal compounding can be very difficult.  Depends on what you're after.  It's easy to mix things that have opposite effects.  Most of today's compounds are done by "what sells", with little regard for the actions that the herbs have.

An example, I've been fighting toxoplasma with walnut hull.  Ginko was also reputed to be effective against toxplasma.  A combination of the two should be more effective, right?   However I found that some of the anitioxidants in ginko will neutralize the effect that the juglone of walnut hull has.

Don't fully rely on anyone, do your own research!
1211030 tn?1381137342
my herbalist does not  rely on blood tests and does electrodermal screening to find all ailments.  I am then put on a protocol using Monastery of Herbs.  I didnt go herbal until I went through the regular medical protocols.  Oral doxy, IV-neither worked for me.  In fact, I suffered a stroke during the IV.  I finally reached remission after 6 years through my herbalist.  
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