Why Western Medicine Misses the Mark on Lyme Disease: An Interview with Stephen Harrod Buhner

As it turns out, everything we’ve been told about Lyme disease is wrong.

Conventional wisdom states that Lyme disease results from being bitten by a deer tick infected with a certain strain of bacteria, called Borrelia burgdorferi. This tick must remain attached to its host for at least 36 hours. If symptoms common to Lyme disease begin to manifest, a blood test (or tests) will be ordered to confirm diagnosis. If these test(s) reveal B. burgdorferi antibodies, the patient is prescribed a 10 – 14 day course of antibiotics, typically doxycycline. During this period, the antibiotics kill the infectious bacteria, and order is restored.

According to Stephen Harrod Buhner, an expert in the fields of herbal medicine and infectious disease, the validity of each sentence from the above paragraph ranges somewhere between incomplete and erroneous.

You may have already developed a healthy skepticism for Western medicine’s grasp of this havoc-wreaking disease. Lyme disease runs rampant along the Appalachian Trail; many of our own have contracted the infection during their journeys.  Some have struggled with getting a proper diagnosis, some have struggled with the efficacy of treatment, and more often, both is the case. I have talked to countless others who’ve offered a similar story.

cdc lyme disease map

This map largely under represents those infected by Lyme disease, according to Buhner.

And perhaps the subject that divides Western medicine and the “skeptics” most is chronic Lyme. Although more doctors are beginning to treat these generalized symptoms- such as headache, muscle aches, and fatigue- as chronic Lyme, it’s still seen as a “controversial diagnosis” in much of the medical community. The rift between the two camps is strong enough that Buhner refers to it as a “war zone” in his best-selling book, Healing Lyme.

I caught up with Buhner to learn more about why Western medicine misses the mark on Lyme disease and what those suffering from the illness can do to regain their health.

Appalachian Trials: What’s your background? How were you turned onto the subject of infectious disease?

Stephen Harrod Buhner: My bio, background, is the usual long story, incredibly interesting to me but to few others. To make it as short as possible, I became enamored of a simpler kind of healing from my close relationship with my great-grandfather who, though an M.D., for most of his life used mostly herbal medicines in his practice (he began practice before the availability of antibiotics). After he died, the 60s caught me up and I immersed myself in the back to the land movement and learning the forgotten crafts, among them the use of herbal medicines.

I began teaching workshops in 1980, primarily focused on the human growth potential movement in various of its shades, and fully immersed myself in depth understanding of herbal medicine beginning in 1986. Two things pulled me into infectious diseases. The first was an article in a newspaper about antibiotic resistant bacteria. I had formerly majored in mathematics and I was well aware of the implications of an exponential growth curve. I became curious, how would herbs work for resistant bacteria and how would bacteria respond to them. (It turned out that that conflict has been going for some 700 million years. As the bacteria develop resistance, the plants create a response. So, the answer was that plant medicines were the more sophisticated response.) The second was this: Over the next decade of my teaching the second most asked question in my lectures and workshops was, “Do you know anything that can help with Lyme disease?” Ultimately a physician I knew urged me to get involved. As she said at the time, “If anyone can figure out how to treat Lyme disease, it’s you.” These two things pulled me deeply into infectious diseases and ultimately very deep into a more sophisticated understanding of the world we live within.

What are the most common misconceptions about Lyme disease?

Buhner: Pretty much everything. Up front I need to make clear that all the information I present in my updated second edition of Healing Lyme (Raven Press, 2015) about Lyme disease is cleverly concealed in open source peer reviewed journals easily found via the internet. For several reasons, I decided to focus the book through the lens of the research that hundreds of researchers and physicians around the world were conducting. Over the past 4 years or so, I have read some 10,000 journal articles on Lyme and its major coinfections. I then created a synthesis of all this information to give as complete a picture of what was happening as possible.

I had several goals in this:

  1. To give those with Lyme infections a clear picture of what was happening so that their fear level would lessen;
  2. To give physicians a clear picture of what was going on so that they could begin to design more effective approaches and importantly, help them respond more compassionately to their patients;
  3. To develop alternative protocols that could help people when pharmaceuticals failed them, as they do for around 40 percent of those infected; and finally;
  4. Because I was walking into a war zone where there was a nearly complete disconnect between what the medical establishment was insisting was true about Lyme disease and what the people with the disease were experiencing. It was inevitable that my work would be attacked but it would make those attacks harder if I used the medical establishment’s own model and published studies.

To finally get to the point, everything that most people hear is wrong. Here is a tiny sampling of what is actually true and which conflicts with most common beliefs about Lyme:

  1. Lyme disease is not a new disease, it has been around since Borrelia bacteria have been, millions of years;
  2. Antibiotics only work for about 60% of those who are infected;
  3. It quite regularly takes longer than two weeks of antibiotics to heal an infection, if the drugs are going to work at all;
  4. Post Lyme disease and chronic Lyme disease are incredibly common;
  5. Infection rates are around 500,000 per year, minimum, and are increaseing;
  6. White footed mice and deer are not the primary reservoirs;
  7. Tick attachment of less than 48 hours very commonly transmits Lyme, in fact, as little as ten minutes can do so;
  8. Many other insects transmit Borrelia bacteria, not just hard ticks;
  9. There are scores of borrelial bacteria, more are being found all the time and most of them do infect people;
  10. Borrelia bacteria are endemic on every continent on earth, including the arctic and Antarctica – they are also very common in cities in parks, cemeteries, and open space;
  11. The bull’s eye rash is relatively uncommon, only about 30% of people get one;
  12. Diagnosis of Lyme disease is very difficult and often fails;
  13. Very few doctors understand the disease at all, many of them really don’t care to educate themselves either;
  14. There is no getting rid of these bacteria;
  15. Lyme bacteria are the tip of the iceberg; emerging stealth infections are going to only increase in numbers. This is because their emergence so powerfully in our time is generated by ecological instability and overpopulation.

There are many more, but that covers most of the misconceptions. Lyme bacteria are a poignant teaching for human hubris about the controllability of the natural world. It is just that that is a lesson very few humans want to understand.

What explains Western medicine’s poor understanding and handling of this infection?

Stephen Harrod BuhnerBuhner: “Modern” medicine is actually using a model of reality that was developed in the late 19thcentury and expanded in the 20th. There is a lot of investment in that model. Most of our industry and nearly all of technological medicine is dependent on it.

Unfortunately that model has little to do with the real world. As the real world begins to intrude more and more strongly into that world view, through the regular emergence of new forms of bacteria, new viruses, and stealth pathogens, the system will inevitably begin to buckle. It already is.

Newer generations of healers do understand the problem, at least to some extent, but the older generation has to die off for a more reality based understanding to take hold. It is the insistence of the older generation of practitioners, as well as the entrenched financial orientation of most medical facilities (and I guess I should say as well, the insurance companies) on that outdated model that is the real problem. Specifically: that older system believes that humans are the only intelligent species on the planet, that the natural world is merely insentient background that we may treat any way we wish without repercussions, and that we can, through the use of science and technology, control the natural world. All three assertions are untrue. As most bacterial researchers will readily admit, bacteria are significantly more intelligent than we are, they possess cities, culture, language, technology that far exceeds our own, and are far more adaptable than we are. After all, they have been at this business of living for some 4 billion years.

Would you recommend those who spend a lot of time in areas highly prone to Lyme disease, such as the Appalachian Trail, to carry and take antibiotics in the case of developing symptoms related to Lyme?

Buhner: I would recommend the use of tick and insect repellants as a habit, the use of herbs to enhance immune functioning (simplest is astragalus, 1000 mg daily, 3000 mg during Lyme season), and the use of antibiotics at the first sign of a bull’s eye rash, then herbs if the antibiotics do not work. I don’t think the routine carrying of antibiotics is useful except for those who plan on being out of touch in the wilderness for a month or more at a time.

Why don’t US residents have access to a Lyme vaccine?  Is it effective?

Buhner: The Lyme vaccine wasn’t very effective and it tended to make people sick. It was discontinued over a decade ago.

What advice would you offer to a loved one who was undertaking a several month-long backpacking trip in a region known for a high incidence rate of Lyme disease?

Buhner: Besides reading the book, I generally suggest taking 1000-3000mg of astragalus a day to keep up the immune parameters that are most effective against a Lyme infection. Additionally, I would take with me a bottle of andrographis tincture. As soon as a tickbite is found, remove the tick, and then mix the tincture with a little green clay powder or something like that and put the paste on the bite area, then cover with a bandaid. Oddly enough this will often prevent a Lyme infection. And finally, perhaps, get and take a large bottle of the Lyme protocol in capsules from Green Dragon Botanicals (https://greendragonbotanicals.com/). If you do start getting ill, this can often turn it around.

At what point should someone get tested for Lyme?  What test(s)?  How accurate is testing?

Buhner: I go into all this in the book and it is rather tedious to go into it again in any depth. It would bore the readers to sleep. In general some tests are better than others, none are really that good. The best outcomes in studies come from using a panel of maybe 10 different tests simultaneously and even then they miss a lot of people who are infected. Testing is not good, is not going to be good for some time, and it very inaccurate. Again, the reasons why are incredibly tedious to wade through.

What do you recommend for someone who has been exposed to Borrelia carrying organisms but is suffering from only general symptoms (i.e. fatigue, brain fog, mood disturbances)?

Buhner: The herbal protocol or antibiotics if they want to go that route. Those “general” symptoms are often the worst of all. They cause a significant deterioration of life and happiness.

What is your herbal protocol for healing from Lyme?  Is this safe/recommended for those who merely suspect an infection, but haven’t received a test confirmation?

healing lyme book

Buhner: At root is the use of Astragalus all the time if you live in an endemic area, as a regular part of the diet. They do this in various parts of Asia, the herb is a good grade herb and they often use it as a base for stews and soups. So, yes it is very safe and usable all the time.

The core protocol for an active infection is based on the use of three herbs: Japanese knotweed root (which shuts down most of the inflammation processes the bacteria generate in the body); cat’s claw (which is a fairly specific immune booster for Lyme); and andrographis (which is antibacterial). There are occasional side effects: Japanese knotweed root can cause loss of taste in about one in 1000 people (from reports we have received) and andrographis can cause an allergic reaction in about one percent of people who use it. The most common allergic response is hives that takes a few weeks to resolve. There are contraindications for women who are pregnant. Other than that, the protocol is very safe for the majority of people. We have had contact with some 25,000 people over the past decade, so we do have a pretty good sense of what kind of impact it has.

What will it take to get chronic Lyme (and it’s corresponding co-infections) the national attention, funding, and care it deserves?

Buhner: Continual complaining and activism by Lyme activists. That is the only thing that has raised awareness as much as it is. There are numerous Lyme activist groups throughout the US. They are easily found by Googling them. Quite often, there is one near you.

Is it unsafe for Lyme disease carriers to give blood?

Buhner: Complicated . . . maybe.

Can Lyme disease be transmitted sexually?

Buhner: Yes, very much so. Please note, that despite data and journal papers indicating this is a common route of transmission, most physicians still deny it.

Healing Lyme offers a formula for a natural tick repellent. Is there advantage to using this method versus treating one’s clothes with permethrin?

Buhner: I am not much a fan of industrial chemicals both for environmental pollution reasons and personal. But I feel people should follow their own sense of what to do in all of this, not just repellents.

Is there any other advice or information you’d offer to anyone who spends a significant amount of time hiking or backpacking that we haven’t covered?

Buhner: Yes, really, read the book. I know this sounds as if I am just trying to drum up sales, but I think that being deeply informed is the best thing of all. It really does lower fear levels and enhances personal empowerment. I am an unapologetic enthusiast of the human capacity for reason and deep thought, especially in those without Ph.D.s.

To learn more, check out Stephen Harrod Buhner’s site at www.gaianstudies.org and buy his book on Amazon.

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Comments 45

  • John : Jun 24th

    I’m surprised that he didn’t mention the value of tarot cards in fighting Lyme, since he offers tarot card workshops at his “Foundation for Gaian Studies”. At the risk of creating a false equivalency between this guy and actual science and evidence-based medicine, why not offer some equal time to the people at the University of Rhode Island who maintain the https://www.tickencounter.org/ site?

    • Amanda Tikkanen : Jun 24th

      Thank you! These are testable claims and should hold up under scrutiny. Being a skeptic (asking for evidence to support a claim) isn’t a bad thing.

      There is a lot of woo in the outdoor industry and I hate to see people use shams and scams to enjoy the outdoors. Using those for medical treatments is even worse.

    • Zach : Jun 24th

      Hey John-

      Thanks for the recommendation, I will most certainly reach out to the University to see if someone would be willing to do an interview. A well rounded discussion is what this topic deserves.

      In Stephen’s defense, the claims in his book are backed up by scientific journal papers. The bibliography is 54 pages long (and what appears to be in a size 6 font). I obviously am unqualified to attest to the validity of the studies referenced in Healing Lyme vs. those that may not agree with the thesis, but to say that this isn’t evidenced based isn’t exactly fair.

      • John : Jun 24th

        Don’t be too quick to be impressed by a large bibliography/reference list. You’d need to evaluate those to see if they are legitimate peer reviewed journals or just junk ones. He may actually have some valid general points such as insect repellent use (wow, never thought of that approach), but looking at his body of work removes any shred of credibility for me as a scientist myself, especially in matters of health and safety. Also, be careful not to fall into the trap of false equivalency for well rounded discussions – sometimes BS is just BS.

        • Tec : Jun 24th

          ” but looking at his body of work removes any shred of credibility for me as a scientist myself” Your not making a judgement on his ‘body of work’. Your making it on the title of his books and workshops. Niot much of a scientist now are you.l

        • Gammer : Jun 24th

          You probably think gmo’s are scientifically sound?

          • John : Jun 25th

            Scientifically sound? (I assume you mean “good for you”, but evidently that’s not in the rapid response book.) You may not like them, but at least they’re real, which is a lot more than you can say for “magic Lyme supplements”, which if you read the label, you’ll find a statement saying something like “this not intended to treat any illness”. Its the standard disclaimer for ineffective herbalist and homeopathic garbage.

    • George : Sep 26th

      I’m also very skeptical of this article. I forwarded it to a PhD scientist I know who is an expert on Lyme disease. She may be interested in providing information. Email me if interested.

      • James : Apr 3rd

        Modern medicine is woefully ill-equipped to deal with Lyme. There are many peer reviewed articles showing immune boosting, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties of herbs. The corkscrew nature of Spirochetes means when it’s late disseminated it’s not wiped out in a month. Again there are many studies showing the refractory properties of Lyme spirochetes. I’m not saying this guy is right on everything or that he has all the answers, but Lyme is an epidemic and the tests for Lyme are terrible. They are not sensitive at all. This resulted from the CDC pushing for more “specificity”. The results are a lot of sick people not finding relief.

    • Michael : Jul 1st


  • Me : Jun 24th

    You must be a CDC Troll…ave you used any of Stephen’s suggested protocols, herbals, supplements? I would take a gamble and guess not, until then I don’t think you’re versed enough to determine their effectiveness or not.

    • John : Jun 25th

      No relation to CDC or pharma at all. As to trying this guy’s protocols – you go get Lyme and try them and let us know how it works out for you. The whole point is there are no controlled studies, just a lot of low-information conspiracy theorists (or shills) backing this type of junk science and junk medicine.

      • Tee : Jun 25th

        Your ignorance is only surpassed by your arrogance. You are a troll. You know NOTHING about herbs, nothing about Buhner’s body of work and books (he’s not a homeopath), and, i appears, about chronic intracellular and tick borne infections. You do know how to throw insults, slurs and extraneous bullshit claims, but your talents appear to stop there. Until you do your due diligence, you should keep a lid on your ignorant slander. However, doing your due diligence would threaten your very limited world view. Btw, famous lyme MD, Dr. Horowitz said that Buhner’s initial chapters are as good a scientific summary of the Borrelia as there is in the literature.

      • V Wallace : Jun 26th

        After years of my son going the medical model I did try Stephen’s protocol and will always be grateful that is was there and he was courageous enough to put the information out there. I contacted Stephen and he was kind and generous enough to suggest slight changes to what we were doing, due to the age of my son. Our son is doing very well now, if he has any sign of a flare up he returns to the basics. Last year when I was diagnosed I started right away and am doing well. This year we are all remembering to take the astragalus. Before you jump on the money he made, the advice he gave was free and the book was given to me.

        I have since given his name and the name of the book to many people. When the medications fail you grasp at many things and for everyone I have suggested this route to there has been great improvement.

      • George : Sep 26th

        Wow, these people are insane. Anyone they disagree with is a “troll”. I hope I don’t run into any of these people on the Appalachian Trail, but something tells me they don’t get out in the woods much.

  • Gammer : Jun 24th

    This peer review stuff is dubious and part of why medicine is in such a bad light lately. Up to 60% of the papers are rubish and are not reproducible. Many are ghost written and many conclusions are not supported by the results. Thus we have to wait decades for reality to catch up with things like the discredited lipid theory and most cancer theories. Not to mention the cdc and fda cover ups and direct lies about numerous drugs and vaccines. So by their fruits we know them and they will kill people for $$$.
    Bottom line is we don’t have decades to wait to have good studies from judicious scientists that arent paid to lie or hide results. We would rather take the initiative no try remedies that might work or not. Choosing to be our own Guinea pigs instead of t the mercy of pharma. No one is being killed by this, unlike the hundreds of thousands killed by mainstream medicine every year.

    • John : Jun 25th

      But the problem is that people are killed and injured by wasting time on this crap and forgoing real treatments that actually work. I’m not going to waste time arguing with a tin hatter, but, as the old saying goes, it it looks likes a duck and quacks like a duck – and this article is making loud quacking sounds.

      • Stacy : Jun 25th

        I have lyme and actually got a couple months of antibiotics. All my symptoms came back with a vengeance after. Stephen’s herbal advice is the only thing that has kept me functional. The traditional medical route has failed me. Whether there is one paper or 500 that back him up, his work has helped me and thousands in the lyme community remain functional and be able to manage symptoms.

      • Julieann : Jun 25th

        Western medicine failed me too! I have to wait 7 months to see a Lyme Doctor to get put on the right antiobiotics. You can bet your ass I’ll try alternative methods while I wait. I actually just read this book and I’m so grateful someone finally knows what they are talking about. For the record, Stephen has nothing against antiobiotics in the treatment of Lyme. This so for those who the antiobiotics have failed, who don’t have access to them, or who want an alternative. So to say that this book delays people from getting the real help they need, reveals that you clearly don’t understand the current problems in our treatment of chronic Lyme.

      • Melissa : Aug 13th

        I tested positive for lyme by cdc standards, after being ill for years, after 3 months of antibiotics I was sicker than I have ever been in my life…. My stomach was a mess, my legs were very damaged to where I could barely stand, not to mention I started turning yellow because the toxicity to my liver…now I’m on the herbs and feeling better thank God. I hope i will continue to improve so I can have my life back.

      • Susan : Oct 17th

        Many and probably most have tried conventional modern western medicines. These treatments failed them. Therefore they sought out alternatives. Not the other way around as your bias implies.
        Have you ever suffered Lyme disease that was not resolved with your first line treatment?
        Those of use that have often describe it as feeling like your dying a slow death.

  • Shane : Jun 25th

    Interesting take. I wish there were more studies done on the “long-term Lyme Disease” effect because that’s been devastating for me. Figuring out certain dietary things to intentionally boost the immune system has helped but Lyme Disease is one of those things that has had an impact on me well beyond that initial infection phase. Never heard of the herbs he recommended, might have to try that out and see if it helps give me a little boost.

  • Jane : Jun 25th

    found a typo, I think — an important one — in the paragraph: “the herb is a good grade herb and they often use it as a base for stews and soups. ”
    “good” should be “food”

  • Ashley Smith : Jun 25th

    I live in an area with a high amount of Lyme disease and work in the outdoors. Have spoken to many medical professionals about it, and yes they do take it seriously. There are lots of thinng about Lyme, especially chronic Lyme, that we just don’t know about, that’s true. And we are just starting to reach a point in medicine where doctors are listening more to their patients and taking concers seriously, and that’s a good thing.

    But! This guy sends off a bunch of red flags to me. He commits a couple of scientific no no’s – for example saying that thise herbal supplements are safe because a lot of people take them and seem fine. Without a controlled study, you can’t really say that. If people take something they think will make them better, especially if it’s a disease with such vague symptoms as Lyme, the placebo effect will often kick in and make patients feel better when it’s really not the treatment doing anything at all. You also have to control for things like general health (people who take the time to find herbal supplements are probably healthier overall, and have the income to go to the doctor when symptoms are first noted, etc.).

    In addition, it always pains me in interviews like this when someone asks the question and the response is ‘it’s too boring for me to answer that’. If this is your research, then presumably you find it interesting and it’s part of your job to figure out a way to explain this to people.

    Oh and also, this weird idea that somehow science sees humans as greater than the rest of the planet. I’m in ecology and evolutionary biology, and what biology teaches us is quite the opposite. Biology has been one of the driving forces showing us that the processes that apply to other life (evolution, genetic code, etc.) apply to us as well, and there’s nothing special about us. So to imply that this is a new idea to science and somehow contrary to it is just wrong.

    Wow, I just wrote a novel on my phone XD Anyways I’m glad he also recomends antibiotics (they worked for me), and I’m all for having different view points. But I’d urge you to also find a specialist on tick born diseases and interview them. I think you’ll find lots of scientists are actually really excited and happy to talk a out their research with you!

    • Gammer : Jun 25th

      You could say exactly the same thing about chemotherapy as it is no better Than placebo for 90% of cancers. Yet they still employ it to hundreds of thousands and then claim it does not kill them. But it causes more cancers and destroys immune systems. Sort of sucks when your hold up medicine as some sort of infallible science when it is so far from reality and fraught with such corruption.

      GMO’S have never been safety tested to double blind placebo standard either and the technology has failed for 30 years. The basic theorems of the technology are false and They know now that it is untenable. Genes are constantly changing and any engineered changes cause 5 to 30% of the genome to change resulting in their consistent unintended consequences. Do your own due diligence there are plenty of references out there by non corrupted sources.

      There are certainly not as many people being harmed by herbal medicine as compared to mainstream medicine. You talk about people’s lives but how many are dead? Let’s compare. Even use of doxicycline carries some risks. If you have a disease which has a poor outcome you need to try whatever you want to. The worst thing In this case is that some small amount of money was lost and thousands were not spent on medical intervention. Isn’t that what it is really about? That medicine lost out on those thousands x growing numbers of patients? Same for marijana and the multiple diseases it helps. Millions will be lost by medicine when cannabis is legalized. Sort of the same thing here, cannabis is proven to work on numerous ailments no double blind study needed. Nobody dead, many people helped and medicine loses millions.! The way it should be when we have freedom to try things as opposed to a monopoly of failure where the highest cost approach is primary.

  • Judy : Jun 25th

    Stephen Buhner is an amazing herbalist, researcher author who through his work has helped thousands of people who have not been helped by western medicine.

    • Lyn : Oct 31st

      You took the words right out of my mouth! Thank you. In my three years of researching online I have come across hundreds of people who have recovered completely or at least 70-90% following Buhner protocol & advice.

  • Nick : Jun 25th

    I love Stephen Buhner, he genuinely cares, but I want absolutely nothing to do with chronic Lyme advocate, patients and organizations. Most people who claim to be helping Lyme patients are either con artists, or well-intentioned but misinformed. The Lyme community causes itself way more harm than good, and their extremism and spamming online turn off actual scientists and researchers from the topic of Lyme.

    I’m still sick and I’ve read hundreds of these studies. Almost none of them should be taken seriously, and “chronic Lyme” is definitely not my problem.

    Patients just want to get better, but they go around spreading hostility and vitriol everywhere, especially online, at anyone who dares disagree with them. Even those that are still sick. I’m pretty much ostracized from Lyme communities for not believing in other health-related conspiracy theories like vaccines causing autism.

    I hate saying this bc my heart goes out to them, but the patients with unaddressed psychiatric issues due to the hyperfocus and blame of everything on the Lyme are the worst about this and yet none of us call them out when they’re making our entire community look bad and acting like children. We wonder why we don’t get more help? Well look around you at how vocal people with Lyme disease act and carry themselves especially when discussing Lyme and you’ll have your answer.

    Its embarrassing. They’re the face of Lyme disease. “Crazy” people are the face of this. And that’s stopping the rest of us from getting the research for the answers we need.

    People who follow Buhner’s protocol seem to be the most well-adjusted group of the Lyme community by far. Perhaps some of that is his protocol, but this includes people who have yet to start it, so I can only reason this has to do with a culture of respect and rational discussion that Stephen has helped foster within a community deep down the rabbit hole of pseudoscience and conspiracy theories in an understandable quest for answers.

    • Nick : Jun 25th

      And I’m not saying don’t stand up for yourself and don’t be vocal. Just make sure you do it in a way that is constructive for you and/or others. Because of how I present myself I’ve yet to have even the most skeptical of physicians doubt me like I hear others claiming all the time. Also, whatever else you may do in dealing with Lyme and trying to heal, do NOT neglect keeping your mental health in order.

    • marty : Mar 18th

      Finally, someone who has expressed exactly how I feel. I have been amazed and perplexed at what I have seen coming from the alternative health community, from both practitioners and patients alike. I also have very little faith in the mainstream medical establishment. I’m so tired of running around searching for help and answers. When it comes to LD, I wish so badly I could find some guidance and expertise that I trust, but I remain very skeptical of anyone who calls themselves an “expert.”

  • Al : Jun 25th

    ” Cannabis kicks Lyme disease to the curb ” google it.
    Search facebook also. (lyme cannabis, there are some private groups)
    It will not be a waste of time.

    • Gina : Jun 7th

      I smoke it , it won’t kick Lyme to curb at all. I have Lyme and co infections.
      We dealing with biological warfare , stealth bacteria and biofilms,
      Cannabis helps symptom a bit but it’s not a cure, not on its own.
      I hope for many however it is of some help but you need much much more.
      You must look into stealth bacteria etc.

  • hank lawler : Jun 26th

    I have been “dating” my own Lyme disease for 7 years..because I also have DLE, antibiotics raise hell with me. I cannot use antibiotics at all..for anything..I cannot use Immune boosters..I am not interested in curing my Lyme..thinking in those terms creates expectations that cannot be realized. Therefore, I am learning to love my Lyme. It does all the crap it always has and ebbs and flows on a daily basis. I am managing my self, instead. Krill, whole leaf aloe, Orgain protein shakes, cannabis tincture, Haus Metaderm lotion, etc.. all help maintain a calm interior and as upbeat a mood as I am able to muster. The medical community isn’t as much of a problem as the GP is. At 67, I still work every day. I am a stone mason and could be a healthy 20 year-old and my profession would still be a bitch..but, as it is, I no longer try to explain why I’m drenched in sweat on a 55 degree day, why I have to sit for 10 minutes every hour, why I have to make my lunch in a blender, why I have to change my socks a half dozen times a day, why I have to stay at home and lie on a cool hardwood floor for two days..they’re not interested, and by the anger I see in this thread, neither are you..if you can knee-jerk sarcasm and anger so easily, you have no clue whatsoever about handling Lyme and your zeal for my situation is of no use to me

    • GMD : Jun 26th

      i am very sorry you have to deal with Lyme all the time. I am glad, however, that you can work. Lyme stole my working life, and my ability to earn. IV ABX worked for me until it was jerked. So as much as we are the same, we are all also different. I think it could be the co-infections that make the difference in what helps us. Not trying to be authoritative, just know what works for me, as you seem to know what works for you. Herbs do not seem to work for me so far. but I am always trying to figure out how to get better. All Lyme victims I know, including myself, are desperate for a cure or anything that will help. So far nothing outside of IV ABX has helped at all. I do have an opinion on why you can work. the sweating, I would think, helps rid you body of toxins, and maybe even pathogens. No judgment, just my thoughts.

    • Fred : Jul 21st

      This is the most rational heartfelt thing I’ve heard in this whole thread. My experience exactly

  • lou : Jun 26th

    I don’t know how well herbals work as I haven’t tried many. Doubting if Mr. Buhner is saying it cures those late stagers that our much vaunted medical establishment missed and then undertreated and never figured out that the tick transmitted more than one pathogen. Think most people who arrive at this point are now tired of the way this illness is handled by maninstream and looking for an alternative. Understandable.

    He is right about the misconceptions for sure, and those are common starting right with the government health agencies. Once you get this disease, don’t know if for several years until the roof falls in on you, and then can’t get curative treatment, or can’t afford treatment to stay functional, you may start trying herbals. That is the situation that a lot of people are in.

  • Mo : Jun 29th

    I take everything I read with caution and do not easily believe everything just because some people flock to a certain “health guru”. However, I can certainly say that Western Medicine has failed me so often that I gladly look at these alternative options and decide for myself if I want to give them any credence.

    Especially when it comes to “Late Lyme” or let’s call it correctly “Chronic Lyme Disease”, something that most doctors don’t even acknowledge exists – reminds me so much of some political situations of our time – I am done with any specialist as in rheumatologist or neurologist unless they are a registered ILADS doctor. Any doctor, who goes strictly by the rules of the CDC is a waste to a possible Lyme patient. The CDC itself is the greatest detriment to helping more very sick people all over the country to get diagnosed on time, at all, and to get diagnosed correctly.
    Only Lyme literate doctors know that a clinical diagnosis is most reliable. Read some of the CDC’s related research papers that connect Lyme to their rulings and you will only scratch your head and wish all of those knuckleheads came down with Lyme, so they would start thinking – maybe not outside the box but at least by redrawing their box.
    I ordered Buhner’s book a few days ago, simply because I stumbled on it on Amazon and it looked interesting to me for my Lyme related library. I am sure that I will find a lot of helpful advice in his book and then some that I might not want to consider…as with all these books. I do the same with advice from Western Medicine doctors. Just because they hold a special degree and have worked in some highly regarded hospitals, does not make them infallible. How often do we read, especially in Western Medicine, the opposite info changing every so many years on what is healthy or considered detrimental to one’s system and body?! Give me a break. I am happy to listen to an alternative health adviser instead.
    How many doctors here in the US still do not believe in the benefit of acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, etc., when in Europe these things are partially covered by health insurance and have been for years. I call this arrogance and being in bed with the pharma industry. But I digress and make this a far too long post.
    Mr. Buhner’s book it certainly valuable for everyone with Lyme. No doubt about it. You only have to read it not eat it.

    • Nick : Jul 3rd

      I wouldn’t see anyone associated with ILADS, who advertises themselves as an LLMD, or who treats chronic Lyme for my treatment even if you offered me a million dollars. No thank you. I’ll stick with science and avoid the quacks. Avoiding all the chronic Lyme and ILADS nonsense has taken me from struggling to remember my own name and birthday to walking 5 miles a day and being 90-95% back to normal in just 15 months since antibiotic treatment.

      There’s a reason the people who buy into all the chronic Lyme treatments and protocols don’t get better any more than a placebo and often end up in even worse shape. There’s also a reason the people who avoid LLMDs and believe in post-treatment Lyme symptoms rather than chronic Lyme generally do get better with basic things like time, exercise, and a healthy diet. They also don’t see themselves as victims and tend to have a positive attitude about everything instead of being caught in a constant storm if negativity which also helps.

      Wish you the best of luck in healing, and I hope Stephen’s book enlightens you and you see ILADS is no better than the CDC in the harm they’ve caused us the past few decades.

      • Dawn : Jun 25th

        I jumped through the hoops set up by my PCP. I took all the tests, saw the rheumatologist, infectious disease dr etc. None of them did anything for me. I did see significant improvement when working with a LLMD. I’ll go with the dr who is actually helping.

  • Trisha : Jul 7th

    For the sake of clarity, my understanding is that the term “chronic Lyme” refers to someone who has been treated for Lyme (in any form) and then has symptoms again sometime later. While the term “late stage disseminated Lyme” refers to someone who has had Lyme for some time (longer than 6mo? A year?) and has never received treatment.
    It’s an important distinction because of the way the CDC and IDSA deny “Chronic Lyme” by saying one was initially “cured” and the return of symptoms is “something else” (like what???)
    I was misdiagnosed for 20 years with fibromyalgia but have a pic from 1995 of a classic EM rash, so I know the timeline.
    Finally diagnosed in Oct 2015 via iGeneX WB IgM with 7 bands and IFA>80, I found the closest LLMD (450 miles in another state) and he is MD board cert Internal Med, and practices functional and integrative medicine, blending alternative with traditional. I’m happy with that.

  • Gail : Aug 2nd

    I got a tick bite while mowing my lawn in Maryland a few years ago. Despite getting a Bulls’ eye rash, I had to see four different doctors until I could get one to test me for Lyme, and he only did it because I lied and told him another doctor recommended it. They were all convinced that I had cellulitis, which was true, but I also had contracted Lyme disease, as it turned out. The tick was on me for less than an hour. Even though I live in a high-risk area, and even though I told them about the rash none of the doctors were interested in testing for Lyme. If I hadn’t insisted, I would be very sick right now.

    • Mason : Jul 14th

      Good to hear your better. How long after bite did you receive treatment?

  • Charles Knouse, D.O. : Feb 15th

    Thank you, Zach, for publishing this interview with Stephen Harrod Buhner. As usual, a courageous man of compassion freely shares his hard-won knowledge and then the troglodytes line up to throw turds. Personally, if this were my blog, I would moderate the discussion and simply delete the attacks from all these know-nothings.
    Buhner is conducting first-class scientific research; it doesn’t matter whether he is “approved” by the CDC or these trogs or not, the best research is always about the truth, not the control of truth. The essence of science – interestingly not mentioned anywhere above – is reproducing results. It’s so easy for trogs to throw turds, they just reach down to their butt, pull out a turd and throw it – chimpanzee’s are experts at this – but that’s not science, that’s what trogs have been doing since the time of evolution when turd-throwing humans got added to the ape tree that already included turd-throwing chimpanzees.
    Lacking time and resources to be one of the scientists attempting to reproduce Buhner’s findings, I did the next best thing. No, I didn’t grab a turd to throw. I went on Pubmed and searched “safety astragalus” and “safety Japanese knotweed root” and “safety Cat’s Claw” and “safety andrographis” and guess what? Yeah, there’s a frickin’ MOUNTAIN of decent research supporting the safety of all of them, with caveats worth noting.
    For example, something that surprised me, astragalus gathered from the wild can be dangerous; some wild strains contain toxic levels of selenium, other wild strains can contain swainesonine, a neurotoxin, and grazing animals that feed on wild astragalus strains containing swainesonine exhibit “locoweed poisoning”. So, I just lost my inclination to go “git me sum wild astragalus” and make my own extract – no, I would want to select a brand that could assure me that their astragalus extract has safe levels of selenium and no swainesonine. The same kinds of considerations go for Japanese knotweed root, Cat’s Claw, and andrographis.
    What thoughtful people know is that medicine is not even close to a true science yet – it’s just a bunch of chemical manufacturers blundering about and occasionally, due to a brilliant chemist, coming up with a great drug that is very useful – Nitazoxanide certainly comes to mind, thank God for the absolutely amazing Jean-François Rossignol, Ph.D., M.D., who created it – I personally think that Nitazoxanide (Alinia) is the single most important drug for Bb; I am keenly interested in what herb or herbs would best complement Nitazoxanide in eradicating Bb.
    Kudos for Stephen Harrod Buhner!! Kudos for you, Zach, for going after this interview and publishing it, I am very grateful for the wonderful new insights I now have, thanks to this absolutely courageous, compassionate and holistic man who serves humanity and doesn’t knuckle under to grant-funding pressures to maintain the status quo – which, for Lyme and coinfections, might be better expressed in latin (LOL) as SNAFU – and after the mainstream “experts” get done spouting off ignorance, becomes FUBAR. Without men of brilliance like Buhner and Rossignol, along with Horowitz and many others (thank God again) all we would have is SNAFU and FUBAR and a bunch of chimpanzee-resembling turd-throwers.

    • Gary : Oct 31st

      Exactly!!! I agree with you wholeheartedly. Also I highly suspect anyone who gets on this thread and says bad things about natural or plant medicine. I’m sure they work for the pharmaceutical companies or they’re just not very bright. Also I don’t think they know much about the corruption I’ll leave it at that

  • Andy : Jan 9th

    (Jan. 9th, 2022) Thanks for the article, Zach. I’ve been following Stephen and and have the book. This is some years since the article was posted and not sure what years these comments were posted. I was sick with lyme as a child in the 90s, and got bit again in 2017. Antibiotics did not do the trick, but I’ve been following research since 2016 and just started treated myself with herbs (Jap knotweed, Cat’s Claw, Andrographis, Resveratrol, N-A-C, Alpha Lipoic Acid, some cryptolepis, and chinese skullcap). Thankfully, funding and studies gained momentum, especially johns hopkins showing persistence and the need for perstister drugs/herbs. It still amazes me how much of a knowledge void there still is surrounding lyme in the conventional medical community. Especially infectious disease doctor. It’s very erie, if not terrifying. So hopefully this finds people who need the awareness.

    What happens when funding is stopped and science is behind (The 1990s thru early 2010s)? We no longer have to entertain ourselves with those scientists who have either, had no personal experience with tick-borne infection, or lack the believe in persistence and adaptation of micro-organisms. Or perhaps the belief that what can’t be scientifically verified cannot be included to a knowledge base; or, scientists and doctors can be dogmatic and condescending to those suffering and trying to figure out what is wrong with themselves, so long as they haven’t seen rigorous studies (regardless of the knowledge of funding or lack-there-of). From my experience being caught in the lyme wars (feels like being trapped in a conspiracy), when I did not know what to believe about herxheimer effect and treatments, and was very skeptical about supplements and herbs, what I’ve discovered confirms just about everything that Stephen was claiming years ago. Herxing on herbs (the process of Herxing then a clearing, herxing then a clearing….) has been a revelation with treatment and knowledge. It has become a priority to spread the news, in order to accelerate the paradigm shift and to get thousands and thousands of suffering people help who have fallen through the cracks.

    Youtube: Dr. John Aucott, Dr. Ying Zhang (Johns Hopkins); Dr. Horowitz; Dr. Holly Ahern; Dr. Paul Beals; Dr. Neil Spector


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