How These Four Essential Oils Protect the Liver in People with Lyme Disease and Co-infections

For people with Lyme disease and co-infections who feel toxic and have abnormal liver function tests
by Greg Lee

One of my mom’s coworkers loved to bake. Our family always looked forward to going over to her house especially for dinner. Coming in the front door, I’d always smell the aroma of fresh baked dessert. In the kitchen, we’d sometimes see my mom’s friend in her apron and oven mitts pulling her baked goods out of the oven.

How is a hot pie similar to Lyme disease toxins that can disrupt the liver?

Just like a hot pie that could burn you if you touched it, Lyme disease toxins can harm the healthy functioning of the liver
In multiple studies, people infected with Lyme disease have been diagnosed with liver problems including hepatitis[1], liver enlargement[2], febrile jaundice, liver cytolytic and cholestatic abnormalities[3], [4], abnormal liver function assays[5], and elevated liver enzymes[6]. Since a primary role of the liver is detoxification, how well it can detoxify has a direct impact on how sick or well a person feels from the toxins produced by Lyme disease. In alcoholic patients that have similar toxic liver issues, elevated levels of endotoxins and inflammatory compounds are common. These toxins can increase liver inflammation, fatty liver, scarring, and organ damage[7]. Not only toxins from Lyme, but also genetics can have a dramatic impact on liver detoxification.

Genetics as well as Lyme can influence how well the liver can deal with toxins and medications
In one study, people with non-viral liver inflammation and chronic liver failure were more likely to have genetic mutations called MTHFR C677T, and PAI-1 4G-4G[8]. In another study, people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease had greater numbers of MTHFR C677T and MTHFR 1298A/C mutations[9]. In a third study, people with the MTHFR C677T and A1298C were at higher risk of developing liver carcinoma in a study in China[10]. Tuberculosis patients with genetic mutations NAT2, GST and CYP2E1 have greater incidence of antibiotic induced liver toxicity in one study[11]. GST influences the production of glutathione which is an important detoxification compound in the liver and the whole body. A significant number of Lyme patients have genetic mutations which interfere with how well they detoxify and protect their liver. Liver function can also be influenced by antibiotic treatment for Lyme.

Antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease can have positive or negative effect on the liver
In one study, most patients with early Lyme disease that received antibiotics had liver function tests return to normal after three weeks of treatment[12]. In other studies, patients undergoing antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease experienced negative side effects ranging from: mild liver function derangement[13] and hepatitis and elevated liver enzymes[14]. Lyme patients that are taking antibiotics that also test positive for abnormal liver function can be taken off their medications to protect their liver. Lyme disease stimulates the production of inflammatory compounds which can affect liver functioning.

Lyme disease can elevate inflammatory compounds that can impact the liver and other organs
Patients with Lyme disease have been found to have many elevated pro-inflammatory compounds including: Interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-8, Tumor Necrosis Factor – alpha  (TNF-α)[15], and C-Reactive Protein[16]. IL-6 is actually elevated in liver regeneration[17]. However, IL-6 is also a pathogenic factor in various autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases[18]. Elevated levels of Il-8 have been found in patients with neurologic Lyme disease. Elevated C-reactive protein have been associated with a decline in mental function and frontal lobe damage[19]. These inflammatory compounds can also dramatically affect the emotions of people with Lyme.

Liver dysfunction can also affect painful emotions
Painful emotions are directly attributed to dysfunction in the liver in Chinese medicine[20]. There is a strong correlation between elevated liver enzymes and higher levels of C-Reactive Protein[21]. In one study, depressed men had higher levels of inflammatory compounds IL-6 and C-Reactive Protein [22]. Another animal study correlates psycho-social stress with the production of inflammatory compounds Tumor Necrosis Factor – alpha (TNF-α) and IL-6 and increased liver inflammation[23]. Depression and anxiety were the two most common emotions in a study on alcoholic patients with liver scarring[24].

What else can help patients with Lyme or co-infection toxins that feel toxic and have abnormal liver function tests?

Here are four essential oils that are effective at protecting the liver and reducing inflammation
Fortunately, there are essential oils that protect the liver and reduce toxicity and inflammation in animal studies. Preparing the oils in a micronized form called a liposome, which are microscopic particles of medicinal oils that are wrapped in a sunflower lecithin compound called phosphatidylcholine may increase their effectiveness at protecting the liver when combined with a compound found in licorice[25]. A liposomal herbal extract was more effective at delivering medicine into the liver compared to its non-liposomal equivalent[26]. Which is why liposomal essential oils maybe more effective at helping patients with protecting the liver and detoxification.

Liver Protection Essential Oil #1: Black Cumin Seed Essential Oil
Black cumin seed essential oil demonstrated antioxidant properties which had a beneficial effect on liver enzymes in a rat study[27]. In another study, this oil reduced TNF-α induced arthritis in another rat study[28]. Black cumin seed oil also has demonstrated antiinflammatory, analgesic, fever reducing, antimicrobial and anti-tumor activity. It also decreases blood pressure and increases respiration. This oil has been shown not to induce significant adverse effects on liver or kidney functions[29]. Thymoquinone (TQ), a major active compound in black cumin seed oil, lowered inflammatory compounds IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and increased glutathione (GSH) in multiple rat studies[30]. In another rat study, this oil increased tryptophan levels in the brain and decreased anxiety[31] and depression[32].  In addition to black cumin seed oil, ginger oil also protects the liver.

Liver Protection Essential Oil #2: Ginger Essential Oil
Ginger essential oil demonstrated liver protective properties in a mouse study[33]. In another mouse study, this oil significantly increased glutathione and glutathione reductase enzymes in blood and glutathione-S-transferase, glutathione peroxidase and antioxidant enzymes in the liver. Ginger oil also significantly reduced acute inflammation[34]. Ginger oil combined with magnolia extracts has an antidepressant effect in a rat study[35]. This oil has been classified as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)[36]. Besides ginger, turmeric oil can help reduce inflammation from Lyme disease and co-infections.

Liver Protection Essential Oil #3: Turmeric Essential Oil
Turmeric essential oil reduced hepatic cholesterol and oxidative stress, and improved liver function in one hamster study[37]. In another rat study, turmeric oil reduced endothelial cell induced inflammation[38].Endothelial cell inflammation is a recurring problem in patients with Babesia[39], Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis[40], and Lyme arthritis that does not improve with antibiotic treatment[41]. In a mouse study, turmeric oil increased superoxide dismutase, glutathione, and glutathione reductase enzyme levels in blood and glutathione-S-transferase and superoxide dismutase enzymes in the liver. This oil also demonstrated significant antioxidant activity and reduced acute and chronic inflammation[42]. In addition to turmeric, rosemary oil also protects the liver.

Liver Protection Essential Oil #4: Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil demonstrated liver protecting properties by reversing  chemical injury to antioxidant enzymes catalase, peroxidase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase in a rat study[43]. This oil also demonstrated liver protecting properties in a separate mouse study[44]. In another lab study, rosemary oil inhibited the proliferation of human liver carcinoma cells[45]. In another mouse study, rosemary oil reduced the inflammatory compound IL-6[46]. In a human study, this oil lowered salivary cortisol levels[47].

Given that some varieties of rosemary essential oil have high camphor content which is neurotoxic, rosemary oil (β-myrcene CT) chemotype is recommended because it contains the lowest amount (2.1–4.4%) of this component[48]. Multiple oils can provide liver protection and can help reduce toxicity and inflammation in patients with Lyme disease and co-infections.

Essential oils that protect the liver can help reduce inflammation in people with Lyme disease
Just like using an insulated oven mitt to get a hot pie out of the oven, anti-toxin and anti-inflammatory essential oils can help people with Lyme and co-infections to protect their liver. These oils can be helpful especially when liver function is damaged by toxins or antibiotics. When encapsulated into a sunflower lecithin liposome and combined with a licorice extract, these oils may be capable of even greater penetration into and protection for the liver. In addition to reducing toxicity, these oils may also help with relieving painful emotions that are associated with liver dysfunction. Since some of these essential oils have cautions on their use, work with a Lyme literate essential oil practitioner to develop a proper, safe, and effective strategy for your condition.

– Greg

P.S. Do you have experiences where remedies, or treatments helped to protect your liver, reduce toxins, and lift depression? Tell us about it.

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