In the movie Ground Hog Day, Bill Murray plays a TV reporter sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover their Ground Hog Day events. He wakes up one morning to find that time has regressed 24 hours and he has to repeat the previous day’s events over again. This same regression in time happens again and again. At first, he dreads repeating the same day’s events all over. At one point, he decides to make better choices with the same events. Because of these choices, he is finally able to break free of the rut of repeating the same day over.
How is being stuck in a loop of living the same day over and over similar to having Lyme disease biofilms?
Similar to repeating an endless Ground Hog Day, people with Lyme disease can experience the same symptoms over and over
Angie has good days and bad days. On good days, she can take care of the kids and work on her farm. On bad days, she can’t even get out of bed because of pain, fatigue, and feeling toxic. She feels constant anxiety because her symptoms can quickly switch into becoming much worse. Her number of bad days also increases when she gets a new antibiotic from her Lyme literate doctor. After several weeks of good days, she thought she had eliminated her infections. Then the bad days returned. One cause of her returning bad days is probably biofilms.
Unfortunately, Lyme disease and co-infections can create recurring symptoms when they re-emerge from slimy biofilms
Biofilms are basically a protective “slime” made by microorganisms which can consist of polysaccharides1, extracellular proteins1, magnesium2, pathogens3, or extracellular DNA4. Biofilms act as a shield against antibiotics5,6, herbs7, and the immune system8. Under a biofilm, many different species of pathogens9 can work collaboratively together10 to survive anti-microbial treatment and re-emerge to create symptoms over and over again. Biofilms can contribute to a roller-coaster of symptoms that wax and wane. Angie wanted a new way to end her roller-coaster of Lyme pain and fatigue.
She tried different enzymes to try and reduce her recurring symptoms
Angie took fermented vegetable and earthworm enzymes to cut through biofilms to try and relieve her recurring symptoms of pain and feeling toxic. When she started these supplements, her pain, fatigue, and feeling toxic actually increased. She described the increase of symptoms as similar to a toxic Herxheimer reaction. After feeling horrible again and again from taking these enzymes, she sought another way to reduce her recurring pains.
Special “blood” herbs help to prevent recurring pains by preventing biofilms from forming
Bacteria use a complex chemical pathway called the Heme-Nitric Oxide/Oxygen (H-NOX) binding domain11 to form biofilms. Bacteria use chemical regulators on this pathway to affect biofilm gene expression and to activate biofilm chemical messenger molecules. Using herbs to interrupt the nitric oxide pathway can disrupt how bacteria form biofilms. Fortunately, there are many Chinese herbs that inhibit the nitric acid pathway12 which were used to help Angie to prevent biofilms and reduce her recurring pain and fatigue.
Here are three anti-biofilm herbs that also help to remove painful toxins and protect vital organs
In animal and human studies, these herbs have been shown to reduce nitric oxide production, neutralize toxins, and relieve pain and inflammation. These herbs have been used for hundreds of years to treat pain, chronic illness, and fatigue. These herbs have also been used extensively to treat problems in the blood like blood stagnation, anemia, and high blood pressure. In ancient Chinese medical texts, two of these herbs have also been used to treat chronic infections caused by multiple pathogens13.
Herb #1: Angelica Root, Angelica Sinensis, Chinese name: Dang Gui14
The properties of this herb are sweet, acrid, and warm. With over three-hundred references on Pubmed, the medicinal properties of this herb have been researched for its antimicrobial, neuro-protective, anticancer, anticoagulant, and liver-protective properties. This herb blocks how bacteria are able to make biofilms by inhibiting the production of nitric oxide synthase15,16. In Chinese medicine, angelica is used to strengthen and replenish the blood. It is used to treat anemia, pale complexion, brittle nails, dry hair, dizziness, blurred vision, post-partum fatigue and weakness, palpitations and abdominal pain.
This herb is also used to increase circulation and relieve pain. Angelica along with other herbs is used to treat menstrual disorders including irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, pre-menstrual discomfort, early menstruation, bloating with menstruation, irritability, fatigue, and weakness. During pregnancy, it is used with other herbs to treat abdominal pain, restless fetus, lower back soreness, diarrhea, and breech presentation. After delivery, this herb with other herbs is used to treat post-partum bleeding, spontaneous sweating, fever, shortness of breath, back and leg pain accompanied by the inability to turn from side-to-side, lower abdominal coldness, insufficient milk production, and pain and muscle spasms.
It is commonly used in Chinese hospitals with other herbs to treat traumatic injuries, bruises, fractures, broken bones, and swollen or injured tendons. In the limbs or extremities, Angelica is also used to treat coldness, numbness, pain, painful joints, soreness and weakness of the low back and knees. Topically, it is used with other herbs to treat sores and abscesses, reduce swelling, expel pus, relieve pain, and heal slow-healing sores.
Angelica also moistens the intestines and unblocks the bowels. It is used to treat constipation and dry stools. This herb is also used to stop coughing, reduce phlegm, and to relieve shortness of breath. It has also been used to treat arrhythmia, stroke, migraine, nephritis, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, liver disease, bed wetting, uterine prolapse, insomnia, blocked blood vessels in the hands and feet, herpes zoster, alopecia, psoriasis, dermatological disorders, deafness, anal fissure, chronic hypertropic rhinitis, and chronic pharyngitis.
Herb – drug interaction: It is suggested that concurrent use of angelica with wafarin may potentiate the effects of wafarin, anti-platelet, and anticoagulant drugs. This herb reduces scopolamine and cycloheximide induced amnesia in rats. Angelica also treats acetaminophen-induced liver damage.
Angelica has an inhibitory effect against Salmonella typhi, E. coli, Corynebacterium diptheriae, Vibrio cholerae, Alpha-hemolytic streptococcus, and Beta-hemolytic streptococcus.
Herb #2: White Peony Root, Paeonia lactiflora Chinese name: Bai Shao17
The properties of this herb are bitter, sour and cool. This herb is also effective at blocking how bacteria can produce biofilms by inhibiting the production of nitric oxide18. White peony is used to strengthen the blood and moisten dryness in the body. This herb treats a dull and pale complexion, dizziness, tinnitus, and brittle, pale nails. White peony regulates menstruation and helps to alleviate pain. It is used to treat these conditions: irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea, uterine bleeding, breast distention, pre-menstrual symptoms, mood swings, restlessness, and gestational and post-partum disorders. Other conditions treated by this herb include: night sweats, spontaneous sweating, and excessive perspiration.
White peony is also used to treat long standing pathogenic illnesses with symptoms of muscle spasms, twitches, tremors, alternating flexion and extension of the extremities, tonic-clonic spasms, and convulsions. It is also used to treat excess heat conditions marked by dizziness, tinnitus, flushed face, red eyes, irritability, bad temper, headache, vertigo, poor balance, delirium, burning diarrhea, burning upon urination, and loss of consciousness. White peony is also used to treat numbness, spasms, and pain in the muscles, tendons, sinews, and extremities. It is also used for epigastric, intercostal, flank, hypochondriac, and abdominal pain.
This herb is contraindicated in patients with eczema or rashes that are aggravated by wind. It is also contraindicated in post-partum patients with stabbing fixed pains or who are still bleeding. White peony may cause drowsiness or sedation. People who operate heavy machinery need to exercise caution.
White peony has an inhibitory effect against Bacillus dysenteriae, E. coli, Salmonella typhi, Pseudonomas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Beta-hemolytic streptococcus, Diplococcus pneumoniae, and some dematophytes.
Herb #3: Tree Peony, Paeonia suffruticosa Chinese name: Mu Dan Pi19
The properties of this herb are acrid, bitter, and cool. This herb is effective at blocking how bacteria can produce biofilms by inhibiting the production of nitric oxide20.Tree peony clears heat and cools the blood. This herb is used to treat symptoms when the bones feel like they are “steaming”, nighttime fevers, the absence of perspiration, thirst, and menopause.
Used to cool “heat” in the blood, Tree peony has been used to treat maculae, bleeding related blotches on the skin, purpura, hematemesis, hemoptysis, hematuria, hypermenorrhea, early menstruation, and epistaxis. It is also used for night fevers accompanied by morning or daytime chills, hypertension, irritability, redness of the face and eyes, and a short temper.
Tree peony also invigorates blood circulation and disperses blood stasis or “thick blood.” This condition is analogous to hypercoagulation in western medicine. This herb is used to treat severe pain, amenorrhea, abdominal masses like fibroids, tumors, abscesses, and masses. It is also used to treat bruises, broken bones, inflammation, swelling, and pain associated with traumatic injuries. In laboratory and animal studies, Tree peony has strong anti-inflammatory effects, increases blood perfusion, decreases cardiac output, anti-hypertensive effects, and protects that heart from ischemia.
Tree peony is contraindicated in pregnancy and patients that have excessive bleeding during menstruation. This herb has an inhibitory effect against Staphylococcus aureus, Beta-hemolytic streptococcus, Bacillus subtilis, E. coli, Shigella dysenteriae, Diplococcus pneumoniae, and Vibrio cholerae.
The right herbs can help you to alleviate recurring Lyme symptoms by preventing biofilms from forming
Just like finding the right course of action to break out of an endless Ground Hog Day loop, the proper combination of anti-biofilm herbs can help you to get free of a rut of recurring Lyme disease symptoms. By interrupting the nitric oxide cycle used to make biofilms, these herbs, along with other medicines and treatments, helped Angie to finally relieve her rollercoaster symptoms of fatigue and pain caused by her Lyme disease and co-infections. Since some of these herbs come with cautions on their use, work with a Lyme literate herbalist to develop a proper, safe, and effective herbal strategy for your recurring Lyme disease symptoms.
Next step: Come to our evening lecture: Getting Rid of Lyme Disease in Frederick, Maryland on Monday June 4th at 6pm to learn more about natural methods for stopping biofilms and recurring Lyme disease symptoms. http://goodbyelyme.com/events/get_rid_lyme
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Image credit Jopparn from Wikimedia Commons.