Herbal Medicines Demonstrate Potency Against Bartonella, a Disease-causing Pathogen, According to New Lab Study

Herbal Medicines Demonstrate Potency Against Bartonella

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Herbal Medicines Demonstrate Potency Against Bartonella, a Disease-causing Pathogen, According to New Lab Study

Three of these herbal medicines also have high potency against Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, and Babesia duncani, according to previous lab studies also funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA, August 5, 2021—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the publication of new data showing that herbal medicines have potent activity in test tubes compared to pharmaceuticals commonly-prescribed for the treatment of Bartonella henselae, a bacterium believed  to be carried by ticks and the cause of cat scratch fever. This is the first study to find antimicrobial activity of some of these herbal medicines. Published in the journal Infectious Microbes & Diseases, the laboratory study was funded in part by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

“With increasing rates of tick-borne diseases and a consistent concern about the overuse of antibiotics, this early research of herbals is extremely exciting,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “We are hopeful that future pre-clinical and clinical studies will continue to show that herbals have the same effectiveness as this study and other recently-published studies.”

The study is the first to demonstrate that these three herbal medicines had high activity against stationary phase Bartonella henselae:

  • Black walnut (Juglans nigra)
  • Cryptolepis (Cryptolepis sanguinolent) 
  • Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)

The study also confirmed the anti-microbial activity of these two herbal medicines against the same bacteria:

  • Barbat skullcap (Scutellaria barbata)
  • Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)

Three of these—Chinese skullcap, Cryptolepis, and Japanese knotweed—have previously been shown, in similar test tube models, to also be effective against both Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, and Babesia duncani, a malaria-like parasite found on the West Coast of the U.S. that causes the disease babesiosis. These three herbal medicines, as well as black walnut, were shown to be more effective than commonly prescribed antibiotics against Borrelia burgdorferi.

“As many people with Lyme disease are co-infected with other pathogens, these findings, which show that certain herbal medications are effective in the lab against multiple tick-borne infections, are an important advance for the tick-borne disease community,” said co-author Sunjya K. Schweig, MD, Founder and Director, California Center for Functional Medicine and Scientific Advisory Board Member, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. Collaborating researchers were from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, California Center for Functional Medicine, FOCUS Health Group, Naturopathic, and Zhejiang University School of Medicine.

“Because so many patients with tick-borne disease do not respond to the standard treatments outlined in medical guidelines, we need research on potential alternatives that can fill this gap and aid in the recovery of patients managing acute and long-term symptoms,” added Dr. Schweig.

Two commonly prescribed antibiotics for tick-borne infections, doxycycline and azithromycin, cleared the persistent form of the bacteria at approximately the same levels as the drug-free control. Comparisons of the pharmaceuticals daptomycin and methylene blue had better activity against stationary phase B. henselae (residual viability of the bacteria reduced to below 40%) than gentamicin, rifampin, and miconazole, which showed relatively better activity (residual viability of the bacteria reduced to below 50%) against stationary phase B. henselae than doxycycline, and azithromycin (residual viability of the bacteria reduced only to 66% and 70% respectively).

These botanical compounds still need to be tested in animal models as well as in clinical trials. While each of these botanical medicines are already in clinical use, it is important for future studies to evaluate them directly in patients using specific clinical treatment regimens, as each have the potential to produce side effects in patients, and should be taken only under the care of a clinician knowledgeable of their capabilities, interactions and toxicities.

About the Study
The paper titled “Botanical Medicines with Activity Against Stationary Phase Bartonella henselae,” was authored by Xiao Ma, Jacob Leone, ND, Sunjya Schweig, MD, and Ying Zhang, MD, PhD.

Plant extracts selected for the study included botanical medicines that have been previously used to manage the symptoms of patients who do not respond to standard pharmaceutical treatments and have favorable safety profiles. For primary screens, all the herbal products were applied at two concentrations, 1% (v/v) and 0.5% (v/v), respectively.

Study authors utilized a similar rapid high-throughput drug screening method, a SYBR Green I/ propidium iodide (PI) viability assay, as previous studies evaluating herbal medicines against stationary phase B. burgdorferi and B. henselae.

These data suggest that it may be advantageous to use these herbal medicines to simultaneously target multiple different pathogens in patients with complex Lyme disease with coinfections. The data also may also provide encouragement for future studies for patients, particularly those whose chronic symptoms may be due to persistent bacteria that are not killed by conventional antibiotic treatment. However, it is critical to note that additional studies are needed to further evaluate the active botanical medicines identified in the study. Patients should not attempt to self-treat with these herbal medicines due to potential side effects and lack of clinical trials with these products.

About Bartonellosis
Bartonellosis is a collection of emerging infectious diseases, including cat scratch disease, trench fever, Carrion’s disease, and bacillary angiomatosis. Bartonellosis is caused by the Bartonella family of bacteria, which can be transmitted via ticks, fleas, lice and sandflies. Symptoms may include fever, lymphadenopathy, malaise, abdominal pain, endocarditis and arthritis, and serious complications can develop in patients for whom the disease progresses, including seizures, cranial nerve palsies, and aseptic meningitis, as well as enlargement of the heart, liver and/or spleen, among other symptoms. There is no single treatment effective for Bartonella-associated diseases, and antibiotic recommendations differ depending on specific presentations.

About Bay Area Lyme Foundation
Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a national organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is a leading public charity sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US. A 501c3 non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley, Bay Area Lyme Foundation collaborates with world-class scientists and institutions to accelerate medical breakthroughs for Lyme disease. It is also dedicated to providing reliable, fact-based information so that prevention and the importance of early treatment are common knowledge. A pivotal donation from The LaureL STEM Fund covers overhead costs and allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research and prevention programs. For more information about Lyme disease or to get involved, visit www.bayarealyme.org or call us at 650-530-2439.

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Contact:
Tara DiMilia
Phone: 908-884-7024
Tara.DiMilia@tmstrat.com

Five Herbal Medicines Potent Against Tick-Borne Disease Babesiosis in Lab, Says New Study

Five Herbal Medicines Potent Against Tick-borne Disease Babesiosis in Lab says Dr Sunjya Schweig

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Five Herbal Medicines Potent Against Tick-Borne Disease Babesiosis in Lab, Says New Study

Research Supported by Bay Area Lyme Foundation Points to Need for More Effective Treatments Compared to Currently Utilized Treatments for Tick-Borne Infections

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA, March 9, 2021 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the publication of new data finding that five herbal medicines had potent activity compared to commonly-used antibiotics in test tubes against Babesia duncani, a malaria-like parasite found on the West Coast of the U.S. that causes the disease babesiosis. Published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, the laboratory study was funded in part by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation. Collaborating researchers were from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, California Center for Functional Medicine, and FOCUS Health Group, Naturopathic.

“This research is particularly important as babesiosis is a significant emerging health risk. Due to limited therapeutics and a rise in treatment resistance, current treatment options for this disease are inadequate and many patients rely on herbal therapies for which there is only anecdotal evidence of efficacy,” said co-author Sunjya K. Schweig, MD, Founder and Director, California Center for Functional Medicine and Scientific Advisory Board Member, Bay Area Lyme Foundation, who has also studied herbal treatments for Lyme disease.

“Increasingly, Americans with chronic diseases are pursuing complementary and alternative medicine to improve general health or quality of life. We hope this data offers inspiration to other researchers to further explore similar options for people living with persistent tick-borne diseases that do not respond to current treatments,” added Dr. Schweig.

Seven Herbal Medicines Are Capable of Killing Lyme Disease Bacteria, According to New Lab Study

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Seven Herbal Medicines Are Capable of Killing Lyme Disease Bacteria, According to New Lab Study

Research Supported by Bay Area Lyme Foundation Evaluates Anti-microbial Effects of 14 Natural Products Compared to Antibiotics Used to Treat Lyme Disease

Marin, CA, February 21, 2020—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the publication of new data finding that seven herbal medicines are highly active in test tubes against B. burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, compared to the control antibiotics, doxycycline and cefuroxime. Published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, the laboratory study was funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation and supported in part by The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. The study was a collaboration between researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues at the California Center for Functional Medicine and FOCUS Health Group, Naturopathic.

“Since traditional antibiotic approaches fail to resolve symptoms in up to 25% of patients treated for Lyme disease and many suffer disabling effects of the disease, there is a need for novel treatment proven effective against B. burgdorferi,” said the paper’s co-author Sunjya K. Schweig, MD, CEO and co-director, California Center for Functional Medicine and Scientific Advisory Board Member, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “Because patients are currently turning to herbal remedies to fill the treatment gaps left by antibiotics, this research is a critical step in helping clinicians, as well as patients, understand which ones may offer the most potential benefit.”

Evaluating the Success of Hyperthermia Treatment in Chronic Lyme Disease

Guest Post from
Michelle McKeon, MS
President, Lyme and Cancer Services

Bay Area Lyme is happy to share the editorial contributions of care providers, patients, caregivers, and others in the community who are eager to share their knowledge for the benefit of others suffering from Lyme and related tick-borne illnesses. There is still so much we don’t know and so much we are just learning. It is critical that we keep an active dialogue and share and collaborate to continue to move our understanding forward. What follows is an article written by a guest contributor and practicing care provider who shares that view and her personal and professional experience in  hopes that it can help others with their healing journeys.

First West Coast CME Program on Tick-borne Disease Provides New Data, Insights from Researchers

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First West Coast CME Program on Tick-borne Disease Provides New Data, Insights from Researchers

Stanford University School of Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital host clinical and research forum funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation

Silicon Valley, CA, September 3, 2019—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today highlights the first tick-borne disease CME program on the West Coast, Emerging Research, Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Disease and Tick-Borne Illness. The conference was hosted by two major academic institutions representing the East and West Coasts of the U.S., Stanford University School of Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital, and included presentations related to the magnitude of tick-borne disease in California, emerging diagnostic technologies, potential future treatment options, and epidemiological statistics enabled by Lyme disease biobanks.

“There is a lack of understanding about the variety and severity of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease on the west coast” said Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, professor of laboratory medicine and infectious diseases at UCSF, associate director of the UCSF Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, and Bay Area Lyme Foundation Scientific Advisory Board member. “This was a great opportunity to share the latest findings and ongoing research on the topic, so that physicians and other medical professionals can more quickly and accurately diagnose and treat their patients.”

In Search of a Cure for Lyme Disease: The Disulfiram Story

– Bonnie Crater, founder and vice-chair of the Board of Directors, Bay Area Lyme Foundation

What does an anti-alcoholism drug have to do with Lyme disease? Nothing—until a 2016 study funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation found a link. From around 2014 through 2017, two labs on opposite coasts—one at Johns Hopkins University and one at Stanford—were testing thousands of FDA-approved drugs to identify an existing drug that worked against “persister” forms of Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), the bacteria that causes Lyme disease(1,2,3,4). Why were they doing this?

Here’s a little background. Borrelia burgdorferi, a spirochete, when cultured in a lab has roughly 3 different forms: a) a culture with predominantly long or corkscrew forms, b) a culture with predominantly round forms and some microcolonies, and c) a culture with predominantly microcolonies (2). Most laboratory studies regarding the effectiveness of antibiotics are conducted in cultures on long forms. In this long form, the spirochete is motile and can divide (although very slowly) and consequently, some antibiotics work much better on the long form. However, after exposure to antibiotics such as doxycycline, the spirochete curls up into a round form and some clump together with other spirochetes to form a few microcolonies. These round-body and microcolony forms are understood to be a defensive posture for the bacteria.

Call for Entries for the Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s 2019 Emerging Leader Award Grant

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Grants are designed to inspire new research to address the challenges of Lyme disease

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., January 15, 2019—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, is announcing a call for entries for their 2019 Emerging Leader Awards (ELA), which are designed to encourage promising scientists who embody the future of Lyme disease research leadership in the US. This year, two $100,000 grants will be awarded in May. Recipients will be researchers from academia or the private sector who are currently at the post-doctoral through the assistant professor level or equivalent, and who have demonstrated professional and scientific leadership in the biomedical sciences. They should have a defined approach that offers scientific rationale for a research project that can advance diagnostics or treatments for Lyme disease. Proof of concept for the $100,000 awards should be feasible in 12–18 months.

These awards, along with other Bay Area Lyme Foundation efforts, aim to fill a gap as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for Lyme disease research is insufficient. While there are nearly 10 times as many people diagnosed each year with Lyme than HIV in the US, Lyme disease receives approximately 1% of the public funding that is allocated for HIV/AIDS.

Research Supported by Bay Area Lyme Foundation Shows Lower Immune Response Leads To Persistent Lyme Disease Symptoms

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Peer-reviewed Journal Frontiers in Immunology Publishes Important New Research From a Team Led by Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s First Emerging Leader Award Recipient

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA, August, 2018 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research in the US, today announced the publication of new data that offer valuable insights into the role of the immune system in fighting acute Lyme disease.

The data demonstrate a correlation between initial activation of specific components of the immune response, and a patient’s ability to recover following 21 days of doxycycline. Published in Frontiers in Immunology, the research, primarily funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, was led by Lisa K. Blum, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral scholar at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Blum was one of the first recipients of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation Emerging Leader Award, a grant designed to support the research of promising scientists into Lyme disease and the bacteria that causes it, B. burgdorferi. 

“This research addresses one of the ongoing mysteries of Lyme disease, providing important evidence toward understanding why some people get better after a 21-day course of doxycycline, and some remain sick,” said Wendy Adams, research grant director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “The insights from this study not only show that both a competent immune response AND antibiotics are necessary to rid the infection, but also point us toward research avenues that could lead to new therapeutics.”

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Sees Turning Point for Lyme Disease in 2017

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Bay Area Lyme Foundation Sees Turning Point for Lyme Disease in 2017

Organization Leaders Honored with HHS Appointment, Jane Seymour’s Open Hearts Award, Among Other Pivotal Events

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., December 21, 2017—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced that the organization granted $2 million in 2017 for Lyme research and education, and saw an increase of engagement from scientists, the government and noted celebrities. Studies funded by the foundation and published in 2017 provide significant support to the widely-debated scientific belief that Lyme bacteria persist after standard antibiotic treatment.  The foundation continues to demonstrate success in bringing new scientific talent to the fight against tick-borne diseases.

New Study Finds Lyme Bacteria Survive a 28-day Course of Antibiotics When Treated Four Months After Infection by Tick Bite

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New Study Finds Lyme Bacteria Survive a 28-day Course of Antibiotics When Treated Four Months After Infection by Tick Bite

All subjects treated with antibiotics were found to have some level of infection 7–12 months post treatment.Despite testing negative by antibody tests for Lyme disease, two of 10 subjects were still infected with Lyme bacteria in heart and bladder. Lyme bacteria which persist are still viable.

Portola Valley, California, Dec. 13, 2017—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced results of two papers published in the peer-reviewed journals PLOS ONE and American Journal of Pathology, that seem to support claims of lingering symptoms reported by many patients who have already received antibiotic treatment for the disease.