Treating Lymes disease with Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine is very effective in the treatment of Lymes disease. Powerful antimicrobial herbs are used in the initial stages to potentiate antibiotic treatment. The herbs work synergistically with the antibiotics making them more effective and treating the symptoms the antibiotics do not cover.

In chronic Lymes disease, herbal prescriptions are individualised for the symptom picture of each patient. Combining strong antimicrobial herbs with gentler herbs to strengthen the immune system, kill off any remaining bacteria or co-infections and heal the damage left in the body as a result of infection. In Chinese herbal medicine classic, traditional formulas are modified to make them specific for the treatment of Lymes disease and its co-infections.

The majority of patients recover fully from Lymes disease if it is quickly diagnosed and treated with the appropriate dosages of antibiotics. However, this condition is often misdiagnosed. The classic Bull’s eye rash may be misinterpreted, the patient may have a different kind of rash or no rash at all. The longer the time from infection by Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria carried by an infected tick, to antibiotic treatment the worse the condition becomes as the bacteria have time to spread through the infected host and cause a lot of damage. Like many bacteria and viruses, Borrelia burgdorferi goes for any weak areas and especially likes connective tissue and vitreous fluid, resulting in swollen and sore joints, eye disorders like floaters or blurred vision and ear disorders like tinnitus and dizziness. If antibiotics are started later in the course of the disease, they can help but they are greatly enhanced by appropriate herbal treatment alongside.

Some patients do not recover despite antibiotics, these are usually infected with a co-infection as well as Borrelia borgdorferi. The two main co-infections are Bartonella ( causing a rash like cat scratches and severe headaches) or Babesia (causing unusual sweating, especially night sweats and palpitations). Or the Borrelia burdorferi has woken up previous viral infections that have remained dormant like Herpes, Epstein Barr and Coxsackie B resulting in a combination of chronic symptoms, especially fatigue and brain fog.

It is in these chronic Lymes conditions that the herbs excel, treating long-term symptoms with effective targeted herbs can make a big difference to a patient’s health and prognosis.
I have worked with Napier’s the Herbalists in their Infectious diseases clinic for over a year now and have seen some real improvement in patients who have been ill for months and years. Not everyone responds or is cured, but the majority have received real benefit and can lead richer, fuller lives as a result of herbal treatment.

Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Yoga are all be effective in the treatment of menopausal symptoms. A recent study in the British Medical Journal found acupuncture reduced the severity of hot flushes.

I regularly treat women for a variety of menopausal symptoms in my clinics in Inverness, Dingwall and Alness.

All women will go through the menopause. For some, it is part of life’s natural patterns and they manage the changes, for others, it is debilitating and life-changing.

Chinese medicine is very effective in the treatment of the menopause. Herbal medicine is the most direct route, with a wide range of herbal formulas treating all the main symptoms of the menopause such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disorders, vaginal dryness, headaches, anxiety and mood swings and palpitations. The herbs can be used on their own or in combination with acupuncture which can really help with joint stiffness, aches and pains, headaches and sleep problems.

Yoga and Tai chi are also beneficial during this adjustment in life, reducing stress and anxiety, calming the mind, improving energy and helping sleep.

Technically the menopause is the last menstrual period, this term also covers the time when the menstrual cycle gradually ceases and with it ovulation (and fertility ).

The menopause is a natural part of ageing and usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline. Some women can go through a premature menopause ( before the age of 45) for various different medical reasons.

The most common menopausal symptoms are:

Hot flushes – short, sudden feelings of heat, usually in the face, neck and chest which can make the skin red and sweaty.

Night sweats – hot flushes at night

Difficulty sleeping – this can cause tiredness, irritability and brain fog during the day.

Reduced sex drive (Libido)

Problems with memory and concentration

Vaginal dryness – and pain, itching and discomfort during sex.


Mood changes – low mood and anxiety

Palpitations – heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable

Joint stiffness, aches and pains

Reduced muscle mass

Recurrent urinary tract infections

Osteoporosis – weak bones, low density

On average, most symptoms last around 1 to 4 years from the last period. However, around 1 in 10 women experience these for up to 12 years.

The beauty of Chinese herbal medicine is that it can treat very specific symptoms. There are different herbal formulas for hot flushes with excessive sweating to hot flushes that burn up and dry out. There are remedies for sleep disorders with palpitations and night sweats and other where the sleep disorder causes headaches and low mood. There are also herbs that can improve bone density. Adding acupuncture to the herbs can target the treatment more specifically for each patient.


Image result for menopause

Over the counter, natural remedies can also be very effective.

Black cohosh is probably the most well known having had the most research, it is effective. For hot flushes, however, it should not be used if there is a history of liver disease.

Red clover contains isoflavones which have an oestrogen like effect and can relieve menopausal symptoms. This should not be used if there is a history of breast cancer.

Red sage can be used as a supplement, in food or as a tea, this can reduce excess sweating, hot flushes and poor memory.

St John’s Wort is good for sleep disorders, mood swings and anxiety.

Dong Quai or Chinese Angelica helps reduce hot flushes, but should not be used if there is a history of blood clotting.

Ginseng can help mood swings and sleep disturbances

Kava can decrease anxiety, but should not be used if a history of liver disease.

Evening Primrose Oil reduces hot flushes.

Foods that contain isoflavones or phytoestrogens like Soya, tofu, soya beans and edamame reduce hot flushes, night sweats and improve vaginal dryness. In countries where these foods are eaten regularly like the Far East, women experience fewer menopausal symptoms.

Vitamin D either from exposure to the sun or in supplement improves bone density and mood swings.

Natural progesterone cream used topically can reduce hot flushes.

Anti flush knickers and vests draw away the sweat and reduce the severity of hot flushes with anti flush fabric.

Menopause magnet works by rebalancing part of the autonomic nervous system.

Yoga has many benefits for the menopausal woman. It can help reduce anxiety, irritability, insomnia and hot flushes. It also keeps the body supple and helps with muscle and joint pains.

Exercise – vigorous exercise increases bone density, the more impact the more effective. Running and dancing have more impact on bone density than swimming and cycling,


Image result for menopause


So how does a woman naturally ride the menopause with the minimum symptoms? Diet and exercise both play very important roles. A diet high in phytoestrogens, such as soya products, linseed, rhubarb, celery, fennel, Chickpeas and lentils ( all pulses are good), sage and yarrow. Plenty of oily fish and either a good supplement of vitamin D or sun exposure (or both) will all help reduce symptoms and reduce the chances of osteoporosis. Regular exercise, combining high impact for bone density with yoga or Pilates for relaxation and stretching. If this is not sufficient then a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine should help treat the worst of the symptoms.

One of the real issues with treating and coping with the menopause is that the symptoms wax and wane and change, so one needs to keep ahead of them and change treatment tactics to keep one step ahead and keep in control.

Chinese medicine is a very effective treatment for skin problems, it can often resolve stubborn skin conditions that Western medicine struggles to treat. The most common conditions treated by Chinese herbal medicine are eczema, psoriasis, seborrhoiec dermatitis and urticaria. Acupuncture and herbs can also help with related skin conditions such as alopecia, chilblains and leg ulcers.

The most widely publicized skin condition that Chinese herbs can treat is eczema. The most common form being atopic dermatitis with its classic itching, redness and dryness especially in the folds of the skin, like the elbows, knees, wrists and eyes. Usually this is an allergic reaction and patients who suffer from this are characteristically “atopic”, they suffer from other allergies such as hay fever or asthma. Finding the cause of the allergy, whether it is a food, body lotion, soap powder or other irritant is the first part of treatment, to stop the condition reoccurring.

The Chinese herbalist’s skill is then in diagnosing which kind of eczema it is, more dry and itchy, thickened skin, crusting, spotting along with other symptoms and work out a specific Chinese herbal formula for that type of eczema and that patient. There are also sub-conditions such as Pompholyx or Dishydrotic eczema, affecting just hands or feet that can respond very well to appropriate Chinese herbal treatment. Stress aggravates and can cause eczema, so a major part of treatment would be stress reducing techniques like acupuncture, breathing and relaxation.

Chinese Herbs For Skin Conditions

The second most common skin condition treated by Chinese medicine is Psoriasis, one of the scaling disorders. This can range from lots of small spots spread over the body as in guttate psoriasis, to localized thickened round, well demarcated scaly plaques as in plaque psoriasis or psoriasis vulgaris or itchy crusting, thickened skin with small pustules called pustular psoriasis. Psoriasis is an unusual condition that can just come and go of its own accord and does not seem to be linked to allergies. It is classified as one of the autoimmune diseases and at its worst stages can lead to psoriatic arthritis (pain and thickening in the joints) and psoriatic nails, with thickened, flaking, yellow nails which are different from fungal nail infection.

Again, the art of the Chinese herbalist is to diagnose and distinguish between the different forms of psoriasis (and other skin conditions), using Chinese medicine differentiation to find the most appropriate herbal formulas to treat the condition. Often the formula has to change and adapt as the condition changes with treatment. Acupuncture plays a role in treating the pain and immobility of Psoriatic arthritis.

Chinese Herbs For Skin ConditionsSeborrhoiec dermatitis should not be overlooked. It is often misdiagnosed, as psoriasis on the scalp and eczema on the body. It can cause extreme dandruff and very itchy skin, especially in the larger folds of the skin (armpits, groin and below breasts) and can cause an unpleasant associated smell if there is a secondary yeast infection as well. Again good diagnosis and appropriate herbs for the severity of the dermatitis as well as its location can improve the condition greatly.

Acupuncture is not usually thought of as the first treatment for skin conditions. They respond much better to Chinese herbal medicine. However, certain conditions respond well to the local stimulation of acupuncture.

Acupuncture can stimulate the local growth of hair in the hair-loss condition of alopecia. Using needles to surround the areas of hair loss can stimulate local blood supply and encourage the regrowth of hair. A similar response with leg ulcers and chilblains, acupuncture round the leg ulcers and chilblains and also on other places on the leaps and feet will stimulate poor local circulation and encourage skin regeneration.

There are topical herbs that are used in China, directly on an ulcer to speed up healing, but would be difficult to use in this country, however, there are some very promising studies on the localized effect of Manuka honey in treating skin ulcers, regenerating skin growth and preventing infection.

Chinese medicine, including Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture and Chinese dietary advice can be effective treatments for common and unusual skin conditions. Years of hydrocortisone, antihistamines and other creams and medicines can be stopped or reduced with a short course of Chinese medicine.

Only plant products can now be used in Chinese herbal formulas. No endangered species or potentially poisonous herbs can be used. Herbs are sourced from CMAS suppliers (Chinese medical association of suppliers) who use high levels of quality control.

Chinese Herbs For Skin Conditions

Acupuncture and Infertility
Acupuncture can be used to boost both female and male infertility. For female infertility, it can be used on its own, in conjunction with herbal medicine or along with western medicine such as IVF and other assisted reproductive treatments. For male infertility, both acupuncture on its own or with herbal remedies can be beneficial.
How does acupuncture work to boost fertility
Acupuncture regulates hormone function. It increases blood supply to the ovaries and uterus and helps relax muscles which can improve the chances of the embryo implanting. Acupuncture works on the causes of Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and treats the symptoms, a common cause of infertility in women. Acupuncture generally helps stress and aids relaxation.
“In a study of 160 women, published in the reproductive journal Fertility and Sterility, a group of German researchers found that adding acupuncture to the traditional IVF treatment protocols substantially increased pregnancy success.”
Traditional Chinese medicine treatment for female and male infertility 
When used in conjunction with western fertility treatments, acupuncture increased conception rates by 26%. A recent study from Tel Aviv University reports ” when combining IUI with traditional Chinese medicine treatments, 65.5% of the test group were able to conceive, compared with 39.4% of the control group, who received no herbal or acupuncture therapy.” For the 4.5 million couples experiencing infertility each year, acupuncture may be just what the doctor ordered.
Acupuncture can increase fertility by reducing stress, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing the endocrine system. The goal of an infertility treatment from a Chinese medicine perspective is not just to get pregnant, but to stay pregnant and have a healthy baby.
Acupuncture can provide better blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, creating a stronger chance for the egg to be nourished and carried to term.
40% of infertility is caused by problems in the female, another 40% by problems in the male, such as low sperm count or motility. The remaining 20% is unknown factors.
Acupuncture works to reduce stress, a contributory factor in both female and male infertility. When people are under stress, the hormone cortisol is released in the brain. This alters the brain’s neurochemical balance, changes hormone levels and upsets the pituitary balance that is a key to the reproductive cycle.
Due to the balance between the hypothalamus, pituitary and reproductive glands, stress can adversely affect ovulation, it can also cause spasms in the Fallopian tubes and uterus, which can interfere with implantation of the fertilized egg. In men, stress can reduce sperm count and motility and cause impotence. Both acupuncture and herbal medicine can reduce stress by reducing cortisol levels and by releasing endorphins, this can help in both female and male infertility.
Infertility can also be caused by an imbalance in reproductive hormones. In women, high levels of prolactin can prevent ovulation and reduced levels of progesterone reduces the ability of the fetus to attach to the uterus. Low testosterone in men can reduce sperm motility and production and cause erectile dysfunction.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine can stimulate the hypothalamus to balance the endocrine system and its hormones.
Research shows that acupuncture can significantly improve the quality and health of sperm. In a study published in Fertility and Sterility in 2005, researchers analyzed sperm samples from men with infertility of unknown cause before and after acupuncture treatment. They found that men who had acupuncture treatment had fewer structural defects in the sperm and increased numbers of normal sperm.
Acupuncture in conjunction with western medical treatment 
Many women use acupuncture to boost their chances of IVF, IUI and other western medical treatments for infertility such as the drug Clomid, working. Acupuncture can begin at any time during fertility treatment, before starting to take any oral or injectable drugs to help prepare the body, during the drug treatment to help deal with side effects such as nausea, moodiness and fatigue and to boost the effects of the drugs and also during IVF cycles.
I treat many women and men for infertility and have helped many couples conceive. Some I treat with acupuncture or acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine who choose not to have western medicine intervention to regulate their menstrual cycle, restart ovulation, treat PCOS, unblock fallopian tubes etc. and men to increase sperm count and quality. I also treat many women before and during IVF cycles to improve the chances of it working, a number have had unsuccessful cycles before who then go on to get pregnant when they combine acupuncture with the IVF. I have had many cards, thank you letters and photographs of beautiful babies after successful acupuncture and herbal treatments.
Herbal remedies is not just found at the herbalist’s but also in your kitchen cupboard. Winter is a prime time for colds and coughs, there are many herbal remedies that can help and many of the medicinal herbs involved can be found in your herb and spice racks. Delicious recipes that fight off colds and coughs can be made from easily sourced fruit and vegetables.
More than 90% of coughs and colds are caused by viruses, these do not respond to antibiotics and can be treated much more effectively by natural foods and herbal remedies. Many people swear by the herbal remedy Echinacea and there have been a number of research studies into the medicinal uses of this herb. Garlic is interesting, a study of 146 people showed that those who ate garlic every day for three months caught fewer colds. Garlic has both antimicrobial and antiviral properties. There is a wonderful soup that would ward off any cold called “Five onion soup”, which includes onions, shallots, garlic, leeks and spring onions that is both tasty and medicinal.
Natural Herbal Remedies
Many people take Vitamin C supplements to prevent colds and coughs, however, it is far better to get Vitamin C (and most other Vitamins) from natural sources such as food, herbs and spices. When you eat foods rich in Vitamin C you are also getting a range of valuable antioxidants and the Vitamin C is easier for the body to access.Many fruits and vegetables are rich in Vitamin C such as oranges, satsumas, lemons, pineapples, mangoes, kiwi fruits and berries as well as vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, courgettes, celery and peppers and herbs like parsley and watercress.
If you have a nasty cough or are choked up with the cold herbal teas that can help are: fennel, marjoram or oregano, thyme and peppermint. These can be used as individual teas or mixed together as herbal infusions.
The Herbal Doctor
The medicinal uses of most common culinary herbs and spices are the same across the different herbal traditions of Chinese herbal medicine, Western herbal medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.
Spices are wonderful warming herbs that are both medicinal and add flavour to winter cooking.
Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin and nutmeg can be added to soups, stews and baking as natural herbal remedies.
Ginger belongs to the Zingiberaceae  family and is closely related to turmeric, cardamon and galangal. Ginger contains Gingerol a substance with powerful medicinal properties. It helps digestion, reduces nausea and helps fight colds and flu. In Chinese herbal medicine it is also used for pain relief; abdominal, menstrual and muscular.
Turmeric is one of the present day super foods. it contains bioactive compounds with powerful medicinal properties, the most important of which is Curcumin. Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. It is very effective in fighting off colds and flu as it is both antibacterial and antiviral. In Chinese herbal medicine it is also used for muscular and joint pains, especially those aggravated by the cold and wind.
Soups and stews, particularly those using warming root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, swedes and potatoes can be jazzed up with these herbal spices, particularly ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and nutmeg and made into natural, delicious herbal remedies.