In this original and meticulously researched book, Stephen Buhner sets out to explain Lyme disease, currently the most common vector borne disease in the USA and a serious emerging health threat throughout the temperate world. The first part covers the life cycle and ecology of the causal spirochaete bacteria; disease symptoms and pathogenesis and a discussion on conventional and alternative treatment options. In the second part he gives a detailed, evidence-based description of two herbal protocols he has developed for different stages of infection.
Healing Lyme covers a huge amount of well-referenced technical, scientific and herbal information. The result is a book that is important for health practitioners, sufferers of Lyme disease and anyone interested to know more about it and the risks of catching it. It is also important for epidemiologists concerned with emerging diseases, and ecologists and microbiologists interested in organism-organism interactions. Some of it is dense; an inevitable consequence of the depth of coverage. However, it is written in a style that for the most part keeps it readable and enjoyable for expert and layman alike. The book is searingly honest and this is necessary: at the outset Buhner describes the extent of misinformation about the disease presented to the public and published in medical and scientific texts.
The opening chapters describe the pathogenic spirochaetes (of which there are several species) and their tick vectors. He presents evidence to support the view that infection can occur independently of vectors; that it may be transmitted directly between humans, and that other vectors exist including mosquitoes. It is clear that the pathogen is undergoing rapid evolutionary change and adaptation.
The disease can be severe, the symptoms often go unrecognised and it is difficult to treat, particularly in late stages of infection. Although antibiotics can be effective, Buhner points out that they do not work for some people; they are frequently ineffective for late stage infection and there is a high rate of relapse. This is not an illness to be disregarded by the medical profession.
There is a fascinating section where symptoms are described and then explained in relation to Lyme pathogenesis. This provides valuable insight into why patients may present with complex symptoms; why progression of the disease differs between individuals, and why accurate diagnosis and treatment of different stages of infection are critical. On this last point, for instance, he explains that although Astragalus is an effective herb for early stage infections it may exacerbate the condition in late stage because of the spirochaete's effect on the immune system.
The second part of the book focuses on two herbal protocols which can be used separately or in combination with conventional antibiotic therapy. The recommended herbs are described in detail including constituents, functions in Lyme disease, specific indications, how the herbs are used in different Western and Eastern herbal traditions, scientific knowledge about the herb, potential side effects, safety of use, contraindications and ethnical considerations about collection. The aim is to provide all the guidance that is required for anyone, health practitioner or layman, to effectively treat the infection. These chapters also provide a comprehensive reference for anyone interested in plant medicine; some of the herbs described include Astragalus, Japanese knotweed, Cat's claw, Smilax and Eleuthero.
In my judgement, Healing Lyme, is an important and timely contribution to the knowledge about this serious and complex health threat. The book demands a wide audience.
Stephen Buhner is a highly respected herbalist, psychotherapist and author of 10 books. He has previously developed herbal and alternative protocols for the treatment of Hepatitis C (published in 2001) which are successfully used worldwide.
Fran Giaquinto was a research microbiologist for 22 years. She has published 21 scientific papers on biological diversity and symbioses in peer-reviewed journals and is named inventor on 4 patents.