With summer upon us the risk of encountering ticks, the pesky critters responsible for the spread of Lyme disease is on the rise.
Lyme disease is an insidious and complicated disease to treat, both for the allopathic medical world and alternative medical practitioners, due to its rapid shape-shifting abilities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 300,000 people have diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the United States alone. While ticks exist in half of all US counties, Lyme disease cases are concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest, with 14 states accounting for over 96% of cases reported to CDC.
The CDC says that while 80-90% of reported cases are considered resolved with the treatment of antibiotics, 10-20% of patients go on to develop the chronic form, which is a persistent and sometimes devastating illness that can harm any organ of the body, including the brain and the nervous system.
The culprit behind Lyme disease is Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacterial infection proven to respond most effectively to antibiotics doxycycline and amoxicillin.
However, Borrelia burgdorferi can exist in morphological forms, including spirochetes, spheroplast (or L-form), round bodies, and biofilms. When conditions are considered unfavourable for the bacteria, it has the ability to morph into the dormant round body, then hide in a biofilm form. When conditions are favourable, however, it can shift back to its spirochete form.
While conventional antibiotics can treat some forms of the disease, they’re not effective in treating ALL forms, often times failing to produce a long-term cure.
But, new research suggests a long-term treatment may be just around the corner.
A recent study published in the European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology revealed that stevia, a sweetener, and sugar substitute, has been found to terminate late state or chronic Lyme disease.
The study, conducted by researchers from the Department of Biology and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut, found that stevia whole leaf extract, as an individual agent, was an effective treatment against all known morphological forms of B. burgdorferi.
For the study, researchers examined the antimicrobial effect of four stevia leaf extracts in comparison to individual antibiotics (doxycycline, cefoperazone, daptomycin), as well as a combination of the three.
Lab tests revealed that while one extract was more potent than the others, likely due to its growing conditions and the agricultural practices utilized, all extracts were effective in treating all forms of the bacteria.
In fact, the stevia extract was proven to work against even the most antibiotic-resistant of the bacteria, known as the biofilm. The individual antibiotics, on the other hand, actually increased the biofilm.
While researchers acknowledge that the results need more investigation and clinical trials to corroborate the finding, they’re hoping these results indicate we’re one step closer to finding an effective treatment for even the most persistent forms of Lyme disease.