Study demonstrates the potency of herbal medicines against Bartonella henselae

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The Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the United States, today announced the release of new data showing that herbal medicines have a strong impact when compared to medicines commonly prescribed to treat Bartonella henselae Have effects in test tubes, a bacterium believed to be carried by ticks and causing cat scratch fever. This is the first study to identify the antimicrobial activity of some of these herbal medicines. The laboratory study, published in the journal Infectious Microbes & Diseases, was funded in part by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

With increasing rates of tick-borne disease and ongoing concern about the overuse of antibiotics, this early research into herbs is extremely exciting. We hope that future preclinical and clinical studies will continue to show that herbs have the same efficacy as this study and other recently published studies. “

Linda Giampa, Executive Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation

The study is the first to show that these three herbal medicines have high activity against Bartonella henselae in the stationary phase:

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

The study also confirmed the antimicrobial activity of these two herbal medicines against the same bacteria:

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

Three of them – Chinese skullcap, Cryptolepis and Japanese knotweed – have already been shown in similar test tube models to be effective against both Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, and Babesia duncani, a malaria-like parasite found on the west coast of the USA, which causes babesiosis. These three herbal medicines, plus black walnut, were found to be more effective than the commonly prescribed antibiotics for Borrelia burgdorferi.

“With many people with Lyme disease co-infected with other pathogens, these results, which show that certain herbal drugs in the laboratory are effective against several tick-borne infections, are an important advancement for the tick-borne disease community,” said Co-author Sunjya K. Schweig, MD, founder and director of the California Center for Functional Medicine, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation. The collaborating researchers were from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the California Center for Functional Medicine, the FOCUS Health Group, Naturopathic, and the Zhejiang University School of Medicine.

“With so many patients with tick-borne diseases failing to respond to the standard treatments outlined in medical guidelines, we need to look for potential alternatives that can fill this gap and aid the recovery of patients with acute and long-term symptoms,” added Dr. Shut up. Be quiet.

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

These botanical compounds have yet to be tested in animal models as well as clinical studies. Although each of these herbal medicinal products is already in clinical use, it is important for future studies to evaluate them directly in patients using specific clinical treatment regimens, as each of these medicinal products can cause side effects in patients and should be used with caution. a clinician who knows about their skills, interactions, and toxicities.

About the study

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

Plant extracts selected for the study included botanical medicines previously used to manage symptoms in patients who are unresponsive to standard pharmaceutical treatments and who have a favorable safety profile. For primary screenings, all herbal products were used in two concentrations, 1% (v / v) and 0.5% (v / v).

The study’s authors used a similar fast, high-throughput drug screening method, a SYBR Green I / propidium iodide (PI) viability test, to previous studies examining herbal medicines for B. burgdorferi and B. henselae in the inpatient phase.

These data suggest that there may be benefits in using these herbal medicines to target multiple different pathogens at the same time in patients with co-infected complex Lyme disease. The data may also provide encouragement for future studies in patients, especially those whose chronic symptoms are due to persistent bacteria that conventional antibiotic treatment does not kill. However, it is important to note that additional studies are needed to further evaluate the active herbal medicines identified in the study. Patients should not attempt to self-medicate with these herbal medicines due to possible side effects and a lack of clinical studies with these medicines.


Journal reference:

Ma, X. et al. (2021) Botanical medicinal products with activity against Bartonella henselae in the stationary phase. Infectious microbes and diseases.