Book Review: Stephen Buhner on Mycoplasma and Bartonella Treatment

Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections: Complementary and Holistic Treatments for Bartonella and Mycoplasma
by Stephen Harrod Buhner.
Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press; 2013. Softcover, 512 pages.
ISBN 978-1-62055-008-3. $19.95

Review by Neil Nathan MD

It may help readers of this review to know that I am not an herbalist or botanist, but rather a practicing physician with a large representation of patients with Lyme disease and its coinfections, Bartonella (a gram-negative bacteria transmitted via insect vectors like fleas, ticks, and mosquitos) and Mycoplasma (bacteria that do not contain a cell wall), with which I work closely on a daily basis. For me, as I suspect it will be for a large number of patients, this book contains practical information that those of us in my medical practice, and our patients, are already finding useful.

As with other books written by Buhner, including his classic Healing Lyme, what is contained within these pages is not merely a catalog of herbs that may be useful for the treatment of these infections, but much more. Buhner takes great pains to help us to understand these infections from the microbe’s point of view—a unique perspective which makes a wonderful addition to both understanding and treatment. Perhaps even more importantly, Buhner comprehends that these difficult-to-treat infections require not a military blitzing with massive quantities of antibiotics, but an effort to help a compromised immune system come to terms with these infections by working with the microbe rather than by attacking it with a frontal assault.

Buhner has utilized new research showing how the inflammatory mediators in the body, called cytokines, vary with the different microbial infections that produce these cytokines and uses these patterns to suggest herbal approaches that are based on this knowledge. His process of discovering which herbal materials are likely to be of greatest benefit utilizes both an intense study of the scientific literature and his method of creating a meaningful relationship with each plant which is beautifully described in his previous book The Secret Teaching of Plants.

The end result of these unique ingredients is a fascinating, educational, and useful body of information which has made an immediate impact on those of us who are struggling to treat the different manifestations of Lyme disease.

To provide immediate examples for this process, Buhner has teased apart the treatment for Bartonella into herbs that reduce the cytokine-induced inflammatory response, herbs that protect the organs that are most vulnerable to this organism, herbs that support the immune system, and herbs that have specific antibacterial effects against this organism. While we have used some of these supplements for many years now, newer recommendations for the use of Cordyceps sinensis (Clavicipitaceae) for reducing cytokines, Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis, Lamiaceae) for specifically reducing cytokine-induced inflammation of the central nervous system, the use of Sida acuta (Malvaceae) to protect the red blood cells, and the use of Alchornea cordifolia (Euphorbiaceae) and Isatis tinctoria (Brassicaceae) have been already producing beneficial responses in our patients. His recommendations for the use of greater celandine (Chelidonium majus, Papaveraceae) and pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris, Ranunculaceae) to quiet the inflammation of the nervous system has been of immediate value.

Well written, ground-breaking, and eminently practical, I can recommend this book without reservation