Sunday, June 7, 2015


I’ve received requests from readers for more updates on the combination of Lyme-killing herbs I take, and I’ve finally gotten around to it. This going to be a spare-no-details-nitty-gritty medical post, so non-Lymies, you might want to look away!

Dipsacus Sylvestris, or teasel, one of the herbs I take
19th century illustration, anonymous

BACKGROUND (skippable if you’ve read the blog before)

I spent eight years of my adult life (age 26-34) scarcely able to stand up or walk, or read or write, due to an illness doctors could not diagnose, and which many people told me was all in my head. Once Dr. Marty Ross diagnosed me with Lyme, I took antibiotics for the better part of five years, and they brought about a miraculous change for me. Heavy-duty antibiotics got me up on my feet, walking for miles, then running for miles, and learning swing and Afro-Brazilian dance. Most importantly, I was able to read and write again.

Writing again does not mean charging around foreign cities working as a journalist, which was my job before I got sick. I work at home, writing short stories and this blog, taking little naps, and following a strict diet and a complicated medical routine, because I still have Lyme.

So the miracle of the antibiotics was not a 100% cure, but to it’s best not to get nit-picky about miracles. From bed-ridden to running five miles is still a miracle, even if, confusingly, you can’t get through the day without a nap.

Five years on antibiotics was enough, however. In 2013, I decided to stop pharmaceuticals and shift to herbs.


Before I started this particular combination of herbs, called the Samento Banderol Protocol, my treatment approach had been ‘War on Lyme’: fight as hard as I can now (no matter what the side effects of antibiotics), in exchange for feeling better down the road. This was the right decision at the time.

Years and years of a full-scale war inside your body, no matter how miraculous, ends up wearing down your soul. When I decided to switch to the Samento-Banderol protocol, I was not expecting to get stronger or reduce my lingering Lyme symptoms. I was essentially calling a truce. A truce meant ceding a certain amount of territory to the enemy. I was willing to give borrelia  burgdorferi (aka the Lyme bacteria) 30-40% of my time/energy/mental space, in exchange for having the rest of my life for myself. To extend the war metaphor, I would need some serious border patrol to keep my enemy on its side of the line. That’s where the herbs came in. Medicinal herbs = border patrol.


The first thing I love: there are scientists researching this herbal combination. In lab experiments, Samento-Banderol compares favorably to antibiotics, especially on one of the big Lyme issues, biofilms. Thank you, Dr. Eva Sapi, for spearheading this research and breaking new ground on Lyme and biofilms. You are one of my heroes!

The second thing I love about Samento-Banderol: It works. The past year in particular, I have been feeling really good, albeit by ‘I-still-have-Lyme’ standards. The progress I’ve made while taking the herbs is not a giant change, but it’s noticeable. To my surprise, I’m finding I’m more energetic and have more mental clarity than a couple years ago. I’m sleeping better, running further, getting to dance class more consistently and hence dancing better, which makes me so very happy. (Have I mentioned before, in this blog and elsewhere, how happy dancing makes people?)


First modification:

The herbs Samento and Banderol come in tinctures (made by Nutramedix and readily available on Amazon, but not at many other places). When Dr. Marty Ross started me on the protocol, he prescribed two doses per day, of 10 drops each of the herbs, working my way up to 25 drops each. I took a dose at bedtime and it helped me sleep through the night. I took a dose after breakfast and it helped me go back to sleep after breakfast, something I was not planning on. In fact, it knocked me out for rest of the morning.

This was not the aim of taking herbs! I had enough of having half my day wiped out when I was on antibiotics. I switched the second dose to after lunch (nap time) and the rest of the day was shot. What to do? 

I’ve never been one for following rules if they don’t make sense, so I tried scaling back the nap-time dose, while increasing the bedtime dose. This gave me more productive daytime hours, and I was sleeping better at night. Finally I scaled the nap time dose down so much I was taking one drop, and then I thought, why bother? I gave up on taking the daytime dose and packed everything into one giant hit at night. (I ran this change by Dr. Ross and he said it was fine.)


The herbs in question, hanging out with some fresh mint in my kitchen

My personal protocol, which has evolved over a couple of years, should really be called the Samento-Banderol-Teasel-Pau D-Arco protocol. I’ve added these last two herbs in at the suggestion of my naturopath, Nesreen Medina. They have greatly reduced some additional symptoms.

The herbs (like antibiotics) are more effective when rotated. Cumanda is another herb I rotate in, often dropping out Banderol.

For those who aren’t on blood thinners: I found taking these herbs in conjunction with blood thinners is important. (I’m on Heparin and Lumbrokinase.) At least according to my schematic understanding of Eva Sapi’s research, these herbs and Chronic Lyme are all about biofilms, which are the biological chain mail borrelia burgdorferi weaves around itself. Blood thinners assist in breaking down and clearing out biofilms.

Stay tuned. More on my implementation of the Samento-Banderol protocol soon!