Stevia Kills Lyme Disease Pathogen Better Than Antibiotics (Preclinical Study)

Lyme disease is exceedingly difficult to treat, due to its well-known shape-shifting (pleomorphic) abilities, with conventional antibiotics often failing to produce a long-term cure. Could the commonly used natural plant Stevia provide a safer, and more effective means to combat this increasingly prevalent infection?

A promising new preclinical study has revealed that whole stevia leaf extract possesses exceptional antibiotic activity against the exceedingly difficult to treat pathogen Borrelia Burgdorferi known to cause Lyme disease. The study found,

 Stevia whole leaf extract, as an individual agent, was effective against all known morphological forms of B. burgdorferi."

At present, the CDC acknowledges that at least 300,000 are infected with Lyme disease, annually, with the conventional standard of care relying on antibiotics that are not only toxic but increasingly coming under scrutiny for addressing only surface aspects of the infection, often leaving antibiotic-resistance Lyme disease deep within the system to continue to cause harm. 

B. burgdorferi has a complex life cycle, and can exist in radically different forms: spirochetes, spheroplast (or L-form which lacks a cell wall), round bodies or cyst form (which allows for dormancy and escaping PCR detection), and highly antibiotic-resistant biofilms. This pleomorphic property makes conventional treatment exceptionally difficult because while some conventional antibiotics are effective against forms with a cell wall such as spirochetes, they are ineffective against those without a cell wall. This enables B. burgdorferi to change form to evade eradication through conventional means. Also, biofilm formation creates a significant barrier against most conventional antibiotics, even when used in combination, and has been recently suggested to be the most effective mechanism of resistance.

The new study was published in the European Journal of Microbiology & Immunology and titled, "Effectiveness of Stevia Rebaudiana Whole Leaf Extract Against the Various Morphological Forms of Borrelia Burgdorferi in Vitro," and conducted by researchers from the Department of Biology and Environmental Science, University of New Haven, West Haven, CT.

The researchers directly compared an alcohol extract of a whole stevia leaf product commonly found on the U.S. retail market to conventional antibiotics, and assessed their respective abilities to kill the various forms of Borrelia burgdorferi, including so called "persister" forms.

The study pointed out that, according to the CDC, about 10-20% of Lyme disease patients treated with antibiotics for the recommended 2-4 weeks experience adverse health effects, such as fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches. In some of these patients, the adverse effects last for more than 6 months. These patients are often labeled with "chronic Lyme disease," or "post treatment Lyme disease syndrome." While the adverse effects of antibiotics, including their destruction of beneficial microbes in the gut, may account for this syndrome, another possibility is that the drugs drive antibiotic-resistant forms of the disease deeper into the system, resulting in enhanced disease-associated malaise. 

Given the well-known challenges of eradicating B. burgdorferi through conventional antibiotics, the researchers explored the potential for stevia as an antimicrobial.

Stevia is not normally considered an anti-microbial agent, but all plants possess in-built phytochemical defense systems which protect them against infection, and which by consuming them, we ourselves can sometimes harness and benefit from. The researchers elaborate on this point:  

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