Lyme disease is quite difficult to treat, mostly due to its pleomorphic or shape-shifting abilities. Another contributing factor is the fact that conventional antibiotics, which are the most common treatment used to address Lyme disease, often fail to provide long-term cure. But, could the Stevia plant provide a more effective and safer means to fight this infection?
A recent study has revealed that whole stevia leaf extract has potent antibiotic activity against Borrelia Burgdorferi, a pathogen that is known to cause Lyme disease. As concluded by the study, “Stevia whole leaf extract, as an individual agent, was effective against all known morphological forms of B. burgdorferi.”
Every year more than 300,000 individuals are infected with Lyme disease. The biggest problem regarding this issue is the fact that apart from being toxic, antibiotic also fail to address the underlying cause of the infection, thus causing antibiotic-resistance to Lyme disease deep within the system.
Burgdorferi has quite complex life cycle and might exist in drastically different forms, including round bodies or cyst form, highly antibiotic-resistant biofilms, spirochetes, spheroplast, etc. The aforementioned pleomorphic abilities make conventional treatment ineffective while some antibiotic show antimicrobial activity only against a few forms of burdgorferi, allowing it to change form to prevent eradication through conventional treatment. Additionally, biofilm formation creates barrier against most antibiotics, even when combined.
The new study that was titled “Effectiveness of Stevia Rebaudiana Whole Leaf Extract Against the Various Morphological Forms of Borrelia Burgdorferi in Vitro, was published in the European Journal of Microbiology & Immunology and done by researchers from the Department of Biology and Environmental Science, University of New Haven, West Haven, CT.
The researchers compared an alcohol extract of whole stevia leaf product to conventional antibiotics and explored their respective anti-microbial activities against various forms of Borrelia burgdorferi, including “persister” forms.
The study concluded that about 10-20 percent of Lyme disease patients given antibiotics for 2-4 weeks experienced side effects like pain, fatigue, or muscle and joint aches. These effects last longer than 6 months in some patients. Those patients are labeled with post treatment Lyme disease syndrome, and while most of the side effects may account for the syndrome, the antibiotic-resistant forms of the disease are yet another possibility.
With the many difficulties regarding the eradication of B.burgdorferi with conventional antibiotics, researches studies the potential for stevia as an antimicrobial agent. While this plant isn’t normally considered as powerful antimicrobial, all plants contain in-built phytochemical defense systems that protect against infection.
“The leaf extract of Stevia possesses many phytochemicals, which include austroinullin, β-carotene, dulcoside, nilacin, rebaudi oxides, riboflavin, steviol, stevioside, and tiamin with known antimicrobial properties against many pathogens. The role of these compounds is mainly to protect the plant from microbial infection and adverse environmental conditions,” the researchers explained.
The researchers assessed Stevia`s effectiveness against B. burgdorferi cultures by comparing it to cefoperazone, daptomycin, and doxycycline, the three common antibiotics used for this purpose.
As summarized by the study results,
“The susceptibility of the different forms was evaluated by various quantitative techniques in addition to different microscopy methods. The effectiveness of Stevia was compared to doxycycline, cefoperazone, daptomycin, and their combinations. Our results demonstrated that Stevia had significant effect in eliminating B. burgdorferi spirochetes and persisters. Sub-culture experiments with Stevia and antibiotics treated cells were established for 7 and 14 days yielding, no and 10% viable cells, respectively compared to the above-mentioned antibiotics and antibiotic combination. When Stevia and the three antibiotics were tested against attached biofilms, Stevia significantly reduced B. burgdorferi forms. Results from this study suggest that a natural product such as Stevia leaf extract could be considered as an effective agent against B. burgdorferi.”
The study revealed that the biofilm form, which is the most antibiotic resistant form of B. burgdorferi, increased in mass when the patient was given antibiotics. To the contrary, the biofilm mass reduced on both plastic and collagen surfaces when stevia was administered.
Note that the stevoside extract was found to be little or no effective against B.burgdorferi when used by itself. Mass market stevia products like Coca-cola’s Truvia, would not, hence, have the properties associated with the whole herb extract. Simply put, the principle in natural medicine that the activity of the whole cannot be reproduced through a part, perfectly applies here.
Although this particular study is only a preliminary research that shouldn’t be understood to mean that eating whole stevia extract will exhibit superior effects to conventional antibiotics, but it still shows a great potential and makes a passage for future research. So, anyone who is thinking about natural ways to prevent Lyme disease infection or to support conventional treatments could benefit by adding this safe, food-based substance to their diet.