Dear Stephen,
I have been doing the core protocol for about 10 months with good results. I recently added the astragalus as a preventive measure and had some unpleasant side effects which made me think that I probably have chronic lyme. If that is the case, is there an alternative for those who reside in endemic areas?
About a month later (and after stopping the astragalus), I started with the eleutheroccus tincture. Almost immediately (within hours), it lifted my depression but after a few days, I started with all over hurting (joints, muscles, stiff neck, etc.). Is it possible that it over stimulated my immune system? I continued to take the eleuthero for a few weeks and have been off it for about 10 days with no decrease in the inflammation. I also feel as though I got reinfected and this may have been coincidental to the eleuthero. I am very sensitive to foods, supplements, etc. but had no problem with the core protocol. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!

Stephen’s response:
I would immediately add teasel tincture. Begin with 3 drops 3x daily and then, if your symptoms do not resolve in three or four days, increase to 10 drops, and so on until your symptoms resolve. Once you are feeling better I would suggest you use a 1:5 eleutherococcus tincture and see how that works for you, 10-30 drops 3x daily. It is much easier on the system and is more of a long term tonic. The side effects you mention I have never heard of in relation to taking eleutherococcus so I don’t really know what to say about what generated them.

This protocol was incredible. After only a few weeks most of my symptoms were gone. After six months all my symptoms were gone… it has given me my life back.

– Amazon review by Joseph

Please note:

Stephen Buhner is no longer living and this Q + A column on Planet Thrive is closed to new questions. It will be kept on our website so readers can access vital information in the archives, communicate with each other in the comments section, and find herbs, books + lyme adjuncts in our directory. If you want to read more of Stephen’s writings, please see his website at:

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  1. Carol

    I have been using eleuthero tincture for chronic Lyme and mycoplasma for a year now, to excellent results. It really helps with my energy and stamina, but it caused herxing for a few days in the first few cycles (of 60 days). I started taking it only after a year on the Vital Plan Restore Kit (Dr. Rawls), which I am still taking along with several other herbs. Stephen Buhner recommends a 2-week pause for eleuthero every 60 days. I do this, but I miss my eleuthero! Does anyone know why this pause is necessary? Can you point me to your source? Thank you!

  2. Kimberli L Chapman

    What a great list! And I can confirm I def feel better when I start any meal with big green olives (i like them stuffed with almonds and with garlic!) I also eat artichocke hearts and try and drink bitters and soda (actually Gerolsteiner water) every evening before eating dinner. Can also attest to feeling betetr when my dinner is spicy Indian food. First I’m hearing that salty, spicy and pungent foods are good lyme ammo! It’s such a relief to see anything confirmed. Especially with diet.

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