Dear Stephen,
First of all, I’d like to express my gratitude for your work – it’s been such an inspiration!

I’ve been sick for a while – diagnosed with IBS, Hashimoto’s, lyme, CFS, fibromyalgia, mold toxicity, EBV, HHV6, parvovirus B19, mycoplasma pneumonia, as well as somewhat high levels of heavy metals (especially cadmium), neurotransmitter abnormalities and increasing levels of thyroid antibodies. I was bitten by a tick at 10 (when symptoms started), and finally diagnosed with lyme at age 16 – treatment was discontinued early due to the controversy and I was pushed in other treatment directions. I finally went back to a LLMD at 22 and have been in treatment for lyme for about a year with oral antibiotics, without much progress. My doctor believes the treatment is working because my CD57 went up (from 11 to 58, then back down).

Right now my worst symptoms are extreme fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath with very little exertion, worsening issues with short term memory and speaking, nearly constant chest pains, neuropathy, eye pain and blurred vision, panic attacks, swollen lymph nodes causing severe headaches, swelling and stiff neck, leg and joint stiffness, foot pain, as well as a lot of different kinds of pretty severe pain – I’ll stop there. All along I’ve suspected bartonella but have received no conventional treatment (though all bartonella-related symptoms seem to worsen on azithromycin, biaxin, red root, maybe the knotweed, etc.) I did start your lyme protocol and felt much better at first – but then a few months into it I started going downhill again (may have been due to extreme stress and/or a severe sinus infection. My doctor put me back on biaxin, which has been treating me pretty horribly. I want to stick to herbs as much as I can at this point, but what would you suggest? Should I try treating bartonella with herbs on my own and see what happens? Should I stick with the lyme treatment, or maybe address the viruses instead? I just ordered your book on fasting – do you think that would be a good place to start at this point?

Also, is there anyone you could recommend in the NJ/NY area? Thanks so much for bearing with all these questions!

Stephen’s response:
Given the complexity of your symptoms, it would probably be helpful for you to work with someone individually. In this instance I would recommend my partner Julie McIntyre ( She has treated that kind of symptom picture before and has had good success. I don’t know of anyone in that area that could give you the kind of attention you need and who can work to continually modify the protocol as your healing progresses. In general, however, I would begin with:

• cordyceps
• Baikal skullcap
• motherwort
• rhodiola

Tinctures, ¼ tsp each in water or juice 3x daily. (Try for the herbs.)

This to help with the fatigue, panic attacks, headaches, the various pains and stiffnesses, and shortness of breath.

It is a good beginning but you really do need to work with someone knowledgeable who can address the symptoms and give you regular support.

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. Andrew

    Most of these Autoimmune diseases you mention (Hashimotos, fibromyalgia, IBS) are caused by leaky gut syndrome – which I would imagine you have as a result of antibiotic usage. Luckily, you can rebuild the gut system using several core ingredients: colostrum, bone broth, L-glutamine, SeaCure…

    The autoimmune diseases will in all likelihood reverse themselves when you heal the gut… As I am currently doing as well. If it was me, i would treat lyme with the core protocol and immediately begin slowly healing the gut lining to rid yourself of the autoimmune issues – all of which, including lyme, will go away when you stick to it over time.

    Good luck!

  2. Holli Droke

    Hi Andrew please tell me what the exactly you do for healing the gut I need o do this for my 18 yr old daughter who is very similar to the guys above post she is currently bedridden in pain. thanks

  3. Connie

    Holli, You might try going to a website by Dr. Axe called There is a wealth of gut-healing info there. Good luck with your daughter!

  4. Candace

    I know this won’t get answered, but I wanted to leave it here in case anyone comes across it because I can’t find any information anywhere. I saw parvovirus b19 mentioned above, but the person also had many other issues. Does anyone know of any herbs that would work for parvovirus b19? There doesn’t seem to be much info on it anywhere.

  5. KArishma benedicte devleeschauwer

    Thank you so much for your dedicated help. I was using Vital Plan . Dr Rawls credits Stephen for a major part of his education. Unfortunately I can no longer afford the Plan . Dr Rawls kindly suggested I buy the supplements directly on line. I have been using Swanson Ultra brands as well as different brands sold on their website.I also need Bone Growth as I have advanced osteoporosis and refuse to take any allopathic drugs. I have seen definite improvements. My herxes are much less. I just noticed Green Dragon and will be using this brand when I finish this lot. Do you believe Swanson mushrooms and bacopa are extracted to proper dosage? If not kindly suggest an affordable reliable deep gratitude. KARISHMA

  6. Brad

    Linking disease causation to “leaky gut” is a popular theory today among alternative health practitioners and nutritionists, however I find it to be wholly unsustantiated. I know several individuals who first became ill without extensive antibiotic use as well as several others who have used abx with great frequency, intensity and duration absent of any noticable long term complications. I was treated for ‘leaky gut syndrome’ for years at a time using specialized diets, bone broth based supplements and foods, aloes, amino acids, probiotics, cleanses etc. While it is an advisable measure when seeking total body vitality, its not likely in my experience to be the final and sole solution, especially when dealing with multilayered infections.

    There is a lot of money to be made in the supplement industry and this is the current craze. It wont be the last one.

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