Cat’s claw, autoimmunity and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

by | Mar 11, 2013 | Autoimmune Disease, cat's claw, Columns, Healing Lyme, Herbs, Symptoms | 19 comments

Dear Stephen,
I remember reading somewhere that cat’s claw shouldn’t be used in its complete form if you have an autoimmune condition as it stimulates the immune system too much and the TOA free form Samento should be used instead. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Can you please advise? Also, I would like to express my gratitude to you for your very informative book and website, and for sharing your knowledge so freely with all. I think that it is the sign of a true healer when one is so willing to share and help as many people as possible.

Stephen’s response:
Thank you for your kind words. Regarding lyme and autoimmunity, lyme and ALL the coinfections have an autoimmune dynamic to them, and I pretty much hate the TOA controversy, for reasons that I go into in the book. I think it misplaced. What needs to happen in autoimmune conditions is that the bacteria stimulate the immune system to cause inflammation in the body which then breaks down cellular tissue so that the bacteria can feed on the nutrients that are released. The bacteria in fact create and control a form of autoimmunity, however, THAT WAY OF THINKING ABOUT IT, I.E. AUTOIMMUNITY, IS NOT VERY EFFECTIVE. It is a controlled use of the immune system of the host species to get food, NOT an out of control autoimmunity which is something that happens during cytokine storms in diseases such as severe influenza. So, what you are doing is activating parts of the immune system and deactivating others. The two herbs that accomplish this the best in lyme are cat’s claw and knotweed root. However, Chinese skullcap and cordyceps are also very good for reducing the cytokine cascade, i.e. the “autoimmunity.” As far as I know, cat’s claw is not contraindicated in Hashimoto’s disease. but if you are concerned, use the skullcap and the cordyceps instead.

  • Stephen Harrod Buhner

    Stephen Harrod Buhner was an Earth poet and an award-winning author of twenty-four books on nature, indigenous cultures, the environment, and herbal medicine including the acclaimed book Healing Lyme: Natural Healing & Prevention of Lyme Borreliosis & Its Co-infections.

    Stephen came from a long line of healers including Leroy Burney, Surgeon General of the United States under Eisenhower and Kennedy, and Elizabeth Lusterheide, a midwife and herbalist who worked in rural Indiana in the early nineteenth century. The greatest influence on his work, however, was his great-grandfather C.G. Harrod who primarily used botanical medicines, also in rural Indiana, when he began his work as a physician in 1911.

    Stephen’s work has appeared or been profiled in publications throughout North America and Europe including Common Boundary, Apotheosis, Shaman’s Drum, The New York Times, CNN, and Good Morning America. Stephen lectured yearly throughout the United States on herbal medicine, the sacredness of plants, the intelligence of Nature, and the states of mind necessary for successful habitation of Earth.

    He was a tireless advocate for the reincorporation of the exploratory artist, independent scholar, amateur naturalist, and citizen scientist in American society – especially as a counterweight to the influence of corporate science and technology.

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. Brenda Harper

    I have been dealing with systemic fungal infection which turned into Lupus, and highly elevated thyroid antibodies as well (Hashimoto’s ). Antifungals have kept fungal infection semi in check, but I have to go off as they are harming my liver. We suspect I have numerous gram-negative bacterial and fungal bio-films through out my body. I am also highly sensitive to all sorts of chemicals and do get cytokine storms and massive inflammation. I am broke, disabled and currently homeless sponging of relatives, or living in tents and garden sheds. (I can’t live in my home as it is molded which is what made me sick.) Any help is appreciated. Through diet and avoidance I am much better than I was but when I go off anti-fungals I decline quickly.

  2. MikeK

    I would try a proteolytic enzyme like Wobenzym PS.

  3. susan

    Are any of the Lymes protocol herbs contraindicated with rheumatoid arthritis and plaquinil? Also, are these same antiinflammatory and immune boosting herbs in this protocol helpful for RA in addition to Lymes?

  4. amenity

    Brenda, have you considered the Marshall Protocol?

  5. Mia Kelley

    I have had and still have many lesions (much scarring) on my brain since January 2000 which led 2 a dx of Multiple Sclerosis. Borrelia Burgdorferi was found in 2005 by a LLMD. What protocol should I follow, please? I worked up to using Samento long-term previously with no noticeable positive results. It has caused me to become leery of the controversy surrounding the TOA free form or if Raintree Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is fine for me 2 take? I am in severe pain (neck and base of skull), have severe weakness (am immobile) so any assistance will be greatly appreciated. The work you do 2 help others is phenomenal :). Many blessings.

  6. Mia Kelley

    I failed 2 say I agree w/ the original poster in “it is the sign of a true healer when one is so willing to share and help as many people as possible” like Stephen Bueller does w/ his books and blogs. Much gratitude to Mr. Buhner :).

  7. healing lyme admin

    Hi Mia,
    The Q & A is no longer actively accepting new questions but from your comment, it sounds like you should follow the main core protocol as shared in Healing Lyme and add in herbs based on your specific symptoms. Make sure you buy the second edition of Healing Lyme, as it has the most up-to-date information. Best, Julie

  8. Dana

    Hi Julie,
    I have tested positive for lyme, EBV, mold illness, candida, hashimotos that i know of. I have not been tested for any lyme co-infections. Would a good place for me to start be the main core protocol and base it on symptoms? I have had some treatments at Hansa Center in Kansas with some improvement but have not followed up as it is extremely expensive. Most lingering symptoms are neuro……pressure in brain, dizziness, visual disturbances and floaters, and fatigue. Any recomendations would be GREATLY apprecitated!
    Austin, TX

  9. healing lyme admin

    Hi Dana,
    I am not a lyme expert; I merely have learned from running this Q & A and reading Stephen’s responses over the years. That said, yes, I would recommend starting with the core protocol and adding in based on specific symptoms. I also might check out Jernigan’s Neuro Anti-Tox products; they might be of help. I see the Hansa Center carries them. Best wishes, Julie

  10. Patti

    Dana, It would help if you have a family or invested friend who could help you put this together, depending on how severe your neuro symptoms are. While you may need to purchase the basic products for immediate use, absolutely make your own tinctures (need preferably six weeks from day you blend it to day you strain for use. While it is all very expensive you will be able to make the long term use tinctures for less than a couple hundred a year per product. If you buy those tinctures you will spend thousands over the next couple years or so. Get a lb of ground Cats Claw, Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed) and Red Root at least. My MD provider, who sells stuff resented my acquiring products elsewhere, after 3 years we parted ways. Buhner protocols work, but plan on taking Cats Claw and Knotweed for a couple years. Sometimes you have to have help going where you have to go to get Everclear- so use a friend or family that’s going on vacation to that state to pick it up for you. I will always keep Red Root on hand, great tincture for herxing and even flu etc. Mushrooms are harder to tincture, but I do it- just a lot of work, possibly too much work when you’re hurting and ill. I have 4 of Buhner’s books, both 1st and 2nd of Lymes. Fortunately I’m in Washington and plant medicine is legal, CBD (not hemp) CBD tinctures are wonderful for managing pain and bringing inflammation down, but need quite a lot of it.

  11. Lucie

    Dear Stephen advice please, I use cats claw to treat lyme one month since this happened with my immunity. Comments from the lab – 64.35% lymphocytes is a normal expression of character CD3, 12.73% showed atypical lymphocytes (increased) expression of CD3 character. This is probably a higher proportion of gamma / delta T lymphocytes. What does it mean??? Thank you

  12. Katie

    Lyme never travels alone. It is likely you also have Babesia and/ or Bartonella. During my active untreated Babesia infection, the lab often reported atypical lymphocytes when I had complete blood counts. I didn’t know then what it meant, but no doctor ever said anything about it (probably because even they don’t know what it means). Good luck!

  13. Shelley

    I just read this. I have sjogrens. Is it ok to take cats claw?

  14. Louise Turcotte

    I just discovered a fantastic book: “Medical Medium” by Anthony Williams and encourage you to look at it.

  15. Roger

    Medical medium is a cult that was created by a guy who claims he is getting messages from “spirit”. He charges $500 per HALF hour for a consultation with his aids. If you look closer at the book past all the fluff you will discover that he basically just says: eat healthier and drink lots of fruit juices. That is not enough when you are infested with bacteria, parasites and or fungi. Dr. Buhner gives you a specific protocol that HEALS, what a difference!!

  16. Justin

    You should be okay taking Cat’s Claw. It is also an immune modulator, meaning that it works both ways in regulating the immune system. It helps decrease inflammation, and inflammation is what eventually causes autoimmunity. This would be needed to be explained in much more detail, but for now, the answer is you can try it in low doses and work your way up. If you notice any symptoms that seem to be out of control (cytokine storm), then stop the herb.

  17. Kim

    Hi Brenda, my heart goes out to you in your most difficult situation. I too have the systemic Candida/fungal infection(and tick-borne illness now on top!) and have had it a long time. Nothing I did could ever completely conquer it. I just try to manage it with life style and diet. But just recently I discovered blood root(not the same as red root) in the woods and dug some up to plant at my house. I looked up info online about it but there was so much contradictory and mis-information that I searched out the actual government lab study where they did research on it. In all the “scientific speak”(it was a long paper!) I did catch where they found blood root to be “anti-candida, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal”(among other things) so I got hopeful that it might help me some how. Online some people were even saying “don’t get it on your skin and be sure to always handle it with gloves” and other nonsense. Well I not only dug it up with my fingers I rubbed a cut piece of root on my skin and nothing they claimed ever happened. About the same time a friend sent me fresh Japanese knotweed root which I also planted. Long story short, in hoping to help the tick illness to go away, I thoroughly washed and sterilized some of both roots by temporarily soaking them in Everclear, blended them in some water and put the liquid with pulp in a jar and into the fridge. I took some of the liquid a couple times a day and drank plenty of water(and some with fresh lemon) between doses and also took dandelion caps to help support any possible detoxing. I had no idea what to expect as I was totally new to both herbs, but by the third day I felt really sick and realized it was a “die-off”. It turns out massive amounts of candida/fungus my body was harboring was being killed and all that was hitting my kidneys and liver. So I stopped the root liquid and just focused on drinking to give my body a chance to catch up with the toxic overload. How I know for sure this was happening and tons of candida was being killed is my urine became very cloudy with a strong yeasty smell and darker in color. After my urine cleared up and I no longer felt so ill I did it again, drinking the root liquid a couple times through the day for two days. Then I would feel really ill and throw off a bunch more stinky candida mess. Again I would stop taking it when I felt really ill and just drink until the die-off was all out. I had a die-off clean-out 3 times so I know I got the bulk of candida/fungus out of my system. I still have some annoying itchy spots on my scalp and in my ears that it hasn’t reached because those are not good blood flow areas anyway so I may never get rid of those but will continue to take it and see. I haven’t had anymore die-offs since the 3 I had so it must have really knocked the candida proliferation out. As whether it is working on my tick illness I don’t know yet. I’m pretty sick with that. But it had a surprise side effect on the candida! I hope this helps you with that problem at least. God bless you as you try to heal!

  18. Franklin

    I have studied that sea salt kills lyme disease. .

  19. josh

    hashimotos is caused by iodine deficiency in the pathway that breaks down hydrogen peroxide which requires iodonolactone and iodine compound, this inability to reduce H2o2 leads to oxidation damaged thyroglobulin/TPO and corresponding antibodies there is no infectious cause your body is not attacking microbes its attacking your cells that are causing more damage/inflammation. Iodine is fearmongered in the medical industry, such behavior is idiotic and breeds illness that feeds the medical industry. Side effects to iodine are due to lack of iodine being displaced by toxic fluoride and bromide being displaced along with mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum all of which can cause any number of symptoms. This opposition to iodine and celebration of the use of fluoride in antidepressants antibiotics the water supply toothpaste etc is pathological science these things cause thyroid disease, osteosarcoma and with heavy metals fungal growth, neurological disorders of all kinds. Vaccines with mercury and aluminum adjuvants with low iodine, zinc, and vitamin C levels is a recipe for disaster as you will have a weakened blood-brain barrier and lack of chelation. All forms of thyroid disease can be caused by iodine deficiency or displaced iodine hypo/hyper and cancer. Lack of vitamin c/e selenium, correct zinc/copper ratio, adequate iron, b2, b3 and glutathione redox status optimization are also useful things to address.

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