A Natural Sweetener May Become New Lyme Disease Treatment

Often contracted by tick bites, Lyme disease is a devastating illness that is difficult to diagnose. Many people are not diagnosed until their symptoms have worsened and the damage is permanent. When left untreated, Lyme disease can cause confusion, paralysis, arthritis and severe nervous system damage among many other problems.

A common treatment for Lyme disease is amoxicillin or another antibiotic. In the early stages, antibiotics are effective at quickly and completely curing the disease. However, they may not be effective in the later stages, and some people who do not respond well to antibiotics may have complications. According to the CDC, people with neurological forms of the disease are often treated with IV antibiotics.

One surprising new potential for Lyme disease treatment is a popular sugar alternative called stevia. It gained popularity in recent years because it is not linked to the same potential harmful effects that other alternative sweeteners are linked to. The results of a 2015 study were recently published by the National Institutes of Health, and they showed that whole-leaf stevia extract significantly eliminated B. burgdorferi, which is the spirochete responsible for causing Lyme disease. Three major antibiotics that are commonly used to treat Lyme disease were compared against stevia in the study over two periods of one week and two weeks. When the researchers compared the biofilms, they found that stevia was just as effective or potentially more effective at eliminating B. burgdorferi. They concluded that stevia may be a natural alternative for treating the disease.

Since antibiotic resistance is a growing concern today, this study’s findings may be especially useful in future treatment developments for Lyme disease. When people develop a resistance to antibiotics, their body’s ability to fight infections is reduced while their risk for developing more illnesses is increased.