Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have identified certain essential oils that are able to eradicate the bacterial species known as Borrelia burgdorferi, the tick-borne parasite that causes Lyme disease. (Antibiotics 2018;7(4):89)
While most Lyme disease patients can be cured with a 2 to 4 week course of antibiotics, as many as 20 percent continue to suffer chronic disease. The reason seems to be that Borrelia burgdorferi forms what are called “dormant persisters.”
Dormant persisters are bacteria cells that avoid eradication by going into a sleep mode, only to return when the threat of removal has passed—similar to an adult child who lives in his parents’ basement and refuses to find work and leave home :).
I’ve been following the work of these same researchers for some time now. In this study, they screened 35 essential oils and found 10 oils that had strong activity against these dormant persisters. In an earlier study, they identified three other oils. (Front Med (Lausanne) 2017 Oct 11;4:169)
While essential oils can be beneficial for a wide variety of conditions, there aren’t that many that have been shown to be “food safe” or safe for consumption. One of the oils actually has been labeled by the FDA as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). This doesn’t mean you can ingest all you want or that the FDA endorses its ingestion. It just indicates that the oil is generally recognized as safe for its intended use, which is ambiguous, government-derived, gobbledygook that can mean just about anything.
Although the food industry uses essential oils in lots of different foods we consume daily, no one seems to want to go out on a limb and suggest you can ingest them for therapeutic reasons. And frankly, very few essential oils are even considered food safe. I’m sure part of the reason stems from the fact that the industry that produces these oils is unregulated. There can be much adulteration that frequently occurs in the manufacturing and distribution channels of the essential oil industry, both here and abroad. However, there are also legitimate sources for these products.
The researchers in this study, like most medical studies, actually seemed more inclined to determine which specific compounds in the oils were the active components. This would allow drug companies to synthetically produce patentable components that could be sold as drugs. That’s where the profit is—not in natural products that cannot be patented.
Among the oils that worked best at eliminating these dormant persisters were garlic, oregano, and cinnamon bark. Of these three, cinnamon bark oil is the only one that I’m aware of that has GRAS status with the FDA, and also whose active component, cinnamaldehyde, has an acceptable daily intake limit set by the Council of Europe. (In 1992, the Council of Europe set the acceptable daily intake level of cinnamaldehyde at 1.25 mg per kilogram of body weight.)
The above study had first tested cinnamon bark oil and found it was effective at eliminating the dormant persisters of Borrelia burgdorferi, and then they tested the component in cinnamon bark, cinnamaldehyde, and found it to be just as effective.
Since their tests were performed using very weak dilutions on bacterial cultures in petri dishes, there’s no way to effectively determine what oral dose in humans might be effective. In the lab cultures, cinnamon bark oil was effective at 0.25 percent and cinnamaldehyde was effective at even 0.05 percent, totally destroying the dormant persisters in 21 days.
If I had personally had Lyme disease that couldn’t be cleared with antibiotics, I would definitely be consuming larger amounts of these spices in my diet. I would also be taking a single drop, no more, of cinnamon bark oil daily, diluted in hot water or a cup of hot tea…or added to my morning protein shake.
The need for diluting cinnamon bark oil cannot be overstressed. Cinnamon bark oil can cause skin or mucous membrane irritation in some individuals, especially undiluted. Keep in mind that it was effective in the above study at only 0.05 percent. To achieve a 0.05 percent solution using hot tea as the carrier, would roughly be one drop of oil in 3 1/3 ounces of tea. A “normal” serving of hot tea is considered 6 ounces, and I think one drop of oil in 6 ounces would be my daily dosage, provided I didn’t experience any irritation or allergic reaction. I would continue this for three to four weeks and then discontinue.
The researchers in this study obtained their cinnamon bark essential oil from a company called Plant Guru in Plainfield, New Jersey. Their prices are reasonable and they don’t promote some multilevel marketing program, like many other sellers of essential oils. In my opinion, these programs drive up the cost of products. Plant Guru can be reached at (877) 788-0530 or online at https://www.theplantguru.com/cinnamon-bark-essential-oil.html.
It’s important to mention that there are two forms of cinnamon essential oil. One form extracts the oil from the leaves and twigs and is referred to as cinnamon leaf oil. Leaf oil only contains between 0.6–1.1 percent cinnamaldehyde. The other form utilizes the inner bark to get the oil, and the bark oil contains 63.1–75.7 percent cinnamaldehyde.
Since the study found that cinnamaldehyde was the active ingredient and responsible for eliminating the dormant persisters, you probably should only use cinnamon bark oil and not cinnamon leaf oil.
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Although this article may contain factual information, the information contained in this article has probably not been evaluated by the FDA nor is it in any way intended to be medical advice.
Unfortunately I must recommend that for any change in medical or health behavior or for any change in the way you use prescribed drugs by your healthcare providers or before acting upon any of the advice given in this or any other article, that you consult with your licensed healthcare provider or physician.
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