Lyme disease has long been considered a disease simple to treat. The disease is usually caused by a tick-borne infection (involving the spirochetes, Borrelia burgdorferi), and how the body’s immune system responds to it. According to the Department of Health, over 30, 000 people are infected with Lyme disease each year in Connecticut.
Normally, a quick trip to the doctors and a short course of antibiotics can solve the problem, although recently it has been brought to light that this is not always the case. Two in ten people will relapse once they are taken off the antibiotics. While the question of why remains unanswered, The disease is costing the U.S healthcare system a grand amount between $172 million to $1.3 billion each year.
Dr Eva Sapi, chairwoman of the Department of Biology and Environmental Science (University of New Haven) claims that the cure could lie in our everyday sweetener, Stevia.
A group of students led by Dr Sapi ran several tests using Stevia whole leaf extracts, testing its effectiveness against Borrelia burgdorferi alongside other antibiotics. The results produced some interesting findings.
Working as well as the majority of antibiotic-resistant biofilm forms, Stevia extract eliminated 94% of the spirochetes and 84% of the persisters. After a fourteen-day subculture of stevia, it was found that the regrowth of borrelia had reduced in significant amounts in comparison to Stevia. It also largely reduced borrelia biofilms grown on collagen and plastic surfaces.
The findings prompted the publication of a research paper highlighting the success Stevia can have for preventing the bacteria which causes Lyme disease.
Although so far tests the tests foresee a promising future, Dr Sapi exclaims that there is no guarantee these findings will work as successfully in the human body.
Currently, Dr Richard Horowitz is testing its effectiveness on patients through a clinical trial in Hyde Park, New York. The group at UNH are also continuing their research on fish and fish embryos. The group have said in their continued work that the best way to fight bacteria is still through Stevia.