“[Wolf] Storl’s fast-paced journey through the material reads like an adventure story of the author’s own migration from sickness to health and of his education in Lyme disease.”
—From the foreword by Matthew Wood, author of The Book of Herbal Wisdom and The Hearthwise Herbal
“Medical anthropologist and herbalist Wolf Storl presents a thoroughly fascinating compendium of science, history, and ethnographic lore on this mysterious and multi-faceted illness.”
—Ralph Metzner, PhD, president of The Green Earth Foundation and author of Green Psychology and MindSpace and TimeStream
In our interview with herbalist and teacher Matthew Wood, you may recall his mentioning a new book, Healing Lyme Disease Naturally, by Wolf Storl. Matthew wrote the foreword to this book, and talked to us about the role of the herb teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris) in healing Lyme. Dr Storl is an anthropologist and herbalist, as well as an engaging and prolific writer. He has published twenty-eight books, and his work has been translated into numerous different languages. He has also taught university courses in medical anthropology. As a result of a superinfection that resisted antibiotic treatment in an earlier illness he suffered, he was unable to take antibiotics when he discovered he had Lyme. For this reason, he was forced to turn to older methods of treating a serious disease. Dr Storl healed himself using teasel and supportive therapies, such as a light diet, exercise and hyperthermia.
This new book is not going to appeal to everyone. However, if you are interested in herbal medicine and lore, or if you’re investigating alternatives to antibiotics, you may find it a captivating read, as I did. It will give you a comprehensive picture of Lyme and another spirochetal illness that resembles Lyme, and that is syphilis. (Matthew Wood and others have called Lyme „deer syphilis“.) Through the wide lens of medical history, and illustrated with his own personal story, he shows us how these diseases have been viewed and treated in different cultures through time.
If you’ve become paranoid of picnicking by the lake, or you panic at the sight of a weird-looking spider on the wall, this book may help restore your sense of wonder about nature, and lose a little of the fear. After all, as he points out in a provocative examination of the advent of antibiotics after WWII, microbes are not the enemy. They are an integral part of us.
Early in the book there is a fascinating chapter about the stealthy make-up of the Borrelia spirochete. Research scientists have told me that the Borrelia bacteria is capable of dormancy, changing forms, and hiding from the immune system. I just never really understood quite how until I read this chapter, which explains the Borrelia bergdorferi and its „astonishing typical characteristics.“ Among them:
- Depending on the conditions of their environment, borrelia can take on different forms. Besides the normal spiral or corkscrew spirochete form, they can cast off their cell wall and, held together by a thin pliable membrane, take on globular form. In this way, cell-wall-inhibiting antibiotics are rendered useless. In this spheric form (also called L-form) they are not recognizable for the immune cells; they have, so to say, no „features,“ no antigens, by which they could be recognized.
- Borrelia can also encapsulate and go into dormancy within minutes. They seem to do this when their environment is polluted by antibiotics, for example. Until the environment improves for them, they can remain dormant for at least ten months without carrying on basic life functions such as metabolism or dividing. As long as they are metabolically inactive, antibiotics have no effect of them. The patient believes he has been finally cured, but then the symptoms rebound anew.
- Borrelia can attach to host cell walls (mainly scar-tissue cells and even defense cells) and induce the cell to release its own digestive enzymes, which eat a hole in the cell wall. The spirochete then enters the cell, kills the nucleus, and wears the cell wall as a disguising cloak or mask. This is another way in which these terrorists of the microscopic world evade recognition by the immune cells.
Included in his telling of herbal lore and histories are intriguing ethno-medical stories. For example, did you know that at one point in the 19th century, doctors injected syphilitic patients with malaria? It seemed to help. About a third of the patients would get healed. Another third wasn’t affected at all, and the other third entered a long remission. Years later, in the 1930s, the medical establishment discovered why it helped: the malaria caused spiking fevers of 107 degrees, which killed the Borrelia bacteria. Hyperthermia has long been used by many different cultures to kill bacteria of all kinds.
Dr. Storl raises and explores important questions, such as whether Lyme is a new illness, or an old disease that was diagnosed as other conditions. Aside from an examination of teasel and how it works in healing Lyme, dosages, preparation methods, and more, there are many practical tips included here, such as measures to take to protect against tick bites (essential oils such as cedar milk, clove oil, tea tree oil, peppermint oil and others may be effective when rubbed onto exposed skin areas), and an explanation of the way antibiotics such as doxycycline work.
I just finished reading Healing Lyme Disease Naturally: History, Analysis, and Treatments, a new book by anthropologist Wolf D. Storl. I was totally obsessed with this book and couldn’t put it down. It contains so much information about the history of Lyme, various theories on the disease, as well as treatment methods. Storl’s experience as a well-seasoned anthropologist is evident in his exploration of the relationship between medicine, culture, and politics. He is fairly radical in his assessment of the way that Lyme Disease and ticks are portrayed and the way that the relationship of epidemic disease, advances in medicine and technology, and general cultural trends have effected our relationship to nature. At times, he is quite esoteric, discussing the possibility that ticks are really messengers from the Earth, encouraging us to listen more closely to nature and return to the wisdom of the ancients. He even dives headlong into a discussion of shamanistic tradition, mythology, and the planetary bodies. This book is all over the place – and yet, I think it is totally approachable.
Storl is no stranger to Lyme Disease. He contracted it and suffered all the classic symptoms. As someone intolerant to antibiotics, he sought out care using herbs. Eventually, he found his way to teasel root, and found it to be a vital part to his recovery.
I really appreciated this book. It almost reads like an action novel – the pace is fantastic, and and found myself learning something new with each turn of the page. He looks tirelessly at the history of Lyme Disease treatment, as well as treatments of its spirochete sister disease, syphilis, and a variety of other degenerative chronic illnesses. Throughout the book, he stresses the importance of our connection to nature, and dives into the shamanistic, herbal, and healing traditions of a variety of cultures. And his knowledge of herbalism is admirable. I already desire deeply to study herbs, but this book really pushed me over the edge! The back of the book also contains a helpful herb index, something that I know I will be referencing constantly. What I wouldn’t give to shadow him, man.
Storl also discusses a whole life approach incorporating quality food, exercise, sunshine, and fresh air; it is a refreshing and logical, and there are many excellent suggestions for lifestyle changes that facilitate healing. I find his discussion of how Lyme Disease changes people and causes them to often become more sensitive and have a hightened perception to be absolutely fascinating – and absolutely true for my own experience. Storl also discusses the cultural notion of disease, the identity of disease, and the differences in treating a person vs. treating their symptoms. It is like this book is reading my mind!
A primary focus of the book is the use of teasel root as part of the healing traditions in Eastern and Western herbal medicine. A modest plant with a remarkable history and an impressive medicinal capability, it grows commonly all over the place and can easily be grown in the garden. The way that teasel combats the borrelia bacteria is completely different than the way that antibiotics do, allowing for a more complete recovery and more thorough cleanse of the system. He said treatment can last about 3 months, which is exciting, considering that antibiotic treatment lasts at the very least 6 months and sometimes for years and years (I know some Lymies that have been on broad spectrum antibiotics for more than 5 years). It can be taken as a tincture, as a tea, or as a powder, and has shown incredible efficacy for even very severe cases of late-stage neurological Lyme.
After thoroughly covering teasel, Storl dives headlong into the wide variety of other Lyme treatment philosophies, ranging from the Klinghardt protocol to Salt-C protocol to various „old world“-style treatments. He gives a lot of information about helpful herbs that are useful, as well as nutritional supplements. My copy of this book is already underlined and dog-eared and written in with points to research further. Then he dives into a really incredible description of how syphilis – a fellow borrelia bacteria – completely shaped modern history. It blew my mind. Then he asks a very intriguing and poignant question: will Lyme Disease have a similar effect? The rate of infection is of epidemic proportion and the effect on the body is the same, so how will we start to see the larger, cultural effect of Lyme Disease in the years to come?
The thing that really threw me about this book was his absolute denial of the efficacy of antibiotic in chronic cases. I am currently taking broad spectrum antibiotics for Lyme treatment, along with a variety of botanical medicines. As someone generally suspicious of allopathic medicine, the decision to take antibiotics was something that I felt hesitancy about for all the reasons Storl lists in his book. Long-term use of antibiotics has really negative risks, and I am starting to experience some of them – decreased digestive function, yellowing of teeth, and liver fatigue, to name a few. Those things aside, I have seen massive improvement in my over all health since starting antibiotics, but intuitively, I feel like I need to bring in another tool that we don’t yet have. I want to incorporate teasel – or some of the other healing herbs discussed in this book – in my protocol. You can be certain I’ll be asking my LLMD and naturopath about it at my next appointments in July, and am curious to talk to them about the book.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in herbalism, natural healing, or the history of chronic disease treatment, and would consider is required reading for anyone dealing with chronic Lyme disease. Storl puts faith in nature’s ability to heal, but also puts responsibility on the patient to create an environment that facilitates healing. His experience and the experiences of the others in the book are inspiring. The book is intriguing, and stimulates you to ask many questions and self-reflect. It has spoken to me so clearly with words that reflect my philosophy and desire for my own treatment. Truly one of the best books I’ve read in ages.