5 essential oils that might win the fight against Lyme disease

Lyme disease is still a mysterious condition in many ways.

Although some people get a tick bite and the classic bullseye rash, receive antibiotics and recover, others have fatigue, painful, aching joints and memory and sleep problems that persist for years after the initial infection.

Lyme is a disease that if you get it, doctors may or may not be able to help since scientific studies of the disease have even shown that primates with Lyme are still infected after a full 28 days of antibiotic treatment.

But, there is hope…

A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has discovered 5 essential oils that are more effective at killing the disease than standard Lyme antibiotics.

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Strong killing activity against the persister form of Lyme

While the cause of the lingering symptoms many people have following Lyme infection isn’t known with certainty, the scientists do know that cultures of Lyme disease bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, can enter a so-called stationary phase in which many of the cells divide slowly or not at all. The slow-dividing or dormant cells are “persister” cells and are more resistant to antibiotics.

This is the most likely reason some people are unable to recover from the disease despite antibiotic treatment.

Bloomberg researchers have been at the forefront of efforts to solve this problem and give hope to the 30,000 people each year newly infected by the bacteria.

In 2014, the team screened FDA-approved drugs for activity against persister Lyme bacteria and found many candidates including daptomycin (one of the last resort antibiotics used to treat MRSA) that had better activity than the current Lyme antibiotics.

Then in 2017, they found that essential oils from oregano, cinnamon bark, clove buds, citronella and wintergreen killed stationary phase Lyme bacteria even more potently than daptomycin, the champion among tested pharmaceuticals.

Now, in their latest study, they extended their lab-dish testing to include 35 other essential oils and found 10 that demonstrated significant killing activity against stationary phase Lyme bacteria cultures at concentrations of just one part per thousand.

They found that at this concentration, five of the oils stood head and shoulders above all others, killing all persistent Lyme bacteria within just seven days and ensuring no bacteria grew back in 21 days.

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Using essential oils to fight Lyme disease

These five oils that were shown most effective were made from:

  • Garlic bulbs
  • Allspice berries
  • Myrrh trees
  • Spiked ginger lily blossoms
  • May chang fruit (Litsea cubeba)

Oils from thyme leaves, cumin seeds and Amyris wood also performed well, as did cinnamaldehyde, the fragrant main ingredient of cinnamon bark oil.

“We found that these essential oils were even better at killing the ‘persister’ forms of Lyme bacteria than standard Lyme antibiotics,” said study senior author Ying Zhang, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School.

While it’s worth it to note that this study was performed in Petri dishes and not in humans, it’s also worth it to remember that antibiotics have a long-term history of failing Lyme patients and if the safe use of essential oils has the possibility of giving these people their lives back, it’s incredibly hopeful.


  1. Essential oils from garlic and other herbs kill ‘persister’ Lyme disease bacteria — Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
  2. How many people get Lyme disease? — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  3. Identification of Essential Oils with Strong Activity against Stationary Phase Borrelia burgdorferiAntibiotics
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.