After diligently watching all of the livestream videos from the 2012 ILADS Boston Lyme Disease Conference a month ago I still wasn’t convinced that long-term antibiotics were the way to go for treatment of chronic Lyme disease. Why? Perhaps it’s my nutrition classes teaching me about the importance of gut flora and maintaining a healthy gut terrain to allow the body to successfully fight off infection the way it was designed. Antibiotics tend to destroy large portions of bacteria that make up the gut terrain and don’t stop to ask whether specific bacteria are helpful or hindering. Or maybe it’s that some doctors and patients claim to have success with antibiotics, yet I still see so many instances where the drugs only seem effective while taking them, causing patients to relapse with symptoms again after finishing treatment. Or it could be the idea that multiple infections make it so difficult to target infections with the correct antibiotics–the idea that specific antibiotics may work well against a particular strain of borrelia burgdorferi but not as well for that unknown, non-Lyme spirochete hiding out in the deep recesses of the jaw.

Those thoughts bring me to my latest method of treatment–the 6 month Cowden Protocol or Cowden Support Program as Nutramedix calls it. At my last visit with Dr. Yu in St. Louis a month ago, all of my meridians finally checked out normal yet I still had swollen knees, a newly swollen left thumb, and more joint pain, stiffness and tenderness in my elbows, heels, back and jaw. I chalked up the jaw pain to recovery from the past two surgeries that were probably still healing. So what was the next step? Dr. Yu suggested I might try the Cowden Protocol for six months and if that didn’t work, then address the issue with a triple short-course of antibiotics to knock everything out (while carefully supporting with probiotics). During that visit the air was thick with hesitation, since he knew my stance on antibiotics and it sounded like they would only be used as a last resort if I was willing to even try that approach. Meanwhile, he explained the details of the Cowden Protocol and that I would be the first of his patients to try it if I wanted to be a guinea pig. I agreed since I trust Dr. Yu’s experience and his willingness to figure out my mysterious illness with every intention to find healing without all the corporate influence.

Last week I finished month one of the Cowden Protocol. So far it has been easy to follow. The included daily chart allows you to see exactly when and what herbal tinctures to take each day with the amounts listed and boxes to check off each time you complete a dose. I am grateful  this protocol includes magnesium since the last time I tried taking herbals like Samento and Banderol I became extremely constipated. I think the magnesium has helped immensely with digestion and elimination of wastes and toxins.

You may wonder how I’m feeling after a month of this treatment. Well, it’s been a rough start. I’ve been able to take every dose but maybe one or two–because of suspected herx reactions when I felt too much pain to continue the next dose. About a week or two into the program, I started feeling worse, more aches and pains and a lot of back pain, especially near my kidneys. I’ve been drinking three to four quarts of water per day as listed in the instructions. I get random muscle twitches from time to time throughout the day and knee swelling has not decreased. My worst symptoms are still the stiff, swollen knees, back pain and a stiff neck–especially at the base of my skull. Pain in my left thumb, both elbows and heels is aggravating but not as strong. Suspecting herxes, I decided after a couple weeks to increase doses of the antimicrobials Banderol and Samento only every two days instead of twice a day. I think that has helped since I have had less back pain but I still have not reached the maximum dose of 30 drops. Only time will tell whether my symptoms get better or worse, but I am hopeful.

A few days ago I returned for a monthly follow-up visit with Dr. Yu to monitor progress of the the Cowden Protocol. He seemed disappointed that I wasn’t feeling better yet, and checked all my meridians again. This time all were normal except that dental appeared problematic once more. Fearing another surgery and possible cavitation in the right side of my jaw, I will return to consult with my oral surgeon to decide what to do next. Until then I’ll continue to pray for healing and support my body with the best sources of food I can find.

Have you had any experience with the 6 month Cowden Protocol? If so, please comment below. I’d like to hear about experiences with this protocol, whether good or bad.

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  • RuthMiller008

    Hi, as per my knowledge it is true that gut
    flora helps our defense system. Other medications are good at showing result
    but simultaneously brings side effects.

  • lisadennis

    I like the cowden products a lot and think highly of their products, but found that the kits need more products in them to make them more effective as a treatment plan and can be bought under 300 for each month on line…which I wish I had realised sooner. I needed way more burbur and pinella, parsley and bought mapalo (neuro support) as it is fantastic for neuro lyme, melatonin as is essential as we struggle to sleep and adrenal support as lyme has effected this for us all too.
    On the bottom on the schedule forms, it states to take 10 drops of burbur and 10 of pinella every 10 min to break a herx…I don’t feel that they emphasize this enough!!!! or provide enough in the kits to do this, or make it clear to those with neuro lyme that it would be a good idea to buy extra. BUY EXTRA! They are awesome products and my husband and I and kids still use them now. Herxes are often lower back pain, fluey, headachey, tired, sore knees, temps etc
    We tested the kits for 3months on our kids and were shocked to break a herx on our middle child in 1 hour which would normally take 8-12 hours. I love the fact the majority of these products are easy to take and NOT PILLS as lymies we have sunk bucketloads of pill and like to reduce this when possible. I also feel they should include in the kits the form that stated which products can be taken together or not so that people can buy other needed products and take within the program. the truth is the program is an excellent guideline but all lymies are individuals with different co infection s and need to tweak or add products to account for this. I would love to see Dr Cowden encompass the latest info regarding treating Bartonella 1st and come up with a protocol which allows his lyme patients with this infection to focus on this early on a I feel it explains why some don’t get the strong results they are expecting. Since rifing heavily and reg for Bartonella I am finding the cowden products more effective again.
    very interested to hear how you go as I really believe in his products
    cheers Lisa

  • swollenmystery

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Interesting that you were able to see the herx breaking in your child like that. I agree with you about the guidelines not emphasizing enough burbur and pinella. I ran out too during the first few months and had to buy more. I never quite felt like my herxes went away though even following the instructions of taking the detox herbs every 10 minutes and skipping antimicrobials. I also found it difficult to get any work done during the day when I had to take time out every 10 minutes so I’ve still been strict about taking everything but not so much for the herxes. I’m almost through month 5 and still not feeling any better than when I started. I’ll post again soon.

  • lisadennis

    Hi again, Have you tried added in more detox agents such as parsley and adrenal support if you are tired and mapalo for neuro support if you are brain fuzzy? Also I did not realise that the cowden protocol is herbal as well as homeopathic! so no strong things like TOOTHPASTE to brush your teeth, can’t have near coffee or cigarettes and more. If you have heavy inflamation, are you on a gluten free, low or no dairy diet…if rice I use basmati as it is non glutenous. Oats are gluten free, but glutenous like some rices. I use empty bottles to meter out doses so I just have to add in water to use. Must not drink from plastic.
    Lastly if you do not drink scads of water it truly does not work! you are releasing toxins and if must remove them or you feel awful and the recirculate and get stored back in the body. A lot of why I feel sick is the toxins causing inflamation. My friend is still on full cowden protocol and her doc said you have to keep repeating the last 3 months until you feel better…timing is one for every year you have been sick.
    I don’t know, so I was facinated to find your post as I would like to know how someone went who did full 6 months. My kids did improve but I came to the conclusion that they would be on it a long time and the cost was huge ( 5 of us). We have Bart too which is extremely hard to get rid of and seems to require stand alone treatment.
    we now all rife and use
    That all being said we are now rifing for lyme on 832 and co’s on1583 on a doug c and taking woodland botanicals thieves oil 3 drops in a capsule with avocado oil daily and using burbur and pinella and mapalo and adrenal support..we are happily all improving. this is not a recommendation just our personal journey.
    all the bet to you and looking forward to hearing how you feel as you go
    cheers Lisa

  • swollenmystery

    Glad you’ve found some things that provide relief. It seems there can be so many ways to get to the point where our bodies can and should recover on their own but everyone is different. Diet and lifestyle factors are just a few. Interesting you mention gluten and dairy as I had always suspected them as problematic, even though I tried to eat almost exclusively glutenous grains that were soaked, fermented or baked with cultures like sourdough and ate mostly dairy that was raw or cultured. I did stop the Cowden support program after 5.5 months as I’m now working with a new doctor. Ironically though, he felt I should cut out all gluten and casein with my new diet and protocol. We’ll see how things work.

  • derek

    I was extremely sick with neuro lyme, could barely walk..was told probably ALS but decided to try CSP. I was hospitalized at at 12 for lyme, ate my hip away, been bitten by hundreds, maybe thousands of ticks all over new england – RI, MA, NH, ME and even nantucket. I was 46 when my body finally lost the battle completely. That is where I was at when I started CSP. I have 1 week to go to finish the 6 months and I did everything exactly as designed and I am much better off. Playing tennis, working, fishing, eating normally, etc etc Praise God! I still have very slight strange feelings in legs, slight burning skin and hip pain. I am gong to do the additional 2 months they sometimes recommend and keep up the treatment for babesia.

    I did add in a couple of other products mid way through A-bart (for bartonella) and at the very end Artemesinin (for babesia).

  • swollenmystery

    That’s good to hear you found success with the program. It seems to work well for some and not others. I think I would have kept going with it too if I saw even the slightest improvement in symptom relief. Hopefully it will go into remission permanently for you.

  • Janelle

    I’m considering this protocol if my current ND can’t get me and my son better. After seeing a MD, homeopath, and now an ND I can say, no one person has the cure, and everyone’s bodies are different. What works for one might not work for another. It’s a lot of trial and error before we find what works.

  • swollenmystery

    You’re right on that everybody is different. I’d give the protocol a try. I would hope you would see after a few months if things start to improve or not.

  • Koko

    I am in month three of the Cowden Program and am not noticing any major signs of improvement. There are some subtle things happening but some days I still feel pretty achy. I am going to stick with it though as I’ve tried other things that don’t work or are short term.

  • swollenmystery

    I get pretty frustrated after 3 months of a protocol not working too. It might be worth finding someone to check for hidden dental infections or other parasites. Everyone is so different and complex that it’s tough to say whether one treatment will work for another.

  • KTdid

    I was on Cowden for nearly 22 months. I never felt 100% but my health improved. I equate that to all the years I went undiagnosed with Bb. I am starting Cowden all over again as recent tests showed positive for Lyme and Babesia. I’m hopeful this second round is completely successful and if not, at least allows me to function normally.

  • Miia Kallila

    I had 6 months cowdens antimicrobials and burbur + chlorella, magnesium and serrapeptase. Im 90% better compared to the days i was at my sickest. My inflammation was mainly on the right side of my body. I also took glucosamine occasionally. I had inflammation in tendons (sole, back of my knee, neck, lower back, wrist, jaw, fingers) and pain under my skin. Also with tendon pain started the tinnitus and gum problems. Now after one year of being sick of which 6+ months being on modified cowdens, only pain left is inmy palm and wrist if im trying to carry something heavy. Tinnitus has decreased but not stopped. Also on&off gut pain is gone

  • swollenmystery

    That’s so encouraging! Maybe I’ll have to try another 6 months of the Cowden protocol after I get my dental problems addressed.

  • Laura Daisy

    I was diagnosed with a rare spinal cord disease in October 2014 and spent 3 weeks in the hospital and left half paralyzed. I have regained most of my strength. I am 35 and have a 20 month old daughter who was only 12 months when I went into the hospital. Even though the lesion on my spine has been healing I started having other symptoms like nerve spasms, joint pains, extreme fatigue and brain fog to the point that I could barely function. I went to a popular holistic doctor who did some blood work and thought that I may have lymes. After doing research.. It made sense and I thought.. What do I have to lose? I just started the protocol and have only been on it for 13 days and I notice a huge difference already. I am thinking so much clearer and I feel like I have my brain back again. It is amazing. Everyone has parasites in their body as well as heavy metals. This program helps with all of that so even if you aren’t dealing with lymes, there is something that is attacking your body enough to cause pain and issues. I can’t wait to see how I feel in a month or two if I feel this good already. My joint pains are even gone. After experiencing this for 9 months straight with hardly any good days, I know this protocol is working for me. I cannot be more thankful