Can Samento Treat Lyme Disease?

Can the herb samento help those suffering from Lyme disease?

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With Lyme disease on the rise, some people have started exploring the use of natural remedies such as samento. A form of cat’s claw—an herb best know as a popular remedy for arthritis—samento is said to treat Lyme disease by boosting your immune system. But does the scientific research bear this out? 

The Basics of Lyme Disease

First, it's important to understand the cause of Lyme disease. The most common tickborne infectious disease in the U.S., Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread through the bite of infected deer ticks.

The best bet for preventing Lyme disease is to avoid contact with deer ticks (by wearing light-colored long pants, long sleeves and tucking pant legs into socks), using tick repellent whenever you’re in the woods or other areas with overgrown grass or bushes and checking your body for ticks.

Antibiotics can effectively treat most cases of Lyme disease, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The sooner you begin treatment with antibiotics after infection, according to the NIH, the faster and more thoroughly you’ll recover from Lyme disease. Still, some people struggle with a condition called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, with lingering symptoms like fatigue, muscle and joint pain, sleep disruption and mood changes after antibiotic treatment.

Why Is Samento Sometimes Used for Lyme Disease?

The use of samento as a natural remedy for Lyme disease was popularized in part by Richard Horowitz, M.D., author of "Why Can't I Get Better?

Solving the Mystery of Lyme and Chronic Disease." According to Horowitz, samento (along with another herbal remedy known as banderol) can help treat Lyme disease by ridding the body of disease-causing microbes (i.e., bacteria).

In addition, some advocates of samento suggest that the herb can enhance health in Lyme disease patients by easing chronic inflammation.

While there’s no evidence to support this claim, emerging research shows that inflammation could play a key role in Lyme-related changes to your nervous system. Such changes are closely linked to muscle weakness, memory loss, headache, depression and a host of other health troubles often experienced by people with Lyme disease.

Does Samento Really Work For Lyme Disease?

So far, very few scientific studies have looked at whether samento might be helpful for people with Lyme disease. The available research includes a 2010 study conducted by the Lyme Disease Research Group at the University of New Haven, in which laboratory experiments suggest that a combination of samento and banderol may show some promise in the treatment of Lyme disease.

If you’re curious about samento, talk to your doctor about whether to incorporate this remedy into your Lyme disease treatment plan. While it may be tempting to want to try it, improper treatment of Lyme disease can lead to serious complications (such as joint problems and nervous system disorders), so self-treating with samento isn’t recommended.

Also, it's important to keep in mind that the side effects and risks of this herb in regular or high-doses aren't known nor is its safety in children, pregnant or nursing women or people with other health conditions. 

How Is Samento Different From Cat’s Claw?

If you’re thinking of using herbal medicine to treat Lyme disease, it’s important to know the difference between samento and cat’s claw. Although they belong to the same species, the two remedies have a different chemical makeup.

Both samento and cat’s claw contain pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (POAs), which are compounds said to stimulate immune function and help Lyme disease patients to recovery. However, unlike cat’s claw, samento does not contain a class of compounds called tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids (TOAs). Believed to disrupt the function of the central nervous system, TOAs are also thought to weaken the effects of POAs.

Alternatives to Samento

Samento is just one of many remedies thought to  benefit people with Lyme disease. Some proponents of alternative medicine suggest that herbs like astragalus and echinacea can help rev up your immune system and clear your body of microbes, while supplements such as MSM are claimed to relieve joint pain and ginkgo biloba is touted as a natural approach to increasing mental clarity.

However, as is the case with samento, there is currently a lack of research to support the use of any of these remedies in the treatment of Lyme disease.


Akshita Datar, Navroop Kaur, Seema Patel, David F. Luecke, and Eva Sapi, PhD. “In Vitro Effectiveness of Samento and Banderol Herbal Extracts on the Different Morphological Forms of Borrelia Burgdorferi.” The Townsend Letter. July 2010.

Richard Horowitz, MD. “Classic and Integrative Medical Therapies For Lyme Disease and Associated Tick-Borne Disorders.” P T. 2009 Apr; 34(4): 203–214.

National Institutes of Health. “Lyme Disease: MedlinePlus.” May 2016.

Ramesh G1, Didier PJ2, England JD3, Santana-Gould L3, Doyle-Meyers LA4, Martin DS1, Jacobs MB1, Philipp MT5. “Inflammation in the pathogenesis of lyme neuroborreliosis.” Am J Pathol. 2015 May;185(5):1344-60.

Aristo Vojdani,1 Frank Hebroni,2 Yaniv Raphael,3 Jonathan Erde,4 and Bernard Raxlen5. “Novel Diagnosis of Lyme Disease: Potential for CAM Intervention.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009 Sep; 6(3): 283–295.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using any alternative medicine or making a change to your treatment or regimen. 

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