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Lyme Disease and Antibiotics

Written by sshowalter, green crane.

Common names for antibiotics used in the treatment of lyme disease include:

Effect of Antibiotics on Lyme Disease

Antibiotics are given to treat patients in all stages of Lyme disease. Their aim is to kill the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Relapse may follow the use of any antibiotic, and a repeat course of therapy may be necessary. Some people may continue to develop symptoms and complications of the disease even after the bacteria are killed.

Doxycycline—This is a type of tetracycline antibiotic. It is given in pill form for several weeks or sometimes longer. Doxycycline can cause an upset stomach and should be taken with food. It cannot be used in pregnant women and children under 8 years of age.

Amoxicillin—This is a type of penicillin antibiotic. It is given to pregnant women, children under 8, and those allergic to tetracycline. It is also given in pill form for several weeks. It can be taken on an empty or full stomach.

Cefuroxime and ceftriaxone—These are cephalosporin antibiotics. They are given when you cannot take either of the other antibiotics, or if you have serious complications. Cefuroxime is usually given in pill form and should be taken with a full glass of water. They can be taken with food or a glass of milk if they upset your stomach. Ceftriaxone may be given in intravenous (IV) form or as an intramuscular injection.

Read more details about Antibiotics.

How to Use Antibiotics

The standard treatment duration is between 10-28 days, but there tends to be a fairly large relapse rate for those who are deemed as "cured" after the round of antibiotics.1 Additionally, there are many for whom this traditional treatment path does not produce curative results, and many people continue to have spirochete loads that stay in their bodies regardless of treatment regime or symptom reduction.1

Continual antibiotic use for Lyme disease patients (and patients of any condition for that matter) can compromise the body's innate immune function, leaving the host more susceptible to other infection or less-able to combat internal conditions. This is because repeated antibiotic use alters the initial gut flora by killing off both the beneficial bacteria along with the infectious bacteria, leaving the system compromised.1

Possible side effects include:

  • Allergic reactions, such as rash, itchy skin, difficulty breathing—Get help if any of these occurs. For breathing difficulties, get emergency care.
  • Diarrhea —This may be severe; in which case, call your doctor.
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach upset
  • Decreased effectiveness of oral contraceptives—Use another form of contraception while you are taking these medications.
  • Bleeding problems—Check with your doctor if you notice easy bruising, increased bleeding, or spontaneous bleeding.


  1. Buhner, S.H. Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme /borreliosis and Its Coinfections. Silver City, NM Raven Press. 2005

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