Even if you don’t know it by name, you have seen Japanese Knotweed. It has found its way into streambanks, roadsides, yards, gardens – and bike paths! It was introduced to the U.S. from Asia in the late 1800s, but due to its rapid proliferation, most now consider it an invasive weed and put a lot of effort into eradicating it. Along the bike path between Davis and Cedar alone, I see large sections where it was cut down in the spring. By now, it has reestablished itself nicely. A very determined plant.
Japanese Knotweed is a prime example of an invasive species used specifically for invasive pathogens emerging in epidemic numbers (such as Lyme Disease). Its invasiveness is a key to its action as an antispirochetal, and its microcirculatory action aids in reaching spirochetes in all the remote areas of the body where they like to hide. Japanese Knotweed helps to stimulate the immune system into action against invading pathogens. Its anti-inflammatory action helps with Lyme-induced arthritis. It crosses the blood/brain barrier to act on the central nervous system, and protects the brain. This plant is also an accelerator – which is the one herb in a compound that stimulates the others into action. I have received calls from clients stating that after years of testing positive for Lyme, their dogs finally test negative, after treating with a formulation with Japanese Knotweed as the primary ingredient.
I know of no herbalist who has researched Lyme as thoroughly as Stephen Buhner, and in his book Healing Lyme, he explains how Knotweed works against spirochetes. Spirochetes initiate the release of specific compounds called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which are produced through particular pathways. Japanese Knotweed is the only herb that blocks MMP-1 and -3 (two of the most common) through these pathways. Knotweed is also effective against Lyme coinfections such as Bartonella and Ehrlichia. Leptospirosis is another spirochetal disease that would benefit by treatment with Japanese Knotweed.
Its primary medicinal constituent is resveratrol, which is gaining in popularity as an isolated, capsule form (red grape skins also contain resveratrol), but I prefer using the whole root in the traditional manner rather than isolating constituents. (Phytochemistry possesses a very delicate balance of synergistic components – one which Mother Nature has perfected. Often, when scientists start isolating and standardizing, the medicinal actions are lost, less effective, or gain harmful side effects.) True to the plant’s nature, it’s a very tough one. Once harvested, they are very hard to chop up and I finally just went out and bought an axe. (Anyone have a tree shredder they want to sell?)
Aside from its antispirochetal action, Japanese Knotweed is antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, and more. It enhances immune function, is anti-inflammatory, and helps to reduce Herx reactions associated with spirochetal die-off. So, the next time you hear someone cursing this noxious weed, smile with the knowledge that it is powerful medicine.