Use of Disulfiram to Treat Lyme Disease w/ Dr. Daniel Kinderlehrer
Project Lyme does not endorse, recommend, or certify any medical practice or physician and does not guarantee the quality of medical advice or care given. The information shared in this article is purely for educational purposes.
The FDA approved disulfiram to treat alcoholism over 70 years ago. Since it accentuates hangover reactions, it acts as a disincentive to alcoholics to “just have one drink”. While its effectiveness in alcoholics is unclear, in the laboratory it has been found to have antimicrobial and antimalarial properties. It turns out it is a powerful agent against some tick-borne infections.
In 2016, Dr.Jayakamur Rajadas and his colleagues at Stanford University screened over 4,000 drugs against Borrelia Burgdorferi, the Lyme pathogen. The number one most effective hit was disulfiram. This eventually led to many Lyme specialists adopting it into their practices.
Dr. Ken Liegner is one of those specialists who speak about its effectiveness. While it doesn’t work for every patient—as we know there is no one size fits all treatment—he has seen it work with minimal side effects leading to sustained remissions (asymptomatic for at least 6 months) for many patients. Unlike other protocols such as Dapsone, disulfiram has led to benefits for patients without being part of combination therapy.
Dr. Daniel Kinderlehrer is another Lyme physician who has had experience using disulfiram. However, his patients have not tolerated this drug as well as Dr. Liegner’s. When Drs. Kinderlehrer and Liegner discussed their experience with this drug, it became clear that Dr. Kinderlehrer’s patients tend to be more sensitive, as well as suffering from multiple coinfections, hormonal imbalances, mold problems, and more issues with detoxification than Dr. Liegner’s. While some of Dr. Kinderlehrer’s patients have done well on full doses of disulfiram, he has many patients who did not tolerate the drug, as well as many who have had good responses at much lower doses.
There is no algorithm for treatment that says here is what works for this diagnosis, everyone is an individual
Dr. Kinderleher has found disulfiram to be highly effective in patients that only have Lyme and Babesia. But he is particularly careful about using it in patients who are suffering from sensitivities disorders, increased mast cell activation, neuropathy and brain toxicity, since disulfiram can make these problems worse. Dr. Kinderlehrer has also found it can work very well at low doses in some patients. He starts patients on low doses and increases the dose gradually. If a patient goes into remission at a relatively low dose, he will keep the patient on that dose rather than increase to a full dose, as determined by weight
My experience is if someone is in relatively good health, and they dont have all of the downstream issues I have been talking about, and only have Lyme and Babesia, this (disulfiram) can work really well
In conclusion, there is still more work that needs to be done to find a treatment protocol that is effective across a wider range of patients, including those facing chronic Lyme. But disulfiram has proven itself in a subset of the chronic Lyme population. Dr. Brian Fallon at the Columbia Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Research Center is currently running a clinical trial testing its efficacy. If you have been treated by disulfiram or plan to, you can learn more about participating in the clinical trials here: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03891667