Samento : Immune System booster and
New Support For An Ancient Enemy Lyme Disease
James South, M.A.
Lyme disease was first recognized around
1975, when a mysterious outbreak of juvenile rheumatoid
arthritis occurred around Lyme, Connecticut.1 In 1982, the
causative agent of Lyme disease was discovered by Willy
Burgdorfer. It turned out to be a spirochete (spiral-shaped
bacterium) from the genus Borrelia, subsequently named Borrelia
As Lyme disease expert Jo Anne Whitaker, M.D., notes: Lyme
disease is called the New Great Imitator because,
like syphilis [the original Great Imitator ], it attacks
multiple organ systems and mimics many diseases. Both diseases
are caused by spirochetes. 2 Originally believed to be spread
only through bites by the tiny deer tick (Ixodes dammini), it is
now known to be potentially spread by many tick species, as well
as bot-flies, mosquitoes and fleas.3,4
And in a recent article with 224 references, physicians W.T.
Harvey and P. Salvato have offered persuasive evidence that Lyme
disease is transmitted sexually and congenitally (by birth from
an infected mother), as well as through breastfeeding.1,4 They
also provide evidence that Lyme disease may be a hidden
epidemic, affecting as much as one-sixth of the human race, if
not more.4 By 1994, Lyme disease experts Brian Fallon and
Jenifer Nields could already state: Now the most common
vector-borne [spread by ticks and insects] infection in the
United States, Lyme disease is increasing in incidence and
geographic spread. 5
Lyme: One Disease, Many Symptoms
Lyme disease is believed to cause, mimic, manifest as, be
misdiagnosed as, or contribute to more than 300 conditions and
diseases.6 About 60 percent of those bitten by Bb-infected ticks
or insects will develop a characteristic bulls-eye
rash (erythema migrans), yet many confirmed Lyme disease
patients never develop such a rash.13
There may be few initial symptoms other than a flu-like
syndrome, yet within weeks to years a diversity of symptoms may
occur. These may include fatigue, low grade fevers, night
sweats, migrating joint pains or arthritis, muscle pains, sleep
disturbances, frequent and/or severe headaches, numbness or
tingling in hands or feet, nerve pains, brain fog,
hypersensitivity to lights, sounds, tastes or smells, memory and
concentration problems, speech difficulties, depression,
irritability, mood swings,7 heart, eye, respiratory and
gastrointestinal problems,2 to name just a few. Symptoms may
come and go, varying in intensity. The Bb spirochete may
penetrate into the brain as early as three weeks after
Lyme: Difficult and Controversial Diagnosis
Lyme disease has become a surprisingly controversial disease.9
Even famed novelist Amy Tan has been drawn into the controversy,
after a belated Lyme disease diagnosis in her own case. She
complained about being tested even for syphilis and ALS (Lou
Gehrig s disease) before anyone thought to test her for Lyme
Why the controversy The CDC (United States Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention) has set up a rather strict
formal set of criteria for Lyme disease diagnosis. The CDC is
not directly involved in disease treatment. Its criteria are
designed as part of its mission to track and assess disease
patterns in the United States.
Many conservative physicians use the CDC s Lyme disease
surveillance criteria as clinical diagnostic criteria. A key
part of the CDC criteria is a requirement for laboratory
confirmation through ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay)
and/or Western blot antibody testing.8
Yet as Lyme disease expert Brian Fallon has written in America s
most prestigious psychiatric textbook: Although laboratory
testing is a valuable component of the diagnostic assessment,
negative test results cannot be used to exclude Lyme disease in
a patient with typical clinical features and a history of
exposure to a Lyme disease endemic area . Because the laboratory
tests for chronic Lyme disease are not sufficiently reliable to
document the presence or absence of persistent infection,
decisions regarding treatment should be based primarily upon the
physician s clinical judgment. 8
For those wishing an accurate laboratory confirmation of Lyme
disease, Dr. Jo Anne Whitaker, M.D., has developed a new
Quantitative-Rapid Identification of Borrelia burgdorferi
test (QRIBb ). Using a fluorescent antibody technique, Whitaker
has confirmed Lyme disease in 3,500 blood specimens from ill
Her results in many cases were checked by world-renowned
microbiologist Dr. Lida Mattman, who was able in every case to
culture and identify live Bb spirochetes from the blood samples
the QRIBb test had already certified as Bb-positive.
She has found many patients were given a false diagnosis (e.g.,
ALS) who turned out to have Lyme disease, and in many cases
recovered from incurable ailments after antibiotic
Lyme: Treatment Controversies
When Lyme disease is diagnosed, it is normally treated with
antibiotics. Fallon states that for early Lyme disease without
central nervous system (CNS) involvement, three to four weeks of
oral doxycyline, amoxicillin or cefuroxime is recommended.8 For
Lyme disease with CNS involvement, a four-to-six-week
intravenous treatment with ceftriaxione or cefotaxime is
recommended.8 Fallon recommends that for relapsing patients,
longer and repeated courses of antibiotic treatment may be
useful.8 He notes, Failure to treat Lyme disease early in
its course or for a sufficiently long duration may lead to a
chronic illness characterized by persistent waxing and waning
neuropsychiatric disturbances, arthralgias [joint pains],
myalgias [muscle pains], sensory-hyperacuities, and severe
Yet many conservative physicians treating Lyme disease give only
a two-to-three-week course of antibiotics, frequently only
orally. Because intravenous antibiotic care may cost tens of
thousand of dollars, medical insurers and medical benefit
managers often discourage or deny such treatment.
Not everyone approves of massive antibiotic treatment for Lyme
disease. Dr David Jernigan, co-author with his wife of a recent
book on Lyme disease, observes that It is
not enough simply to take an antibiotic: even intravenous
antibiotics will only kill 85 percent of the bacteria at best,
leaving 15 percent alive and now antibiotic resistant . Most
people with chronic Lyme disease have already used many
antibiotics with limited success or may be intolerant and
allergic to them. 12
Fallon and Nields point out B. burgdorferi has been shown
to be capable of persisting in human hosts despite extensive
antibiotic treatment . Several features are known to contribute
to an organism s resistance to standard lengths of antibiotic
treatment. These features include an intracellular location,
long replication time, genetic variability, and the ability to
become sequestered in difficult-to-penetrate sites. B.
burgdorferi appears to possess all of these characteristics. 5
Bb has been shown able to live inside various cells, including
fibroblasts, macrophages, and endothelial cells, as well as in
antibiotic- and immunologically-privileged sites, such as CNS,
joints and the interior chamber of the eye, which protect it
from immune cells and antibiotics.5
Given the recognized difficulty of successfully treating Lyme
disease with standard antibiotic therapy, an alternative
treatment that is natural, nontoxic, well-tolerated, effective,
and can be taken orally for as many months or years as needed,
would be a welcome remedy in the Lyme war.
Fortunately, such a remedy has been available since 2001. It is
an herbal extract called Samento, made from a
Peruvian vine called Uncaria tomentosa, also known
as cat's claw, una de gato, and
Vilcacora. 14 Samento is made from a rare chemotype of U.
tomentosa that is rich in pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (POA)
and is guaranteed free of tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids (TOA).
It is the TOA-free nature of Samento, combined with its POA
potency, that gives Samento its unique effectiveness.
Most cat's claw products on the market contain a mixture of POA
and TOA, in unknown proportions. Yet K.-H. Reinhard has noted
the root of Uncaria tomentosa is a valuable drug only when its
pentacyclic chemotype is used without admixture of the
tetracyclic chemotype. The pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids act on
the cellular immune system. They raise the rate of phagocytosis
[germ-killing] by granolucytes [a type of white blood cell]
and they induce the release of a factor from endothelial cells
[which line the heart, blood and lymph vessels] that regulates
the proliferation of lymphocytes [germ-killing white cells] .
The secretion of the factor was effected by the pentacyclic
alkaloids but not by the tetracyclic alkaloids. Rather, it was
shown that the tetracyclic alkaloids act antagonistically on the
release of the factor. 15
Falkiewicz and Lukasiak report that the POA-stimulated
endothelial factor activates normally inactive B and T
lymphocytes in humans, increasing germ-killing power.14 K.
Keplinger and colleagues found that in humans, the POAs
increased lymphocyte counts when they were too low, and lowered
them when too high. Thus, the POAs are both immuno-stimulating
and beneficially immunoregulating.16
Samento: More than POA
The water-alcohol Samento extract also contains many other
beneficial components. Multiple quinovic acid glycosides are
present as well. These compounds are what the latest generation
of quinolone antibiotics (such as Cipro ) are based on. The
natural compounds provide safe and significant direct
antimicrobial effects on Lyme
disease. 17 The quinovic glycosides also have shown antiviral
activity against rhinoviruses (cold viruses) and vesicular
stomatitis virus (oral cold sores).14
Samento also contains the triterpenes oleanolic and ursolic
acid. These have been shown to have liver-protective,
anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-ulcer,
immunostimulating/modulating and blood sugar-lowering
properties.14 Catechin polyphenols, including epicatechin, with
anti-inflammatory and blood sugar-lowing effects, are also
present in Samento.14
Samento: Powerful Anti-Inflammatory
cat's claw extracts have been shown to have powerful
anti-inflammatory effects. A 1998 study verified these effects
through multiple in vitro and in vivo experiments.19 The cat's
claw extract reduced the production of toxic peroxynitrite,
stimulated by a bacterial toxin, and reduced subsequent cell
death. Mice given Samento plus the NSAID (non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drug) indomethacin suffered no intestinal
lining damage, yet control mice given the same dose of
indomethacin without Samento suffered complete destruction of
their intestinal lining. The study s authors concluded:
cat's claw protects cells against oxidative stress and negated
the activation of NF-kB [a powerful pro-inflammatory chemical
whose production is stimulated by toxins].
These studies provide a mechanistic evidence for the widely held
belief that cat's claw is an effective anti-inflammatory agent.
19 Bb is known to shed membranous materials from its surface
that stimulate powerful inflammatory, autoimmune reactions.5 In
a subsequent study, the same research group found that cat's
claw extract reduced TNF-alpha expression stimulated by a
bacterial toxin 65 to 85 percent, at only nanogram levels of
cat's claw. A nanogram is one-thousandth of a microgram! TNF-alpha
is one of the most powerful pro-inflammatory cytokines released
(often to excess) by white blood cells when challenged by germ
Samento: Clinical Use
John Kule, M.D., began using Samento in his practice in March
2002. After treating 60 patients with it, he wrote a report for
the British Naturopathic Journal. He used it to treat a broad
range of conditions, including chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia,
hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, candidiasis, gastritis,
rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, Lyme disease and benign prostatic
hypertrophy. Fifty-nine out of 60 showed distinct clinical
Frequent findings were increased energy, enhanced sense of
well-being, lifting of brain fog, decreased
inflammation, decreased blood pressure in hypertensives,
decreased fasting blood sugar in diabetics, reduced fluid
retention, and reduced blood pressure medication in
hypertensives.21 He found only few, mild and transient side
effects. Several patients did experience the Herxheimer reaction
(explained later in this article).
Dr. David Jernigan, D.C., of Witchita, Kansas, uses Samento
extensively for Lyme disease and other infections. He has gotten
excellent results, and has found it to be nontoxic, active,
highly energetic and synergistic with other remedies. It is a
key component for his comprehensive program of treating Lyme
disease without antibiotics.12
Dr. Lee Cowden, M.D., of Fort Worth, Texas, used Samento along
with diet, detoxification and supplements with 13 patients with
documented Lyme disease, while leaving 14 Lyme disease patients
in the control group on their regular antibiotic regimen. Three
of the control group members became slightly better, three
became worse and eight were unchanged. All of the Samento group
experienced dramatic improvements, with 11 of 13 testing
negative for Bb at the end of the study.17, 22
Dr. Stephen Sinatra has found Samento useful for quickly
aborting bouts of the flu, as well as preventing it.18 Samento
is known to contain antiviral triterpenes and quinovic acid
glycosides, which may account for this benefit.
Samento: Slow But Steady
Due to the unique life cycle of Bb, a quick complete elimination
of Bb is unrealistic to expect, whatever germ-killers are used.
Because Bb hides inside cells, often in a dormant, cyst form, it
spends much of its life cycle sequestered from antimicrobial
compounds. When cells die naturally, or from the intracellular
presence of Bb, the cysts are released into tissue fluids or
blood, where they become a spirochete once again. It is then
that they are most vulnerable to antibiotics or Samento.
Since the various cells that hide Bb will typically have
lifespans ranging from two to three weeks up to six to eight
months, it may take six to eight months for even one generation
of Bb to become exposed to Samento for elimination. Thus it may
take eight to 16 months to gradually kill the Bb hiding in
several generations of cells. Since Samento is extremely
nontoxic,14,16 it can be safely taken daily for the long
haul necessary to thoroughly eradicate Bb from an infected
Because Samento empowers the immune system, it should not be
used by those on immunosuppressive drugs, e.g. to prevent
transplant rejection, nor should it be taken by those who are
soon to undergo organ or bone marrow transplants.15 Since
Samento has been shown to lower blood pressure and blood sugar,
those with severe low
blood pressure or hypoglycemia should use Samento very
cautiously.21 Pregnant or nursing mothers, as well as very young
children, should not use Samento unless advised by a
physician.15 Anyone taking Samento should start with a low dose
(one drop in four ounces of water twice daily) and slowly work
up to five drops two or three times daily, taken on an empty
stomach. Because Samento enhances immune activity and directly
kills germs, it may trigger a Herxheimer reaction, especially if
started at too high a dose or with too rapid dose increase.
The Herxheimer reaction may include headache, muscle pain,
nausea, diarrhea, or flu-like symptoms. It is thought to be due
to toxins released from the mass death of microbes killed
through treatment, as well as to the immune system s
inflammatory overreaction to the germ toxins. Drinking lots of
water and taking fiber and liver support supplements (silymarin,
dandelion root extract, lipoic acid) may reduce the risk or
severity of a Herxheimer reaction.
If such a reaction occurs when taking Samento, cease its use
temporarily and restart later at a lower dose. Those known or
suspected to suffer from Lyme disease or other serious
infectious illness should ideally use Samento under the care of
a doctor or other health care professional.
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1. Nutra News, Oct, 2003, p.2. www.samento.com.ec/nutranews.
2. 1 op.cit., 8.
3. Kosik-Bogacka, D. et al. Detection of Borrelia burdorferi
sensu lato in mosquitoes (Culicidae) in recreational areas of
the city of Szczecin. Ann Agric Environ Med 2002, 9:55-57.
4. Harvey, W. and Salvato, P. Lyme disease : ancient
engine of an unrecognized borreliosis pandemic Med Hypoth
5. Fallon, B. and Nields, J. Lyme disease: a neuropsychiatric
illness. Am J Psychiat 1994, 151:1571-80.
6. 1 op. cit., 4-5.
7. Overview of neuropsychiatric Lyme disease.
8. Fallon, B. Neuropsychiatric aspects of other infectious
illnesses, in Kaplan and Sadock s Comprehensive Textbook of
Psychiatry, by Sadock, B. and Sadock, V. (eds.), Lippincott
Williams & Wilkins, 2000. ch. 2.9.
9. The Lyme disease controversy. www.columbia-lyme.org/flatp/controv.html.
10. McCoy, J. Amy Tan, ticked off about Lyme. Wash Post
8-5-2003, HE 01. www.samento.com.ec/scienclib/addons/Amytansaboutlyme.html.
11. 1 op. cit., 9-11.
12. Jernigan, D. and Jernigan, S. Beating Lyme Disease: Using
Alternative Medicine & God-designed Living. Benton, KS:
Somerleyton Press, 2003.
13. Cassarino, D. Lyme-associated Parkinsonism. Arch Pathol Lab
Med 2003, 127:1204-06.
14. Falkiewicz, B. and Lukasiak, J. Vilcacora [Uncaria tomentosa
(Willd.) D.C. and Uncaria guianensis (Aublet) Gmell.]
a review of published scientific literature. Case Rep Clin Pract
Rev 2001, 2:305-16.
15. Reinhard, K-H. Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) D.C.: cat's claw,
Una de Gato, or Saventaro. J Alt Comp Med 1999, 5:143-51.
16. Keplinger, K. et al. Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) D.C.
Ethnomedical use and new pharmacological, toxicological and
botanical results. J Ethnopharmacol 1999, 64:23-34.
17. Rowen, R. The incredible healing action of one simple herb.
Dr. Robert Jay Rowen s Second Opinion 2003, 12(12).
18. Sinatra, S. Get armed and ready for flu season. Sinatra
Health Report Jan. 2004. www.samento.com.ec/sciencelib/4sam/getarmedjan04.html.
19. Sandoval-Chacon, M. et al. Antiinflammatory actions of cat's
claw: the role of NF-kB. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 1998,
20. Sandoval, M. et al. cat's claw inhibits TNFalpha production
and scavenges free radicals: role in cytoprotection. Free Rad
Biol Med 2000, 29:71-78.
21. Kule, J. Samento in the primary care setting. Br Naturopath
J 2002, 19(2). www.samento.com.ec/sciencelib.
22. 1 op. cit., 1.
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