The thought leader for the functional phytotherapy movement in the U.S. is arguably Kerry Bone, BSc (Hons), Dip Phyto.
Recently he’s been giving talks on the subject of “stealth pathogens.”
This term was first used in 1994 by Justin Radolf, and later popularized in 2000 by Lida Mattman.1,2
The stealth pathogens were defined during the early years as bacteria without cell walls, like Borrelia, Proteus, Rickettsia, Myobacteria, Chlamydophila, Helicobacter, Streptococcus, and Bartonella.
After years of research, study and contemplation, Bone created a new definition of stealth pathogens. He concludes they are “any pathogenic microorganism employing strategies to persist in the body by hiding from, evading, misdirecting, or even suppressing immune responses, leading to chronic disease or lack of well-being.”3
This led to a fascinating connection drawn between today’s complex health conditions and ancient tribal systems of health care. He compares what those civilizations did to treat the afflicted with how we treat the same problems today. He believes the wisdom and insight of the ages can be embraced by studying the history of other health care systems and building on that knowledge with current research.
Bone’s lectures also examine how ancient cultures identified which parts of the herbs contained the most active compounds for maximum efficacy. This was largely done through observation, tradition and lore. This was also a reason why ancient traders dealt in medicinal herbs, teas and plants from various places.
Herbs from different parts of the world have different concentrations of active compounds. Ancient shaman and medicine men only used the most potent parts of medicinal herbs. They knew that to get the proper results, they had to use the right herb, the right part of the plant, from the right area of the world, and in the right dosage.
Another concept Bone describes is a “stealth pathogen soup,” which contains multiple infectious agents that aren’t identified by routine medical testing. Many people carry multiple infectious agents that cause overlapping symptoms. This has led to frustration for both patients and practitioners. He couldn’t find a comprehensive strategy to decrease or eliminate the multiple infectious agents in this “soup,” so he turned to the past for clues.
Enter the herbs
One hallmark of Bone’s career has been his passion to promote Echinacea as a healing herb. His comprehensive strategy begins with Echinacea to strengthen innate immunity. Then he uses other ancient herbs to stimulate specific parts of the acquired immune response. By providing support for different parts of the immune system, his hypothesis was that he could effectively drain the “soup” from the stealth pathogen bowl.
His search for effective acquired- immunity stimulating herbs uncovered an ancient Chinese herb called qing hao or Artemisia annua. This herb has been used since at least 168 BC.
Recent research shows Artemisia to have anti-parasitic and antiviral effects.4,5
The second ancient herb Bone examined was myrrh, which you may recall is mentioned in the Bible as one of the three gifts of the Magi. Several clinical studies suggest high doses of myrrh can be effective for treating parasitic infections.6
Other anti-parasitic herbs, such as worm- wood and black walnut can also be used.
He then added other antiviral herbs such as licorice, St. John’s Wort, Thuja occidentalis, and antibacterial herbs such as oregano oil, philodendron, garlic, and Andrographis. All of these herbs have been used for centuries, and modern science has finally caught up with what traditional healers have been providing their tribes.
Bone has been researching and formulating protocols to combat stealth pathogens in his native Australia, and is now looking to bring these protocols to the U.S. market.
His results in Australia have been nothing short of amazing. Using the active compounds found in the herbs and not modifying them from their original state is providing the best therapeutic benefit with the fewest side effects.
Throughout the testing of his protocols with his patients, he found the most important strategy to employ was pulse-dosing the different herbs to affect the acquired immune system response. In other words, by launching smart bombs at stealth pathogens, he was able to kill as many as possible before they could morph again and hide.
A moving target
Stealth pathogens have many ways to remain viable in the body. Certain viruses reduce cell surface major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules that activate and recruit cytotoxic T lymphocytes to the infected cell.7
Other viruses selectively methylate and silence regions of the cell genome to enable viral persistence.8
Stealth pathogens have poorly antigenic and non-inflammatory surfaces, and they can vary their antigenic profile to evade host defenses.9
These nasty bugs can evade detection by the acquired immune system after a short period of time, even if the innate immune system is fully charged and ready. This is why short bursts of therapeutic levels of immune-system boosting herbs are effective. They lessen the components of the stealth pathogen soup a little at a time.
This strategy is one of the latest advances in functional phytotherapy. Over time, this strategy will likely be further refined and improved. Having the innate immune system ready to attack stealth pathogens and shooting them with selected herbs may help patients get their quality of life back.
Bill Hemmer, DC, has been in private practice for more than 28 years. His passion for chiropractic began with a cervical compression fracture at age 15. He has expanded his practice to include customized health recovery plans within his functional membership practice model to meet the needs of a changing healthcare environment. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
1 Radolf JD. Role of outer membrane architecture in immune evasion by Treponema pallidum and Borrelia burgdorferi. Trends Microbiol. 1994;2(9):307-311.
2 Mattman LH. (2000). Cell Wall Deficient Forms, Third Edition: Stealth Pathogens. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
3 Bone KM, Mills SY. (2013). Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine, 2nd Edition. London, England: Churchill Livingstone.
4 Loo CS, Lam NS, Yu D, et al. Pharmacol Res. 2017;117:192-217.
5 Ho WE, Peh HY, Chan TK, et al. Pharmacol Ther. 2014;142(1):126-139. 6 Bone KM, Mills SY. (2013). Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine, 2nd Edition. (pp 753-759). London, England: Churchill Livingstone.
7 Huang T, Osterrieder N. Oncotarget. 2015;6(26):21761-21762.
8 Tao Q, Robertson KD. Clin Immunol. 2003;109(1):53-63. 9 Radolf JD, Deka RK, Anand A, et al. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2016;14(12):744-759