What is Chronic Lyme Disease?
Chronic Lyme is an infectious disease initiated by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It is associated with a vast milieu of symptoms (indeed, it is known as the great mimicker and can present with symptoms similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, etc...). Most commonly its symptoms include:
- Pain (joints, muscles, etc.)
- Neurological symptoms (numbness, tingling, spasms, etc.)
- Cognitive symptoms (“brain fog”, loss of memory, anxiety, depression, etc.)
- Cyclical symptoms (periods of symptom improvement and worsening)
…however this is by no means a comprehensive list, and every chronic Lyme patient is unique.
What about co-infection?
Lyme is also frequently associated with so-called "co-infections." Other microorganisms can infect the patient at the same time as Lyme (i.e. transmitted by the same mosquito, fly, or tick) or can infect the host while it is immunocompromised by the Lyme. The co-infections can include Babesia, Erlichia, and/or Bartonella.
For some patients, co-infection may indeed be the ONLY infection (i.e. Lyme may actually be cleared from the system, or never present at all – this can account for why we see so many false negatives in Lyme testing). It is impossible to definitively determine clinically because the co-infection microbes can present with identical symptoms to Lyme (which are non-specific to begin with). Generally, though, co-infections can have some specific attributes:
- Babesia: cherry angiomas (red dots) on the abdomen, issues with breathing (inability to take a deep breath or “air hunger”)
- Bartonella: red streaks on the abdomen (like scratches), enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
- Erlichia: not associated with specific attributes distinct from Lyme; sometimes presents with sharp, knife-like pain behind the eye.
In the absence of a positive lab result, what can we do?
We start with a “therapeutic trial”, meaning that we start treatment as if the patient has Lyme (and/or a co-infection, if symptoms suggest it) and see if their symptoms improve or change in a way that suggests we have the right diagnosis. Indeed, this method typically shows us results one way or the other within about one months’ time (i.e. if the patient feels better it strongly suggests Lyme; if they feel no change it’s less likely to be Lyme) and is significantly less expensive than running the independent lab tests.
What are the treatment options?
Lyme-literate integrative doctors
Lyme-literate integrative doctors (either medical doctors or naturopathic doctors) take a somewhat different approach. Ideally, they like to see patients taking antibiotic therapy (assuming that antibiotics are a good therapeutic tool for the patient) while being supported with other anti-Lyme treatments and treatments to support the patient during the Lyme-killing process. In doing so, patients are able to resolve the infection faster, feel better sooner, and reduce the “die-off” symptoms as much as possible.
Many people are finding relief from Lyme Disease through the use of herbal formulas. Herbal formulas are natural products that help to strengthen and support the body's ability to fight infection and disease. There are many different herbal formulas available, and each one may work differently for different people. If you are suffering from Lyme Disease, it is worth exploring the option of using an herbal formula to help you heal.
Autonomic Response Testing(ART)
It is possible to cure Lyme Disease with Autonomic Response Testing (ART). The success of this treatment lies in the fact that it targets the individual's specific autonomic response to the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. This approach is much more effective than using antibiotics alone and has a very high success rate. Although ART may be new to some, it is a well-established treatment that has been used for many years to successfully treat a variety of illnesses.
The success of this treatment lies in the fact that it targets the individual's specific autonomic response to the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. This approach is much more effective than using antibiotics alone and has a very high success rate. Did you know that there is a new Lyme Disease treatment that doesn't use antibiotics? It's called low-dose immunotherapy (LDI), and it's been shown to be effective in many cases. Low-dose immunotherapy involves giving the patient very small doses of the disease they are fighting. This helps the patient's immune system learn how to fight the disease properly. While LDI is not a cure for Lyme Disease, it can help improve your symptoms and quality of life.
What are the naturopathic/integrative medical treatment options?
There are many. The treatments that I have found to be most effective with my patients include:
- IV therapy: combination of hydrogen peroxide (kills Lyme and co-infections) and nutrients (B vitamins, magnesium, etc. – to improve energy levels, pain, brain fog, etc.)
- Anti-Lyme herbs: specific herbs have bacterial killing effects and boost the immune system to seek out and kill Lyme more effectively. Herbal compounds like artemisinin (for Babesia) and essential oil combinations (rizols) have a powerful synergistic effect against Lyme
- Immune system enhancement/“waking it up”: Lyme has devised many ways to evade the immune system while still wreaking havoc on the body. Herbs can help in this regard, but more advanced treatments are often required to really “wake up” the immune system and get it properly patrolling the whole body.
- Sinus/Tonsil Neural and Ozone therapy: in-office treatment of these areas with procaine and ozone strongly enhances overall immune system function and directly kills Lyme in two of its main reservoirs in the body (i.e. the sinuses and tonsils).
- Adrenal Gland Support: our adrenal glands control our energy levels and get depleted in the face of stress. Chronic Lyme is incredibly stressful on the body and thus the adrenals are virtually always depleted in these patients. Support with strong doses of herbs and adrenal gland extracts help improve energy levels and mental function quickly.
- Reducing EMF exposure: EMFs (electromagnetic fields) can significantly aggravate symptoms of Lyme, especially issues with brain fog and insomnia. Reducing exposure during sleep is crucial to improve recovery time.
- Dealing with other issues as they arise: in my experience, patients who are actively killing Lyme begin to have other issues arise. Sometimes they start actively clearing heavy metals (indicated by developing headaches, a metallic taste in the mouth, aggravation by strong scents/chemicals, etc...) or clearing past emotional issues. Sometimes old symptoms from years before come to the surface again. As these issues arise they must be dealt with to help the Lyme to be cleared as efficiently as possible.
What is the take-home message?
Chronic Lyme is an incredibly challenging issue, made even more challenging by its lack of recognition in the conventional medical community. Fortunately, there are many concerned doctors who are willing to treat what they see, not just what a lab test tells them. A great deal of support is available to patients who are suffering from chronic Lyme – we’re all working together to spread information and ultimately help people get well. To the well-trained clinical eye, chronic Lyme disease (and its co-infections) is an identifiable condition even in the absence of a positive laboratory result. From there, effective and comprehensive treatment options are available.