Formulating a “bigger picture “ approach to managing Lyme disease syndrome both long term and in more biologically sustainable ways is a task that has taken me since the mid 1980’s to fully understand and formulate. I had a house in Cape Cod back then and saw the emergence of Lyme disease and subsequent Lyme related, immune deficiency, multiple infection and chronic fatigue syndromes. My observation is that one must take into account the symptoms associated with these various syndromes in the context of and integrative with hypo thyroid, hypoglycemia, stress, insomnia, hormone deficiencies and immune dysfunction.
In short, I do not see the world through Lyme colored glasses alone. To achieve long lasting success one must address heavy metal toxicity, immune deficiency/stress cortisol issues, focal inflammations, dysbiotic teeth, gums and gut as well as scars. All of these may allow activation of any chronic symbiotic virus or bacterial organism. Did you know that the human body has tens of trillions of bacterial forms, more then actual human body cells at any given moment of your life? So forget about eliminating bacteria and viruses by “bombing bugs”. If you only spray mosquitoes with DDT and leave the swamp as it was, the mosquitoes will come back only DDT resistant.
In a similar way, Lyme syndrome organisms, L- form bacterial microbes, aka “cell wall deficient forms” cannot be eliminated but rather will be encouraged by long term antibiotic use. So in treating Lyme syndromes with long-term antibiotics we may be both enabling the various species to develop resistance as well as forming more L forms, which is what physicians are purportedly trying to treat to begin with.
The science behind the objective testing and monitoring of these conditions still has a way to go before one can objectively state that the Borrelia organism is an actual cause of the syndrome vs. a player in a broader malaise. To date there is no balanced specific vs. sensitive test available to objectively monitor the effectiveness of antibiotic therapies for Lyme. What we have are shadow dances with the organism. A Lyme complex, antibody/ antigen complex, test was studied and developed at Johns Hopkins Medical School over seven years ago but shelved and never made publicly available even to Igenex Labs.
Ultimately, your Lyme physician is dependent upon subjective symptoms, which are also common to many other physiological imbalances, to determine clinical response to treatment.. Conditions such as hypo thyroid, hormone imbalance, hypoglycemia, insomnia, stress and immune deficiency must be addressed thoroughly in order to calm the waters enough to truly judge the effectiveness of Lyme syndrome treatments. Unless one eliminates some of the simpler causes of these myriad symptoms one can never be sure that what you perceive you have accomplished through antibiotics is, in fact, a clinical reality.
In approaching Lyme syndrome and the various ”co-infections” I believe three goals are necessary:
- Tonification of organs and immune deficiencies: addressing underlying weaknesses/ imbalances in the organs of elimination such as liver, lungs, kidneys, colon and lymphatics and of the immune system itself are all essential for success. Similarly, addressing focal blockages and life traumas, compromised teeth and toxic dental materials, leaky gut syndrome, surgical scars and adhesions are all vital to long-term success in the treatment of Lyme/ immune deficiency syndromes.
- Detoxifying and elimination of acquired and inherited toxicities, including heavy metals and pesticides, cleanses the “swamp” and discourages these various organisms from composting your body.
- Address overgrowth of organisms and related symptoms using sustainable, less debilitating therapies in order to prevent pushing the L form organisms deeper into the body only to see them emerge at a later time as even more severe chronic, degenerative diseases.
The History of Lyme disease
Many people know that Lyme disease takes its name from the town where it was first “discovered” – Lyme, Connecticut.
Lyme disease was officially discovered by the western medical community beginning in 1975, when a group of anxious mothers living in Lyme, Connecticut contacted public health authorities due to a rash of cases of joint inflammation in numerous children in their community. Thirty-nine children and twelve adults were studied by researchers at Yale University, and given a diagnosis for their mysterious ailment – “Lyme Arthritis.”
Eventually the bacteria, a spirochete similar to syphilis, was isolated in 1982 by researcher Willy Burgdorfer – an expert in spirochetal diseases – and was named “Borrelia burgdorferi” (Bb). The disease was determined to spread through the bite of a tick – specifically the “Ixodes” species of tick. As new cases continued to appear, health officials fought hard to find a treatment to kill the bacterial infection. Additionally, it was imperative to strengthen the patient’s immune system and alleviate the painful symptoms.
As the disease continued to spread, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) became involved and attempted to compile a standard for measuring the “epidemic.” Although their position paper clearly states that Lyme Disease is diagnosed by symptoms, using blood tests for support of diagnosis, the collection of statistics uses only those patients who have a certain level of antibodies in their blood, ignoring the presence (or lack) of symptoms. That fact -along with the long and difficult reporting for doctors, leads to gross under-reporting.
Dr. Jonathon Edlow at Harvard Medical School claims that actual numbers could be 10 times higher than the numbers the CDC publishes. Other sources place the number much higher due to hundreds and thousands of people who are misdiagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, MS, chronic fatigue and even Lou Gherig’s disease, along with those patients who have symptoms outside the CDC targeted vectors. Some estimates approach 300,000 new cases per year, but the total national count is unknown.
There are 850 tick species, and approximately 100 can transmit disease. It is no wonder that Lyme is now a worldwide disease.
The Biology of Lyme disease
Lyme disease, simply stated, is a multi-systemic bacterial infection spread primarily through the bite of an infected tick. But there is nothing simple about this virulent organism. Its official name is Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), and it was initially classified with protozoa because it is so unique. Borrelia possesses the largest number of DNA replicators making it amongst the most complex bacteria in the world.
To review, Borrelia burgdorferi is a spiral-shaped “spirochete’ when it enters the human blood stream, and uses that active form to quickly disperse throughout the body and the “tunnel” into soft tissue. This “smart” bacteria will quickly and easily change it’s genetic structure into two other cell forms: the “L” form and the “cyst” form; and will link up in different combinations of the three forms.
The following symptom list is extensive, and symptom combinations vary greatly from person to person. The hallmark of Lyme disease is for symptoms to mysteriously appear and then disappear weeks later, or for pain to move around the body. It is important to note that you can be infected for years without becoming disabled due to the morphologic nature of the bacteria. In other words, the disease can lie dormant in your body for months or years, taking over when you are worn down physically or if your immune system is suddenly or gradually compromised.
The Tick Bite
- Tick bite (deer, dog, or other)
- Rash at site of tick bite
- Rashes on other parts of your body
- Rash (basically circular – called “bulls-eye” rash) and spreading out
- Raised rash, disappearing and returning
Head, Face, Neck
- Unexplained hair loss
- Headache, mild or severe
- Twitching of facial or other muscles
- Facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy)
- Tingling of nose, cheek, or face
- Stiff or painful neck, creaks and cracks
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Sore throat
- Double or blurry vision
- Increased floating spots
- Pain in eyes, or swelling around eyes
- Oversensitivity to light
- Flashing lights
- Decreased hearing in one or both ears
- Buzzing in ears
- Pain in ears, oversensitivity to sound
- Ringing in one or both ears
Digestive and Excretory System
- Irritable bladder (trouble starting, stopping)
- Upset stomach (nausea or pain)
- Any joint pain or swelling
- Stiffness of joints, back, neck
- Muscle pain or cramps
Respiratory and Circulatory Systems
- Shortness of breath, cough
- Chest pain or rib soreness
- Night sweats or unexplained chills
- Heart palpitations or extra beats
- Heart blockage
- Tremors or unexplained shaking
- Burning or stabbing sensations in the body
- Weakness or partial paralysis
- Pressure in the head
- Numbness in body, tingling, pinpricks
- Poor balance, dizziness, difficulty walking
- Increased motion sickness
- Lightheadedness, wooziness
- Mood swings, irritability
- Unusual depression
- Disorientation (getting or feeling lost)
- Feeling as if you are losing your mind
- Overemotional reactions, crying easily
- Too much sleep or insomnia
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Mental Capacity Well-Being
- Tremors or unexplained shaking
- Memory loss (short or long term)
- Confusion, difficulty in thinking
- Difficulty with concentration or reading
- Going to the wrong place
- Speech difficulty (slurred or slow)
- Stammering speech
- Forgetting how to perform simple tasks
Babesia is a protozoal parasite, much like malaria, infecting the red blood cells and eventually destroying them. There are 13 different types, although only three of them are known to infect people. The symptoms can include any or all of the following: fatigue, drenching night sweats, fever, chills, weakness, weight loss, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, cough, shortness of breath, headache, neck and back stiffness, dark urine or blood in urine.
Until recently, Babesia was considered a rare disease because it was only diagnosed in extremely ill patients with high fevers (104+). The bacteria which invades the red blood cells, has been largely ignored by the medical community in part because there wasn’t a reliable test for diagnosing it, and in part because there has been so little information about the disease.
Now it is recognized as the most common co-infection of Lyme disease, and synergistically linked in a manner that makes it very difficult to get rid of one without treating both.
Babesia symptoms, which may go back ten years or more, include one or more of the following; listlessness, slow thinking, high fevers or unexplained fevers, reduced appetite, chills, sweats, headaches and/or migraines, fatigue, muscle and/or joint pain, depression, anxiety, panic, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, cough, dark urine, enlarged spleen and/or liver, jaundice, enlarged lymph nodes, memory loss, psychiatric illness, struggle organizing, urgency to sleep in day, waves of generalized itching, dizziness, chest wall pain, sensitivity to light, and abdominal pain.
Bartonella is a blood infection, commonly referred to as “Cat Scratch Fever”. The symptoms for Lyme BLO may include any combination of the following:
- red papules
- swollen lymph nodes
- eye disorders
- sore feet in the AM
- hearing sensitivity
- severe pain in the tibia
- muscle aches
- sore throat
- profound fatigue
- lower abdominal pain
- lumps on skin
- abnormal bruising
- psychiatric abnomalities (mild to severe)
Typically, a co-infection is suspected when treatment for Lyme disease fails.
Ehrlichiosis refers to several tick-borne diseases caused by very small organisms called Ehrlichiae, which affect both humans and animals. Ehrlichiae are gram negative bacteria that infect and destroy white blood cells. Two human diseases are caused by varieties of Ehrlichiae found in the U.S.
• Human monocyte ehrlichiosis (HME) infects white cells known as monocytes.
• Human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) infects granulocyte white blood cells.
Ehrlichiosis usually develops rapidly. Patients who are infected with ehrlichiosis will begin to feel symptoms between 3 to 16 days after being bitten by an infected tick. A patient may feel fine early in the day only to experience very severe, debilitating symptoms a few hours later. While ehrlichiosis is often very mild, with only flu-like symptoms, in some cases, symptoms can be severe and even cause death.
About one-third of HME patients and a smaller proportion of HGE patients develop a rash. Other common symptoms may include:
- Severe headache
- Muscle and joint aches
- Nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite
- mental confusion
- systolic murmurs