What is Lyme Disease?
There is a new pandemic in this world that is becoming ever increasing in prevalence and severity. It is a "great imitator" of many diseases, and it is often very difficult to pinpoint with the lab tests currently available. Because of this, many people are diagnosed or labeled improperly with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, Fibromyalgia, Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Migraine, being a Malingerer, Candidiasis, Osteoarthritis, among several other diagnoses. Fortunately, when the proper diagnosis is finally made and the causative co-infection has been determined, then the symptoms of these aforementioned "disease labels" can be removed and the ongoing diagnosis and treatments reflect Tick Borne Disease (TBD).
Only approximately 20-40% of the Lyme disease cases present with a rash and the same small percentage of patients may report that they can recall a tick bite on their skin. Many people who have a tick borne disease can present with a wide variety of nonspecific systemic complaints that may affect any part of the body. In some people who receive a tick bite, wherein the tick makes an attachment under the skin, in as little as fifteen minutes, the tick can feed on the host’s blood and expurgate (vomit) its stomach contents under the skin of the person. However, the tick bite can infect that individual with a whole host of bacterial, fungal, viral, parasitic organisms, which can lead to major medical complications. Please remember, ticks do NOT only transmit Lyme disease from Borrelia, but can transmit many other coinfections as well.
In some people, a tick bite can lead to disseminated infection and disabling physical, psychological and cognitive manifestations. Many can manifest with very puzzling systemic symptoms that can occur throughout the body, which lead to very complex and many times, inaccurate, lab tests. Unfortunately the lab testing that is performed by the classic labs, Lab Corp. or Quest Diagnostic Labs, only test for a limited number of Borrelia species. Therefore, a great percentage of true "Borrelia infections" go undetected and under diagnosed.
Because of this, Lyme disease has been ignored or trivialized by many in the medical profession for more than a quarter of a century. There are two extremely different views on Lyme disease management in the US and this adds to the complexity of the diagnosis and management of treating people. The Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) believes that Lyme disease can be easily detected and "cured" with one antibiotic treatment that usually lasts for 14 days. This is what most physicians, clinics, emergency rooms, and health practitioners follow as their guidelines. The ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) point of view is much more encompassing and allows for many variables in diagnosing and treating TBD. Most ILADS practitioners are highly trained to recognize that standard blood tests to diagnose Lyme disease are highly unreliable and that even thirty days of antibiotics is often insufficient.
Chronically ill patients therefore go from doctor to doctor until they find a physician well versed in Lyme disease management and treatments. Most LLMDs (Lyme Literate Medical Doctors) need to receive many hours and years of comprehensive training in order to be able to recognize and identify those seronegative (by CDC guidelines) patients, who truly manifest as Tick Borne Disease patients, and then learn the appropriate treatment guidelines established by ILADS, in order to begin to help the TBD suffering person.
Borellia spirochetes have also been found in mosquitos, spiders, lice, and mites which can also be a vector in the transmission of Lyme disease. Recent research supports that Lyme disease should be considered a sexually transmissible disease and the Borrelia spirochete is similar in its features to that of syphilis (treponema pallidum). There have been several papers written on the transmission of tick borne diseases, which can be trans-placental and can also be transmitted via breast milk. This is obviously a significant problem since people usually only think about tick borne diseases when the person gets an actual tick bite.
Tick borne diseases, as stated above, usually have a variety of infectious agents that can lead to a variety of conditions. This contributes to the difficulty in isolating which antibiotic and treatment regimen will provide the best outcome to help the patient. The following list is a sampling of what is known today as infectious agents in the literature associated with tick borne diseases:
Bacterial Infection, Parasitic Infections, Viral Infections Candida and Other Fungal Infections
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules that every Babesia infection has all of the classic symptoms of Babesia and no certainty that the labs will be accurate. This leads to a great problem in the proper diagnosis and treatment of patients with TBD.
Once the tick borne disease gets the opportunity to thrive within the host, multiple co morbidities can occur within the body to cause the severe fatigue and complications associated with Lyme disease. The various systems in the body can experience a multitude of dysfunctions and in order to resolve the tick borne complications, your physician should correct the abnormalities listed below in order to restore you for more optimal recovery.
The "Chronic Lyme Patients" may need to be tested for:
Immune Dysfunction Auto-immune joint diseases may be tested for as may vitamin D3 levels (60-80 range is ideal).
Inflammation CRP, C4A, and inflammatory cytokines can be evaluated.
Toxicity Multiple chemical sensitivities, environmental illness, heavy metals, mold, and neurotoxins. A provoked urine challenge is extremely helpful for determining heavy metal body burden.
Allergies Foods, drugs, and environmental allergens can be investigated.
Nutritional and Enzyme Deficiencies Functional medicine abnormalities in biochemical pathways.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction How the cell of each person makes energy is based on the function of their Mitochondria.
Psychological Disorders Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia
Endocrine Disorders Hypothyroidism, secondary hypogonadism
Sleep Disorders Insomnia, sleep apnea
ANS Dysfunction +/- POTS Postural induced blood pressure drops, which can lead to severe fatigue and fainting episodes
G.I. Disorders Malabsorption, yeast overgrowth, Bacterial Dysbiosis (abnormal bacterial colonies in the intestinal tract.
Elevated LFTs Liver function testing, the Liver is the primary organ for detoxification of the body, Many times Lyme patients will have increase liver stress which is measured by LFTS.
Deconditioning occurs when a person cannot exercise and his muscular control becomes less than desirable. Chronic fatigue issues lead to greater deconditioning problems, especially when joint pains are present.
Many times, correcting these dysfunctions will markedly help alleviate the symptoms of Lyme related illness. When the practitioner gets "stuck" in the care of the TBD patient, the deficiencies above need to be corrected and optimized. I find great help when I detoxify the patient with a safe chelation protocol and add hyperbaric therapies to reduce the inflammatory cytokines.
Conventional Treatments: Why to Consider a Healthier Approach
TBD treatments carry a multitude of needed guidelines and the correction of these multisystem deficiencies aids greatly in the recovery rate. Usually after the patient has been treated for many months with antibiotics and/or herbals, the immune- boosting therapies may need to continue for a long time to aid with preventing reoccurrence.
Most people seeking care for tick borne related disease begin their journey with a primary care physician. A maximum of usually 14-21 days of one antibiotic is typically offered after a "known" tick bite is experienced or a blood test is positive for Lyme disease. If the person reports back to their physician that he or she is not significantly improved, they are usually diagnosed as having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or Fibromyalgia, or "post-Lyme Syndrome.” Usually an antidepressant or mood stimulant is prescribed and recommendations to follow up with a psychiatrist are discussed. If a child contracts Lyme disease and hasn’t completely improved, often he or she is given the diagnosis of ADHD or autism and is then prescribed Ritalin or Concertalike stimulants to aid with their cognitive delays and behavioral/anger issues. Behavioral therapists are suggested as well, but these efforts are a "band-aid" for the problem and not addressing the root of the problem, which is the effect of TBD on the neurological system.
Instead of resorting to the drastic measures described above (don’t forget the serious health risks that exist for psychiatric medications), we need to attack the real culprits wreaking havoc on the health of the growing number of individuals with tick borne diseases.
Implementing a Healthier Approach - Nutrients and Supplements
Many commonly used nutriceuticals have been very beneficial including:
Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) LDN can help with immune regulation, pain control, and reducing inflammation—all of concern with tick borne diseases.
Vitamin D3 The vast majority of Lyme disease patients have a Vitamin D deficiency.
Transfer Factor This is an immune booster that helps protect the various systems in the body from disease.
Artemisia is very helpful for the cystic lifecycle form of Borrelia infections. It is also an immune booster and is helpful for parasitic treatment.
Coenzyme Q 10 (Coq10) Coq10 is vital for mitochondrial repair and cellular function. It is also the most important rate-limiting step for making ATP in the cell.
Alpha Lipoic Acid ALA potentiates antioxidant function and helps with herxhiemer reactions.
Carnitine is helpful for cellular function and helps bring fatty acids into the cell to make energy.
Vitamin C Both orally and intravenously administered vitamin C can markedly improve the immune system and the ability to fight off infections.
Zinc Insufficient zinc affects white blood cells needed to fight infection.
B Complex these have antioxidant properties and are important for energy production.
Methyl Folate Many people have MTHFR, a gene mutation, and have difficulty with methylation, which can be improved upon with methyl folate.
Magnesium Lyme disease depletes magnesium from the body.
Glutathione It is the most important intracellular antioxidant, usually depleted in Lyme sufferers.
N-Acetyl Cysteine NAC boosts the production of glutathione. Probiotics Probiotic bacteria can restore the intestinal micro biome.
Melatonin This is helpful for sleep issues common with Lyme disease patients. Ideally, one who has a tick borne disease should seek a practitioner who has had proper training with ILADS or Lyme Disease Association Guidelines. Additionally, it’s imperative to ensure that the body receives the nutrients it needs, avoiding processed foods and sugar, which can sabotage efforts to regain health. Be sure to include plenty of the following in the diet:
Vitamin A Good sources of vitamin A include sweet potato, carrots, kale, butternut squash, dried parsley, red leaf lettuce, and green leaf lettuce.
Vitamin C Good sources of vitamin C include red and green peppers, guavas, yellow peppers, fresh parsley, and kiwi fruit.
Minimize Exposures to Toxic Metals. Avoid eating fish that are high in mercury content such as tilefish, tuna, and swordfish. One should ideally eat wild salmon as a major source of fish consumption. Never allow your food to touch aluminum foil to avoid exposure to this toxic metal. Additionally, avoid using aluminum cookware and baking sheets.
There are now a variety of aluminum-free underarm deodorants that are worth investigating as an additional way to avoid the build-up of toxins in the body.
Reducing your heavy metal exposures will reduce inflammatory cytokines, thereby helping with any inflammatory condition. Lyme disease, as well as many other conditions, are all worsened markedly when inflammation is present in the body.
David Dornfeld, DO, has been practicing Family Medicine for more than 30 years, with extensive experience covering the full spectrum of clinical family medicine, including children beyond the age of two. His experience encompasses all spectrums of family medicine, spinal manipulation, chelation therapy, IV infusion therapy and hyperbaric therapies. Focusing on whole body and alternative therapy techniques. He has been considered a (LLMD) LYME Literate Medical Doctor form his training from ILADS for many years. His Family Wellness Center is in Middletown, NJ. The email address for patients is firstname.lastname@example.org.