A previous article discusses what Lyme disease is and what problems it can cause, and that it is much more widespread than most people realize. But if you have it, what can be done about it?
Treatment can be difficult
Lyme disease, once it has passed out of the easily treatable first stage a few weeks after infection, can be difficult to treat. Usually it is necessary to use a number of therapies since with chronic Lyme infection one can have a number of things going on at once. These factors can interact and worsen the symptoms, and so they must be identified and addressed, separately but at the same time or in a logical order.
To complicate matters, not all cases of Lyme are the same. Different organisms can be involved, as can different symptoms and different contributing factors.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all treatment, CAM practitioners are experienced in identifying and dealing with Lyme and have a number of treatment options available.
Antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals
Antibiotics are usually the first treatment for Lyme disease. These can be very useful, but are not the only therapies available by any means. Antibiotic therapy for late-stage Lyme goes far beyond the three weeks of a single antibiotic that might have worked in the earliest stages. Lyme antibiotic therapy usually involves multiple antibiotics, together or in rotation. Often these antibiotics are intravenous (IV), high dose, and long term. As useful as they may be, these drugs can produce side effects and complications of their own. Usually the most effective treatment for Lyme is a combination of antibiotics and other therapies.
A Lyme patient on antibiotics typically feels better after a time on the antibiotic, but then relapses when it is discontinued. Part of the problem is that the active spirochete bacteria, when stressed as by antibiotics, adopt a cyst form that most drugs can’t reach, although there is medication available that can break up these cysts.
Many people with Lyme actually are infected with more than one organism, each of which needs its own protocol. Babesia, which resembles malaria, is one common co-infection, and it is usually treated with antimalarial drugs.
Another problem is that for many people with Lyme, symptoms will persist due to biotoxins produced by the causative borrelia bacteria even after the actual bacteria have been killed. Over 20% of people who have been treated for Lyme disease develop what the CDC calls post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). More therapy is needed.
Antifungal medications, probiotics, and herbs can help. Yeast overgrowth is common in Lyme due to immune system stress and bodily imbalances. This yeast overgrowth is made worse by the use of powerful long-term antibiotics.
The role of toxins
Toxins of various types, such as mercury from metal dental fillings, can be a contributing factor in Lyme disease. For one thing, toxins stress the immune system just when it’s needed most to combat the infection. Oxidative stress caused by toxins is a contributor.
A key to relieving Lyme pain and other Lyme symptoms is to decrease oxidative stress while increasing the functioning of the detox pathways. Glutathione and its precursor NAC can help with this. Glutathione injections or IV can improve Lyme-like symptoms within hours, in part because it can remove neurotoxins. The positive reactions from glutathione usually don’t last, but an initial improvement shows that neurotoxins are a major player in symptoms. This improvement, however short-lived, shows that metals and other toxins are at the root of many of the symptoms, and a multi-modality detoxification would likely produce a longer lasting recovery. CAM specializes in detoxification, and a recommended book on the subject is Detox or Disease, available at CAM.
Chelation can help remove metal toxins that can cause symptoms.
Vitamin C IVs
One of the major Lyme therapies used at CAM is high dose intravenous (IV) vitamin C along with the herb artemisinin.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce the harm caused by various toxins. It also acts as a chelator that can help remove metals such as mercury from the body. More directly, high dose vitamin C can actually kill the microorganisms responsible for Lyme disease and other diseases, including those co-infections that may be associated with Lyme disease.
The reason vitamin C is given intravenously is that even a few grams of vitamin C taken by mouth can cause diarrhea, and the amount needed is many times that. Vitamin C is more natural to the body, even in these high doses, than most pharmaceuticals, and thus has fewer side effects. Since vitamin C can strip minerals from the body as well as metals, a mineral supplement is usually given after the IV vitamin C treatment.
Artemisinin is an herb that works against babesia, a common Lyme co-infection. It is used along with the vitamin C IV for Lyme treatment.
Since much of what Lyme disease is about is microorganisms, having a strong immune system is crucial. There are a number of ways to stimulate the immune system.
Toxins and other infections adversely affect the immune system, and any measures to reduce these will help strengthen the immune system.
There is a way to be vaccinated with your own blood to stimulate your immune system to fight against whatever infection you have.
Gamma globulin, transfer factor, and c-AMP injections will stimulate the immune system.
In addition to the artemisinin mentioned above, there are a number of herbal therapies that can help with Lyme, and with fewer side effects and financial cost than pharmaceuticals. These herbs can go after the causative microorganisms, strengthen the immune system, provide nutrients, and help with detoxification.
Yeast and candida overgrowth can account for some Lyme-associated symptoms. Natural antifungal agents include caprylic acid, garlic, berberine, and oregano oil. Grapefruit seed extract (GSE), an antifungal, can also be useful for cystic forms of borrelia.
Herbs that detox include curcumin and broccoli seed extract (sulforaphane). Curcumin also contains antimalarial compounds that have effects against babesia, as well as having anti-inflammatory effects.
Diet and nutrition
As with healing any chronic illness, proper nutrition from both food and supplements is vital. Both the nutrients in healthy food and the avoidance of toxins associated with processed food and conventional farming methods are important.
Mineral balance should be considered. Babesia, especially, is associated with low ferritin (iron) levels. A certain amount of ferritin (iron stores) must be present in order for the body to utilize artemisinin. A low magnesium level can cause the spasms sometimes found in Lyme. If you are low in iodine, you are likely to have an underactive thyroid, which means you are more likely to have trouble clearing infections like Lyme disease.
Biomeridian therapy, Rife frequencies
Dr. David Nelson at CAM has computerized biomeridian treatments that can help with Lyme. This machine can also help to diagnose Lyme disease as well as exactly what co-infections might be present.
Lyme symptoms, including unremitting pain, can greatly interfere with quality of life. These symptoms can benefit from measures to relieve them even if the disease itself isn’t affected.
Electronic stimulators such as TENS can help with pain, and Botox injections can help targeted neuropathic pain. There are, of course, pain medications, but these are often surprisingly ineffective against Lyme pain, and can have undesirable side effects.
Other therapies that have shown some benefit include:
- There is a machine that ozonates blood, a process that can help in clearing Lyme.
- Injection of methylated folic acid
- Colloidal Silver
Exercise leads to increased mitochondrial production and increased energy. Patients with Lyme usually find that fatigue and pain improve with increased exercise. The ideal Lyme exercise program builds up slowly and includes stretching.
PTSD from early trauma can worsen MSIDS and make it more resistant, so counseling can help.
A coordinated plan
There are many therapies for Lyme disease, and most of them work, at least for some people, and their success depends on what other therapies are used at the same time. It is much better to have a coordinated plan that takes into account the microorganisms involved, your particular Lyme symptoms, toxins, diet, herbs, and other factors. The staff at CAM can help to put a plan together that can help you.