Lyme Disease: Vital Elements For Treatment and Recovery
Posted Sep 22 2008 11:56pm
Lyme disease, is perhaps the fastest-growing epidemic in the world. Lyme disease (LD) is caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted through the bite of Ixodes spp. ticks. Factors potentially contributing to the increase in reported cases include growing populations of deer that carry the Ixodes ticks, increased residential development of wooded areas, tick dispersal to new areas, improved disease recognition in areas where LD is endemic, and enhanced reporting. Furthermore, it is now generally accepted that Borrelia burgdorferi, may be carried and transmitted by fleas, mosquitos, and mites. Human-to-human transfer is also suspected. Compounding the crisis of this epidemic, is the difficulty and limitations in diagnosing Lyme, and the recognition of clinical symptoms in the absence of clear laboratory evidence, by inexperienced physicians. There is a serious number of cases underreported each year. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga., USA, affirms that “there is considerable underreporting” of Lyme disease. Nick Harris, Ph.D., director of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), states “Lyme is grossly under-reported. In the U.S., we probably have about 200,000 cases per year.” Other experts speculate that the number of cases may be 100 times higher (18 million in the United States alone).
Although B. burgdorferi remains the most common pathogen in tick-borne illnesses, coinfections including Ehrlichia and Babesia strains are increasingly noted in patients with Lyme disease, particularly in those with chronic illness. Bartonella is another organism that is carried by the same ticks that are infected with B. burgdorferi. These are important coinfections to identify. “The number of symptoms and duration of illness in patients with concurrent Lyme disease and babesiosis are greater than in patients with either infection alone.” (Krause, et. al., JAMA 1996). Other chronic infections that may play a role in persistent and unresponsive cases of LD include Mycoplasma, viral infections such as Human Herpes Virus-6 (HHV-6), and intestinal parasites, among others. The clinical features of chronic Lyme disease can be indistinguishable from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). At a conference on Lyme disease that I attended in 2005, it was the general consensus by the attending physicians, all having considerable experience with LD, that most CFS cases were Lyme disease cases that had not been adequately diagnosed. The features of CFS and chronic Lyme can be very similar. Profound fatigue often associated with cognitive impairment, sleep disturbances, fibromyalgia, and dysautonomias (dysautonomia refers to a change in autonomic nervous system function that adversely affects health). The use of conventional antibiotic medicine for bacterial infections, is the standard of care in this country. However, it is my experience, and that of many colleagues, that antibiotics are hardly the total cure. Antibiotics, when implemented according to current treatment guidelines, does not guarantee that Lyme and other coinfections will be cured. Lyme disease can become persistent, recurrent, and refractory even in the face of antibiotic therapy. While antibiotics are important weapons in fighting serious infections like Lyme, they have deleterious consequences when used over a prolonged perios of time, as is often the case in chronic Lyme disease where long term antibiotic therapy may appear to be the only appropriate therapy. The negative impact of antibiotic therapy on the ecological integrity of the digestive tract is well known (see dysbiosis section). The digestive tract is home to about 60% of the body’s immune system, and it is a primary focal area of potential health and disease. Antibiotics suppress immune system function and contribute to unfavorable and potentially pathogenic bacterial and yeast infections in the digestive terrain, that not only erode immune integrity, but also produce toxic metabolites that contribute to neurological, rheumatological and other inflammatory disease processes like cardiovascular disease. Chronic antibiotic therapy also is a risk for “antibiotic resistance” that leads to more resistant and pathogenic strains of infectious organisms. Regardless of the antibiotic regimen that is invariably employed, it is imperative that adjunctive complementary protocols also are included. Antibiotics are important anti-microbial agents that effectively reduce the infectious load of Lyme and other co-infections, but ultimately it is the wise and experienced integration of natural immune building and antimocrobial extracts, antiinflammatory and oxidative stress buffering nutraceuticals, and targeted nutrient assessment and therapy (orthomolecular medicine), that supports the host’s own immune strength and integrity, and that will ultimately result in the restoration of health to the infected individual. Please open the following link and read the following PDF monograph on Lyme disease by Dr. Burrascano, that details some of the factors I have alluded to in the diagnosis, treatment and management of Lyme disease.