Lyme disease was only recognized about 40 years ago but has been around for much longer. Several years ago scientists discovered fossils dating as far back as 15 million years that contained the Lyme spirochete. These tick-borne diseases have been around for a long, long time.
The fact that we are seeing so many patients suffer from Lyme is not because the spirochete is now more infectious and virulent. The problem is that our terrain – our biological environment - has changed. We are living in a world that has drastically changed to the detriment of our health. Lyme disease like all chronic illnesses is an interplay between genetics, environmental factors, infections, and even traumas.
There is no single "right way" to treat Lyme which is why general guidelines do not always work. But the one common denominator of individuals with chronic diseases - such as Lyme - is underlying low inflammation. And unless address this low level of inflammation can lead to immune dysfunction.
I am not a Lyme specialist but I have had additional training in Lyme disease thru ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society), ISEAI ( International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness), and The American Academy of Environmental Medicine. Through medical conferences, I have also received valuable information from Dr. Horowitz, who is probably the world's foremost expert on Lyme and co-infections. I do incorporate his antibiotic protocols with great success. Because of this additional training that I have received, I do look at Lyme disease differently.
Treatment is based not only on the infection from the Lyme spirochete but also on reducing inflammation and the prevention of progression to immune dysfunction.
Patients who have been bitten by a tick are grouped into 3 main categories.
This group of individuals get bit by a tick, receive a 30-day course of antibiotics, and recover completely.
This group gets a round of antibiotics and feels better for a short time but then has a recurrence of symptoms or just never completely recovers to full health.
This is the group that has had multiple rounds of different antibiotics, herbals, and even IV antibiotics but never fully recovers. They may feel better for a while but many relapse as their health continues to decline.
Treatment varies depending on which group.
New Tick Bite. I do treat with antibiotics immediately regardless of a ‘bull’s-eye’ rash as 30-40% never develop the rash and Lyme testing is flawed. The Western Blot (the gold standard for Lyme testing) only tests for one species of Lyme Borrelia, relies on a patient having a robust immune system, and does not contain all of the bands that are looked at to determine a positive test. It also is very important to treat Lyme disease early to avoid the dissemination of the spirochete.
I usually see this group after they have received a round of antibiotics from their PCP and symptoms either return or they never fully recovered their health. This group, which is the majority of patients that I see, has an imbalanced terrain which weakens the immune system. More testing is required for this group to look at their nutrients, inflammatory markers, toxin exposure, hormones, metabolic profile, microbiome, nutrition, sleep, and stress. All play into creating a healthy and balanced terrain.
The most important recommendation that I make for those with chronic Lyme is to not only getting the same testing as for Group 2 but to also have genomic testing. The studies that have been done via Nutritional Genomics Research Group has been a game-changer for many with chronic Lyme. Knowing how genetic variations may be contributing to inflammation is absolutely necessary in order to start the healing process.