Lyme Disease: The Great Imitator
Lyme Disease and associated co-infections like Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Mycoplasma are rapidly spreading worldwide, often undiagnosed, mimicking many common illnesses such as: chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and even psychiatric conditions like depression, anxiety, and OCD.
Proper and early diagnosis is challenging due to current testing criteria, the conventional medical model, and testing options available. Many people as a result, are misdiagnosed, or undiagnosed, or told it “is in their heads.” These folks unfortunately do not get the proper care they need to fight the systemic infection(s) that are the root cause of their symptoms.
The most common symptoms are: fatigue, headaches, neck or back pain/stiffness, migratory joint pain/swelling, tingling/numbness/burning in extremities, brain fog and confusion, memory issues, poor sleep, and difficulties in speech or writing. These can become chronic leading to a complex health picture with little or no real answers after numerous doctor visits.
A holistic naturopathic approach to Lyme Disease and other Tick-Born Infections includes:
- Complete lab testing & clinical assessment of: lyme disease & co-infections, methylation genetics (MTHFR), nutritional deficiencies, salivary adrenal/hormonal levels, and functional stool analysis. Many of these tests can be requested through your medical provider. Remember that the testing is helpful but the true diagnosis of lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis.
- Strengthening the individual: in the body, mind, and spirit for total healing and recovery (see below in Dr. Tom’s Approach tab)
- Effectively treating all infections in the body: with natural remedies and/or conventional antibiotics. These treatments must address- both intracellular and extracellular tissues.
- Treatments must address all forms of Lyme disease including the cell-wall spirochete, cystic or round body, and biofilm matrix including “persister dormant” cells. Careful considerations need to made regarding antibiotics, as lyme bacteria are smart enough to change forms and evade treatment by creating a barrier that antibiotics cannot penetrate.
“Growing up in the Hudson Valley and supporting so many people through chronic Lyme, makes me extra attentive for Lyme disease. The tests are not sensitive enough and the proper tests are not done in the first place. Therefore, Lyme Disease is a clinical diagnosis based on a person history and presentation.”
- Lyme Basics
- Symptoms & Testing
- Dr. Tom's Philosophy of Healing
- Key Steps to Lyme Recovery
- Lyme Support Products
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by a spirochete-a corkscrew shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is called the great imitator because it has the same symptoms as many diseases and affects any organ in the body, especially the brain and nervous system, heart, muscle, joints, collagen/connective tissues, and the eyes.
Lyme disease is primarily transmitted from the bite of an infected tick. There are numerous ticks including: Ixodes scapularis (deer ticks), Ixodes pacificus (west coast tick), and Amblyomma americium (lone star tick), and Dermacentor veriabillis (American dog tick) to name just a few. These ticks are prevalent throughout the entire country and therefore lyme disease is not just an east coast disease.
More research on transmission is needed because lyme disease has also been found in fleas, dust mites, mosquitos indicating that lyme disease many not be solely from an infected tick. Also, all animals could carry lyme disease as ticks can feed on all rodents (especially mice), horses, dogs, cats, etc. Also, recently live spirochetes have been found in sexual fluids perhaps indicating that there could be possibility of sexual transmission.
Ticks carry many other infectious agents-bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoans. All can be transmitted in a single bite. Often many of these cause severe symptoms in people and never get diagnosed. These include:
- Borrelia strains other than Borrelia burgdorferi, including about 100 strains in the US and 300 strains worldwide. These include: Borrelia sps. STARI (lonestari), myamotoi, hermsii, parkeri, garinii, afzelii, to name just a few. Many can cause relapsing fevers monthly. Currently testing does not include these strains.
- Babesia microti, Wa-1 strains, a malarial-like parasitic infection infecting red blood cells causing severe symptoms, cough, night sweats, air hunger.
- Bartonella quintana, henselae, are bacterial infections affecting the inside of red blood cells often causing severe neurological symptoms, pain, headaches, foot pain
- Ehrlichia and Anaplasma, several bacterial infections, causing severe sudden headaches and fever.
- Others: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, Q fever, Powassen Viral Encephalitis, yeast, parasites
Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis. There are two very opposing views medically on how to test and treat lyme disease and associated tick borne infections. The tests are currently not reliable. The two-tier testing approach of testing is not evidence-based and causing potentially many many false negatives. If you suspect lyme disease, you must consult with a health care provider who is lyme literate and trained member of ILADS (http://www.ilads.org/lyme/lyme-quickfacts.php)
Lyme disease are anaerobic bacteria that love low-oxygen areas of the body, deep in tissues, and tends to attack your weak or injured areas. Enhancing your circulation and blood flow with exercise and hot epsom salt baths is critical to recovery. Also, when the bacteria are killed with antibiotics, they release endotoxins that can cause herx reactions and severe symptoms.
Toxicity and Trauma are big obstacles to recovery in Lyme disease treatment and recovery. Treating the whole person helping “unlock” subconscious memories, trauma, unexpressed emotions, fixed beliefs, and rigid thinking.
- Flu-Like Symptoms: sore throat, swollen glands, fever, malaise, sweating, gastrointestinal issues (Note: consider lyme especially during the sping-summer-early fall months)
- Sudden Joint, Muscle, or Neck Pain
- Rash: Erythema Migrans (EM) is the classic ring-like expanding “bulls eye” rash but other types of rashes are possible (Note: rashes happen only 50% of the time)
Lyme is a very confusing illness because in 50% of the cases, there is no tick bite or rash to be found.
The most common symptoms related to lyme disease and other tick-born infections:
- Muscle or Joint Pain/Swelling
- Neck or Back Stiffness and Pain
- Tingling, Burning, and/or Numbness of extremities
- Brain Fog: mental confusion, difficulty thinking, poor concentration, memory issues, difficulties with reading, writing, and speaking
- Disturbed Sleep: excessive need, poor quality, early awakening
- Night sweats, hot flashes, chills, low grade fevers especially when hormonal factors ruled out
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Pelvic pain or irritable bladder
For a complete assessment questionnaire, please refer to the link below of Dr. Richard Horowitz’s Lyme-MSIDS Questionnaire. Remember, Lyme Disease is a “clinical diagnosis” and this questionnaire is a very helpful tool. Please download, fill out, and bring to your initial appointment with Dr. Tom.
Lyme & Associated Co-Infections Questionnaire
Lyme Disease Tests:
- ELISA: screening first-tier test, not highly sensitive. A negative ELISA test does not rule out Lyme Disease.
- C6 PEPTIDE ELISA: more sensitive than standard ELISA
- WESTERN BLOT IgM, IgG: Standard Lab or IGENEX (uses several strains to improve testing sensitivity). (Note: bands 23, 31, 34, 39, 83/93 are borrelia-specific bands)
- LYME PCR: DNA of bacteria in blood. Available for Borrelia strains: burgdorferi, hermsii (relapsing fever), miyamotoi (relapsing fever), afzelli (european), garinii (european), lonestari (southern states). Note: not all labs test all strains
- IgM, IgG: HME, HGA
- PCR: HME, HGA
- IgM, IgG: Babesia microti, Babesia duncani (WA-1)
- BABESIA PCR
- BABESIA FISH AND/OR GIEMSA STAIN
- IgM, IgG: Bartonella henselae (cat scratch fever), Bartonella quintana (trench fever)
- BARTONELLA PCR
- BARTONELLA FISH
- VEGF (indirect marker)
Other Co-infections to test: (some do not currently have tests yet available)
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF): Rickettsia rickettsii IgM, IgG
- Mycoplasma Pneumonia, Fermentans, Hominis: IgM, IgG, PCR
- Tick borne relapsing fever: Borellia strains-hermsii, myamotoi, parkeri
- Chlamydia pneumonia IgM, IgG, PCR
- Q Fever (Coxiella burnetii) IgM, IgG
- Tularemia (Francisella tularensis) IgM, IgG
- Brucella IgM, IgG with agglutination test to confirm
- Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) IgM, IgG, PCR
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) IgM, IgG
- Human Herpes Virus-1 & 2
- Human Herpes Virus-6 (HHV6) IgM, IgG, PC
- Powassen Viral Encephalitis
- Other Viruses: Hepatitis A, B, C, west nile, coxsackie, parvovirus, colorado tick fever (virus),
- Candida: IgA, IgM, IgG in blood, stool analysis, vaginal swab
- Parasites: OPx3, stool analysis
- CMP + Lipids
- HgbA1C, fasting insulin
- Nutritional & Genetic: B12, Folate, Methyl Malonic Acid (MMA), Homocysteine, MTHFR C677T/A1298C, Iron, TIBC, ferritin, 25-OH Vitamin D, 1-25-OH Vitamin D, serum Magnesium and zinc, RBC magnesium and zinc, iodine, copper, ceruloplasmin levels
- Heavy metals: lead levels, RBC mercury, cadmium, arsenic levels
- Endocrine: Full Thyroid Panel (TSH, FREE T4, FREE T3, Reverse T3, Anti-TPO ABs, Anti-thyroglobulin ABs), Cortisol Levels (blood or 24 hour), DHEA-sulfate, Hormones (FSH, LH, Estrogen, Progesterone, Free Testosterone, SHBG, Pregnenolone, IGF-1,
- Rheumatology: ANA, RF, ESR, hs-CRP, CCP, CPK, C3a, C4a, HLA-B27, HLA-DR4, Auto-immune subpanel, Anti-phospholipid AB, Anti-cardiolipin AB, Anti-myelin AB
- Immunoglobulins Total: IgA, IgM, IgG
- Gastro-intestinal: Food allergy testing IgE, Celiac antibodies, H.Pylori antibodies
- Chest X-ray, Pulmonary Function Tests, EKG
- Comprehensive Stool Analysis: very important in determining intestinal infections of yeast, parasites, bacteria, etc. Call our office for details
- Salivary Adrenal Cortisol Panel
My Guiding Philosophy and Principles of Treatment:
- “It is better to know the patient that has the disease than the disease a patient has.”–Sir William Osler
- Lyme requires multi-layered treatment and healing in the body, heart, mind, and soul levels for best outcomes.
- This requires prioritizing and “attuning” to the person and their needs. Compassion is therapeutic and necessary from doctor.
- “The microbe is nothing. The terrain is everything.” —Louis Pasteur
- Optimizing the host-the person’s terrain: increases the strength of host which increases resistance to disease and enhances recovery.
- Lyme Disease is here to teach us something about our true nature. This is a healing opportunity and if we embrace the journey rather than resist it, it will be transformative.
- Why is this happening to me versus for me?
- “All disease begins in the gut.”—Hippocrates
- Our core immune system strength–70 % of our immune system is in our guts and is affected by our food choices, chronic infections, and environmental toxins.
- Do you have solar plexus issues that may impact your immune system? –low self-esteem, confidence, anxiety, worry, guild, shame, trauma, abuse history
- Do you trust your gut instinct or intuition?
- “Awareness cures.” –Fritz Pearls
- Lyme Disease is here to teach us something about our true nature. This is a healing opportunity.
- If we embrace the journey rather than resist it, it will be transformative.
- Why is this happening to me versus for me?
- Naturopathic Approach:
- Healing power of inner healers/true-self, nature, natural remedies, and Qi
- Identify and treat the root infections and organ imbalances in body
- First do no harm by assessing how strong or weak an individual is prior to treatment.
- Treat the whole person-body, mind, and spirit. This requires individualized care and attention to details.
- Inspire, educate, and empower people to improve their lifestyle, diet, and attitude
- Prevention is key by strengthening resistance and immune system, reducing exposures, and quick diagnosis.
Healing happens when you strengthen the host (the individual) and then treat the infections and co-infections:
Strengthen the host by rebuilding the “terrain” of the person. This is first step in lyme disease treatment once it has become chronic. Special attention to spiritual awareness and mindfulness, diet, gut health, detoxification, adrenal energy, mitochondrial health, methylation genetics, immune system support, inflammation and pain management.
Fight infections with an integrative approach of Qi energy healing, natural remedies including antimicrobial & immune boosting herbs, superfoods, homeopathic medicines, essential oils, vitamins & minerals, and conventional antibiotics (prescribed by your current health care provider) to empower your healing process.
- “It is better to know the patient that has the disease than the disease a patient has.”–Sir William Osler
- Build a strong foundation & core protocol with awareness, mindfulness, relaxation, movement, good sleep, and a strong, comprehensive protocol of vitamins, minerals, essential fats, and key targeted nutrients.
- Lyme Energy and Anti-inflammatory Diet is key–focusing on healthy proteins, vegetables, fats, superfoods, and antioxidants to power vitality.
- Leaky-gut repair & Microbiome rebuilding is critical for immune system
- Enhance detoxification and drainage of the liver, kidneys, lymphatics, spleen, colon, lungs, and skin
- Boost life force or Qi by addressing and supporting the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary glands.
- Mitochondrial support and supporting methylation pathways to repair oxidative stress.
- Strengthen immune system and provide natural antimicrobial support for bacteria, parasites, virus, candida, yeast, and mold. Include support for biofilms.
- Inflammation support for muscles, joints, nerves, brain/neuro-inflammation.
- Address biofilms and blood coagulation with foods like real maple syrup, liquid stevia, pomegranate, green tea, plus other herbs and specialized enzymes.
- Neurotransmitter balance and brain energy support (reduce “leaky brain”) to repair brain neuron membranes and support serotonin pathways for happy mood and healthy sleep.
Dr. Tom’s Core Protocol:
- Core Mult+: 2 caps twice per day with meals
- Core Minerals+: 2-4 caps before bed
- Core Omega 450/330: 2-4 caps daily with meals
- Core D3: 5,000-10,000 ius daily
- Core ProbioCleanse (for microbiome balancing): 1-2 packets daily
- Core Daily Cleanse Shake (or Core Vegan or Core Pure Protein) for daily protein intake muscle mass, energy and inflammation support, and detox and drainage.
- Core Coconut Oil-extra virgin, gmo-free
Leaky Gut Repair & Probiotics:
- L-glutamine, slippery elm powder, GI repair powder, GI revive powder, aloe vera juice, DGL for gut healing and repair
- Saccromyces boulardii for antibiotic support and boosting secretory IgA
- Soil-based probiotics or spore-forming probiotic to dramatically increase healthy populations of bacteria and support detoxification
- Mixture of multiple human strains naturally occurring in the human microbiome including: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Bacillus, Streptococcus, in concentrations of 30-450 billion live viable organisms daily.
Detox and Drainage:
- Tri-fortify Glutathione, Core Liver Support (milk thistle, NAC), Core Daily Cleanse, Core Hormone Detox, Greens Powders, Sarsasparilla (Smilax), Detox & Drainage Kit by Pekana
Adrenal & Mitochondrial Support:
- Core Adrenal Support, Core Multi+, Methylated B vitamins, Core Methyl B12, Core CoQ10, NT Energy Factor, ATP Fuel, Acetyl-l-carnitine
Immune System Support:
- Core Immune Boost, Core Mult-Immune, Transfer Factors-lyme, co-infections, Olive leaf, Resveratrol, Pomegranate, Green Tea, Curcumin
Anti-microbial Support for virus, bacteria, yeast, parasites:
- Core Microbial Support, Andrographis, Cats Claw and Samento, Microbinate, BLT+, Crypto+, Artemesia, Wormwood, Colloidal Silver, Oregano oil, A-babs, A-bart, AL complex
Biofilm & Inflammation support:
- Core Joint Support, Core Collagen Forte, Core Omega 450/330, Core D3, Cytoquel, Resveratrol, Curcumin, Inflaquell, Pancreatic enzymes, Bolouke-lumbrokinase, NAC, Liquid stevia
Brain & Nerve Support:
- Core Methyl B12, Tri-fortify Glutathione, Cognicare, 5-HTP, Melatonin, GABA, theanine, plus various herbs
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