Summer: Friend or Foe? Chronic Lyme Disease
Summer is the peak of Lyme season, and I would be remiss if I did not write briefly about Chronic Lyme disease and the co-infections, e.g. Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, mycoplasma – and there are many more. Symptoms of these infections can be mysterious ranging from joint pain, insomnia, bipolar behavior to neurological symptoms, chronic fatigue syndrome, Fibromyalgia and digestive ailments, fevers with night sweats, and more.
I have attended various Chronic Lyme conferences from ILADS (International Lyme And Associated Diseases Society). Dr. Horowitz, Dr. Burascano from LI and Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt have been my influences, however, there are many other top docs and researchers in this specialized field.
Chronic Lyme and co–infections are incredibly debilitating on a systemic level in that they can result in chronic fatigue, chronic depression, bankruptcy because of treatments and a hopelessness – that drive some to even contemplate suicide. The digestive, system is often severely compromised, resulting in malnutrition and non-desired weight loss.
An acute Lyme infection, i.e. Borrelia Burgdoferii, has an affinity for large joints, e.g. the knee. Symptoms are arthritis-like. If that individual does not respond to antibiotic treatment, an autoimmune condition, Antibiotic-Resistant Lyme Arthritis develops.
In any individual dealing with Chronic Lyme, the entire physiology must be supported and complementary therapies are recommended e.g. acupuncture, colonics, strength training, Yoga or Pilates-type movement (according to tolerance).
In young children, Chronic Lyme infections can contribute in Autism – related disorders, including PANDA (pediatric associated neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections). Autism and Chronic Lyme infections can mimic each other…in both cases; brain function and inflammation are in play affecting behavior, development, speech etc. Treatment for all these types of infection are costly, prolonged and they can have also have debilitating side effects.
Every case of Chronic Lyme infections is different as it also matters on how the physiology can handle the infections, genetic factors involved in an important biochemical process called methylation, constitutional predispositions, ability to handle treatment and many more factors. I.e. methylation, mitochondrial dysfunction and glutathione are very important when treating these infections.
In my professional experience, gastrointestinal and hormonal challenges, including adrenal fatigue, must be addressed concomitant while detox must be upregulated according to the tolerance of the individual. Enemas, infrared saunas and colonics are often very helpful to support the detox while antimicrobial treatment is administered over months and years.
Multiple chemical sensitivities and food allergies are often in play. Neurological symptoms, arthritic joint pain and chronic insomnia add additional challenges. Mold exposures add additional complications and the accompanying brain fog prevents ability to focus or work or study. If the home is mold infested, no mold treatment will be successful until this is remedied – or the individual moves. Living in a moldy home constantly feeds the infection and contributes to relentless brain fog and chronic sinusitis.
External toxic exposures, including Wi-Fi, must be addressed as all can make the symptoms worse. Infections with neurological symptoms as seen with Bartonella, are highly sensitive to electromagnetic frequencies including cell towers and computer screens.
Specialized Environmental Medicine physicians must be sought out with Lyme infections and mold. Specialized testing is required and it can be very expensive once all the necessary testing has been done.
Herbal and homeopathic applications are essentials for hormonal support, antimicrobial treatment, digestion and detox, especially for individuals who have become antibiotic resistant or do not tolerate meds. IV glutathione support is helpful for detox, however, it is not an option for everyone and topical applications are available.
The stress axis including the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, adrenals and ovaries must be supported. Some women stop menstruating, as the body cannot be concerned with reproduction while it is malnourished, hormonally depleted and challenged with the infections.
Chronic fatigue and hypoglycemia are common as the adrenal glands are tanked out. Sleep problems often accompany infections, with the individual not being able to sleep at night despite best efforts.
A leaky gut plus secondary gut infections incl. SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and chronic constipation or diarrhea often is present. Food choices will be restricted initially and must be customized. The gut flora must be addressed, especially with oral antibiotic treatment to ward off yeast infections. With chronic drug treatment, the flora is often very compromised resulting in more food sensitivities with a hypersensitive immune system.
The Lyme and co-infections are transmitted in pregnancy, breast milk, sex and saliva. Infected woman are on antibiotics during pregnancy to avoid transmission. Ticks, mosquitoes, spider or bug bites can all transfer the infections.
Only up to 30% of infected individuals develop the classic bull’s eye rash. See the physician as soon as possible!
It does not take 24 hrs. Before infection occurs, that IS a myth. I take any Lyme infection very serious as lack of treatment or diagnosis can have disastrous consequences. The best prevention is to check, check, check your body, take a hot shower after being in the yard, wear light colored clothing, use herbal bug spray against bugs and mosquitoes. The best protection is to work on prevention – or stay in a NYC apartment!
Chronic Lyme is not an accepted diagnosis and it is an autoimmune disease when it is chronic. It can often be difficult to diagnose and the best test is with IGENEX labs in CA.
Work with a Lyme – knowledgeable wellness team who support you as a whole, understands the infections and collateral damage from the infection and treatment. Do contact me if you would like more information regarding adjunct support for Chronic Lyme associated symptoms.
Have a Happy Summer!
Rika Keck, ACN FDN-P, CMTA
NY Integrated Health