Treatment of Chronic Lyme Disease

Successful treatment of chronic lyme disease requires a comprehensive approach. The mainstay of treatment for chronic lyme disease has traditionally been antibiotics. The regimen is designed with the patient's symptoms in mind as well as the types of coinfections present. While antibiotics are a powerful tool, they can have potentially serious side effects. In addition, some individuals will typically relapse within weeks to months after discontinuing therapy, sometimes even after protracted intravenous antibiotics.

It is, therefore, imperative that a comprehensive treatment program be designed that addresses factors that can interfere with an individual's recovery. The presence of chronic viruses, methylation cycle defects, mold illness & mast cell activation are just some of the factors that can cause chronic inflammation to the point where most antimicrobial agents simply stop working within days to weeks.

Once the inflammation is addressed, there are a number of effective antimicrobial agents at our disposal:

  • Herbal antimicrobial formulations

  • Homeopathy

  • Prescription antibiotics

  • Electromedicine

  • Oxidative therapies

  • Bio-Magnetism

It has been our experience that a combination approach, with or without antibiotics, can easily treat these infections when the underlying sources of inflammation have been addressed first.

Diet & Lyme Disease:

Most patients with Chronic Lyme disease have significant gastrointestinal issues.

Symptoms resemble Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and include the following:

  • Diarrhea and/or constipation

  • Bloating after meals

  • Flatulence

  • Burping

  • Abdominal discomfort

  • Hypoglycemia between meals with irritability, lightheadedness, and headaches

Borrelia, the bacteria causing Lyme Disease, has been well demonstrated to invade and multiply in the intestinal lining resulting in "leaky gut." As a result, Chronic Lyme disease sufferers cannot fully digest certain carbohydrates as the inflammation causes key enzymes on the gut lining to be wiped out. As a result, it is not uncommon for Lyme patients to have carbohydrate intolerance resulting in intestinal dysbiosis, candida overgrowth and/or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

For all of our patients with Chronic Lyme disease, we strongly recommend a gluten-free casein-free (GFCF) diet. For those patients more severely affected, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) has been extremely helpful. Please keep in mind that these dietary restrictions are temporary and most patients are able to return to a normal healthy diet after the Lyme infection is treated.

Both antibiotics as well as the intestinal malabsorption mentioned above can play a huge role in promoting yeast/candida overgrowth. In such a situation, consuming alcohol or refined carbohydrates can cause the yeast to grow in an explosive fashion. So, we recommend you refrain from anything sweet including natural and artificial sweeteners as much as possible.

List of Healthy GFCF Foods:

Grains:

Millet, quinoa (white and red), brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth, corn.

Pastas:

Brown rice pasta, quinoa with corn pasta.

Vegetables:

Green beans, carrots, parsnips, winter squash - butternut, acorn, sweet potato, yam, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, asparagus, artichoke, cucumber, celery, garlic, onion..

Leafy Vegetables:

Green leafy veg - lettuces, spinach, chard, kale, collards..

Nightshades:

Peppers, tomatoes, potatoes - red skin, eggplant..

Sprouts:

Alfalfa sprouts, sunflower seed sprouts, daikon sprouts.

Legumes:

Lentils, black beans, kidney, pinto, adzuki, dried beans.

Meat/Fish/Poultry:

Egg, tilapia, petrale sole, chicken, turkey, chicken/turkey sausages, beef, buffalo.

Fruits/Nuts:

Banana, orange, apple, lemon. avocado, berries, grapes, cherries, coconut, almonds, walnuts.

Asian Food:

Chinese food with brown rice, Indian curry (be careful here as some sauces do contain gluten).

Handling Herxheimer Reactions

What is a Herxheimer Reaction and What Can I Do About It?

It is not uncommon for those affected by chronic conditions such as Lyme disease and its associated co-infections to experience a worsening of symptoms within hours to a few days after starting a treatment.

Many patients may be concerned by this sudden shift. Rest assured this is normal and a good sign indicating your treatment is working. At Medical Options for Wellness, we believe a herxheimer reaction is only helpful at low levels that the patient is able to manage. An exaggerated response may result in excessive inflammation that can hinder treatment protocol success.

A Herxheimer reaction (often abbreviated to “a herx reaction”) is a natural bodily process triggered by an elevation of systemic endotoxins.

These harmful substances are released into the bloodstream when harmful microorganisms are destroyed or die off with treatment. Just as when the Wicked Witch of the West screamed when she was melted by water, the bugs start to release toxins when they are under attack.

With an influx of endotoxins, the immune system is triggered, resulting in an inflammatory response that may be experienced throughout the entire body resulting in symptoms like:

  • Acne

  • Bloating

  • Brain Fog

  • Chills

  • Cold Sweats

  • Cramps

  • Diarrhea

  • Fatigue

  • Fever

  • Headaches

  • Joint Pain

  • Lethargy

  • Mood Changes - Irritability, Anxiety

  • Muscle Pain

  • Skin Irritation

  • Sore Throat

It is not uncommon in the field of Lyme disease and treatment of chronic infections to put the Herxheimer reaction on a pedestal. Although we agree that a Herx reaction can be an indicator we are addressing the infections, we do not subscribe to the “no pain, no gain” attitude. Our experience proves that a patient can heal steadily, without being pushed to their limits, and ultimately get well faster.

What Can I Do About It?

We find that if a Herx is too overwhelming to the patient, it can actually hinder their progress. In our practice we do our best to slowly ramp up the treatment to maintain a manageable aggravation of symptoms. We also encourage our patients to incorporate regular drainage support in the form of supplements and lifestyle habits to keep the exit doors open for the efficient excretion of these toxins.

Here are a number of our daily tools:

Healthy Diet

This foundation assists in reduction of inflammation and restricts nutrients that can potentially feed these microbial offenders.

Lyme patients typically struggle with breaking down gluten and dairy, which is why we often recommend a gluten and casein (dairy proteins) free diet.

For people affected by viruses and yeast, we also recommend no sugar (nothing that tastes sweet beside 1-2 servings of fruit including natural sweeteners), no simple carbohydrates and 1-2 servings maximum of complex carbohydrates.

For people affected by Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), we recommend a specific diet comprised of low histamine foods and low histamine food preparation.

Regular Movement

Lyme disease and its co-infections can cause a significant amount of fatigue, but movement on some level is imperative for successful treatment. As we start implementing an antimicrobial treatment (both herbal and pharmaceutical), toxins are released into the body.

Exercise plays an important role in mobilizing toxins and supporting the body’s ability to excrete them, so we ask our patients to engage in regular movement (10-20 minutes twice daily) even if it is a walk with regular breaks. You can break up the time into smaller increments throughout the day also, but it is imperative that you move your body.

We find that those who can tolerate higher levels of activity, can move the toxins at a greater rate and allowing us to treat them faster. For many Lyme patients, the amount and intensity of exercise can be a fine line between it being supportive versus destructive making it important to listen to one’s body.

If you do feel better after exercise, this can indicate that you were having toxins accumulating.

Dry Skin Brushing

The lymphatic system is responsible for collecting and transporting waste and the act of dry skin brushing stimulates this process. Dedicate 3-5 minutes to this simple and low cost self-care routine. Look for a medium-soft cactus bristle with a detachable handle for comfort and ease.

Dry skin brushing should be gentle and never scratch or break the skin. It is best done in the morning before showering as it can be potentially energizing. Use firm small strokes or a circular motion. When you begin, start at your feet and brush upward towards the heart. Next, move to your arms by starting at your hands and again brush towards the heart. Brush downward on the neck again towards the heart. When brushing the abdomen, you want to brush in a counterclockwise motion.

Toxin Binders and Drainage Formulas

This is where we come in with supplemental support with a series of formulas including Takesumi Supreme, Zeobind, Coconut Charcoal, Liquid Bentonite and many more. These formulas are built to attach to toxins and assist in moving them out of our system through the bowels.

Drainage formulas are customized to your body’s program to assist your organs of elimination (liver, kidneys, gut and skin) in mobilizing the toxins out of your body. You should not stop these formulas while on anti-microbial drugs or herbs.

Healthy Elimination

You must be maintain sufficient hydration and ensure your bowels are moving daily. Constipation can be common for people and various laxatives or enemas may need to be incorporated to ensure proper elimination.

In acute Herxheimer exacerbations, the following tools can be implemented in addition to the above tools already on board:

Epsom Salt Baths and Alkalization

As our bodies become toxic, they also become more acidic. By regulating pH balance, symptoms of toxicity can be managed. Two common tools for this include:

Epsom salt (3 cups) and baking soda (1 cup) baths. Add to a tub full of water and soak for 20-30 minutes to aid in detoxification and assist in dealing with herxheimer reactions.

Epsom Salt is a natural occuring mineral (often Magnesium sulfate) that has the following benefits:

  • Relaxes muscles

  • Reduces toxins

  • Reduces inflammation

Baking Soda, Sodium Bicarbonate, is naturally alkaline and can assist in eliminating toxins. These baths help with excretion of toxins through the skin.

Ingesting alkaline salts. AlkaBase: ½ teaspoon in 8-10 oz water as needed or AlkaSeltzer Gold: dissolve 2 tablets in water as needed.

Coffee Enemas:

These enemas are a very effective detoxification tool. They not only cleanse the colon, but also promote bile flow from the gallbladder and support the liver in the production of a powerful antioxidant called glutathione to assist in detoxification.

Ionic Foot baths:

This is an excellent tool to aid in the elimination of toxins. It has been beneficial in our patients affected by Lyme disease, autism and PANS/PANDAS. People use this tool about 2-3 times per week for up to 30 minutes. We consistently get patient feedback of how much more relaxed they feel after these treatments and how quickly their detox symptoms subside.

Note on Infrared Saunas: Infrared saunas, in general, are not recommended as they stimulate toxin release without supporting elimination of those toxins frequently causing these toxins to start backing up in the body aggravating detox symptoms. Because we are already mobilizing toxins with the antimicrobials, it is not advised to pull more from your tissues.

CONCLUSION: The toxicity arising from the eradication of microorganisms is frequently the limiting step in how fast a individual recovers from Lyme disease. Please remember the more you utilize these tools on a regular basis the faster we are able to ramp up your treatment program and the sooner you will be able to recover.

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