The word “Lyme” has come to represent more than Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is controversial. Some doctors do not even recognize it. Personally, I am not concerned with the politics or semantics. I am not affiliated with any of the sources referenced here and this website is not here to prove that you have Lyme. Rather, it is a reference for anyone who has an infection, in general, and cannot seem to get rid of it because his or her immune system and supportive therapies are not keeping up. It was formulated in the strong belief that there are more than two kinds of infections – acute infections that kill you and acute infections that go away. I try to use the specific names of infections in this blog, but sometimes when I use the word “Lyme,” I am referring to chronic infections in general. After all, Lyme is not the only chronic infection resistant to antibiotics and skilled at forming biofilms. Nor is it the most complicated infection.
Lyme disease is the infestation of spirochetal, spiral shaped bacteria 3 to 500 micrometers long, into the blood, bones and tissues. It manifests in the weakest points of the body, and so creates very personalized symptoms. According to CanLyme it is commonly misdiagnosed as CFS, Colitis, Alzheimer’s, encephalitis, IBS, arthritis, ALS, Lupus, MS, psychiatric disorders and thyroid disorders .
Lyme is just one of many co-infections that may need to be investigated. Actually, you may not have Lyme at all, but a different bacterial infection (chronic viral conditions can create false positive Lyme Antibody tests). Autoimmune conditions can create false positives, as well.
Bacterial infections thrive in people with already weakened constitutions due to things like autoimmune issues, genetic mutations, or being in the middle of your worst flu ever while coincidentally being bitten by an infected bug.
Other bacteria include but are not limited to:
- Babesia microti,
- Babesia duncani,
- Bacterial Meningitis,
- Bartonella (Cat Scratch Disease),
- Chlamydia Pneumonia,
- Coxiella (Q fever),
- Heartwater disease,
- Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis,
- Human Monocytic Ehrlichiosis,
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever,
- Tularaemia Francisella tularensis (Rabbit Fever).
Let’s say you just have Lyme and no other co-infections. Lyme is a spiral shaped spirochete, which allows it to spiral out of the blood stream and into basically every crevice of the body if left untreated for weeks or months. This is why antibiotics alone don’t work for chronic cases.
It becomes complicated when you simultaneously have viral and bacterial infections because antibiotics, though they kill infections, are toxic and play havoc on your gut. In consequence, they weaken immunity thereby activating dormant viruses. If you had childhood viruses or sexually transmitted viruses from before, these may also become active if you are in an extremely weakened state.
Viruses transmitted through bites include but are not limited to:
- Mountain Tick Fever,
- Various forms of tick borne encephalitis.
You (probably) don’t just have Lyme – you could have bacterial infections, viral infections, parasites, mental stresses and autoimmune problems. This list does not include the possibility that you feel crummy due to poor diet and air quality, stress, bad sleep, age, heavy metals, or any medications you take. We can’t just blame Lyme disease – we need to learn about ourselves down to our DNA and make lifestyle changes accordingly.
So… you find out that you’ve had a bacterial infection for years and that it’s too late for a simple round of antibiotics to save you. Now what?
The answer is it depends. You may or may not need an antimicrobial agent to reduce the infectious load. I personally feel better getting off of antimicrobials more often than not. Remember that if you decide to take antimicrobials/antibiotics, the goal is to one day be able to come off your meds and let your immune system take care of the rest. In order to due this, I recommend putting a large focus of your efforts on boosting your immune system. This does not simply imply that you take immune boosting supplements. Conversely, immunity health requires work in an umbrella of physiological core functions; namely, in digestion, metabolism, detoxification, cellular communication, stress levels, the endocrine system, the reproductive system, the adrenals, and of course, the immune system itself.
You may or may not need biofilm busters like enzymes. Biofilm is a sludge coating that forms over colonies of bacteria, impenetrable by antibiotics. Lab studies show that dousing bacterial colonies in bleach doesn’t break them down, and that biofilm is up to 1000 times harder to penetrate than bacteria. Thus using biofilm busters while on antibiotics is a good idea. Systemic enzymes are a common way people break down biofilm. Mind you, like Lyme and co, biofilm is difficult to clear.
You may be able to support the regrowth of good bacteria with probiotics and short chain fatty acids.
Killing the infection may result in having a lot of dead debris in your body that needs eliminating. We have a few elimination systems: the bowels, urinary tract, skin and lungs. Make sure your bowels are moving. Your skin is actually the major elimination system, so sweat! Exercise, do hot yoga, and/or take hot baths. Exercise boosts mitochondrial content as well. High heat is processed in your body as a fever, an added bonus that increases the activity of white blood cells, stimulates interferon production (anti-viral protein) and activates T lymphocytes. Supporting your liver and increasing glutathione production (without overdosing) can also be useful.
- Mineral ratios which you check via urine or hair. You can also find out if you have heavy metals this way.
- Genetic factors which are tested through saliva. The MTHFR genetic mutation is associated with decreased enzyme activity in the liver, making it harder to remove synthetic forms of folic acid and B vitamins in your body. Taking the methylated form of folic acid (L-5-MTHF) makes all the difference if you know you have this mutation.
- Cortisol and hormones are tested through saliva and blood. Chronic infections exhaust the adrenals, which in turn make it harder for your body to create progesterone, estrogen and testosterone as adrenal cortex will focus its energies on creating more cortisol to avoided burnout. Aldosterone levels can become abnormal. The endocrine system can become abnormal. Metabolic disorder may emerge. All of the glandular systems rely on each other and if one is out of balance, its time to investigate them all.
- Nerve conduction is sometimes a problem before, or becomes a problem after being infected. Neurologists and even cardiologist can find out if nerve conduction is a problem for you. But you probably already know. A lot of Lyme patients are misdiagnosed with ALS and MS. Lyme gets into connective tissues and creates autonomic neuropathy. For me, this meant thermal regulation problems, non-reactive blood pressure to exercise and change in body position, chronic fevers without sweat and dizziness that made it hard to walk straight. Support mitochondrial function by keeping your insides clean and using meds to counteract the nerve damage when necessary.
- Sleep disturbances can make anyone sick. Good sleep is one of the most important things you can do for immunity, your adrenals, everything. Sleep apnea, hormones, itchiness (a symptom of Lyme), stress and even stomach problems are some causes of sleep disturbances. Before you go to a sleep clinic, you can try taking melatonin and sleep aids.
- Environmental sensitivities wreak havoc on some people. Genetics play a big role here. Some people can smoke cigarettes like chimneys and never get cancer, while others can smoke far less, but have the p53 genetic mutation, which 70% of people who get lung tumors carry. Allergies will also weaken you, causing inflammation on top of your already weakened constitution. Do food elimination diets, test air and water quality, stop smoking and stop eating burnt food.
- Medication side effects are different from herxes. With Lyme, your T1/T2 balance alters, making some herbs and foods that you think are good for you actually worsen your problems. Some meds also inhibit your Cytochrome P450 enzymes which make the toxins in your drugs get trapped in your body, burdening your body with more garbage and making it harder to eliminate any of it. Then there is the matter of the non-medical ingredients in your medications that you may not realize are there, like maltodextrin and trace metals.
- Self-defeating thoughts are holding you back. Meds and doctors can only be your raft. You hold the paddles. Feeling bad for yourself adds stress on top of stress. Thinking “I could never give up bread” will make it impossible for you to give up bread. Stress is more than emotional, there are physiological changes in your body that derive from stress.
Having Lyme disease is not easy, but you don’t have to stop living. It’s a good time to get to know your body, learn medical jargon, see doctors and experiment with treatments and foods to see what feels right.