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Lyme Disease: The Great Debate

Amazingly the debate continues. Is Lyme disease simply an acute illness that only requires 3 weeks of antibiotics to as little as a single dose of antibiotics or can it persist for years to decades? Decades of experience has convinced many practitioners that Lyme disease can be both acute and chronic. There are some who believe that Lyme disease is an acute infection easily diagnosed and treated and chronic infection is rare or non-existent (IDSA-the Infectious Diseases Society of America). While others have a broader view on the illness, believing that individualized care and treatment for each patient based on the particular presentation of the illness is the only approach to take (ILADS- International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society).

If you pull a tick or a nymph (baby tick) off, do yourself a favor and treat the area of the bite immediately with a drawing salve, send the tick in for testing and watch carefully for symptoms. If appropriate, due to the classic symptoms of headache, joint aches/swelling, Bell’s Palsy, positive Lyme Antibodies or a bull’s eye, rash get treated immediately and save yourself the aggravation and distress of many people who are suffering from a diminished quality of life for years or decades.

What if you have not felt well for months or years and never discovered a tick bite? Remember these nymphs are only this “.” large, about the size of a period. They are easy to miss, yet are very effective in transmitting Borrelia and co-infections including Babesia, Anaplasma, Mycoplasma, Ehrlichia, Bartonella, and other pathogens. Diagnosing Lyme can be challenging because the tests typically available are often unreliable. Lucky is the patient who is sick and has a positive laboratory test, and is working with a practitioner who will continue to treat until symptoms are gone. There are laboratory tests available, not covered by insurance, which tend to be more reliable, but are often financially prohibitive for some patients. Utilizing applied kinesiology (AK) assessment in conjunction with history, physical exam, and labs can often shed light on why someone is continuing to suffer an impaired quality of life.


Lyme Disease Case Histories

We have an example of a case of a teacher from Rhode Island seen in the office with a past history of tick bites from many walks in the woods with his dogs. Symptoms include: Impaired cognition, frequent severe headaches, fatigue onset of 1 ½ years continuing to get worse, now he needs a nap after work even though his partner needs help with their young children. All labs were negative. Physical exam was unremarkable. AK assessment showed central nervous system (CNS), thymus, adrenal, liver/ gall bladder, stomach, small intestines, large intestines and musculoskeletal imbalances. Since CNS came up as the bodies primary priority the initial concentration of treatment was to that system in order to start unraveling the case.

Many patients come in to the office already treated or currently on antibiotics and still symptomatic. I have heard patients say “the pain has been relieved but, the fatigue, nothing touches the fatigue”, or the brain fog, or any number of symptoms that present. The Naturopathic medical approach often has an advantage in these situations because we treat the whole person. To successfully treat Lyme it is necessary to support the patient’s physical, mental, emotional, and energetic systems. Treatment does not always follow that order either. The system with the most acute symptoms dictates the direction you proceed in. If there are significant neurological symptoms, the brain must first be supported or you risk the infection setting up and going deeper into the brain. Some patients have been on multiple pharmaceuticals or undertreated for so long that they need to physically rebuild with proper nutrition, rest, and energetic therapies, i.e. acupuncture, Bowen therapy, Reiki, etc before further eradication of Lyme or co-infections can be accomplished. Careful detoxification is also important when it comes to Lyme. If you are killing off the pathogen it must be removed from the body quickly.

Here is a case of necessary rebuilding before being able to achieve a cure:

A 17 y/o female presented to the office with borderline anorexia, poor diet, joint pain and debilitating headaches onset 2 years ago. Western Blot positive on labs. Patient was unresponsive to antibiotics.

This patient needed counseling to address the anorexia. Mineral analysis and vitamin analysis were run to demonstrate the actual deficiencies. This patient was worked with for several months to get her strong enough to start using nosodes to wake up her immune system. Nosodes are homeopathic combinations that help the white blood cells to recognize which disease it needs to locate and eradicate. Using organ liquescence mixtures we are able to gradually strengthen digestion, liver, and kidney assimilation and detox. Combined counseling and Flower Essence therapy were given to address the anorexic tendencies and PTSD from being a teen that was unable to participate socially due to debilitating joint pains and headaches. Once she was strong enough and able to tolerate the strong botanical combinations necessary to kill off persistent Lyme and co-infections her life turned around. Now years later she is enjoying a happy and productive quality life. The mind is very powerful and important and must be carefully watched and protected throughout the course of the disease.


Naturopathic Protocols for Lyme Disease


Almost daily we see patients who continue to suffer from symptoms since their initial diagnosis of Lyme disease. These patients have come with varying degrees of illness and varying lengths of suffering. They come to us because they are sick of being sick and are ready to truly begin and maintain healing. We approach each case as a team and provide a variety of treatments.  Chronic or persistent Lyme is not a quick path to healing. Like most naturopathic protocols it is a slow process to retrain the body and create a lifetime of health. The longer the patient has suffered, the deeper the disease may go and the longer the healing may take. Lyme patients tend to want to be well again so badly that they just want to push for an aggressive treatment no matter what that means. But you cannot push the body faster than it is ready!


Counseling is a big piece of the puzzle. I find that sometimes all a patient needs after a while is a pep talk. The patient needs to feel that it is alright to vent or whine or question the highs and lows of their healing process. There are online support groups but in office support groups are available as well. Within these support groups, beyond depression and common symptoms sharing, fear is an aspect that needs to be addressed with a percentage of patients. These patients start feeling better and do not want to go down this road of disease again so they restrict themselves from areas and behaviors they may enjoy just to avoid the risk of being bitten again. Some go so far as to let the fear reach everyone in the family and now there is less outside play for themselves and the children. Fear does not help healing and must be managed as well.


Chronic Lyme or Acute Lyme? Although the subject is controversial your care does not have to be. At Eclectic Naturopathic Medical Center we treat Lyme very seriously and completely. The patient is educated along with their care so they can make informed decisions which helps patient compliance considerably. It is time patients know it does not have to be a lifetime of discomfort and debilitation. Health and Wellness is our thing, let us help your body heal itself.



Submitted by Dr. Kathleen Riley and Dr. Ceylon Cicero of Eclectic Naturopathic Medical Center in Newington, CT. For more information, visit www.kathleenrileynd.com or call 860-665-1254.