LYME DISEASE – Why are some people susceptible?
It’s the unseen and silent predator, so small and un-alarming that it may well go unnoticed. It lurks in long grass or undergrowth, woods, parks and gardens for unsuspecting animals and even humans to pass, so that it can grab and hold on, then make its way to warm moist areas of the body to inject an anaesthetic and then feed.
A tick bite, from something perhaps no bigger than a poppy seed, can have terrible consequences if the tick happens to be carrying the Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) spirochete bacteria.
The spirochete is in the bodies of wild animals and is transmitted from one animal to another through the bite of an infected tick, producing the multiple symptoms of Lyme disease (LD). Originally, it was thought that only deer in specific areas of America carried the bacteria that causes it, but more recently at least nine species of ticks, six species of mosquitoes, 13 species of mites, 15 species of flies, two species of fleas, and numerous wild and domestic animals (including rabbits, rodents, and birds) have been found to carry the Spirochete bacteria and many LD Sufferers throughout the UK suspect they have been infected in this country. There are 15 species of tick known to attach themselves to humans!
Official figures suggest 3,000 people a year in Britain are affected by the disease, but there may be a huge number of mis-diagnosed cases as the symptoms can so often mimic fibromyalgia, MS, CFS and the standard tests called ‘Western Blot’ and ‘Elisa’, which are available in this country, are unreliable.
The list of symptoms is lengthy, and unfortunately mimics so many other illnesses: Nerve damage, inflammation, insomnia, memory loss, brain fog and cognitive impairment, buzzing sensations, muscle weakness, hair loss, visual and hearing impairment. Then there are the symptoms from co-infections. This means that the tick can spread other illness-causing pathogens through the same bite and the complications from this can add to the myriad of symptoms that the person experiences.
My aim here is to highlight why that first bite can have a profound effect on one person and a milder effect on another, and what areas of natural health should be considered.
The first symptom is a red circular skin rash, which subsides after a week or two. It looks somewhat like a bulls-eye on a target. Ensuing symptoms are fever, headaches, muscle pain and joint swelling. In these early stages, antibiotics tend to work quite well, but if it is not caught quickly, fatigue, encephalitis, meningitis and loss of memory can arise. It can also attack the spinal chord which can cause paralysis.
The severity of the symptoms will depend on several factors at the time of the bite from the infected tick, and this is what needs to be considered when formulating a healing strategy for your client:
- The health of the psycho-neuro-endocrino-immunology system (or PNEI for short!)
- The health of the Intestinal Immune System
- The health of the Spleen, Tonsils, Thymus and Liver
The PNEI is a branch of science which verifies the mind-body-spirit connection.
The hypothalamus is a major integrating connection between the nervous, immune and endocrine systems. It influences body temperature, hunger, pain responses, water balance, sexual drive, sleeping and waking mechanisms, emotional behaviour, perspiration, blood sugar drive, fat metabolism, immune system reactions, peristalsis.
Numerous factors can affect the hypothalmic performance such as nicotine, coffee, alcohol and drugs, insecticides, MS, electromagnetic and geopathic stress, heavy metal toxicity, gut dysbiosis, emotional stress, bacteria (borrelia/ streptococcus) and viruses (EBV). One can imagine someone who is run down and stressed, a mouth full of amalgams, carrying a mobile phone and getting bitten by an infected tick!!
A thorough case history of the time leading up to the bite, as well as current state of health, is important in determining the health of the PNEI and the above descriptions on its functions can help determine the line of questioning.
The intestinal immune system is an area that is attracting more research and gaining more recognition. It is believed that the gastrointestinal tract hosts bacteria from approximately 47 genuses and 500 different species. We should have approximately 85% beneficial bacteria and 15% negative bacteria to have a healthy colon. This can then produce lymphocytes in the gut wall (immune cells), which in turn produce immunoglobulins. The most important one in the gut is Secretory Immunoglobulin A (IgA), which protects the mucous membranes by destroying and inactivating invading bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Healthy gut flora is also important for the production of interferons, cytokines and other regulators of immune response.
How would you determine the likely balance of gut flora at the time of the bite? This is guess work really as gut flora is constantly evolving, but it does take time and a concerted effort to alter the general ecosystem, so determine if your client was breast-fed, vaccinated (as a child and as an adult), had general anaesthetic, how many courses of antibiotics in past 5 years, any ‘holiday bugs’, dietary history, other medicines and other possible polluting toxins. You’ve probably seen the ‘beer bellies’ walking around, but I am seeing this more and more in younger clients- the excessive production of gas due to fermentation develops an increase in abdominal volume, which gives rise to postural changes and neuro-vegetative reflex phenomena. This alteration in posture causes further stress and changes to the neuro-endocrino-immune structure.
The spleen, thymus, tonsils and liver form another major line of defence, alongside the intestinal immune system in producing good quality lymph. Ask your client if they still have all of these organs (it’s surprising just how many people are incomplete!), also if there is a history of allergies, steroid use, anaemia, splenomegaly, hepatitis etc
The combination of all of the above, at the time of the bite from a tick infected with borrelia, can play a role in the severity of the symptoms experienced. The symptoms may be expressed differently again if the tick carries co-infections: Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Colorado Tick Fever, Q fever, Bartonella to name a few.
When exploring ways to address LD, we need to consider the fact that we are a balance between mind, body and spirit. Therefore, not one treatment will fit everyone.
Begin gentle detoxification:
*Eat organic food; *Avoid gluten, alcohol, cigarettes, household chemicals; *Decrease emotional stress; *Support the elimination channels (bowel, kidneys, liver, skin, lungs, blood and lymph) – psyllium, cascara, burdock, milk thistle, cleavers, red clover. *Consider Epsom salt baths, enemas and castor oil packs.
Provide nutrients to support all body systems:
*Multivitamin supplying vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants (liquids or powders in case of impaired digestion), essential fatty acids – coconut oil, ghee, flax, GAPS-type diet.
Support correct electrical flow within the spinal chord
*Cranial-sacral therapy, acupuncture, reflexology or another body-based therapy can help create balance within the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, and vascular flow to the veins of the brain and neck.
Support gut flora:
*Good probiotic supplement; *Use of naturally fermented foods such as sauerkraut
Support the PNEI:
*A diet rich in magnesium and B vitamins; * Coenzyme Q10; *Glutathione; *Use of GABA or Tryptophan; *Adequate sleep/ rest through yoga, meditation; *ashwaganda, reishi, bladderwrack, gotu kola; *Adrenal and Thyroid Glandulars
*Add turmeric to cooking or take as a supplement (Curcumin); * Serrapeptase; *Use black pepper in cooking or take as a supplement (Piper nigrum).
Use herbal anti-bacterials to clear borrelia cysts and ‘biofilms’ (a protein cover allowing the Lyme to hide from the immune system):
*Otoba Bark extract (Banderol); *Cat’s Claw (Samento), *Grapefruit seed extract
NOTE: Just using anti-bacterials in isolation without the other things being in place can cause a Herxheimer reaction. Often it is at this point that I see my clients and take them back a few steps by opening the elimination channels, supporting the endocrine system and re-establishing gut flora.
Naturopathic treatment is limited in its success in helping Lyme Disease, as is Orthodox medicine. It is a combination of the two, plus therapeutic treatments available in other countries, that can make a difference – ozone therapy (EBOO), electro-frequency therapy, IV Vitamin C, IV glutathione.
I personally use a combination of EAV testing, Iridology and Lab testing to determine imbalances, but ART, kinesiology or other modalities can be useful in assessing areas within the body that may need support. It would be useful to find a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) to work alongside, but they can be few and far between.
It is important that your clients have supportive individuals and families, or can turn to Lyme Disease support groups during their healing journey, as is the case with any condition.
Every aspect of the human condition must be explored, identified, and corrected at its source before lasting health can be restored, and I am a firm believer that natural medicines and practices can work alongside the standard medical protocol in relieving many of the symptoms associated with Lyme Disease.
To find out more about the symptoms of LD and Tests see www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk
To download a free treatment manual see www.treatlyme.net
Facebook sites: ‘Lyme Disease UK Discussion Group’, ‘How many people are in the UK living with Lyme disease’, ‘Lyme Disease UK’.
Gabi Heyes, Naturopath, Herbalist and Iridologist practicing at Natural Practices Clinic.
Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 1HG firstname.lastname@example.org 01625 54 9000