Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease Treatments—Holistic, Mind-Body-Spirit

by Kamau Kokayi, MD
Kamau Kokayi bw

Due to the vast range of symptoms seen in cases of Lyme disease, patients are oftentimes misdiagnosed, and may ricochet from one health care practitioner to another. Conditions confused with Lyme include but are not limited to the tick-borne co-infections of anaplasmosis or babesiosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, myofascial pain syndrome, diabetes mellitus, lupus, multiple sclerosis, depression, and even arthritis.

Given a frequent absence of the classic erythema migrans rash and the ease with which a bite can be missed, particularly by a tick in the nymphal stage, there is no consistently reliable way to diagnose Lyme disease. In those patients who suffer Lyme disease in conjunction with any of the above diseases, the Lyme infection will frequently be overlooked. Moreover, there is not one definitive, widely accessible diagnostic test for the condition, further complicating diagnosis and proper treatment. Testing at Patients Medical is done strictly on an individual basis at the physician's expert discretion. For educational interest we describe below some of the emergent forms of diagnostic testing under development or currently being used in alternative circles.

Some of these less common alternative tests are reported as providing significantly better results—though again, not always definitive, as antibody response can be highly variable in different people at different stages of the disease, and the Lyme organism and its traces can be elusive. Three alternative tests that show potential are the Lyme dot assay (LDA), which is used to detect the Lyme antigen in urine; the reverse Western blot (RWB), which also tests for the presence of antigen in urine; and the Phillips/Mattman, a test that uses live cultures visualized under fluorescent microscopy, preliminary data for which suggest a high degree of accuracy. A test similar to the latter has been developed, called the quantitative rapid identification of Borrelia burgdorferi, or Q-RiBb test, which provides results within 24–48 hours. These tests, while not infallible, may all be useful in supporting or adding another layer of data to the picture of immune dysfunction, and we are interested in learning whether our patients have had any of these tests and the reported test results. For the most part, however, these alternative tests for Lyme are either still in development or not widely available.

But once the most definitive diagnosis possible has been made, a range of treatment modalities is available, both modern and ancient, that have been used with good success to clear chronic infection, alleviate physical symptoms, and restore energy, health and well-being.

For many, depression is a common consequence of Lyme disease that requires attention, as it is with other ailments difficult to diagnose and treat. Confronted with a difficult diagnosis, symptoms of pain, fatigue, or worse, and the uncertainty of knowing that something is decidedly wrong but not knowing its cause, this unfortunate change in a Lyme patient's overall outlook is understandable. Depression can be just as afflicting for those who have a diagnosis and have received treatment with antibiotics, but who remain ill with continuing or worsening symptoms. The integrative approach at Patients Medical, described below, includes care that treats the effects of disease on not just the body, but on the mind and spirit as well.

The Integrative Approach at Patients Medical

At Patients Medical we use a three-pronged integrative approach to treat Lyme disease. Our primary focus is to treat the underlying dysfunctions brought about by infection, such as immune system deregulation and body toxicity, rather than masking symptoms with pharmaceuticals.

  1. First and foremost is the time we spend with the patient to ensure the most definitive diagnosis possible. As noted above, patients are often misdiagnosed due to the array of symptoms with which Lyme disease patients can present and the wide overlap Lyme has with other conditions. We dedicate the time and provide the range of tests and evaluation required to correctly diagnose the individual, and to create an appropriate program/regimen for their treatment.
  2. The second prong of our Lyme disease solution is hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT). Treatments with hyperbaric oxygen infuse the body tissues with oxygen, increasing their O2 levels by up to 1000%. The bacterium that causes Lyme is considered to be a microaerophilic organism, meaning it requires an environment containing far lower amounts of oxygen than those present in earth's atmosphere to survive (~20%), and intolerance of an abundance of oxygen. Hyperbaric oxygen also acts as an immune system modulator, allowing the patient's organ and gland function to renormalize, reducing many debilitating Lyme symptoms. At the same time the atmosphere within the hyperbaric chamber becomes pressurized, which acts as a detoxifier upon the body: gently forcing oxygen into the tissues through this pressurization displaces toxins, chemicals, and other impurities.

    A reduction in inflammation has been achieved by hyperbaric oxygen therapy, relieving symptoms and promoting healing of damaged tissues. An inflammatory response in the central nervous system is known to result once the Lyme spirochete infiltrates the cerebral spinal fluid. Emerging clinical research showing the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy offers hope to patients suffering from a broad range of diseases that present clinical characteristics shared by chronic Lyme disease, particularly systemic inflammation and neuronal damage. William Fife, MD at Texas A&M University has published impressive research demonstrating profound improvements in chronic Lyme disease patients treated with HBOT. Among those noted improvements are pain reduction, returned mental clarity, and a reduction of depression.
  3. The third prong of our Lyme disease solution comprises an individualized protocol of nutritional supplements, phytotherapy, and dietary obligations, along with scheduled doctor's supervision. We may also recommend gentle healing body work, such as massage therapy, physical therapy, or gentle stretching modalities. Body tension is held by different people in different parts of their bodies as a result of stress. A skilled massage therapist familiar with their patient can over time adapt their massage technique to address those specific areas. The lymphatic system, responsible for removal of the waste and detritus of infection, can become sluggish and swollen. Massage can address swollen, sluggish lymph nodes to improve immunity as well as increase white blood cell count, lower blood pressure, and reduce tension and anxiety.

    We provide testing and intravenous treatments (IV therapy) with antibiotics and drugs for Lyme disease at our center. These treatments incorporate protocol recommendations from the NIH (National Institutes of Health) and are customized for each patient. Many of our patients also benefit from IV vitamin support such as vitamin C, to support detoxification, elimination, and immune system function.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), as both a natural coenzyme produced in many tissues and a supplement, supports mitochondrial enzymes that produce high-energy phosphates, the chemical energy used in many metabolic processes. CoQ10 is essential to the function of the mitochondrial enzymes it supports, and as such essential to metabolic health. D-ribose provides fuel to the pentose phosphate pathway, an energy-generating and antioxidative process aiding, together with coenzyme Q10, Lyme fatigue symptoms through their support of the major energy-generating pathways in the body. Both supplements act to increase energy and counter the fatigue common to those with Lyme disease.

Chronic Lyme disease sufferers are often found to have exhausted hormonal reserves through the stress of their condition and may need testing to evaluate thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormone levels. A TRH (thyroid-releasing hormone) stimulation test can be used to check for dysfunction along the hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid (HPT) axis; an adrenal stress index to evaluate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and hormone panels for sex steroids can reveal imbalances between these hormones. If lab work evaluating adrenal, thyroid, or sex hormone status should indicate, bioidentical hormonal therapy may be recommended and built into the individualized treatment regime. Botanical or nutritional supplements that support stabilizing hormonal reserves exhausted in the course of Lyme disease may also be advised.

Begin Your Journey to Wellness with Patients Medical

The effects of chronic Lyme disease can significantly affect your health, livelihood, and overall well-being. Conventional antibiotic therapy may provide an initial sense of relief, but if your symptoms should return, continue, or worsen in spite of conventional therapy, as they do in many Lyme sufferers, broadening your therapeutic options is a worthwhile step toward restoring both your health and your sense of well-being.

At Patients Medical we draw upon both modern and ancient healing arts to tackle the oft-times bewildering problems chronic Lyme disease presents in our patients. Our team of Lyme experts can develop a personalized, integrative treatment protocol designed to optimize your long-term health and support you in countering the symptoms and detrimental effects of Lyme disease.

Begin Your Healing with Patients Medical

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