Causes of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochetal bacteria, the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which has long been believed to primarily infect people through the bite of a tick. Risks of exposure to Lyme infection attend any outdoors experience where ticks may be prevalent. Furthermore, scientific evidence suggests it is spread through other means. Lyme disease bacteria can be passed to a baby in the womb of an infected mother, a method known as 'vertical transmission.' Lyme bacteria have been found in body fluids such as tears, blood and semen. In many cases bacteria is found in patients years after they have been proclaimed clinically cured of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria known as spirochetes, which are pleomorphic. They appear spiral-shaped, but have evolved the capacity to hide inside cysts and colonies, changing into a round ball and then back into a spiral. Lyme experts believe this is the way the bacteria move through the tissues and bloodstreams of the body. 

Currently, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not acknowledge Lyme as a sexually transmitted disease, but many Lyme specialists disagree, among them, renowned Lyme expert and medical researcher Dr. Lee Cowden.

"Only a very small percentage of infected patients have contracted Lyme disease through a tick bite, the way conventional medicine thinks. I think the most common way of spreading it is through sexual intercourse," says Cowden. "But it has also been proven in peer reviewed medical literature to be spread by mosquito bites. Vertical transmission from the mother to the fetus through the placenta has also been documented," he adds. Lyme disease is not restricted by geographical borders and has been found in every state in the U.S. and in other countries.

According to master herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner, scientific research into other means of transmission is lacking. Furthermore, Buhner, the author of
Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme Borreliosis and Its Coinfections, states that studies have been conducted that may contribute to the further understanding of the disease, however, “a significant amount of reputable research is being ignored by the mainstream medical community," he says.

Dr. Lee Cowden, of the US., and Dr. Andrew Wright of Manchester, UK, treat hundreds of patients who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease. They both agree that while some patients are infected with Lyme disease via a tick bite, that represents a small percentage of the way in which many others are infected.

“I believe more research needs to be done in the area of transmission,” says Dr. Wright. To underscore this need, Wright cites a study done in Papua, New Guinea, where seventy percent of the population was found to be infected with Lyme disease, yet there are no ticks in the region.

“So, how are they getting it?” he asks.


Lee Cowden, MD, oral communication

Andrew Wright, MD, oral communication

Stephen Harrod Buhner, oral communication

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

All copyrights Apply/Lyme Disease Research Database/2005-2008