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Lyme Disease Bacteria

Stephen Harrod Buhner on mycoplasmas and coinfections


When standard antibiotic treatment fails, many of us give holistic or complementary protocols a try. It takes determination to battle the stealth pathogens associated with Lyme and its coinfections. Where pharmaceuticals bombard the body, herbs are more elegant and complex. They work synergistically when encountering these organisms.

As Stephen Harrod Buhner says, “The bacteria are evolving, we need to, too.”

Buhner, master herbalist and author, is well-known to many in the Lyme community for his informative, meticulously researched, and beautifully written books. His popular Lyme protocol has helped scores of Lyme patients, as it picks up where technological medicine leaves off.

His new work,
Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections is a reference book for people struggling with these common Lyme coinfections. There is increasing evidence that coinfections such as Bartonella and mycoplasmas are the rule, not the exception, when Lyme is present. How do these coinfections behave in the body, and what can be done to alleviate the problems they create?

Q: Who would you like to read this book, and what do you want them to walk away knowing?
A: Well, the book was written for both people with Lyme and Lyme coinfections and for health professionals and I tried to make it accessible to both groups. These kinds of emerging infections are what some epidemiologists and researchers are calling “second generation” infections. “First generation” are those bacteria that antibacterials were developed for after world war II. In essence, technological medicine already dealt with the easy ones.

The emerging infections, among which are included Lyme and its coinfections, are much more difficult. They tend to be stealth pathogens, much more clever when they infect the body, and they take a different approach. Technological medicine, while a great adjunct, is not capable, at this point in time (if it ever will be), of dealing with this second generation of infectious agents.

So, the purpose of the book is twofold. First: to begin giving a good general sense of how these infectious agents behave and why they do so. This takes a lot of the mystique away from them, lowers the fear level, and allows an intelligent response to treating them. This creates empowerment both for healing professionals and those who are infected.

Second: The standard medical model for treating infections is tremendously flawed and those flaws are rather glaring when it comes to treating stealth infections such as these. I am hoping the book will stimulate the development of a much different approach to treating infections, one that is a great deal more sophisticated than the one currently in use. The bacteria are evolving, we need to, too.

Q: Why should people with Lyme be concerned about coinfections and mycoplasma?
A: Coinfections make treating Lyme much more difficult due to the synergy between Lyme and other coinfectious agents. Research has found, time and time again, that coinfection is much more common than not. Those with coinfections tend to be sicker longer, have more difficult symptoms, possess a lower quality of life, and are much less likely to heal from the use of monotherapies such as antibiotics.

Q: Please give us a basic working definition of mycoplasma.
A: Perhaps the tiniest bacteria known, mycoplasma must scavenge almost all of its nutrients from its host by breaking down host cellular tissues. It has an affinity for mucus membrane systems and cilia and once in the body creates a kind of nutrient starvation in the host which results in a wide range of symptoms, much as lyme does.

Q: What is mycoplasma's relation to Lyme disease? How long have medical doctors been noticing its relationship to Lyme?
A: Mycoplasma, like most of the coinfections, is very new to medical doctors. Like most [coinfections], it has only come to prominence in the past 15 years or so, more so each year. As with the other coinfectious agents, it is spread by tickbite (among other things). As researchers have looked deeper into the Lyme epidemic, they have found that mycoplasma is a much more common coinfection than realized.

Q: Please elaborate on the issue of chronic Lyme -- the idea being that many of us go 'chronic' because we were not diagnosed early enough for treatment to be fully effective. How can a working knowledge of herbal remedies help?
A: About 60 percent of people who are infected with Lyme can be helped by antibiotics. Five to ten percent are not. Thirty to thirty-five percent appear to be helped initially but relapse. Added to that are the very large group of people who are never properly diagnosed with lyme. About half of those heal naturally over time, the others do not.

In consequence there is a large group of people that develop chronic Lyme. In that population, about half will respond to a fairly simple herbal protocol, the others will not. Herbs are much more elegant medicinal agents than pharmaceuticals in that they contain hundred to thousands of complex compounds that work together synergistically when confronted by disease organisms.

The plants have been here much longer than people and they have developed extremely sophisticated responses to infections. when we take them internally, those responses are medicines for us. The very nature of stealth pathogens and their wide impacts on the body make herbs a very useful approach.

In essence, successful treatment of Lyme infections needs to address: immune status, inflammation dynamics that are breaking down cellular tissues in the body (cytokine cascades), specific symptoms, and the long term damage, especially in the nervous system, that lyme causes. Pharmaceuticals are useless for most of those. Each of those problems can often be addressed with one or two plants due to the complexity of compounds in the plants.

Q: Please say a few words about the difference(s) between plain old resveratrol capsules and Japanese knotweed, and why you prefer whichever you prefer.
A: I always wanted to use Japanese knotweed root itself for treating Lyme, however, when I first wrote the book there were no decent suppliers for the herb in the U.S. It turned out that a number of resveratrols were made using knotweed root, in fact what they were were actually standardized knotweed root, so that is what I first suggested.

Now that the herb has proved so helpful to so many, a number of growers and harvesters have made it commonly available. I like the whole, powdered, root the best for several reasons. First it is much cheaper than the capsules. Second, I think that it is much easier to take these herbs if the powder is simply blended into liquid and then drunk. Taking all those capsules is a pain.

And, just my own preference . . . I like wild plants or those organically grown. They haven’t been mucked about with; there is much less standing between us and the plants.

Thank you, Stephen!

Buy the book

More Stephen Harrod Buhner
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New Lyme bug and natural antibiotics

A friend and I had made a date to see a matinee. I was getting ready to leave when she called.

“I'm sick,” she managed hoarsely. “The flu.”

So instead I drove to Whole Foods, my pharmacy of choice, and foraged through the produce department for lemons, oranges and fresh ginger. In the spice aisle I picked up a jar of cayenne pepper for topping off a hot citrus-ginger drink. All fall and winter this immune-strengthening drink has helped keep me well.

I let myself into my friend's apartment building, pushed the elevator button and rode up to her floor. I could hear coughing from another apartment as I knocked on her door. She opened it and stepped back, covering her mouth with the sleeve of her bathrobe. She's a nurse, so taking precautions is simply commonsense. I set my offerings down in her kitchen.

We waved and air-hugged from across the room. I promised I would not catch it. As soon as I got home I washed my hands well.

If you've been lucky enough to not catch it yourself, it's hard to miss the prevalence of stories about this winter's flu epidemic. Common also are stories about the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of the flu vaccines and prescription drugs designed to combat the bug or virus causing the terrible problems.

My bias is to bone up on prevention. I know it's sometimes impossible to ward off these nasty critters, but I've managed to stay out of harm's way for a good long while now, and I like to think my hot lemon & ginger drink with two shakes of powdered red pepper on top,is helping.

I decided that I needed an antidote to all the dire flu-bug warnings – and also to the unwelcome news story about the latest Lyme-like bug in the US, the
Borrelia miyamotoi (more on that in a minute). So I picked up Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria. This is a good time to revisit the sound advice of master herbalist and author Stephen Buhner.

Stephen has a thorough scientific approach and vast knowledge of healing herbs. His thoughtful, user-friendly writing is informative and comforting, even when describing the “rise of the superbug.” This is his alarming account of the increasing powerlessness of conventional antibiotics.

In this book, Stephen investigates natural alternatives to conventional antibiotics for treatment of drug-resistant bacteria. If you want to hear a sound argument for using herbal or plant-based antibiotics, check it out. He generally includes as much information as you would want about each herb. One thing I adore about Stephen's books is that he includes recipes for making tinctures, teas, tonics and soothing soups. If you are a DIY'er like me, you'll like that too.

Strengthening the immune system is the first line of defense. As Stephen says: “Countless studies have found that the healthier your immune system, the less likely you are to get a disease and the more likely you are, if you do get sick, to have a milder episode. This is especially true in diseases such as Lyme.”

Bear in mind, not all flu-like symptoms are an indication that you have the flu. Another bacteria carried by deer ticks is now being investigated. It also causes a Lyme-like fever and symptoms resembling flu.

This organism, the
Borrelia miyamotoi, was first discovered in Japan in the mid 1990s and detected in deer ticks in Connecticut in 2001, and California in 2006. Lead research scientist Dr. Peter J. Krause at Yale explains.

Sources:
Buhner, Stephen Harrod (2012-07-17).
Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria. Workman Publishing. Kindle Edition.

http://www.enterprisenews.com/topstories/x459332883/Yale-researchers-discover-new-tick-borne-illness



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How much is too much exercise for Lyme patients?

We take a cross-training approach to healing from Lyme. This includes body, mind, spirit and shadow (psychological) exercises. Some Lyme patients are just too weak, especially in the first stage, to address the needed physical exercise. Indeed at times it is not wise, if you are dizzy or otherwise debilitated. But there comes a time when you really just have to move that body! I know from experience.

Anaerobic exercise, such as stretching, sprinting and weightlifting, can help you heal from Lyme disease. But don’t overdo the aerobics, according to
Dr. Joseph Burrascano and other Lyme experts. They say that too much aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope and skipping, can be detrimental.

One reason is that vigorous jogging or other aerobics open up the blood-brain barrier, allowing more
Borrelia bacteria to enter the brain. Too much, too fast aerobic exercise can also deplete the adrenals and decrease the specialized cells that are part of the body’s immune system, the T-cells. T-cells are the highly skilled militia of the immune system. They hunt and destroy invading bacteria. They also alert other cells to do their jobs. The adrenals can be depleted by the low-grade, ongoing stress of chronic illness, by not getting enough sleep, and in many other ways.

Tai chi and gentle yoga, chi gong, and other Eastern body-mind-spirit exercises are very beneficial. Depending on the style of each of these practices, they are considered anaerobic. Mindful stretching as you get out of bed in the morning can warm up your muscles and make you feel a smidge better. If you’re not feeling up to snuff, but want to do something, simply take a few slow, deep breaths. Breathing from the diagram can relax and bring your body and mind into harmony.

I’ve gotten hooked on yoga this year, and finally made it a habit. I’m also a big fan of using the breath for relaxation, and finishing with a meditation.

What is your exercise routine? Have you ever overdone it?




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Dr. Phil sheds light on chronic Lyme treatment

Dr Phil brought mass attention to “persistent Lyme disease” on his show last spring. Fashion model Stephanie Vostry who was featured on the show appeared sick, fragile, and miserable under the studio lights. Watching, my heart went out to her, and to weathercaster Brooke Landau and a longtime Doctor Phil staffer who were seated in the audience, and who also shared some of their experiences with what they termed chronic Lyme disease. If you are very ill at this moment, please judge for yourself how much you want to watch of the clip, which includes footage from Under Our Skin. This stuff is disturbing. And real.

Stephanie’s treatments have put her in financial jeopardy. She started an online campaign at
gofundme.com to raise money to pay for her Lyme treatments. So far she’s raised over $10,000 toward her $20,000 goal.

The show was difficult to watch, and I think it raised my anxiety level about 300%! I am grateful to Dr Phil for shedding light on this controversial disease and on the use of long-term antibiotics. Even though I’ve been in the state that Stephanie is in, I realize now how thoroughly I have disconnected from the memories of being that bad off. What amazes me about Lyme disease is that you can go through utter hell, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially, and that you can come back to life. It really has been literally like being raised from the dead.

Have you watched the show? What did you think of the way
Lyme disease was presented to the public?

Watch
Under Our Skin for free on Hulu.


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Babesiosis

Ticks! How do I hate them? Let me count the ways.

Babesiosis is known as a co-infection frequently accompanying Lyme. But it is no mere side-kick. The latest threat from ticks is not a new disease, but cases seem to be on the rise especially in the northeastern US. Babesiosis is described as a malaria-like illness which can be life-threatening in some people. It is caused by the parasite babesea microti, which invades and destroys the body's red blood cells.

Unlike Lyme disease, Babesiosis will not present with a
bullseye rash. Symptoms from the outset are fever, sweats, fatigue, bad headaches and malaise, or a general feeling of un-wellness. 

People who are at greatest risk of fatality from Babesiosis:
• are on immuno-suppresant drugs
• lack a spleen
• on chemotherapy
• infants & elderly


Take precautions to prevent exposure to ticks, which can hang out for days on the tips of grasses, and hitch a ride on chipmunks and other rodents if there are no deer around.

In the summertime,
ticks are in the nymph stage, at their tiniest. Just to up the ante of the risk, many of us spend more time outdoors enjoying the warm weather and longer days. This means that when you come inside, tick-check time is even more important than ever. Get the kids in the act. Place a full-length mirror in the foyer and establish a habit of helping each other search for uninvited critters.

Be well, for goodness sake!

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Mind your brain health!

Whether we’ve recently received a diagnosis of Lyme disease, or we’re dealing with recurring symptoms, eating right and exercising are core considerations of a good protocol. We know the importance of foods rich in Omega-3, lean proteins, and a rainbow of vegetables which are high in antioxidants and key vitamins. The physical health of the body is usually our main focus in healing from Lyme.

But what about mental health? You know, brain fog. One of the most disturbing things about Lyme is that the bacterial complex can actually cross over the blood brain barrier. That means it may affect your cognitive abilities, the ability to pay attention; your speech centers, creating stutters or slurs; your memory; your balance and more. I’ve found that
herxing can bring on a ridiculously frustrating case of brain fog, even when other symptoms have faded.

What is really hard to explain to someone who has never been through it, is the unique torment of days filled with sensations and events that you can’t know with certainty even exist. Did I hallucinate that smell, those sounds, or is there someone else in the house? And if that isn’t real, how can this physical pain be so tortuous? My heart goes out to anyone who is at that stage of Lyme.

As Winston Churchill famously said: “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Having been dragged by Lyme through the murk and come out on the other side, I can now look at that component of the disease with some objectivity. Yes, it’s crucial to take your
antibiotics (whether conventional or alternative), nourish your body with whole foods and detoxifying fruits like strawberries and blueberries, exercise and stretch whenever possible, and by all means rest.

But because of this mental component of Lyme, it’s also absolutely necessary to
exercise our brains, and therefore help keep our minds fit. The general rule is to try new things.

Try this:
Play music - dust off your violin or sit down at the piano
Go to a museum or concert - if you’re not well enough to do so, take a virtual museum tour online


Play games - try lumosity.com or brainmetrix.com
Paint
Write
Cook
Play Sudokus or do crossword puzzles
Read a book - on an iPad or the old-fashioned paper kind
Try learning a language

Almost anything can be learned online, either with a live teacher/virtual classroom or software program. If you have a yen for learning something, from Yoga to Mandarin Chinese to how to improve your fingerpicking technique on the ukelele, the important thing is to try something new. When you can.

Make a promise to your mind that you’ll do whatever you can to help your brain stay fit so that when you come out on the other side of Lyme disease, you will be smarter and healthier than ever. For it’s true what Nietzsche said: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Comments

Start where you are. Fight chronic inflammation.

Lyme disease is a thief. Chronic lyme disease symptoms can go on affecting a person’s life for many years. Given the complexity of receiving a correct diagnosis, a person with an undetected, underlying Lyme infection may instead be labeled with RA, fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MS, ALS, or almost anything from a truckload of other conditions.

Meantime, life goes on. Friends and siblings get jobs, travel, go to grad school, fall in love. They get married, have babies, and not in any particular order. But for the person with Lyme those fundamental pathways, common fruits of life we for granted, may simply not be an option. Lyme has stolen years.

But enough of spilled tears, right? The wisest thing anyone can do is to start where you are. If you’ve had it with chronic lyme disease symptoms, take heart. Many others have been in your shoes. And they’ve gotten through it. Regardless of the time and opportunities missed because of Lyme, there are many people living happy, loving, productive lives again.

Exactly how the stealthy
Lyme bacterial complex works is still under scrutiny. Scientists and doctors, some who are also personally infected with Lyme disease, such as Dr. Eva Sapi and  veterinarian, Lyme and immunology expert Dr. Scott Taylor, toil to understand and find a cure for Lyme. One thing we know for certain is that Lyme is an inflammatory disease, and chronic inflammation is the root cause of many life threatening conditions, including Lyme.

Cortico-steroids are commonly given to Lyme patients by doctors without any knowledge or clinical experience in
diagnosing chronic Lyme disease symptoms. The faulty logic goes something like this: the patient is experiencing distress, inflammation is causing the distress, steroids (usually Prednisone) will reduce the inflammation and thus reduce the patient’s distress. Not! Predinose will supress the patient’s immune system, causing it to tolerate the Borrelia bacteria instead of attacking and killing it. The Lyme infection is almost guaranteed to get worse, not better.

What can be done about chronic inflammation? Are there safe prescription drugs available, and does your LLMD know about them? What about natural alternatives? Aside from fish oil, are there other products we can take to reduce this silent killer? Does physical exercise really help people dealing with chronic inflammation? Or can it hurt? In my next post, we’ll delve into the various ways to treat chronic inflammation.


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Samento & Banderol found significantly effective in Lyme treatment

A tick-borne, multisystemic disease, Lyme borreliosis caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi has grown into a major public health problem during the last 10 years. The primary treatment for chronic Lyme disease is administration of various antibiotics. However, relapse often occurs when antibiotic treatment is discontinued. One possible explanation for this is that B. burgdorferi become resistant to antibiotic treatment, by converting from their vegetative spirochete form into different round bodies and/or into biofilmlike colonies. There is an urgent need to find novel therapeutic agents that can eliminate all these different morphologies of B. burgdorferi. In this study, two herbal extracts, Samento and Banderol, as well as doxycycline (one of the primary antibiotics for Lyme disease treatment) were tested for their in vitro effectiveness on several of the different morphological forms of B. burgdorferi (spirochetes, round bodies, and biofilmlike colonies) using fluorescent, darkfield microscopic, and BacLight viability staining methods. Our results demonstrated that both herbal agents, but not doxycycline, had very significant effects on all forms of B. burgdorferi, especially when used in combination, suggesting that herbal agents could provide an effective therapeutic approach for Lyme disease patients. -- from article in Townsend Letter, July 2010

Samento and Banderol are found to be important herbal allies, in this study conducted by our friends at the Lyme Disease Research Group of the University of New Haven. In our interview with Eva Sapi, PhD, director of the graduate program in Lyme disease research, she promised that she was quite determined to find an effective agent that would "kill the bug -- and soon." So, this study is proof that Dr Sapi is following through with her promise. It is a hopeful note in the battle against the nasty bacterial complex we know as Borrelia burgdorferi.

Personally, I am very excited about these findings. Samento and Banderol have been my medicine of choice for several years. These herbal extracts have certainly been effective, helping me pull myself out of a painful, groggy nightmare and get my life back on track. Those two herbal tinctures daily, plus a host of other supportive supplements, a regular exercise routine, and a sugar-free, whole-foods diet, have made all the difference. Samento and Banderol have truly been my allies in this cross-training approach to healing.

Please read the entire article reporting on the study, which you can find on the website of the Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine. The article is titled: In Vitro Effectiveness of Samento and Banderol Herbal Extracts on the Different Morphological Forms of Borrelia Burgdorferi by Akshita Datar, Navroop Kaur, Seema Patel, David F. Luecke, and Eva Sapi, PhD -- Lyme Disease Research Group, University of New Haven

Members, to learn more about the work of the University of New Haven Lyme research program, please listen to our interview with Dr Eva Sapi. You will also find more information about Lee Cowden, MD, and his herbal protocol.



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Want a Lyme test that looks for antigens?

"We have to go on," says Tom. "We can't change yesterday, but the thing that keeps us going is that sooner or later we're going to catch that bug in time, and save someone from going through this pain."

Tom was sick and suffering with mysterious symptoms for nine years before a test finally convinced one of his doctors that he did indeed have Lyme disease. At that point, he began taking antibiotics. In the first month, severe Herxheimer reactions made him even more ill than he had been without treatment, but he continued for five months. Three years later, he now feels better in most ways. Occasionally, he has bad days that he attributes to the Lyme bug, but feels that for the most part, it is suppressed.

"I thought I was dying," he says. Hit by a massive anxiety attack while driving through Kansas, he experienced such debilitating vertigo that he had to pull the car over to the side of the road. "Everything was spinning wildly around me."

"I had lost track of the number of doctors I went to for help over those nine years. One doctor in Massachusetts, who I knew thought I was crazy finally told me that he thought I was crazy. He told me there was nothing wrong with me, and recommended psychiatric help."

"He told me that he thought I was an 'attention-seeker'."

I said to him, "Look, doc. I'm a concert pianist and a concert organist. If I want attention, all I have to do is book a recital. I don't need attention from you."

The test that finally clinched the correct diagnosis for Tom is a special kind of technique called Flow Cytometry. It is available at the Central Florida Research Laboratory, located in Winter Haven, FL. Instead of looking for the antibodies that build up in response to a Lyme Borreliosis infection, the Flow Cytometry technique finds the Borreliosis antigens directly.

Since Spring 2007, the CFR lab has tested several thousand people for Lyme disease. Blood samples arrive from locations all over the globe,  including all over Europe, where Lyme disease is known simply as Borreliosis.

In addition to testing people, CFR also tests animals for Lyme. Please refer to the CFR website for more information about the Flow Cytometric Lyme test for pets and people.

Central Florida Research Laboratory
Winter Haven, FL
Medical Director: Clifford H Threlkeld, DO, FCAP
Phone Number: (863) 299-3232
Fax Number: (863) 299-3355
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New Lyme test for early detection

Here's a piece of good news. If you live in the Lyme-endemic region of Milford, CT, you have a new option for testing. And -- unless you have Aetna -- your insurance plan should cover it.

Pathologist Sin Hang Lee, MD, and his team have developed a DNA test for early Lyme detection. Details are available in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology. The test is the first of its kind. I recently talked with Dr Lee about the new test, which has been in use at the Milford Hospital for about one year.

Early detection is extremely important. People who are diagnosed with Lyme in the early stage have a good chance of receiving treatment that will cure them, and they will have no further complications from the disease. The DNA test eliminates the false positives that are problematic in the traditional Lyme tests, specifically the Western Blot and the ELISA.

The test is good news for people in the Milford area who suspect they've been bitten by a tick. Reports from other regions in the NE, such as Portland, Maine, are already warning of an increase in tick bites this year.


According to the announcement of the new DNA Lyme test, "physicians at the Milford Hospital Emergency Center and Walk-in Urgent Care Center, who see about 40,000 patients a year, usually order the traditional antibody testing and the new DNA test for patients presenting with Lyme disease-like symptoms. Most insurance companies except Aetna will pay for the test."

Patients and physicians interested in information on this DNA test may call George Poole, manager of Milford Medical Laboratory, at 203-876-4496.

Listen to our interview with Dr. Sin Hang Lee about the Lyme DNA test.
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Tick saliva may hold key to Lyme vaccine

Erol Fikrig, MD, and other researchers at the Yale School of Medicine may be hot on the trail of creating a new Lyme vaccine.   

What makes this Lyme vaccine different from the one that was taken off the market in 2002?   

From a recent post on Science Blog:   

"Traditionally, vaccines have directly targeted specific pathogens. This is the first time that antibodies against a protein in the saliva of a pathogen's transmitting agent (in this case, the tick) has been shown to confer immunity when administered protectively as a vaccine."   

Apparently the old Lyme vaccine "utilized just the outer surface proteins of the bacteria."

"The authors [of this study] believe this new strategy of targeting the saliva - the 'vector molecule' that a microbe requires to infect a host - may be applicable not just to Lyme disease but to other insect-borne pathogens that also cause human illness."

"We believe that it is likely that many arthropod-borne infection agents of medical importance use vector proteins as they move to the mammalian host," Fikrig explained.

If their scientific hunch proves correct, this study may also have positive implications for treatment of other illnesses that are spread by insects.

"Currently, we are working to determine if this strategy is likely to be important for West Nile virus infection, dengue fever, and malaria, among other diseases."
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Effects of Cumanda & Samento in treatment of Lyme disease

This is a really useful report, especially for those of us who are using herbal therapies to complement antibiotic treatment. It is Dr Richard Horowitz's findings on his use of herbs, such as Samento and Cumanda, among others, in treating patients who have Lyme disease and co-infections.

Herbs, Hormones & Heavy Metals: A study of CAM therapies in the treatment of Chronic Lyme Disease.


This tidbit is from the opening of his paper. Gave me a chuckle:

The History of Medicine
• 2000 BC Here, eat this root
• 1000 AD That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer
• 1850 AD That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
• 1940 AD That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
• 1985 AD That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
• 2007 AD That antibiotic does not work anymore. Here, eat this root.


Dr Richard Horowitz
4232 Albany Post Road
Hyde Park, NY 12538
845-229-8977
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Lyme bugs crave sugar

Lyme bugs love sugar. However, Lyme symptoms may flare if you help yourself to the enticing cookie buffet. Cravings for certain foods, such as holiday desserts, are emotional, not physical. A plate of sugar cookies and a steaming mug of hot cocoa goes so perfectly with gray skies and long winter nights, right? Lyme disease, and any chronic disease, re-educates us about our cravings and appetites. Sugar makes the bugs happy and carbohydrates can increase inflammation. Lyme forces us to reconsider what makes us truly feel good. What foods add value to your healing? What foods subtract from it?

Sometimes we think we're choosing a healthy substitute when we're actually only making the problem worse. Tod Thoring, ND, recommends that you work with not just one doctor on your healing journey, but several. If possible, consider consulting a Lyme-literate nutritionist or naturopath.

Jean Reist, RN, who treats Lyme patients at a Pennsylvania clinic, told me that one of her patients decided he'd quit sugar, although he was addicted to Coca-cola. She'd informed him that his daily habit would keep him from healing, and that was enough to help him quit cold turkey. He got well enough to return to work, so he went back to his construction job. However, he missed his daily fix, so he picked up some Diet Coke and swigged it down.

Within days, his energy was totally drained and he was feeling sick again -- too sick to go back to work. His Lyme symptoms returned. He dragged himself back to Jean's office and told her about switching to Diet Coke. She told him that although it didn't contain sugar, it contained an artificial sweetener called aspartame, which is also sold as NutraSweet. The effects of substitute were even worse than regular sugar.

If strings of Christmas lights and gently falling snow make you want to bake a pumpkin pie, think about the Lyme bugs. They want more sugar -- don't let them have it. Although the herbal sugar substitute stevia is not sanctioned by the FDA as an artificial sweetener, many people use it in place of sugar. Try some in a cup of hot green tea, with a thin slice of fresh ginger. Ginger has long been promoted by herbalists for its overall soothing and warming effects. It may not replace the hot chocolate, but it will help take the chill off the cold winter nights.

Members, please visit the Interviews with Experts page for interviews with Tod Thoring, ND, and Jean Reist, RN.
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Borrelia Burgdorferi, Lyme bacteria

Borrelia burgdorferi, or Bb, is the notorious bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Bb is just one of three hundred strains of spirochetes worldwide. Other strains of spirochetes cause diseases such as relapsing fever and syphilis. Bb is a spiral-shaped microscopic organism that can scoot around inside the body by rotating in place, like a corkscrew. After its host, the tick, downloads Bb into the bloodstream of a critter or a person, the spirochete can leave the blood stream and invade the tissues and organs.

Although it can cause such frightful, wide-ranging symptoms, to glimpse this tiny pathogen requires a powerful microscope. The Bb spirochete is infinitesimally small. According to the Lyme Disease Foundation in Connecticut, as described in the book, Beating Lyme, it would take fifteen hundred of them laid end to end to equal one inch. "If bacteria were laid side to side, one hundred thousand Lyme bacteria would be required to equal one inch."

Willy Burgdorfer, PhD, was the entomologist who discovered the Lyme microorganism. Scientists honored Dr. Burgdorfer by naming the Lyme spirochete after him. I've just received a copy of Beating Lyme: Understanding and Treating This Complex and Often Misdiagnosed Disease, by Constance Bean with Lesley Ann Fein, MD, MPH. I think I'll pour myself another cup of green tea, settle in and read some more. Chances are you already know some of what's in the book, since Lyme patients tend to read voraciously in order to get educated about symptoms and treatment. We're adding book reviews to the LDRD, so keep an eye out for more news and expert recommendations.
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Obstacles to killing the bug

Eva Sapi, Ph.D., who teaches molecular biology for graduate students and does Lyme disease research at the University of New Haven, Connecticut, has one goal. "To kill the bug," she says. "And not in ten years, not even in six months, but soon!" She and her team of medical researchers are intent on figuring out why the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, the bug that causes Lyme disease, is so difficult to eradicate.

Lyme disease cases are increasing, and Sapi says she fears this year will be a bad one for ticks, and stresses the importance of prevention. Field research conducted this spring has yielded a disturbing find in her region, she says. The number of ticks carrying the infectious Borrelia bacteria has increased to 60%, up from previous years' 20-30%. She says one possible explanation for the increase could be changing temperatures. Recent mild winters may not have not dropped temperatures sufficiently long enough or frigid enough to kill the ticks.

Sapi is frustrated by the political controversy surrounding Lyme, saying that in her previous research into cancer, such obstacles were not a problem. Unnecessarily harsh criticism of her scientific findings having to do with the Borrelia bacteria has limited the number of publications where her research can be reviewed. However, significant support is increasing from other areas. Grants offered to ILADS from the Turn the Corner Foundation are currently helping fund Sapi's department at University of New Haven for research projects that hopefully, ultimately will help her reach her goal. And soon.

Dr. Sapi spoke with us on April 27, 2008. Members, please keep an eye out for our conversation about her research, to be posted soon to the Lyme Expert Audio Interview page.
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Alzheimer's and Lyme Disease

Alzheimer's and Lyme share many symptoms, an unfortunate circumstance that can result in misdiagnoses for elderly people whose caregivers suspect senility. The Alzheimer's Disease Association lists changes in mood or behavior, disorientation of time and place, and an inability to concentrate among the warning signals of the disease. Symptoms may also include problems with abstract thinking and difficulty performing familiar tasks, such as buckling a belt or preparing a simple meal.

Brain dysfunction or dementia, what used to be called 'senility', are commonly recognized as disabilities that afflict older citizens. Other potential signals of Lyme are joint pain, dizziness, and muscle aches, which are common complaints among seniors. For generations, the prevailing notion has been that old people simply tend toward absent-mindedness, arthritis and fatigue. Therefore, older people's symptoms are less likely to signal anything out of the ordinary to a doctor or health care practitioner. Doctors may easily miss the warning signs of Lyme, instead giving the patient a catch-all diagnoses such as Alzheimer's, heart disease or lupus. Seniors have been misdiagnosed with Alzheimer's, when the real problem is Lyme disease.

Antibiotics are prescribed to kill the Borreliosis bacteria, the bugs that cause the effects of Lyme disease. However, undetected by medical professionals, the patients are unlikely to get the medicine they need. Without proper treatment, Lyme can have devastating effects.
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Lyme Disease Mistaken for MS



Getting a correct diagnosis for Lyme disease is a significant step toward getting treatment, yet countless patients are misdiagnosed from the start. Here is a recent account of a North Carolina man who self-diagnosed, after having been put on medication for multiple sclerosis. The article below is from the Raleigh Newsobserver.com, February 19, 2008.

Patients push boundaries of Lyme disease debate.
Two factions hold opposing views on prevalence of tick-borne disease.

Jean P. Fisher, Staff Writer

Even as mounting evidence suggests the state may harbor more tick-borne illness than records indicate, patients with symptoms that match Lyme disease say doctors continue to turn deaf ears to their complaints. They say people are needlessly going untreated or misdiagnosed, leading to advanced illness and even disability. Read more about lyme disease diagnosis.

Dave Tierney of Cary thinks that's what happened to him. Plagued with unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, eye pain and other problems for years, Tierney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year. In June, he left his job as a pilot with Delta Air Lines and began getting long-term disability benefits.

But after researching his symptoms on the Internet, Tierney became convinced he had chronic Lyme disease. An infectious disease doctor and a specialized laboratory test confirmed it. After three months of intravenous antibiotics, Tierney finds his Lyme symptoms much improved and he is back at the controls of an airplane.

"I could have been on MS medicine for the rest of my life," said Tierney, who returned to work this month.

read the entire article here
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On the horns of an abx dilemma.

We know that antibiotics do help Lyme patients heal, although doctors have observed that abx do their best work when people start taking them soon after becoming infected. Many docs are advocating for the use of long-term abx in the case of chronic Lyme. They feel there is no other way to deal with it. No question, antibiotics are the modern miracle medicine, an irrefutable symbol of civilization. But the medical truth is, long-term antibiotics may do more harm than good.

If you're one of those people who never experienced Lyme disease symptoms until the stress of a life-changing event set it off, you may have been given abx long after you caught the bug. Are your chances of healing from Lyme now reduced? What are the alternatives to abx, and why should we give them a chance?

Read entire article here.
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Expiration dates count.

Expiration dates count. Be aware of outdated information on Lyme disease research websites. It's astonishing to me how many doctors' and medical authorities' websites are still confidently proclaiming that Lyme disease can only be spread by ticks. I've only been researching this disease for a little over a year but it appears clear that ticks alone are not responsible for the epidemic of Lyme disease. The Lyme-literate doctors I've spoken with are convinced that only a small percentage of cases of Lyme are spread by ticks. There seems to be a lot of evidence to suggest that all blood-sucking insects are capable of carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme. One scientist I interviewed who researches Lyme stated that every single mosquito she had tested, from California to Florida, tested positive with the bacteria.

When searching online for good information on Lyme, it's crucial to keep in mind that medical research is dynamic and ongoing. This disease is a highly underrated epidemic, and the physicians who test their patients for it and diagnose it are not always able to publish about their results immediately. Old and out-of-date information about this disease seems to be prevalent on the web. Yet cutting edge information is available for those who are careful to critically screen the quality of information they find.

Screening out noisy rubble and finding good information about Lyme is like panning for gold. Many websites are helpful, some more than others. Some websites were once relevant, but now they're outdated. Look for the most updated discoveries to find what you need to know. This evening, I was reading through the site of a popular health advocate I once met and whose products I have used, to my great satisfaction. Her website, however, was stacked with information about Lyme disease that dates back to 1996. Over just the past year or two, the discoveries about new, successful treatments for Lyme are hopeful and deeply encouraging, but a person reading this health advocate's site would never get that impression. So watch the expiration date on the information you take to heart. Lyme patients find out quickly that it is to their advantage to get quality and timely research.
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