Lyme Disease Research Database Independent reporting on all aspects of Lyme Disease

antibiotics

Life after antibiotics: How to heal your gut

How do you heal your war-torn gut from the damage done by antibiotics? In my experience, and what I've learned from others, is first of all eat a healthy, whole foods diet. This means eliminating sugar (yes, including honey and other sweeteners) and alcohol. Cutting out sugar is necessary. It feeds the Lyme bug and cancer, you don’t need it. Or just little-bitty bits as a once in a blue moon treat. Not every day. Quit sugar, and believe me, you'll feel the difference.

The key is to eat a vibrant diet of foods that have a lot of prana - life force - and focus on consuming anti-inflammatory foods. The Mediterranean diet is a good place to start, according to WebMD. It's a bit loosey-goosey, which suits me fine. I don't tend to follow strict guidelines anyway and listening to your gut is, after all, the whole idea here! So eat fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, fish, healthy whole grains and olive oil, with bits of meat and dairy and a splash of red wine.

Live foods, fresh greens with a lot of enzymes flush your digestive tract with nutrients. But be cautious with raw foods which can be too harsh when you're healing. I usually stir-fry or steam a variety of leafy greens, broccoli, sweet potato, garlic and onions. Serve with brown rice or quinoa, which cooks up in only 15 minutes -- way quicker than brown rice, if you’re like me and want to eat when you’re hungry! Watch out for gluten, which can hide in lots of things that might surprise you, such as salad dressings, marinades, and soy sauce. So many people nowadays seem to be keen on Gluten-free foods, it’s easy to find GF products in your grocery store and on the menu at your favorite restaurants.

Some spices, like turmeric and ginger, help reduce inflammation, so add these into your meals whenever you like. Your doctor can prescribe turmeric in capsules too, which would give you a stronger dose. I have a friend who has greatly reduced her RA pain with medical-grade turmeric capsules she gets from her doctor.

When your antibiotic Lyme treatment is over, start taking a good probiotic (up to 100 billion units daily). I started as soon as I finished the pharmaceutical antibiotics. I'm well again, so in my case I have not been taking probiotics on a regular basis for a few years now. But that’s just because I wax and wane with supplements. Always do what works for you, physically as well as financially. Supps can take a big bite out of the monthly grocery budget, I know. So I'm off and on now, but for the first two years following the antibiotics routine I took them religiously, and I'm positive they helped to restore balance to my gut flora.

Herbalists recommend some supplements, such as Slippery Elm and Marshmallow, which are believed to have a healing effect on the intestines. I have found that to be true for me. I drink them as teas, usually mixed with other bulk herbs that taste good and address my issue, which is my skin. The other thing I did was to drink aloe vera juice and I think it helped. Some people chew DGL tablets which help with digestion issues. You can get them at Whole foods or any other grocery with a good supplements department. HCL is also said to help.

Sharing a meal with family and friends, relaxing while you dine, exercising regularly, and enjoying life as much as possible. Even when you’re sick, don’t make it worse by thinking the worst. Invite happy people into your life, online as well as face-to-face. These are anti-inflammatory measures too, just as vital to your overall health and wellness as any sort of diet.


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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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Chronic Lyme, a persistent problem

Chronic Lyme disease is the controversial third stage of this multi-stage illness. While medical experts agree that for some, problems and symptoms persist after the standard protocol has been administered. What they don’t agree on is whether these persistent problems should be treated with antibiotics, and for how long. Also in question is the use of the term “chronic.”

According to the
CDC, what many call "chronic Lyme disease," is properly known as "Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome" (PTLDS). Doctors can follow protocol and treat patients who have been diagnosed with early-stage Lyme.

The fact that there is no insurance code for chronic Lyme, or PTLDS, means that many doctors will not treat chronic Lyme with long-term antibiotics.

Dr Lee Cowden, whose Lyme protocol has helped many, including me, agrees about the debilitating effects of long-term antibiotics. Dr Cowden would rather the patient detox and kill the Borrelia bacteria with herbal tinctures such as Cumanda, Samento, Banderol and others which will not punch holes in the gut lining and create problems in addition to the Lyme infection.

Stephen Buhner’s core herbal protocol for Lyme includes Cat’s Claw, Sarsaparilla, Japanese Knotweed and Eleuthero. Stephen is also devoted to helping Lyme patients and his alternative treatments are soundly researched. Many people opt to self-treat with these or other herbal protocols while also still on the doctor-prescribed antibiotics. Stephen has told me that his core protocol will not interfere with standard antibiotic treatment.

My personal approach to treating chronic Lyme, or “late-stage” Lyme as my doctor called it, did include treatment with long-term antibiotics (six months). After that, I embarked on the
Cowden protocol for a couple of years. During that time, I would never have had the stamina to work full-time outside my home. My work as a freelance writer allowed me to keep hours that fit with my quirky schedule of daily napping, frequent breaks, and staying in bed all day when I simply had zippo energy. Talking to sources over the phone, writing propped up on pillows, and a supportive, compassionate partner smoothed the brutal lows and quickened the recovery time.

However, my long healing journey has been successful for one main reason, and it isn’t just afternoon naps or diet or exercise, or love, or even the expensive
Resveratrol that makes the difference -- but all of those do definitely have their place. The real key is a continual re-commitment to healthy living every day, through several daily practices that address and acknowledge these four fundamental areas: my intentions, behaviors, my culture and shared values, and the social systems that play a major, yet somewhat invisible, role in life.

Chronic Lyme or PTLDS will continue to dampen and depress our spirits if left untreated. And long-term antibiotics may not be the answer.




Comments

Chronic Lyme and Antibiotics

Q. Hello,

I am new to Lyme Disease... come from a very holistic background, eat a whole food
organic diet, etc. Will not bore you with details and get to my point.

Any idea on the current train of thought on IV antibiotic treatment for people with
chronic
lyme
? I will also be taking a holistic approach, but am also trying to get the latest info on
antibiotic treatment before my visit with the infectious disease md.

Thank you!

A. Thanks so much for your question. I get where you're coming from, as I've always
been a health-foodie myself. Lyme blindsided me too. Through diligent attention to
my cross-training approach -- including body, mind, spirit and shadow practices daily
-- I am completely well. And I was almost dead. Sounds dramatic, but it's true.

Your question is specifically about IV treatment for chronic Lyme, and I'll tell you,
it's a complicated answer. For one thing, the term "
chronic Lyme" is not a condition
widely agreed upon in the medical world. Whether or not a chronic state of Lyme
disease exists seems to completely depend on whom you ask. Doctors are people
and people have their biases. I noticed recently that the
CDC has changed their
information on their website to reflect that there is a condition which they say is more
properly called “Post-Lyme disease Syndrome,” or PTLDS. The article states that the
cause of PTLDS is as yet unknown.

My bias is to go with a cross-training approach, which I have laid out on our website.
This is what we call "100 Perspectives," which is the way I think about my practices,
the body, mind, spirit and shadow practices that I mentioned. Please read about it
and see what you think.

The notion of long-term
antibiotics (IV and/or oral) is hotly debated. Although I
know that some are grateful for antibiotics long-term, I am also a huge proponent of
attacking the bacteria from every angle. The daily practices are not simply tacked on
to my life, they’re central to it. This is what has worked for me.

Dr. Lee Cowden, whom I've interviewed several times, is a worldwide expert on Lyme
treatment. He's not pro-antibiotics for the long-term. He sees that they can cause
worse problems than the Lyme bacteria can for the intestines. He is in favor of long-
term herbal tinctures, which do not damage the intestines when used as directed in
his protocol. His protocol worked for me as well. We need to bear in mind that the
intestines play a major role in our immune system, so Dr. Cowden’s message is a
significant note of caution, in my opinion.

I suggest that you listen to the
audio interviews on our website that feature Dr.
Cowden. (Many are free for the public to access - go to our blog and do a search.)
He will teach you so much and give you a lot of food for thought, all very positive.


All my very best to you on your healing journey,
Suzanne

Here's more information about Dr. Cowden and the
Cowden protocol.


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Sweet Alternatives: Splenda or Stevia?

Have you thumped your thymus lately?

The thymus is located in the chest, in front of the heart. It’s part of the adaptive immune system. You may recall as a kid seeing Tarzan pounding his chest, right before leaping onto a vine and sailing across the treetops. The thymus, which decreases in size after puberty, is situated right there in the chest behind the sternum. The King of the Jungle and his gorilla pals pounded their chests as a show of strength and dominance. Some physical therapists say that thumping it gently will help stimulate it.

Eating Splenda shrinks it. Why is this bad? Because T-cells develop in, and are educated by, the thymus. Splenda can damage the T-cells, according to Jean Reist, a nurse who has treated over a thousand people diagnosed with Lyme disease. When treating Lyme, the last thing you want to do is cause damage to your adaptive immune system.

Lyme-literate experts advise us to avoid sugar. So what do you replace it with? Honey and agave sweeteners may contain nutritional goodness, but they are processed by our bodies the same way that sugar is. Stay away from Splenda (sucralose), which contains chlorine.

I’m happy to see that some nutritionists recommend stevia nowadays. I switched to stevia tincture when I was first diagnosed with late-disseminated Lyme symtpoms. Stevia tincture is made from the stevia herb, which has small leaves and looks like any other hillside weed. My mom, who has an amazing green thumb, grows it in a container on her deck. If you ever get the opportunity, bite into a stevia leaf. It’s unbelievably sweet, and it’s pure plant. No sugar. Nothing fake. This herb is native to South America, used for centuries to sweeten tea and make mate, and although popular for decades in Japan and elsewhere, it’s now in widespread use in the US, following approval from the FDA. Still, if you buy stevia at the grocery store, read the label. Some brands actually add sugar! I use KAL Stevia tincture, an alcohol-free, zero-calorie blend.

How far can diet and exercise go toward treating Lyme? There is no question that antibiotics are well-advised and necessary towards a Lyme disease treatment. But if there are lingering symptoms or problems, diet and exercise seem to be critically important.  In my experience, healthy shifts in diet and making the effort to maintain a regular workout practice have made a huge, positive difference. I know that without having changed my habits I wouldn’t be in very good shape at all.

Weird as it sounds, I count having had Lyme disease among the biggest blessings in my life. Perhaps it is the biggest. I know you’ll understand what I’m saying. Although I’d never have voluntarily dived into the wretched state that it put me in, if I hadn’t been dragged under by Lyme, I strongly doubt that I would now be making the daily efforts I now make to live a radiantly healthy life, in body, mind & spirit! As you know, healthy living is not something that happens by accident. It takes mindfulness. I eat live foods, and drink freshly-made juices, mostly containing fresh organic veggies and high-fiber, high-protein foods such as beans and quinoa, to improve my skin and elevate my energy. I hit the gym at least three times a week, mainly doing interval workouts and strength training with weights. Exercising helps oxygenate my blood, strengthen my muscles and improve my endurance. I also think positively, which is not too difficult considering that post-Lyme, I feel blessed to be alive at all!

I also love to learn from other people. My mom is in her 80s and still healthy, beautiful and active, taking dance and Tai Chi classes and enjoying spending time with her friends and family. She never bought us much junk food or soda pop as kids, and she didn’t drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. Instead, she shared her excitement over vibrant fresh greens and delicious fruits straight from the garden or the local farmer’s markets. When we sat down to dinner, she and my siblings and I often lingered afterward just talking and enjoying each other’s company. Recently I asked about her secret to living a long, healthy life. She thought about it for a minute and said, “I don’t poison my body and I think positively!” I love my mom. What a wonderful role model.

Sadly, I have friends ten years younger than I who suffer with RA and other autoimmune deficiencies, who refuse to examine their dietary habits and sedentary lifestyles. They depend on the medical professionals to help heal them with medicines.

If you decide to take an active role in your own healing, begin by recognizing that shifting your diet and starting an exercise practice takes determination and regular effort. Realize that your Lyme doctor may be an excellent diagnostician, and she may have prescribed antibiotics and been of great help to you in the early stages, but she may not know bupkes about nutrition, or how some foods or alternatives such as Splenda may contribute to, or denigrate, your progress.

Medical doctors don’t study nutrition in medical school, not with any depth. While it would be nice to think that they could be our role models for healthy living all-around, that isn’t in the curriculum. So unless your doctor is also educated in and interested in the way diet affects healing, it’s possible that you know much more about it than he does. There are indications that this is changing, and that more people who become doctors are also interested in how the whole healing process works. This is a wonderful trend, and I have a feeling it will continue. One of my friends says her doctor expects his patients to have read up on their condition online, and he encourages them to dialog with him about what they learn there.

Does your medical doctor know about the role of nutrition and exercise in treating Lyme? Do you talk with your nurse practitioner or doctor about diet and exercise as you heal from Lyme disease? Who are your role models for healthy living? Drop a line or leave a comment. I love hearing from you!

Now go on, nobody’s looking. Thump your thymus!

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Resveratrol and Lyme treatment

Is resveratrol a component of your Lyme treatment? A lot of people, from Dr. Oz to herbal healers to big pharma, are excited about its health benefits, and probably not least of all due to its presence as an ingredient in red wine. Reportedly, resveratrol boosts mental & physical energy, reduces appetite and cravings, offers cardiovascular protection, lowers blood sugar, prevents oxidative damage from free-radicals and contains anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. And it improves the quality of sleep. And gets rid of turkey neck, age spots and gray hair! Geez, who wouldn’t be interested?

Resveratrol is a phenol, an acidic organic compound, found in some plants. It occurs in the skin of grapes, and also in the seeds of muscadine grapes. The Japanese knotweed is an excellent source of it as well. In grapes it acts as an antifungal, and also it is very high in antioxidants which helps to protect the fruit on the vine from the harsh effects of the sun. Sure, it’s available in red wine but so is alcohol, which isn’t recommended in any Lyme protocol. You can get a much larger and more beneficial dosage of resveratrol through supplements.

Resveratrol was a part of my protocol during a critical stage of Lyme, and I’ve recently started taking it again. I’m taking Biotivia Transmax 500mg, just fyi. So far it’s been very helpful as an anti-inflammatory, which gives me a lot of hope for healing a recurring Lyme rash (not a bullseye rash). Superficial research turns up glowing testimonials. I’d like to believe them all. However, my inner critic revs up to high-alert when reading such claims. I will be poking below the surface and talking with scientists and doctors about resveratrol’s part in Lyme treatment. I want to know: Is it beneficial as part of a protocol for Lyme disease? Not all resveratrol is alike. What type or form is recommended for Lyme patients? And as there are no long-term tests available as yet, are there contraindications? What are the differences between trans-resveratrol, plain resveratrol and cis-resveratrol?

A 60 minutes segment from January 2009 examined some of the claims of resveratrol as a “fountain of youth” supplement that pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is now evidently interested in.

Master herbalist Stephen Buhner lists it as the number one ingredient in his core herbal protocol for Lyme disease. He recommends whole root Japanese knotweed. Here are Stephen’s remarks copied from planetthrive.com:The Source Naturals form of the caplet that I recommend is recommended because it is essential whole root knotweed that is standardized to contain a certain percentage of resveratrol. What I would recommend is that you get the whole root in encapsulated form. You can get it from Tim Scott at tim@watercourse-way.com in Bratteleboro, VT.”

What type, if any, are you taking as part of your Lyme treatment? I’d love to hear from you. Let me know if resveratrol has helped with a Lyme rash.

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Detox diet and chronic Lyme

The trick with any Lyme treatment is that detoxing will almost certainly bring on a Herxheimer reaction, referred to quite generously by some as a healing crisis. As anyone who’s experienced a Herx knows, it can be as bad as or worse than the Lyme symptoms themselves. Personally, I find it impossible to tell the difference.

What is a Herx? The Herx occurs when the Lyme bacterial complex dies from an attack by antibiotics or other means, and releases toxins that signal reactions from the body’s immune system. Herxing can be triggered at a number of points throughout the healing process.

Detoxification, once the catch-word of glitzy drug rehab centers, is now more or less a Hollywood cliche. Almost every health & beauty magazine or website promotes a different detox diet that in theory will cleanse your body of toxins that assault it every day: smog, sugar, alcohol, pesticides and artificial sweeteners. If you suffer from a chronic condition such as post-Lyme syndrome or chronic Lyme, proponents of detox diets say you’ll benefit from periodic cleansing.

Current, popular ways to cleanse include the ‘Master Cleanse’ which consists primarily of drinking lemon, water and maple syrup. Many consider fresh raw vegetable juices a healthy basis for a good detox diet that can help people slim down while infusing the body with necessary enzymes and other rich nutrients. These types of diets are believed by some to boost the body’s elimination mechanisms through internal cleaning.

However, there may be no scientific basis for cleansing diets. Dr. Peter Pressman of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles states that the body’s multiple systems, such as the liver, kidneys, and GI tract, already do a perfectly good job of cleansing the body and eliminating toxins. He claims there is no evidence to suggest that detox diets improve the body’s natural mechanisms.

Lyme patients must be vigilant about popular trends. Changing your diet or engaging in something radical such as a juice fast might even be a bad idea, especially if you are on antibiotics or some other Lyme treatment. Always discuss with your Lyme doctor or medical team before changing your diet. Cleansing can be dicey for people with active Lyme disease symptoms. The cleanse may trigger a Herxheimer reaction which would affect the body’s immune system.

Whether you think colon cleansing is good and necessary or not, we can all agree that keeping things moving is best. By drinking lots of filtered water and eating foods that help prevent or relieve constipation, we can do our best to ensure that our body is able to eliminate the toxins from the Lyme bacteria as well as the meds, while undergoing Lyme treatment and post treatment. Be sure to drink about 8 glasses of water daily, as it helps digest the fiber, as well as softens and adds bulk to the stool. When I am experiencing a Herx, I drink extra water and it always seems to give me relief, almost immediately.

What are the best foods for preventing or relieving constipation?

High-fiber foods such as barley, quinoa, brown rice are helpful. So are flaxseeds, beans, lentils, artichokes, sweet potatoes, pears and green peas. If you’re avoiding gluten, don’t eat wheats, barley or rye. Quinoa makes a great breakfast cereal.  I add a little coconut oil, stevia and cinnamon, and toss on a teaspoon of flaxseed for good measure. And of course steel cut oats that are gluten free are highly recommended in a healthy Lyme diet, because they’re so good for our skin in addition to their fiber-rich content. We should be eating about 20 - 35 grams of fiber per day, according to the NIH.

Additionally, people with a magnesium deficiency are found to be at greater risk for constipation, so include plenty of magnesium-rich sources in your healing Lyme diet. Nuts such as almonds and cashews are high in magnesium, as are baked potatoes in their “jackets” as my mom used to say.

Refined or processed foods such as white bread, white rice, and white pasta are not your friends if you want to promote pooping. In addition, ice cream, cheeses and meats are high in fat and will work against you in your quest for a good bowel movement. Cut these processed and sugary foods out of your diet and replace them with high quality, high fiber foods. You’ll begin to see and feel the difference.

For now, we may not have the answer to healing chronic Lyme, but in my experience, my quality of life -- and the amount of energy I have for living -- increases immensely the more I shift my diet into the healthy zone. Over the years, each and every person I’ve interviewed for our Lyme Success Stories series has also told a remarkable tale of having healed more quickly after making healthy changes to their diet.

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Alternative treatment for Lyme - Cowden Condensed Protocol

The latest Cowden protocol -- Cowden Condensed Support Program -- was featured last summer (2010) in an article in The Townsend Letter by the Lyme Disease Research Group. Personally, I had brilliant results from the original Cowden protocol and it’s gratifying to see Dr. Richard Horowitz’s very positive results as well. Alternatives to conventional antibiotic treatment for Lyme often seem difficult to track and trust, however there is no lack of scientific methodology from this medical group in Connecticut and the University of New Haven.

There is also good news in that the condensed protocol is more affordable than the original version. The protocol is available through Nutramedix or through your LLMD.

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

There is an alternative clinical treatment option gaining wide use, called Cowden Condensed Support Program, that utilizes several herbal extracts designed to eliminate microbes in Lyme disease patients. Richard Horowitz, MD, president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Educational Foundation (ILADEF), has prescribed this protocol for over 2000 of his patient and reports that it has been effective for more than 70% of them. The two herbal agents from the Cowden Condensed Support Program selected for this study are Samento (a pentacyclic chemotype of Cat's Claw [Uncaria tomentosa] that does not contain tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids), with reported antibacterial and antiviral properties, and Banderol (Otoba sp.), known to have antibacterial, antiprotozoal and anti-inflammatory effects.10-12 Both herbal agents are used during the first two months of Cowden Condensed Support Program, then in rotation with other antimicrobials for the duration of this 6-month protocol.

For further information about the Lyme Disease Research Group’s work, please listen to Dr. Eva Sapi in our Interviews with Experts series.


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Healing from Lyme - Part 1

Q.  I noticed in the article you said that your symptoms are gone and your health vastly improved. What did you do to get to that point and how long did it take you?

A. My healing journey is still ongoing, and since Lyme changed my perspective on pretty much everything, I’m always vigilant about the consequences of my everyday choices. I’ve learned how critical it is, when dealing with any serious disease, to approach healing from as many directions as possible. This is called an ‘integral’ approach and there are four general life areas that come under consideration. I’ll get into all four areas in this multi-part post.

First, I’ll give you the general picture of the medicines and supplements I took and still take. To begin with, my doctor put me on a treatment protocol of antibiotics including Omnicef and Zithromax. He also started me on a regime of homeopathics and vitamin supplements to support my immune system. Here is a partial list of the supplements that I took everyday for the first year:

probiotics
cod liver oil
bromelain
thymucin
lithium
dermaliq
CoQ10
quercetin/bromelain
copper
garlic
vit E
vit C
MSM
pekana
L lysine
Noni
liquid chlorophyll
zinc
psyllium

After six months, my doctor recommended that I stop the oral antibiotics and begin IV treatment with the antibiotic Rocephin. I had been through a rough time physically and emotionally, and though I felt better, I didn’t feel anywhere near 100%. In addition, I didn’t have health insurance, and I understood the cost of the IV and the new antibiotics would be around $20,000. Financially, my illness had already set me back in two fundamental ways. First, I hadn’t been able to work full time. And second, I had spent a great deal of money on the medicine and supplements needed already. It was a pretty disturbing place to be. My doctor was a naturopath, and typically did not treat illness with antibiotics. I knew my condition must be very serious if he thought I needed the Rocephin.

I had to decide what to do. After agonizing over it for a week or so, I chose not to go with the IV, but decided to start the Cowden protocol. There was no lapse of time between ending my oral antibiotic protocol and beginning the Cowden, an alternative protocol that I had researched, consisting of Samento, Burbur, Banderol and a number of other herbal tinctures that originate in the Amazon. These native plants have been used to treat malaria for a thousand years or more. I felt like I could make it work.

The Cowden routine worked very effectively for me, and although it took a long time (several years) I’m happy with the results. The cost, while not cheap, was a fraction of what the Rocephin IV treatment would have been. Currently I’m on a break from the r Cowden's updated Lyme protocol">Cowden protocol. About a year ago I tapered off of it, and began taking a low dose (3 drops 3 times daily) of teasel root tincture which I still take. I made this decision after reading about it and interviewing a couple of herbalist/physicians who had found it to be immensely helpful for their patients.

It took me six years to get to the point where I feel normal again. It wasn’t a quick trip. More like an excruciatingly slow journey. Normal, to me, means that I can enjoy my family and friends and take time for them. I can pursue my personal and professional goals and work long days if I so choose without crashing, I can sleep through the night every night, and I can exercise rigorously every day. I can make plans for the future.

In my opinion, exercise and diet are more important than anybody will tell you. I consider Lance Armstrong and all the athletes I’ve had the honor of interviewing for our Lyme success stories to be my solid gold role models.

Next, I’ll give a bit of backstory and talk about what happened before I found my naturopath. What can happen when the doctors don’t know about Lyme disease and prescribe the wrong medicine?


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A Holistic Approach To Treating Lyme


Q. I was diagnosed with Lyme last July (2010) after several neurologists told me I had a motor neuron disease - ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).  My family and I were thrilled to find out it was Lyme as at least it wasn't a death sentence.  But after nearly 6 months on IV Rocephin and other antibiotics and many supplements and 5 IVIg treatments to modulate my immune system - I am still not feeling much better.  I do have more energy than before the antibiotics but my speech is poorer, my body twitches when I'm still and I feel a sense of vibration in my hands and feet.  I have some joint pain in my elbow and fingers, but it’s not too bad.

I really love my Lyme doctor she listens and adjust my doses at my monthly visit. I fill out a symptom list every day ranking my symptoms from 1 to 10.  I go weekly to her office for my PICC line to be checked by a nurse and they draw blood at that time to check things.  I feel taken care of -- but I never thought it would take as long as it’s taking.


I had read at some point that you beat Lyme with a more holistic approach - can you elaborate on that for me?  I know there are alternative medicine doctors and I went to one once - and she told me to use certain Essential Oils by Young Living - I used them for a while.

A. Your letter brings to mind that aphorism: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Many of the strongest people I know are dealing with Lyme.

Yes, I take what I consider an integral approach to treating Lyme. An integral approach requires more than just treating with medicines and supplements. It also includes getting regular physical exercise, eating right, tending to your psychological/spiritual needs through a regular practice of meditation, prayer, affirmations (whichever practice suits you best), and finally, seriously considering your network of support including your close loved ones on out to the social systems that are available to you: your clinic, nurse practitioner, doctor, as well as the money you must generate, and/or the insurance forms you must navigate, in order to access all of the above.  

I started my treatment with antibiotics because I felt (and my doctor observed) that I had quickly devolved into a very low-functioning state. Every one of my systems was affected and going haywire. After 6 months of antibiotics, a period that I honestly find very difficult to remember, I came to a crossroads. I had reached a point where I could no longer financially afford to continue on the antibiotics. I was feeling better, but not spectacularly so. My doctor was not enthusiastic about my decision but he sympathized with my dilemma, and going on his advice that something would be better than nothing, I then prescribed myself a treatment consisting of herbal medicines and a continuation of the supplements that he had started me on. I embarked on the beginning of my second phase of treatment with some real moments of fear. However, I felt deep inside that I had no choice but to get well and although I was still unbearably fatigued after a full nights’ sleep and had many other Lyme symptoms that could have depressed me, I never, ever lost the willpower to fight and get well. I didn’t want to die, and I’m stubborn.

As the months wore on, I was finally able to put two sentences together again and resumed my work as a professional writer. I was fortunate in that way. If I’d had to go to work outside my home, I probably wouldn’t have been able to stick with the routines I had developed in order to stay on the wellness path. I required lots of sleep, little or no interaction with people outside my inner circle, long naps mid-morning, daily walks, blankets piled on my lap. I had to remember to take the supplements at their correct doses and times. And most critically, I had to have the luxury of being able to take my time on assignments. If the editors I worked for at that time had been able to see me at my computer, they would have wondered about my frequent pauses to stare at nothing, my complete spaciness and inability to stay on task! If they hadn’t been utterly disgusted by the ugly rashes on my hands and fingers, they definitely would have been put off by the stammers and slur in my speech. Luckily for me, they never knew, they were usually too busy to talk on the phone, and I was somehow always able to meet my deadlines.

I think many of us get to a point in our healing where we look into alternatives because conventional therapies either haven’t worked, they aren’t enough, or they’re simply not affordable or available. I’ve often thought that hey, if there’s something, anything, I can do to speed up this healing process, let me at it.

I’ve also read about the essential oils by Young Living and looked into them a little. At one point, someone gave me several tiny bottles of elixirs that I tried. Alternative doctors, alternative medicines, and holistic or complementary therapies are familiar terms, even to those of us who prefer Western medicine. But we often read about or hear these terms referred to without knowing or really understanding what is meant by them. We’ll explore and define these terms in subsequent posts.

All good wishes to you my friend.
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Managing chronic Lyme symptoms

If you have chronic Lyme, or post-Lyme symptoms, like I do, it's up to you to raise your awareness and change your behavior if you need to. You can't depend on your doctor to tell you to start an exercise program, give up sugar, stop drinking pop, and never touch a glass a wine. You have to make those decisions yourself. Okay, some doctors may counsel you to exercise, but speaking generally, they won't bother. It's not their job. It is their job to find the pathology and fix it, not to counsel you in preventing chronic illness.

Most chronic disease (perhaps including chronic Lyme) is a result of long-term behaviors, including diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors. This should come as no surprise. Habits may be hard to break, but if getting healthy is our goal, we do ourselves a disservice when we don't recognize the problems caused by our own repeated behavior. Complementary and Alternative medical practitioners, such as nutritionists, acupuncturists and nurse practitioners are generally aware of this. Many perhaps most, Western doctors are not.

My own experience has taught me this. Eating sugary food or drinking alcohol is one example. I've been living with so-called chronic Lyme for 6 years now. When I make the choice to eat those cookies, knock back that beer, stress out from overworking, or skip the gym for days on end, my body reacts. I can ignore the obvious cause and effect. I can attribute the flare-ups and Lyme-brain to the capricious Borrelia infection, or I can take responsibility for giving the infection an advantage. I can choose to recognize my own culpability, and next time the cookies are passed around or my friend wants to pour me a glass of wine, I can simply say no thanks. What may have begun with a Borrelia infection from a tick bite can be exacerbated by habitual behaviors that continue unchecked for years or even many decades. Nothing about chronic Lyme is simple. There is even controversy over calling it 'chronic Lyme.' But one thing seems clear. Medicine alone cannot cure a person suffering with long-term Lyme symptoms. We need to approach healing from multiple levels.

Success stories are published here for many reasons. We need the inspiration, the 'atta girl/boy' pat on the back, for one thing. For another, we want a recipe. 'How did that person do it? What protocol did she or he follow? If they can do it, maybe there is hope for me.'

Managing chronic Lyme disease is dicey, no question about it. But there are many ways to prevent the problems we know are lurking, by making intelligent choices and stopping behavior known to increase the problems. One way to begin raising your awareness around habits that may be hurting you is to see what the Lyme experts say about it. If you think for one minute that drinking alcohol is okay when you have a Lyme infection, just check out what Dr. Burrascano has to say about it.

Dr. Burrascano's bullet list for chronic Lyme:

CHRONIC LYME- Treatment Issues
• In chronic Lyme Disease, active infection may persist despite prior antibiotic therapy
• Relapses do occur and retreatment is often needed
• Repeated or prolonged antibiotic therapy usually is necessary
• High doses of antibiotics are needed, and blood levels should be confirmed wherever possible
• Antibiotic combinations usually are necessary
• Check for co-infections and immune status, and treat appropriately
• May need to rotate through different regimens based on response
• If the CD-57 count is not normal at the end of treatment, then continued illness or a relapse is likely
• May not cure the infection, and may need repeated or open-ended maintenance therapy
• Signs of persistence of infection:
– continued fevers, synovitis
– four week cycles, migrating symptoms
– PCR positivity and low CD-57 counts
• As symptoms wind down, I DO NOT cut the dose, for resistance may develop
• Aggressive supportive therapy is required- and search for any other possible cause of a weakened host:
– Toxin exposure, heavy metal poisoning, malnutrition, endocrine dysfunction, other illnesses, severe or ongoing stress
• Progressively increase exercise program as the symptoms of Lyme decrease
– Exercise is vital and required, or a full recovery will not occur
– Not exercising will increase risk of a relapse

* This post was modified by the editor on 11.24.10.

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Ever reached a crossroads in treatment?

Have you or your Lyme doctor chosen to supplement or substitute your treatment using herbal therapies, homeopathic remedies, or other alternative treatments? Over the years, I've noticed that a fair number of people who are undergoing Lyme treatment at some point decide to switch to, or at least try, herbal remedies, traditional Chinese medicine, rifing, super-oxygenation, or other alternatives to conventional antibiotic treatments. It seems that a lot of us reach a crossroads at some point in our healing journey, and have to make an important decision.

In my case, I treated with heavy doses of antibiotics for six months, and over that time period I slowly emerged from the hell of the symptoms I was experiencing. I'd been diagnosed in a late stage of Lyme, and the treatment had been as hard on my body as the original symptoms, or even worse. Actually it was impossible to tell which was worse, the treatment, which made me re-experience the original symptoms, or the sickness itself. After six months of treatment I had returned to work and was feeling generally better, but was unable to continue antibiotics for financial reasons. I reached the end of that six-month period and although I was relieved to get off the antibiotics, my doc was clearly worried about a relapse. I kept up my herbal and vitamin supplements, which were super-expensive but proving to be well worth the cost. I was curious about Samento, so I started Dr Cowden's herbal antibiotic protocol as soon as possible after I took my last conventional pill. I've always been proactive regarding staying healthy, so getting enough sleep, regular exercise and eating a good quality Mediterranean diet are my staples.

For many reasons (not only financial), Lyme patients decide to try herbs, or many other types of treatment such as HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen treatment), rife machines, Vitamin C and salt, or other compelling treatments. For example, Matthew Wood, the renowned herbalist I spoke with a couple weeks ago, tells us he's treating Lyme successfully with the common herb, teasel, and that instead of killing the bacteria, teasel warms up the body's environment and lures the bacteria out from its hiding places to be killed off by the body's own immune defense system.

In some cases, people I've talked to say they simply had an inner compulsion to switch up treatments. Evidence exists to support changing types of antibiotics because the Lyme bacteria will grow accustomed to one type of treatment, and just stop responding to it.

How did you or your doctor respond when you reached such a crossroads in your Lyme treatment? If you made changes in your treatment along the way, how did your switch effect you? Has it been positive, challenging, or pushed you into a new level of healing?

 
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Treatment issues for children with Lyme

Dr Charles Ray Jones is a man with three ordinary names - yet he couldn't be any more extraordinary in his service to chronically ill patients, the children he treats every single day.

A reader sent a note last week that brought tears to my eyes -- the joyful kind.

Here is part of her note:

"My 11 year old is now under the care of Dr. Jones and is making incredible progress in his path to wellness. I appreciate what you are doing. Thank you for being willing to get the word out. What a frustrating journey this has been but I finally have my medical support system in place. It took a while. I was told by an infectious disease specialist in Maine that I was crazy and that my son was perfectly healthy. Dr. Jones is a saint and he has given my little boy his life back. He is again running and climbing trees and happy and bubbly...a far cry from last year at this time. I wish all of you the best and again, thank you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving."

Unfortunately, too many moms can relate to being told by a medical professional that there is nothing wrong with their kid, when the reality is that if Lyme bacteria is present, treatment could restore the child's health (and the mother's sanity).

Dr Jones has been called (by a colleague of his), "an international treasure - a courageous, selfless, inspirational, and outstandingly gifted clinician who has helped thousands of the most severely ill children with Lyme disease from around the world to regain their health and their lives."
r Charles Ray Jones: upcoming interview">
Dr Jones talked with me a few weeks ago, about Connecticut Governor Rell's June 2009 decision to allow doctors to treat Lyme disease. He also talked about the significance of the recent IDSA Lyme treatment guidelines hearing in Washington, DC, and the future of Lyme disease treatment.

Listen to the interview in the member’s portal.
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Dr Burrascano's Lyme treatment guidelines

Looking for diagnostic hints and treatment guidelines? I want to call your attention to Dr Burrascano's Treatment Guidelines. Click on this link:

Advanced Topics in Lyme Disease

If you're struggling with Lyme, this no-nonsense PDF will give you a reference and perhaps even a place to start. Among other things, you'll find a list of supplements that may be very helpful, along with a reminder to exercise if at all possible. Gentle strength training is necessary to rebuild your muscles and help restore your energy level. In addition, exercise can raise the core body temperature and oxygenate the blood. The Lyme bacteria may be a tough bug to kill, but two things that can do the job for sure are heat and oxygen.


Dr Burrascano writes:

Despite antibiotic treatments, patients will NOT return to normal unless they exercise! This is because in most cases the chronic Lyme patient is deconditioned. More importantly, a properly executed exercise program becomes part of the treatment, as it can actually go beyond the antibiotics in helping to clear the symptoms and to maintain a remission.
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Clashing views at the IDSA hearing

Thursday's day-long IDSA hearing in Washington DC offered a fascinating glimpse into the opposing perspectives on Lyme disease treatment. Scattered into the testimony were flashes of tension and emotion. If you crave power point presentations, it was right up your alley. It was also an exercise in stamina for the participants. The entire hearing will be archived online for one year at idsociety.org.

As the hearing proceeded, I was most interested in the tension developing between the presenters' testimonies. For example, Eugene Shapiro, MD, a Lyme disease specialist at Yale University, stated that he thinks it is very important to engage in additional research about how to help persons suffering from medically unexplained symptoms. He also stated that in his view, there is "no scientific justification for changing current IDSA recommendations related to duration of antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease."

Then came Brian Fallon, MD, of Columbia Medical School. Notably, Dr Fallon began his presentation by stating that he is not a member of either IDSA or ILADS. He's a psychiatrist belonging to the American Psychiatric Association. In direct opposition to Dr Shapiro's statement, Dr Fallon referred to a blind study in which repeated antibiotic treatment has been found to be effective, yet is not recommended due to the risks. He also made it clear that repeated antibotics have been shown to be effective for the fatigue associated with Lyme disease. However, not for pain or any of the other symptoms related to Lyme.

Dr Fallon suggested that doctors could approach this risk factor by talking to patients about the risks. Discussing the risks of medications is something, he says, doctors do every day. He also mentioned that the testing has only been done on two specific antibiotics, and added that it might be a mistake to make recommendations based on those tests about antibiotics in general.

The most emotional moment of the hearing (that I saw) occurred when Dr Ken Liegner, ILADS member, showed a video clip of his patient Vicki Logan from June 22, 2001. Vicki had sought all kinds of treatment, according to Dr Liegner, in trying to deal with what he reminded the panel is still to be considered a "formidable pathogen." As the result of a misdiagnoses, she had been given coricosteroids early in her treatment. After all her treatment, spirochetes were found in her pericardium (the thin membrane that surrounds the heart).

The video was evidently recorded as Vicki lay dying in a hospital bed. She is so weak with advanced Lyme disease that you can barely make out the words as she says, "I hope that what happened to me will benefit others who wind up in the same situation." She also had words of praise for Dr Liegner, telling him on-camera that without his help she wouldn't even have lived as long as she did. It was a tearful moment for me.

I'm curious about your opinion. Does your doctor (or doctors) talk to you about the risks involved in the treatment options for Lyme disease?
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Alternative Lyme treatments

A friend asked for some advice about her Lyme protocol. She doesn't want to take antibiotics and would like to attempt an all-natural Lyme protocol.

I reminded her that I don't give advice. I'm an editor, not a doctor, and besides, it seems to me that depending on what stage of the disease you have, the symptoms of Lyme and the specific quirks of our immune systems truly complicate the challenge. The more people I interview about their experience with Lyme and its co-infections, the more I find out that I don't know. You've heard that old saying about the moment you recognize that you don't know anything is the beginning of wisdom? It's like that.

Although many of the Lyme-aware doctors we've interviewed for the "Interviews with Experts" series prescribe antibiotics for Lyme disease treatment, many people dealing with this multistage illness have incorporated other protocols into their routine at one point or another. Herbal tinctures, nutritional supplements and oxygen therapy are good examples of alternative or additional treatments, and I've had reports of excellent results with various combinations of these. Rife therapy has reportedly helped a lot of Lyme patients as well.

I've written about Dr Lee Cowden's herbal protocol in a special issue about Lyme protocols in the Townsend Letter, and he's featured in our Experts series. I'm interested in hearing more about the results of Dr Richard Horowitz's protocol, because he incorporates some of the Cowden herbs, and we're looking forward to adding his voice to our series.

I told my friend that the best advice I could offer is to tune in to the experts, and also listen to a catalog of stories about people from all walks of life, rich and poor, old and young, who have battled the tiger and now live vital, post-Lyme lives. I believe everyone has something to teach us, and that everyone is at least partially right. It's our job to decipher what's right, and what works, for us on our individual healing journeys.

I have had profound results from Dr Cowden's protocol. However, when I was first diagnosed my doctor insisted that I take antibiotics, which I remained on for six months.

I'm moved by my friend's sincere quest to heal from Lyme without going the pharmaceutical route. So, I thought I'd post this question to you: Have you had significant and long-lasting results from purely herbal protocols, such as the treatments recommended by Dr Lee Cowden, or Herbalist Stephen Buhner?
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Lyme docs OK'd to treat with long-term antibiotics

Governor signs bill, shielding doctors in treatment of Lyme disease


It's Monday, and I've got good news. Let's all acknowledge this nod of compassion in Lyme disease treatment and send thank you notes in support of this decision made by the governor of Connecticut.

The following is an excerpt of a June 21, 2009 article by Jack Sanders in the Ridgefield Press.com:

Governor M. Jodi Rell said Sunday she has signed a bill allowing doctors to prescribe long-term antibiotics in the treatment of persistent Lyme disease – outside of standard guidelines – without fear of sanctions from state health regulators if the patient’s clinical diagnosis of the tick-borne disease and treatment have been documented by a licensed physician.

“Doctors in Connecticut – the absolute epicenter of Lyme disease – can continue to do what is best for their patients suffering from this complex illness. I think most people know someone who has been infected,” Governor Rell said. “The bill also recognizes that Lyme disease patients must have the freedom to choose which remedy or regimen best meets their needs.”

House Bill 6200, which gained broad bipartisan support in the Legislature, was prompted by an ongoing debate in the medical community. Some health organizations have questioned the existence of chronic Lyme disease and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has cautioned against the long-term use of antibiotics. Some physicians were hesitant to treat patients outside the IDSA guidelines because of potential reprimands from medical boards and insurance companies.

“Doctors will have the right to use treatment guidelines based on their clinical experience and best medical judgment,” Governor Rell said. “This bill does not, however, shield any physician who provides substandard care.”
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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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MSNBC prints story of Lyme suicide

MSNBC has posted a heartrending story by NBC news producer John Baiata about the suicide of his beloved sister Sue, who could no longer bear the pain she suffered from chronic Lyme Disease. Our thanks goes out to the Baiata family and to MSNBC for sharing this painful story. I urge our readers to drop them an email thanking and supporting them for helping us bring this issue to the greater public.

I know I'm not the only one of us who was moved (to tears) also by the overwhelming number of intense responses to the story. Among them was a statement by Pat Smith, reminding readers that children are at the greatest risk for Lyme, and that a valuable bill in support of Lyme disease research is still mired in political muck. Here is a partial quote of her comment:

"Another Congressman, Christopher Smith (NJ), who introduced the bill, HR 1179, said last year on the floor of the House, regarding Lyme disease, there is a "cover-up.” We echo that 1000 times over. MSNBC, I hope you will put all the power and resources you possess behind exposing that cover-up soon, as children ages 5-9 and 10-14 are at the greatest risk of acquiring Lyme disease, and the prevailing attitude is allowing government agencies to remove children from mothers who are having them treated with ANTIBIOTICS for Lyme disease by LICENSED physicians.

Meanwhile, our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the Baiata family. Many of us have experienced preventable suffering and tragedy due to this disease. However, the tragedy is usually not due to Lyme disease itself but to politics, cover-up, vested interests, and bias, often a much bigger threat than the Borrelia burgdorferi organism causing Lyme disease, which we could overcome if the cover-up were exposed fully in the light of day."


- Quoted from MSNBC.com article by John Baiata, All she lost: My sister's battle with Lyme disease, from a comment made by Pat Smith, President, Lyme Disease Association
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Anti-inflammatory diet can help

Inflammation is an immune system response to stress and toxins. Our bodies deal with Lyme infection by sending more blood to the irritated areas. The main features of inflammation are redness, swelling and pain.

It's difficult to eliminate the borrelia bacteria, so inflammation results, causing pain and wrecking all sorts of other havoc. On top of that, we must deal with the psychological or physical stress caused by the pain. And aside from the toxins that accompany and make up the borrelia bacterial complex, dealing with environmental toxins is generally a daily effort.

Antibiotics and herbal protocols are excellent help, but what else can be done about inflammation? This is where some people with chronic illnesses turn a critical eye on their diet and nutrition. And many claim that an anti-inflammatory diet can be a huge help in maximizing their healing protocols and helping to alleviate the intensity of Lyme symptoms and flaring herxes.

So, you're starting to feel a little normal after such a long fight with Lyme. Don't surrender to that deep dish cheese pizza! (Of course, a little treat now and then does the body good.) Steam delicious veggies instead, such as Swiss chard, kale, or mustard greens. Fix organic brown rice or rice noodles to go with them. If you can tolerate it, a bite of organic dark chocolate can make a yummy dessert.

Watch this blog for interviews with nutritionists and herbalists who work with Lyme patients, and delectable recipes for an anti-inflammatory diet. Remember, you don't have to change the way you eat forever -- you just have to give your body a break for a while, so your immune system response can strengthen. Eliminating foods made with wheat and dairy -- or at least, limiting them -- may boost your energy and reduce inflammation and pain.
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Expert Interview Series: Carol Fisch Part 2

We've just uploaded Part 2 of the interview with expert Lyme disease researcher, advocate and activist Carol Fisch. Adjunct Professor Emeritus of Laboratory Science, Carol discusses her experiences studying and teaching about the bacterial complex, Borrelia burgdorferi. Her students often ask her to give a simple explanation of Lyme. Below is a bit of her answer. For a more in-depth discussion please login and listen to the entire interview.

A simple explanation of Lyme disease in not possible, as Lyme is not a simple disease. It is not just an infection with Borrelia burgdorferi the causative agent of Lyme disease. We are dealing with an illness complicated by multiple infectious agents; many of them are immune suppressive.

The immune system has difficulty in detecting the organisms that cause Lyme due to multiple factors, not least of all, its ability to change shape in order to survive -- surely one of its best tricks.

From the moment the Borrelia burgdorferi complex enters the body, it has the ability to clock itself into our own DNA proteins. When hit by anything threatening its survival, it can go into cell wall deficient (CWD) stages or into the cyst stage, where it is protected from antibiotics and the immune system. An activated immune system, where the body is trying to find an enemy and can't, leads to reactivation of Herpes Virus 1 - 6, and auto immune issues.
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Immune system support

A few subscribers have said they're curious about my own particular healing protocol. We all know that there's no silver bullet where Lyme is concerned (although we wish) and that what works for your cousin or someone on your Lyme forum may not work for you, and vice verse. So keep that in mind. For the record, I feel great these days -- nearly normal (what a concept! Was I ever?). My routine is a blend of Dr. Cowden's and master herbalist Stephen Buhner's Lyme protocols, with a handful of other stuff thrown in for good measure. I get enough sleep, eat organic vegetables and fruits, try to exercise every day, and take probiotics.

One thing that I've learned from my own experience, as well as from talking to Lyme specialists and others who are healing, is that when you take antibiotics you must replace the friendly bacterial flora in dryour gut. Otherwise, "you can cause problems for yourself that are just as harmful as the Lyme symptoms themselves," says cardiologist and Lyme researcher Dr. Lee Cowden, whose herbal protocol for Lyme disease has helped many people. Even long after you stop taking antibiotics, probiotics can assist in bringing balance to your intestines. The intestines play a central role in the human immune system, and getting better is in many ways dependent on supporting the immune system.

So I want to mention something else I also take daily, a lactobacillus-based supplement that supports my immune system. I take 2 to 4 capsules daily, more if I feel stressed. It's called Del Immune V. A friend of mine sent me some when I first got diagnosed and I haven't been without it since. She takes it religiously too, as part of her protocol for hepatitis C. I have seen its effect on her, and the stuff is good. It seems to banish dark circles under her eyes, and best of all it seems to help lift her back to her natural wise, warm and witty self.

Although I haven't taken pharmaceutical antibiotics for two years, I've continued to take this high quality probiotic from Bulgaria. Although I may run out of other supplements and let them slide from time to time, I try to never go without Del Immune. It's made from a strain of lactic acid bacteria -- lactobacillus -- more precisely known as Lactobacillus rhamnosus, DV strain. The lactobacillus is cultured, then digested with natural enzymes that are an exact match to the enzymes in the human intestine, creating a product that is made of cell wall fragments containing pieces of cell DNA.

No silver bullets, but smart choices. Like eating organic and treating your tummy, and your immune system, with care.
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Stephen Buhner's DIY massage oil

For a treat, I asked herbalist, author and teacher Stephen Harrod Buhner to share a simple DIY recipe to help ease arthritis pain. Not only will it help reduce the pain, it smells wonderful! Plus, it's easy to make with simple ingredients you can find in a good healthy grocery store or co-op. And as the weather turns crispy heading into fall, a soothing massage will warm achy joints.

Stephen's book Healing Lyme, is much appreciated by many Lyme patients who can't tolerate antibiotics, or who suffer from chronic Lyme disease, have already reached their limit with standard Lyme treatment, or are simply looking for an alternative to Western medicine. He's a wonderful ally to have as we journey through our various healing paths. These are Stephen's recent books:

The Secret Teachings of Plants:
The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature
(Bear and Company, 2004)

Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme Borrelosis and its related Co-infections
(Raven Press, June 2005)

Stephen Harrod Buhner's Arthritis massage oil formula:

Use essential oils and a carrier oil. Stephen says he normally uses olive oil as a carrier, though a lot of people prefer jojoba, which is lighter and less fragrant. The amount of essential oil used in the mix can be adjusted up or down depending on personal preference.

1) 8 ounces olive oil (or jojoba oil)
2) 1/4 tsp each of the following essential oils: juniper, lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, German or Roman chamomile. (Alternatively, you can use peppermint, ginger, thyme, geranium)
3) Mix well.
4) Put into glass bottle, keep protected from sunlight.
5) When needed just pour a bit into the hand and massage into the affected area.
6) Let it work, takes a little while for it to penetrate the tissues.
7) Do not take internally.
8) Do not get on sensitive areas - i.e. eyes, reproductive organs, etc. or any areas of abraded skin.

Stephen Buhner's website is called Gaian Studies. He's featured in our experts interview series, talking about the challenges to Lyme diagnosis and treatment, and discussing his herbal approach to healing. Join here to listen.
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$25,000 for Lyme research

I'm pleased to pass along a bright spot of news for chronic Lyme disease sufferers. According to an article in today's MarketWatch, researchers at a biotechnology company were gifted by an anonymous donor with $25,000 towards a new study to try to unlock the mystery of Lyme disease. Why do antibiotics only cure some cases of Lyme?

Researchers at Viral Genetics, Inc., are hoping to answer that question and more.

The article continues:
Research on chronic Lyme Disease, including symptoms related to the central nervous system and arthritis, has generated inconclusive and controversial results. Some researchers contend Lyme is driven by chronic infection and recommend patients be treated with antibiotics for the long term. Others support the hypothesis that the disease is the result of autoimmune T-cell activation that occurs subsequent to the initial infection or after the infection has cleared.

"Our hopes are that the information acquired from this very important study, may act as a bridge between those who contend that Lyme Disease is an active chronic infection and those who feel it is an autoimmune trigger. The answer to this question is of great importance for all those suffering in the Lyme community. Only through this information can we begin to formulate more successful treatment regimens for the chronically ill," said Dr. Steven Harris, co-investigator, Associate Professor Stanford University.
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Chronic Lyme Disease

Chronic Lyme disease is controversial. It is what appears to affect those of us who still suffer from Lyme symptoms after finishing a standard IDSA recommended dosage of antibiotics. In some cases, chronic Lyme manifests in Lyme patients who received antibiotics for treatment, but weren't given a strong enough dose for a long enough time.

Some Lyme symptoms seem almost livable. Tinnitus, for example. Talking from personal experience only, I can live with it. This is not to say that I like it. On the contrary. I'm a classically trained musician, peculiarly sensitive to noise. You know those people who wince at the out-of-tune piano at the community concert? That would be me. I'm not exactly proud of that, just sayin'. So, losing my hearing partially to tinnitus has really sliced into my enjoyment of natural sounds. The tinnitus might go away some day. For now, it sure seems chronic. There are metallic crickets playing at varying volumes inside my head, 24/7.

Other chronic Lyme symptoms are far more serious. For example, medical evidence suggests that rheumatoid arthritis is one result of untreated, or undertreated Lyme disease. As many as 60% of people with untreated Lyme may develop chronic arthritis.

Central nervous problems, such as facial paralysis and meningitis are said to occur in 10 to 20% of people who are undertreated or never treated for Lyme.

Heart symptoms occur in a small percentage of Lyme patients. A jumpy, pounding irregular heart can vary the gamut from being not at all bothersome, to very scary. The jumpiness can occur either because of an infection in the heart, or an electrical conduction that requires the patient have a pacemaker implanted.

Chronic Lyme is controversial because doctors don't all agree that these long-term symptoms of Lyme are indeed still considered Lyme. Whatever you call them, they need to be tended to.

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Lyme disease in dogs

Are you and your dog both at risk for Lyme? It's terrible to think so, yet those energizing hikes through the forest that you and your canine pal adore may be putting you at a greater risk for infection. Even if you're not a frequent hiker, you know how man's best friend loves to rummage through the bushes around the edge of the yard and snuffle through piles of leaves. Hedges and leaf piles are prime hiding spots for ticks.

Lyme is endemic in the northeastern US, and increasing incidences of the illness are being reported in northern California and the Pacific northwest. Dogs living in other parts of the country may be at less of a risk for exposure. But before you allow yourself to believe your dog is out of the woods (so to speak), bear in mind that Lyme infection has been reported in every state.

Lyme in dogs manifests differently than in humans. When bitten by an infected tick, 30 - 50% of people will develop a skin rash and flu-like symptoms. However, dogs are not likely to develop symptoms for many weeks or months. Your dog might exhibit signs of arthritis from painful joint inflammation, or he might run a fever. Your veterinarian can prescribe a course of antibiotics such as doxycycline or Amoxicillin, which many dogs respond well to. As in humans, all the bacteria may not be killed with this course. Long term or chronic Lyme may or may not be a problem for our beloved buddies.

  • According to an article by Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DipABVP Educational Director of VeterinaryPartner.com, dogs do not tend to develop neurologic or heart issues.
  • However, kidney disease may occur in response to stimulation by latent pathogens over a long period of time.

Preventing Lyme infection might be possible with the use of powerful tick repellents and collars. However, even if you use these agents you should take the time to check your dog daily for ticks whenever you think there has been exposure. There is no hard evidence to prove that a tick must be attached for 48 hours before it can spew its Lyme bacteria into the animal on which it's feeding. If the tick is disturbed while feeding, it may dump its toxins into the bloodstream of the host animal.

  • If you find a tick on your pet, grasp the tick firmly but gently with a tweezers and pull it straight out without twisting or turning it.
  • Never suffocate the tick by putting anything on it, such as Vaseline or soap. Doing so may cause it to unload its bacteria before you remove it.


The bad news is that diagnosing Lyme disease in dogs is as tricky as it is for humans. Spirochetes are notorious for being able to hide masterfully from the host's immune system. Therefore, detecting antibodies to the Lyme bacteria is nearly impossible. If you and your vet suspect that your furry buddy might have Lyme, the good news is that a 2 - 4 week course of antibiotics should bring your pet relief from symptoms quickly, within 48 hours.
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Waiting room - Lyme story

I was sitting in the crowded, stuffy waiting room, when the guy seated across the aisle started talking.

"I got a rash all over my chest," he said to no one in particular. "They gave me the wrong blood pressure medicine," he continued. "Can you believe that? I can't sleep, it itches so bad." He went on explaining the details of his story and the painful rash, eventually reaching up as if to unbutton his shirt to prove it. I buried my nose in my magazine. The man stopped, looked around to see if anyone was listening. No one was. He leaned toward me. "What's wrong with you?" he said. "You don't look sick."

My long skirt hid the white gauze bandages wrapped around both shins from ankle to knee. Beneath the gauze, the skin on my legs was hamburger from a mysterious rash that had been getting worse over the course of the past eight months. I'd been practically living on an alkaline diet, including lunches of delectable dandelion greens, and downing numerous turmeric capsules, since a holistic doctor had told me that I had eczema. I didn't drink, smoke, and I could count on one hand the times I'd taken antibiotics in my entire lifetime. I wasn't the type to get eczema, and that diagnosis had taken me by surprise. Even so, I religiously followed the doctor's suggestions. Still, I'd had no luck with the nasty rash. When the pain became so vicious that I could no longer even walk, my boyfriend drove me to the ER. Before walking into the waiting room, I'd spent the weekend on IV antibiotics. The ER docs informed us that I had almost died from a staph infection on the verge of going septic.

The man may not have noticed the cane leaning next to my purse. I smiled weakly. "I don't know," I shrugged. He narrowed his eyes, as if I was withholding something he deserved to know. Then he nodded and sat back.

My heart leaped at odd intervals, like a fish jumping in a shallow stream, making it hard to catch a deep breath. The one fan circulating in the room didn't do much to relieve the stuffiness. The dull headache I'd had for a week seemed worse under the florescent lights and the blaring TV high on the wall. An attendant in a green tunic appeared from the hallway and glanced at her clipboard. When she called my name, I stood and steadied myself with the cane and proceeded to walk as well as I could toward the hall. Vertigo gripped me, making me lose my balance. I almost bumped into the knees of the man with the rash. "M.S.," he muttered.

I stepped on the scale in the hall. The attendant adjusted it and recorded my weight. In the doctor's office, she took my blood pressure, handed me a hospital gown and left the room. I sat on the stainless steel table under the glare of the florescent lights, and waited again. So this is what public health care looks like, I thought. What was wrong with me? I had always been healthy, was always the one to choose carrot sticks over potato chips. On top of that, I was happily in love, and even starting a new business. In a million-zillion years, I never dreamed I'd be in this position. But here I was, in a small California coastal town, in the middle of my life, in such a weakened state that I could barely recognize the thoughts swimming through the thick fog that had descended in my brain.
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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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300 Protest IDSA guidelines

Among the protest signs held up by attendees was a little boy's that read, "All I Want For Christmas is My Medicine."

Reporter Liz Anderson of the Journal News in Westchester, PA, covered the rally which took place on November 30:

Protesters cheered Dr. Joseph Burrascano, vice president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society, which supports the use of long-term antibiotics in some cases and has called on the IDSA to retract the recommendations.

"If they weren't so seriously flawed, I would say it was a joke," he said of the guidelines. He urged those at the rally to fight back "by uncovering the truth."

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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