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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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Genomes of 13 strains Lyme bugs mapped

Lyme can sure be a complicated puzzle. For example, knowing that Lyme is an inflammatory disease is one thing. But knowing what to do about that is quite another.  My personal approach often feels scattershot: add turmeric to my supplemental arsenal. Take daily doses of quercetin. Drink water, exercise, avoid sugar.  But doctors are far from being in agreement about therapies, and health websites and magazines are stuffed with pop advice. Some is helpful, some is contradictory or otherwise confusing.

But what can medical science tell us about dealing with chronic inflammation? There is actually good news in this area from a recent study.

Researchers have mapped the genomes of the 13 strains of bacterium that play the most prominent role in causing Lyme disease. This project may help us understand why a significant number of Lyme patients suffer with a chronic inflammatory response. The study may yield some answers to the problem of inflammation, an auto-immune response. More importantly, it may give us clues about what to do about it.
Apparently the discovery is exciting Lyme researchers because they have found that proteins on the surface of the Borrelia bacterium can signal the immune system by attaching to receptors on the surface of white blood cells. The white blood cells are the ones responsible for fighting off infection.
That tiny attachment triggers production of an external protein that traps and stops other white blood cells from controlling the production of antibodies. When this occurs, antibodies are churned out in large numbers, often non-specifically, which results in inflammation throughout the body.
Researchers conclude that through therapeutic intervention they may be able to detach that external protein, and thereby suppress the inflammatory response.
Here is the abstract of the article, online in the Journal of Bacteriology:

Borrelia burgdorferi
is a causative agent of Lyme disease in North America and Eurasia. The first complete genome sequence of B. burgdorferi strain 31, available for more than a decade, has assisted research on the pathogenesis of Lyme disease. Because a single genome sequence is not sufficient to understand the relationship between genotypic and geographic variation and disease phenotype, we determined the whole genome sequences of 13 additional B. burgdorferi isolates that span the range of natural variation. These sequences should allow improved understanding of pathogenesis and provide a foundation for novel detection, diagnosis, and prevention strategies.

Consider the spirochete: a minute, ancient creature. And yet it can cause so much distress. Something so tiny and simple can wreck such collosol havoc. Now perhaps the discovery of this microscopic external protein, only recently become visible to scientists, can help bring about healing.
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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.com   

"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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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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