A poignant blog post by David Michael Conner does indeed reflect the unfortunate state of modern medical treatment
of Lyme disease. Aside from the relatively few physicians who have studied
the disease in depth and those who suffer from it themselves, the medical
establishment seems content to follow the 2006 ISDA guidelines which call
the condition “post Lyme disease syndrome”, treating it with
everything except the antibiotics that could cause the condition to heal.
Even apparently open-minded authors talk about “…the suggestion
that an infectious agent continues to cause chronic symptoms” reinforcing
a “tendency for patients to develop illusory patterns of perception
when they lack control.” The articles goes on to state: “Well-meaning
physicians often reinforce a patient’s fixation on the diagnosis
by empirically prescribing antibiotics for those with nonspecific symptoms
and negative or nondiagnostic Lyme serology or those with nonspecific
symptoms and positive Lyme disease serology.”
The medical establishment points out, with good reason, that the chronic
condition which sometimes occurs after treatment of the original
Borrelia burgdorferi infection is ill-defined and often improves with other treatments as well.
The establishment maintains, with less objective reason, that long term
antibiotics are not a viable answer – despite the history of long
term antibiotic therapy of tuberculosis.
Manifestations of Lyme disease are multiple – pleomorphic –
appearing in almost any organ system of the body, depending on where we
are the most vulnerable.
Many treatments have been devised to deal with this horrific illness, including
long-term antibiotics, herbal therapies, homeopathic treatments, bioenergetic
treatments, cognitive-behavioral therapy... None of the treatments appears
to be “the answer” but they do appear to all play a part in
healing from the disease.
International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) has been instrumental in promoting a more rational and comprehensive
treatment approach to the entity known as “chronic Lyme disease”.
One recent editorial in the British Medical Journal framed the medical debate very well. “Recent evidence shedding light
on how spirochaetes of the
Borrelia genus evade host immune defences and survive antibiotic challenge threaten
current beliefs about the persistence of infection, one of the largest
points of contention in the medical community.” Information which
appears to contradict our belief systems is often rejected out of hand,
based on emotion rather than scientific evidence.
There is no denying that when our diet is full of chemicals and non-nutritive
substances like sugar we often do not function at our best levels. If
we make different food choices – colorful vegetables, for instance,
instead of brown cinnamon buns – or mental and physical health often
improve. This is not to say that “Post Lyme Disease Syndrome”
is due to poor food choices. But food choices are certainly a contributing factor.
When are bodies are full of toxins, it is like trying to drive a car when
the fuel lines are clogged – the engine does not run so well.
These toxins may include heavy metals like lead (from leaded gas in years
gone by), mercury (from the “silver” fillings in our teeth
– or our mothers’ teeth – or from the vaccinations which
we received), cadmium (from cigarettes, ours or out mothers’) or
arsenic (from well water or rice). They may also include glyphosate –
the major ingredient in RoundUp® found in grains, corn, soybeans,
cottonseed oil – which inflames our gut and our brains. Toxins may
simply be chemicals which are put into our “foods” to make
them more palatable (like MSG, monosodium glutamate) or easier to store
and sell. For instance, there are chemicals in our “bread”
which increase the shelf life (like potassium bromate which also decreases
platelet count) or bleach the flour (like azodicarbonamide which causes
asthma) or improve the volume of risen bread (like DATEM, Diacetyl Tartaric
Acid Esters of Monoglycerides which causes fibrosis in the heart muscle).
None of these additives make the bread more nutritious, they simply make
it easier to store on the shelf and to sell in the stores.
Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete image courtesy of Bigstoack Photos
The organism which causes Lyme disease,
Borrelia burgdorferi, aka
Bb, is very clever – in that it appears to attack us where we are the
most vulnerable. If we have history of joint disease, or excessive physical
activity, or family history of arthritis, the organism will likely settle
in our joints. If we have a history of anxiety or panic attacks, or family
history of mental disturbance, it will likely settle in our brains and
One of our patients first came to us at about the age of 19 with seizures
which improved with doxycycline treatment. She was a college student who
was forced to drop out of school because of her illness. She received
IV antibiotic therapy for over a year, together with nutritional therapy,
supplements to improve her baseline nutritional status, chelation therapy
to eliminate heavy metals, magnesium therapy to keep her from having any
more seizures. Her comment now that she is finally healthy, is: “Never
give up, never lose hope that there is a cure.” She has been off
antibiotics for over a year, continues with healthy food choices, comes
to the office occasionally for vitamin infusions, and has a life which
she enjoys very much. She has graduated from college and is pursuing a
Treatment of Lyme disease, once it has taken root in the system, is a lengthy
process. But there is definitely hope for a cure. It is simply a matter
of cleaning up the system to the point where our own immune systems can
handle foreign invaders without having to destroy us in the process. And
if that means using antibiotics for a year, then so be it. Health is a
priceless condition which takes effort to maintain. It is so much less
expensive in the long run to be healthy than to be chronically ill. Too
bad the Infectious Disease Society of America and insurance companies
don’t appear to agree.
 Garakani A, Mitton AG.
New-Onset Panic, Depression with Suicidal Thoughts, and Somatic Symptoms
in a Patient with a History of Lyme Disease. Case Rep Psychiatry. 015; 2015: 457947. Lyme Disease, or Lyme Borreliosis, caused by
Borrelia burgdorferi and spread by ticks, is mainly known to cause arthritis and neurological
disorders but can also cause psychiatric symptoms such as depression and
anxiety. We present a case of a 37-year-old man with no known psychiatric
history who developed panic attacks, severe depressive symptoms and suicidal
ideation, and neuromuscular complaints including back spasms, joint pain,
myalgias, and neuropathic pain. These symptoms began 2 years after being
successfully treated for a positive Lyme test after receiving a tick bite.
During inpatient psychiatric hospitalization his psychiatric and physical
symptoms did not improve with antidepressant and anxiolytic treatments.
The patient's panic attacks resolved after he was discharged and then,
months later, treated with long-term antibiotics for suspected “chronic
Lyme Disease” (CLD) despite having negative Lyme titers. He however
continued to have subsyndromal depressive symptoms and chronic physical
symptoms such as fatigue, myalgias, and neuropathy. We discuss the controversy
surrounding the diagnosis of CLD and concerns and considerations in the
treatment of suspected CLD patients with comorbid psychiatric diagnoses.