Patients ask me this question all the time. We diagnose the disease, we
treat with antibiotics, or herbs, or homeopathics. We feel better. We
stop the treatment. And either we continue to feel better, or we relapse
and have to start all over again.
Is there no way to test whether the spirochete is gone?
The Lyme disease.org website has an excellent article on
diagnosis of Lyme disease.
The National Geographic website has a good description of the deer tick, and the
history of Lyme disease.
Standard Lyme testing includes the following:
- ELISA or IFA test –
- If that test is positive, then a Western Blot test is run
- If 5 out of the 10 possible Lyme bands are positive, you are diagnosed
with Lyme disease
- If fewer than 5 of the 10 possible bands are positive, you are diagnosed
Not all the bands which appear on a Western blot are specific to Lyme disease
– even though one of
those non-specific bands is required by the CDC for diagnosis.
Two of the bands which are specific to Lyme disease are not on the CDC
list of bands required to be positive.
How much sense does that make?
For more detailed information about the IFA and Western blot testing, check out the
There is another test that can give us an idea whether the Lyme disease
is actually gone out of our systems. This is an inflammatory marker, so
it tells us whether there is continued inflammation (presumably caused
by the Lyme bacterium) or whether that inflammation is no longer present.
This test is called “complement split products” – C3a
and C4a may be early markers of Lyme disease and other inflammatory conditions
like multiple sclerosis (which may be nothing more than the result of
infection with the Lyme disease organism).
In one study, all early Lyme disease patients had higher C3a and C4a levels
than the control group.[i] In another study, patients with chronic Lyme disease (and also patients
with AIDS) had normal C3a levels but significantly elevated C4a levels.
And response to antibiotic therapy resulted in a significant decrease
in C4a levels, where lack of response was associated with an increase
in those levels.[ii] This test is not specific to Lyme disease, but at least it is a decent
measure of systemic inflammation.
In order for the spirochetes to survive in the bloodstream, they have to
evade the complement proteins, which are like soldiers produced by the
body to kill invading organisms. Many species of
Borrelia are able to produce a complement regulator called Factor H which effectively
hides them from the body’s complement soldiers.
It is as though the Factor H enables
Borrelia to hide from the blood’s complement proteins in plain sight.[iii] The complement is struck blind, and can no longer “see” the
Borrelia organisms. More and more complement is produced, in an effort
to improve its effectiveness, to no avail if the organisms are not destroyed
somehow – whether by the body’s own immune defenses, or by
Borrelia also appear to express a protein called decorin on its surface. Decorin-protected
organisms are much more infectious than organisms which do not express
decorin. A monoclonal antibody called GB6 has been manufactured, active
against decorin. It protects mice very nicely, but it has not yet been
made available for human use.[iv]
- there are better Western blot tests than the ones used by conventional
- There are tests of inflammation at least a little bit specific to progression
(or regression) of Lyme disease
- It may be possible to determine whether Lyme disease has been treated effectively
by using the tests of inflammation
There is hope for more accurate and adequate testing of this miserable
affliction, and there is even hope for treatment.
Call us if you are looking for effective treatment of Lyme disease. Depending
on the stage of infection, and how well you can function, we have a variety
of treatment programs which can help you heal.