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What is Borrelia?


If you enjoy the outdoors, then you know that ticks can be found everywhere, and tick bites are a fairly constant threat due to their propensity to carry Lyme disease. This mystifying disease is still being heavily researched because so little is still known about it, but what is known is that it can be passed via microbes which ticks are carriers for. One of these microbes that can be particularly dangerous is known as Borrelia, which is often misunderstood due to its difficulty to pinpoint and detect in patients. Let’s take a closer look at this microbe and learn why it’s such major issue.

What is Borrelia?

When a tick bites someone, they may inject them with a number of microbes, including different bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. The vast majority of these will be attacked by your body’s immune system and you’ll never even notice the risk was there. However, it’s not uncommon for some of these bacteria to sit dormant and go without showing any symptoms for years. Borrelia is one of these types of bacteria.

Once the symptoms start emerging, the illness could quickly escalate into symptoms of Lyme disease, but if the carrier’s immune system is in robust health and working well, someone who harbors these bacteria could never show the symptoms or suffer from any of this bacteria’s harmful effects.

Borrelia is not a single organism but in fact a name for a whole family of them. To date, there are more than 20 known species of this bacteria that can cause human illness—it’s not uncommon for those who have Lyme disease to have at least two of them.

What You Need to Know

Borrelia may sound serious, but it’s actually very rarely life-threatening. In fact, Borrelia is far more known for being the cause of a lot of the symptoms that cause you misery. Severe fatigue, brain fog, aching bones, burning feet, tingling feelings in your hands, skin rashes, chest pain, poor sleep, and even heart palpitations could all be signs of Lyme disease that could be caused by Borrelia.

Unfortunately, it could prove extremely difficult to make Borrelia go away. In fact, serious cases have been shown to make someone miserable for a lifetime. But it’s also not the only microbe that can cause these problems. In fact, ticks transmit hundreds of different species of stealth-type microbes like Borrelia with each bite, and you may not even realize you’re harboring some of them.

This means detecting Lyme disease and Borrelia is extremely difficult: lab tests are notoriously unreliable, and that means treatment is usually nothing more than educated guesses at best.

Antibiotic Treatment

When you suffer from these types of symptoms, it would seem logical that antibiotics would make a good treatment to take care of whatever might be causing the problem, right? Well, success is usually mixed, and antibiotics actually are fairly limited in their ability to treat chronic Lyme disease. There are a few reasons why:

  • Borrelia is highly-evasive: It might seem strange to think of a microscopic organism as intelligent, but this might be as close as it gets. Borrelia moves in and out of the blood stream quickly, finding refuge in sensitive tissues like your joint cartilage, brain, and nerve tissue. Using its corkscrew shape, it can penetrate into these cells and gain protection from your immune system and antibiotic treatments. If it can’t get out in time, it rolls up into a dormant cyst and rides out the storm.
  • Borrelia is a master of camouflage: Your human body contains trillions of microbes that make up the “microbiome.” Many of these microbes are beneficial and help your body perform its normal functions. Borrelia is excellent and blending in with the microbiome—it scavenges just enough resources to survive and then lays low, making treatment difficult. As a result, it grows slowly, making it virtually immune to antibiotics medications which primarily attack large, rapidly growing bacterial cell colonies.
  • Borrelia doesn’t act alone: There are many different stealthy microbes that also occupy space in the microbiome, such as Mycoplasma, Chlamydia, Bartonella, EBV, CMV and more. These other microbes make it so that Borrelia could sneak into your system undetected.
  • Antibiotics disrupt your immune system: Antibiotics do more than simply attack harmful bacteria: they attack all bacteria, including those which actually help you and boost your immune system. Often times a lot of microbes simply win out over antibiotic treatment by being persistent, not aggressive.

If you are showing signs that you may have contracted Lyme disease or traditional treatment, the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine can help! We provide a highly-diversified approach to the functional medicine process to help you get on the road to recovery and wellness faster. We treat all illnesses with a wide variety of medical practices, schools of thought, and healing techniques in order to treat more than just the immediate symptoms of your issue.

If you’re suffering from symptoms of Lyme disease, call Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine today at (480) 418-0220 to request an appointment and start getting the treatment you need!