Lyme Disease (Borreliosis) is the most common vector-borne illness in the Northern Hemisphere, caused by the bacterial spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted by the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, and other insect vectors. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates there are over 300,000 new cases each year in the U.S., which cost over $3 billion annually. Lyme is reported in every state except Hawaii, however 96% of the cases are concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest, where over 80 million people live.
Borrelia usually don’t travel alone, and co-infections such as Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia,
Mycoplasma and Epstein-Barr virus are a few of the common companions. Yeasts such as Candida albicans are frequent especially if antibiotics are taken. The many symptoms include extreme fatigue, muscle pain/weakness, joint pain, neuropathy, and headaches. The pathogens can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause brain fog and memory problems. Lyme is called the Great Imitator, and can mimic symptoms of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, ALS, MS, and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, a Lyme-autism connection is suspected in some patients.
Lyme can affect multiple metabolic and physiological pathways leading to autoimmune symptoms, allergies, endocrine/hormone disruption, and pain. Both Borrelia bacteria, and the antibiotics patients take, can wreak havoc on the digestive system, causing leaky gut syndrome resulting in systemic inflammation and fatigue. The beneficial gut bacteria may be compromised in Lyme, so probiotic foods or supplements are usually necessary. Nutrients may not be absorbed properly, and Lyme sufferers often have vitamin and mineral deficiencies, especially vitamins B5, B6, B12, zinc and magnesium. Supplementation with magnesium has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein, helping to ease muscle and joint pain, as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Under the care of a Lyme-Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) or nutritionist, many Lyme patients find relief with individualized protocols that may include medications and herbal remedies, in conjunction with a healthy diet. A Lyme diet should be tailored to the individual, and testing for nutrient deficiencies and food sensitivities can be beneficial. Patients often do better on a gluten-free, low-sugar diet, avoiding high-carb, processed foods. A whole-foods, anti-inflammatory diet is the best choice to help the immune system fight the Borrelia bacteria and other co-infections.
Many Lyme sufferers experience profound fatigue, coupled with muscle and joint pain. Lyme experts recommend working with light weights as well as stretching exercises which can help alleviate joint, tendon and muscle pain. They caution against too much aerobic exercise in the beginning, which can deplete the adrenal glands and decrease immune T-cell function. Walking and yoga are good suggestions. Deep breathing exercises can help relax muscles, ease tension, and provide necessary oxygen to the cells in the body. Sleep is very important for the healing process. Patients should strive for 7-9 hours per night. Saunas can help facilitate excretion of toxins, and Epsom salt baths relieve aching joints and muscles, adding beneficial magnesium that is absorbed through the skin.
Other therapies Lyme sufferers may use include chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, Reiki, Chinese medicine, homeopathy, and relaxation techniques. Meditation, counseling and mindfulness techniques are also beneficial and can help foster a positive attitude toward healing.
My Lyme Experience
I was a Lyme patient myself. In conjunction with my LLMD, I greatly improved my condition using a protocol that included a healthy, healing diet (GAPS), supplements, gentle exercise and mindfulness techniques including meditation.
If you or a loved one is suffering from Lyme and its co-infections, I know I can be of help.
I have been there and I know what it feels like.
Call me at 732-440-8859 for more information about my services.
I am the co-founder of LymePositive, an uplifting support group for people and their families who are affected by Lyme and associated vector-borne disease. Check out my Events page for upcoming meetings.