(Revised 2012 by Dr. Cindee Gardner Ph.D., HD (R.Hom.), D.Hom., C.Hom.)
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease and, in general, is one of the fastest growing infectious diseases today. The CDC reports approximately 10,000 new cases per year but we believe that that number is actually closer to 250,000 new cases. What may not be as well known is that it can be transmitted through other means as well, including breast milk, semen, tears, saliva, and bites from mosquitoes and mites.
Lyme disease got its name from a town in Connecticut where physicians were treating an unusually large number of cases of what was first thought to be Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Medical investigators eventually found that the condition was actually caused by a bacterial infection, Spirochete. Today we know that we are looking at more than just a simple bacterial disease.
Many Lyme symptoms mimic other diseases, such as MS, Altzheimer’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, ALS (Lou Gerig’s Disease) and other autoimmune disorders as well as Parkinson’s and many other ailments, making it difficult to determine whether a patient has Lyme or another disease. Because of this mimicry, many Lyme patients go undiagnosed until they are in a more chronic state.
When I wrote my first Lyme article over 11 years ago, there were less than a handful of practitioners who specialized in the treatment of Lyme. Today, the Internet is filled with many different opinions and treatments promising success with various products, expensive gadgets, “waters,” combination herbs and combination homeopathics. We used to receive more calls from people at the beginning stages of Lyme disease. Now people are delaying treatment because of what they find online. Today, most people who start with us already have spent thousands of dollars in tests and natural products or repeated antibiotics before they contact us for help, and they still have the majority of their symptoms after relapsing before we even begin their cases.
When a patient exhibits a certain combination of these presenting symptoms, we automatically assume we’re dealing with Lyme and treat it as such: Persistent swollen glands, sore throat, fevers, chills, sore soles, especially in the morning, joint pain and/or swelling in fingers, toes, ankles, wrists, knees, elbows, hips, shoulders, numbness in the arms and/or legs, unexplained back pain, stiffness of the joints and back, muscle pain and cramps, obvious muscle weakness, twitching of the face or other muscles, confusion, difficulty thinking, difficulty with concentration, focus and reading, problem absorbing new information, searching for words and names, forgetfulness, poor short term memory, poor attention, disorientation: getting lost, going to wrong places, speech errors, such as wrong words or misspeaking, mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, psychosis (hallucinations, delusions), paranoia, bipolar, tremor, seizures, headaches, light and sound sensitivity, double, or blurry vision with floaters, ear pain, hearing problems, such as buzzing, ringing or decreased hearing, increased motion sickness, vertigo, spinning, off balance, “tippy” feeling, lightheadedness, wooziness, unavoidable need to sit or lie, fainting, flu-like feeling, tingling, numbness, burning or stabbing sensations, shooting pains, skin hypersensitivity, facial paralysis-Bell’s Palsy, dental pain, TMJ, neck creaks and cracks, stiffness, neck pain, fatigue, tiredness, poor stamina, insomnia, fractionated sleep, early awakening, excessive night time sleep, napping during the day, unexplained weight gain or loss, unexplained hair loss, pain in genital area, unexplained menstrual irregularity or milk production, breast pain, irritable bladder, erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, queasy stomach, nausea, heartburn, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, constipation alternating with diarrhea, low abdominal pain, cramps, heart murmur or valve prolapse, heart palpitations or skips, “Heart block” on EKG, chest wall pain or sore ribs, head congestion, breathlessness, “air hunger,” unexplained chronic cough, night sweats, exaggerated symptoms or worse hangover from alcohol, skin rashes, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), herpes, Zoster/Shingles.
It is confusing because a Lyme sufferer may not display the telltale rash (erythema migrans), a painless, “ bull’s-eye” shaped blotch on the skin the size of a silver dollar, or the more diverse larger rash, or any at all. When the rash is present, there is no doubt that a person has Lyme. However, the rash is only present in about 50% of the cases and may take up to 1 month to even appear. To add insult to injury, many Lyme patients don’t even remember getting bitten as the nymph is very small (about the size of a poppy seed) and can easily go unnoticed.
There are mixed opinions about treatments and simply because someone is listed as a Lyme literate doctor, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they do anything different than the conventional doctors. when it comes to treatment; usually it is antibiotics… although, Lyme literate doctors may recognize the importance of recommending some of the tests and symptoms involved in the process.
Naturally, there are splits in the orthodox medical community as well as the alternative community, which have led to divergent diagnoses and treatment of Lyme disease, with the real loser being the patient showing Lyme-like symptoms. These patients are often trapped between opposing medical opinions. Indeed, the severity and treatment of Lyme disease is often complicated due to late diagnoses, failure of antibiotic treatment, and immune suppression in the patient (sometimes resulting from inappropriate treatment with steroids). Often times this is when people call our office for help. Many of our referrals are from Lyme literate doctors who have come to their limits of what they can offer their patients.
In addition to late diagnoses, many cases are missed or misdiagnosed due to inconclusive tests. Although newer research has allowed the medical community to use more effective tests in determining Lyme disease (some of the best labs include iGenix and Immunosciences in California, Fry Labs in Arizona, and Spiro Stat in Texas), the fact remains that even the best tests miss large percentages of positive diagnoses. A common test for Lyme disease, the Elisa Test, misses about 35% of Lyme cases. In addition, the test bands 31 and 34 (based on the IgG and IgM tests) were very accurate for Lyme, however, they were removed from the Western Blot test to create a Lyme vaccine (which turned out to be a failure), leaving the Western Blot a less effective test than it had been prior. Many of the tests are expensive, running anywhere from $600-$2000 and may leave a patient knowing little more than before, or worse, feeling falsely confidant in a negative diagnosis when in fact they do have Lyme disease. We do not find these tests to be necessary in order to help a patient to find relief.
Thankfully, the homeopathic community remains united over the treatment of Lyme disease, mainly due to the different philosophy that homeopaths use to treat disease. Homeopathy is a system of medicine that diagnoses illness by using the symptoms of a patient to treat the whole body. In other words, no matter what label the orthodox system decides to put on a particular collection of symptoms at a particular time- Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, whatever- the homeopathic response is to treat the whole person, using the symptoms as the guideposts. That is not to say the orthodox diagnosis is unimportant; a proper diagnoses can determine which intercurrent homeopathic nosodes to use as these are made from molecules of the organism causing the infection, which can be of help.
Homeopathic treatment should entail well-selected remedies, including those clinically chosen for the patient, intercurrent miasmatic remedies and acute remedies for side effects and die-off symptoms. These remedies should be changed according to the patient’s responses. Then once 75% of the symptoms are taken care of and the patients can manage the acute flair ups (which should lessen in frequency after time as their health is restored), the Lyme disease is eradicated and their health is restored. At that point constitutional remedies should be prescribed at least once a year to maintain the patient’s health.
I wish I could say that using homeopathy alone would be an effective treatment, but I have found it to be an excellent treatment to use along with medicinal herbs (rotated regularly to stop Lyme adaptation), supportive vitamins, other health enhancing products as well as adjunct therapies. Using them all together properly can result in a true cure – a complete restoration of health!
Noteworthy among the other therapies that we use is fever or heat therapy, which is a method of treatment where a patient raises their core body temperature to 101.5-102 degrees twice per day for 15 to 20 minutes. By creating an “Artificial Fever,” it has a positive effect on the immune system. Often misunderstood, fever is a natural healing response of the body. The function of the immune system is increased naturally during a fever, while virus and bacterial growth is slowed, weakening its hold. This helps the body ward off invading organisms. Patients can accomplish this rise using a sauna, hot tub, steam bath, or through hot baths with diaphoretic tea. I use a radiant heat sauna at my home and find it very soothing as an overall detoxification method. There are portable ones that are affordable to use at home that can be purchased for under $300.00.