(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.
The orthodox response to Lyme disease is to treat an infected person with a heavy dose of oral antibiotics, such as doxycycline, axetil, amoxicillin, and cefuroximine, as well as giving injections of penicillin and ceftriaxone. Of course – as orthodox treatments are known to do – those treatments often produce unpleasant side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, sun sensitivity, vaginal yeast infections, rash, glossitis, abdominal pain and an eradication of their immune system. Many patients have explained to me that these types of high dose antibacterial treatment can be almost as painful as the disease. Also, because of the aforementioned split in the orthodox medical system concerning the existence of a chronic form of Lyme disease (I am certain it exists, by the way) many times a doctor will declare his patient cured of Lyme disease and then when the same symptoms reappear a month later re-diagnose the patient with chronic fatigue syndrome. Many people also find that the heavy use of antibiotics triggers an autoimmune response, complicating the disease, thus making it hard to treat. On top of treating the Lyme, you must also deal with the autoimmune factor as well.
Lyme bugs work hard to protect themselves by existing in a self-produced matrix. The bugs secrete exopolysaccharides and exoproteins, effectively creating an armored shell around the community. Because of these methods, they remain stealth to the immune system and even antibiotics have a difficult time penetrating. Inside these shells, called biofilms, the bugs communicate with each other regarding when to grow. When the community grows large enough, the biofilm breaks, flooding the system with bugs. There are many natural supplements that work to break these up, creating movement, including fish oil, antioxidants, herbal compounds and enzymes. Specific herbs can reduce the number of colonies and reduce the number of cells inside the colonies.
In addition to the disease itself, many sufferers of Lyme also have co-infections, which can cause a lot more problems than the Lyme itself. Babesia, the most common of the co-infections, is found in about 66% of Lyme patients. Symptoms of Babesia are usually neurological in nature, and may include fever, chills, night sweats, weight loss, numbness, tingling, OCD, anxiety and depression. There are many herbs that can be effective in the treatment of Lyme/tic co-infection ailments. A combination of specific herbs has been shown to help with Babesia. Babesia is a protozoa that feeds on iron and causes the destruction of red blood cells. One must be careful not to supplement with iron that cannot be utilized by the body. A proper intake of the case analysis will allow the practitioner to choose supplements that can be absorbed and utilized.
Bartonella is another common co-infection that can wreak havoc in a Lyme patient. Bartonella causes what is referred to as “cat scratch fever.” It attacks the surface of the gut lining and also causes skin problems, sharp pains on the soles of the feet, painful migraines, and the sensation of something crawling under the skin. Another noteworthy co-infection is Rickettsia, which manifests as fatigue, anorexia, anemia, fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, tremors and gut problems. It has a special affinity for the adrenal glands with a key symptom of adrenal fatigue. Herbal adaptogens chosen specifically for the patient are crucial to use for immune depletion along with adrenal building herbs. Natures Folate (not folic acid) and iron-rich easily absorbable herbs may also be beneficial as well as nervine herbs, again chosen for the person’s symptoms.
There are any number of additional co-infections, not limited to but including twenty of newly identified piroplasms, for instance, Erlichiosis, parasitic mycoplasmas, STARI (still controversial) and tularemia (rabbit fever), as well as multiple parasitic and bacterial infections which we believe also carry a host of viral cells as well. Several of the infections such as Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis share the same symptoms: but may require different herb protocols. Most individuals with Morgellons disease report disturbing crawling, stinging, and biting sensations, as well as non-healing skin lesions as symptoms and require topical remedies as well as internal ones. There are more and more co-infections that they do not even test for. This is where the homeopathic remedies shine because we are looking at the symptoms rather than the name of the disease.
Proper case management is the key to treating Lyme disease effectively. It is crucial to a rapid and permanent restoration of health. It involves first, a careful analysis of the progression of the disease and the patient. A practitioner must not only work on symptoms and the patient’s state of health at the time of the consult, but track one step ahead of the expected pathology, gently stimulating the person’s vital force and providing detoxification, while strengthening the patient along the way.
In some cases if the person exhibits a clear pattern by a known tick or co-infection, or testing reveals a positive band, we may start the case with a homeopathic nosode culled from a particular tick that the person contacted. In other cases, we may use one intercurrently when their immune system can handle it without causing an aggravation.
After that I will use specific remedies that work best in the earlier stages of the disorder. Some of the Homeopathic Remedies that I have used successfully in my practice are Sepia, Sulphur, Tellurium, Ledum, Syphilinum, Carcinocin, Kalmia, Arnica, Rhododendron, Bryonia, Gelsemium, Rhus Toxicodendron, Arsenicum Album, Apis, Hypericum, Ruta, Symphytum, Silica, Cimicifuga, Argentum Nitricum, Mercury, Colchicine, Pulsatilla, Lac Caninium, Glycyrrhiza, Lyssinum, Spilanthes, Ixodes, Trombidium, Arbuts, Myristica, Carboneum Sulphuricum, Cimex, China, Psorinum, Toxoplasm, Viscum, Tuberculinum, Natrum Sulphuricum, Candida Albicans, AIDS nosode, Mezurium, and Thuja, and several different Lyme nosodes, among other remedies. If the person has previously used improper doses of the wrong remedies, we may have to start with a clearing remedy before we can attempt the ones for Lyme. In the later or chronic stages of Lyme’s disease, I would include (along with the appropriate nosode therapy mentioned above) a miasmatic remedy to work through genetic weaknesses, using the health history of the patient as a guide. Then I would follow that remedy with the remedies that fits the person’s individual symptoms. I use a more clinical approach with Lyme, as I find simply using a constitutional remedy has never been able to keep up with the pathological progression.
When using Homeopathic remedies in conjunction with corresponding herb combinations, it can greatly accelerate the immune response of a person infected with Lyme’s disease. Herbs are great at helping the body keep its terrain less habitable for harmful bacteria and viruses. Unlike orthodox drugs, that are relatively simple mixtures, herbs contain hundreds of complex constituents that bacteria and viruses cannot become easily resistant to. To even further lessen the chance of the bacteria evolving, I recommend changing the dosages of the homeopathics and the herbs on a monthly basis. In many instances this has accelerated the healing process at a much faster rate than using the same homeopathic remedies and dosages over an extended period. Choosing the proper ones and taking a more aggressive approach may be needed for the patient to see enough results to know that the program is working and, therefore, to inspire continuation throughout the entire program for complete healing.
Here are a couple typical examples of two patients using two different protocols:
#1 – A male patient, aged 52, who did not have a positive diagnosis but clearly exhibited many symptoms of chronic Lyme, was repertorized as having Cimicifuga and Arnica as his chief remedies to start the case for the first two weeks. His next remedy was EBV Nosode for several days, followed by Gelsemium LM06 daily for a month. The homeopathic protocol was then repeated, but he was given Gelsemium LM12 for the next month. Along with the homeopathics, he was given several herbal formulas including Ashwangha, Black Cohosh, Wood Betony, and Kava for symptoms of chronic aching and soreness of the muscles and nerves. We alternated two Lyme formulas that incorporated antiviral herbs, as well as some detoxifying NAC to aid the liver, and R-Fraction Alpha Lipoic Acid to help with the mitochondria. We also used an essential oil blend topically on the areas where there was discomfort. He was given several dietary suggestions, including anti inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial foods. We adjusted the remedies a few times and after six months, he was symptom free.
#2- For another patient of mine, female aged 70, who was diagnosed with Lyme (several bands) and co-infections who also suffered from Bell’s Palsy as a result of a tick bite, her protocol consisted of the homeopathic remedy Causticum for symptoms including a history of warts on the hands and a rheumatic tearing sensation on the limbs combined with shaking of the forearm. We used a Lyme nosode intercurrently and followed with Ammonium Phosphoricum as it fit the case after the Causticum gave only partial relief. Along with several Lyme herbs, combos which were given in rotation every two weeks, she also received antispasmodic herbs that included Cimicifuga, Cramp Bark, Melilotis and Prickly Ash Bark and as the treatment progressed we increased the dosage of B12 to tolerance levels. We used St. Johns Wort in a standardized formula and also in a decoction tea, and topically massaged chamomile essential oil into the neck and spine with several other detoxification supplements. Her spasms were gone in less than three months time and the other symptoms of the case also improved greatly. TMJ, which was a problem of hers before the protocol, was resolved within a short time.