Lyme can be contracted after being bitten by a tick (actually, ticks don’t bite, they sting) and, supposedly, through other bloodsucking insects such as mosquitos, botflies and fleas. Sometimes -yet not always- an expanding area of redness (erythema migrans) is visible around the area of the tick bite. If the tick that stung you is infected with the Borellia bacteria, then you’re at risk of contracting Lyme disease. Co-infection with other microbes, like Bartonella or Babesia is also common. If redness appears on your skin and/or you are suddenly suffering from fever-like symptoms, please contact your GP. He/she will prescribe antibiotics.
Metronidazol for example is an antibiotic that often works very well combating bacteria, parasites and amoebae. The duration, dosage and type of antibiotics prescribed can differ from doctor to doctor. If you don’t feel better after completing your treatment, you may need a different approach. Once you contract Lyme, immediate treatment is best; the sooner you get treated, the bigger the chances of full recovery.
Lyme and antibiotics
The most commonly prescribed antibiotic for Lyme disease is doxycycline. One treatment usually takes 10 days, 2-4 weeks or, sometimes, up to 2 or 3 months. Treatment shorter than 2 weeks is considered ineffective, as the Borellia has a life cycle of 4 weeks.
Doxycycline inhibits bacterial growth and inflammation. It’s known to be most effective in the early stages of Lyme – unfortunately treatment success rates diminish with time, so don’t wait too long to see a doctor to get treatment. In chronic cases, taking doxycycline is likely useless. Officially recognized side effects of antibiotics include gastrointestinal disorders such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In case of long term use, side effects may include vitamin B deficit, abnormal skin reactions to sunlight (photosensitization) and increased intracranial pressure.
Bowel complaints as a result of antibiotic treatment are caused by the antibiotics not only killing ‘bad’ bacteria but the ‘friendly’ ones, too. These friendly bacteria are a large part of many groups of bacteria and other micro-organisms (gut flora) that influence the digestive system. The importance of a healthy digestive system really shows when you consider that your immune system depends on it for 60% of its performance. If your digestive system gets disrupted, it opens the door to a plethora of harmful organisms: not just viruses or bacteria, but fungi-related infections such as candida (yeast infection) as well. These infections slow down the organs that eliminate toxins as well as your ability to absorb nutrients. The Borrelia bacteria benefits greatly from disrupted gut flora and lowered immunity.
Doxycycline cannot be used in case of severe kidney or liver dysfunction. When you contract Lyme disease, these are exactly the two organs that suffer most. If doxycycline causes allergic reaction or other issues, your doctor may prescribe amoxicillin instead. If that, in turn, causes problems you may be prescribed azithromycin. For children, penicillin is commonly prescribed.
The main downside of these antibiotics is that they don’t penetrate into the body deep enough to reach, let alone combat the Borrelia bacteria. That’s why this type of treatment is only effective shortly after infection, when the spirochetes are still in the bood stream, as that’s where this bacteria multiplies. When spirochetes settle into more compact tissues of your body, such as bone tissue, tendons or inside the brain, the active components of antibiotics can’t reach the bacteria properly. This is why, in a later stage of the infection, ceftriaxone is administered directly into the body by intravenous therapy.
Although every antibiotic treatment has its side effects (ceftriaxone for example affects red blood cells), the general impact of antibiotics is the same. Antibiotics don’t just combat bacteria, they affect the immune system and circulation as well.
Lyme and diagnosis
After being diagnosed with Lyme, based on examination by a doctor and treatment through antibiotics, you’re supposed to heal completely. You will be considered cured when blood tests come back negative. A diagnosis isn’t the same as a test result, but with Lyme disease these often overlap. That’s why it’s very important to examine your symptoms first. Your medical history also matters; have you recently been stung by a tick and has your skin shown any redness? Or have you been suffering from different problems for some time, while you haven’t been diagnosed? Perhaps you may have been diagnosed with Lyme and have been treated, but your symptoms linger on. If so, you may be suffering from what is often referred to as ‘chronic’ Lyme.
Symptoms of Lyme
A good doctor or therapist will not diagnose you with Lyme when their suspicions haven’t been confirmed (i.e. through blood tests or otherwise). Be wary of doctors or therapists that are ready to diagnose you without examining you properly. They are out of line and if this happens to you, be sure to get a second opinion elsewhere. I stress this point because many patients have been misdiagnosed due to poor examination. The symptoms of ‘chronic’ Lyme can be very diverse; neurological- joint- and psychological problems are common. It’s entirely possible that you have been misdiagnosed with, for example, rheumatism, MS, tinnitus or chronic fatigue. On the other hand, your physician may consider your problems to be entirely psychological. When blood tests come back negative, such as the Elisa- or Western Blot test, it is often believed that phychological stress is to blame for your problems. This can be incredibly frustrating and at some point, you may develop psychological issues when you feel you aren’t being heard. It’s always advisable to seek advice from a practitioner that makes you feel like your ailments are being taken seriously.
Fighting bacteria and detoxing are a large part of your treatment process. The infection is one thing but the effect toxins have on your body cannot be stressed enough. While Lyme treatment will kill bacteria, the toxins released as a result of that elimination are another issue entirely. Once the Borrelia bacteria decomposes within your body, it releases proteins that are very toxic to humans and are difficult to eradicate. These toxins make it easier for the Borrelia to resettle and this is exactly what often causes Lyme sufferers to relapse or worsen, regardless of the treatment they underwent. This makes Lyme not just an infectious disease but a type of toxication as well.
For treatment to be successful, what matters is that the body can find its balance between combat, elimination and detox. When your immune and detoxification systems are functioning properly, healing from Lyme is infinitely easier. If either one of these systems are weakened, your body won’t be able to combat Lyme by itself. Some patients may require help with detoxing and regeneration of the organs, others may benefit from treatment through antibiotics and some patients are in need of both methods to get cured.
Lyme and therapy
Every successful Lyme treatment consists of the following components: combating the bacteria, strengthening the immune system, detoxification and support of the detoxing organs. Besides that, Lyme disease absorbs vitamin B12. Treatment should be administered with utmost care, as it is often too taxing to apply many methods at once, achieving the opposite of what is ultimately desired. There is a broad spectrum of natural methods available as part of treatment against Lyme disease and the effect of each can differ per person, requiring regular alterations during the course of your treatment. Therefore, personal and adequate counseling is invaluable.
There are many botanical and natural remedies available to support your recovery process, of which a couple will be mentioned here. These remedies are obtainable online. Please, always go to an alternative health professional if you prefer to treat your health issues the natural way. It’s not recommended that you treat Lyme on your own.
A selection of remedies:
- Dipsacus: strenghtens the immune system, detoxifies the body and supports the liver and kidneys.
- Cat’s Claw: helps combat bacteria, is anti-inflammatory and mildly analgesic.
- Sarsaparilla: a botanical supplement that isn’t commonly used in Lyme treatment. Its effects are mild and gradual, but it combats components of the toxins Borrelia releases. It can be a useful remedy against Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, which may occur when the body detoxes too rapidly and the body can’t handle the amount of toxins released at once, causing existing symptoms to increase. Sarsaparilla also reaches the blood-brain barrier, causing it to be an effective remedy for brainfog.
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