On Facebook, you said people catch Lyme disease from their pets, which tote ticks. That’s how I got Lyme, and I have Bartonella too. I found out because of you, and it explained my symptoms of joint pain, confusion, memory loss and seizures. I was told I had dementia, Rheumatoid arthritis, epilepsy, and fibromyalgia. The medications they had me on these past 6 years did not help, in fact I felt worse. But now, little by little I am starting to feel like myself. I owe my life to you! I love you, don’t take that the wrong way.”
–D.C., Des Moines, Iowa
Answer: Thank you. I’m so sorry to hear of your suffering. Many people who have been told they have fibromyalga or chronic fatigue have Lyme, they just don’t know it because they were not tested correctly. They may have been tested, but not correctly. I have quite a following on Facebook because I’m one of those rare health experts who is not afraid to talk about this infection. I‘m bothered that they call Lyme disease a “disease,” because in my mind, you are not diseased, you are merely infected. Your body can clear an infection and you can get back to a healthy state, so I don’t like to label people with infections, as “diseased.” Especially because many Lyme patients are attractive, making it harder for friends, spouses and families to believe them because they look good. The external rarely matches the internal state of chaos. Rather than using disease, I often like to use the term “dis-ease.”
Nevertheless, Lyme Disease or “LD” as it is referred to in the literature, is the fastest growing epidemic in the United States. In 2011, Delaware had the highest incidence, followed by Vermont, then New Hampshire, but LD is in every single state, and country for that matter, this is a global issue, so don’t let any physician tell you that you can’t get it because “Florida doesn’t have ticks.” Oh yes, it does! They are everywhere, and even the CDC says that their numbers represent only about 10 percent of actual cases, which means about 500,000 people or more go undiagnosed every year, just in the US. Think these numbers are bad? It isn’t even the tip of the iceberg in my mind. To me, if you have a variety of symptoms that come and go, or move around your body… and something is always wrong with you… it’s lyme until proven otherwise!
When I wrote my first column on LD, it sparked thousands of “atta girl” emails from 27 countries. Few medical journalists tackle Lyme because it’s extremely controversial. You can read my original article here, it is relatively short, but it made headlines because it gave a lot of people hope for an accurate diagnosis:
In a nutshell, the controversy surrounding Lyme is because some physicians don’t believe “chronic” lyme exists. They think that after a tick bite (if you even know you get bit, because you can’t feel it), that you treat it with Doxycycline 100mg twice daily for about 3 or 4 weeks, and that’s all you need. They, meaning most infectious disease doctors, do not believe that a Lyme infection, or it’s co-infections, can persist beyond a month and most are apt to quickly dismiss you despite lingering symptoms (by christopher at www.dresshead.com). The infectious disease doctors believe this despite scientific studies in animals and humans that the germ lives well beyond 1 month of antibiotics. Those physicians belong to the Infectious Disease Society of America, or IDSA. I’ve gotten countless letters from fans reaching out to me to say thanks, because they were told lingering symptoms that persisted years (in some cases decades) after their tick bite (or walk in the woods) were “all in my head.” Good grief, I’m so sorry for all of you. The truth is people with Bartonella infections are commonly supported on antidepressants, sleeping pills, anxiolytics, seizure meds, benzodiazepines or psychotropic medications because the organism affects their brain so harshly, and affects thinking. But once the infection is cleared, you feel yourself again, and do not need these medications. But to be labelled with an emotional or mental disorder (when it’s an infection) is so sad, it’s a statement about our medical system, and it doesn’t say much. That is part of why I research this so intently.
Not all physicians feel this way, and make assumptions… luckily.
The other group of medical doctors and practitioners who belong to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society or ILADS group (https://www.ilads.org) believe that Lyme (it’s causative agent is known as Borrelia burgdorferi) is stealth and persists beyond a few weeks in some people.
Borrelia burgdorferi really is a stealth organism, it can morph into 3 different forms in your body, and it morphs all the time, this is a dynamic situation and provides rationale for different types of antibiotics, taken long term.
Spirochete- a screw-shaped gram negative organism that has a flagella. It’s long, and can sort of ‘drill a hole’ into cells of your organs… in fact, it is likely inflammation of the intestinal cells caused by Lyme and yeast that cause the cells to pull apart. This increases the likelihood of leaky gut syndrome and associated food allergies and sensitivities. Lyme organisms and co-infections can get into any organ.
L-form- this form hides inside your cell, sometimes it’s called an “intracellular L-form”
Cyst form- this form of Borrelia can barricade itself inside a slimy coating called a biofilm and evades most antibiotics. Serrapeptase or lumbrokinase can usually unravel the slime but then you have to hit it with an antibiotic right after. Cyst can exist outside of biofilm too.
My point is that Lyme germs are smart and strong and can hide inside any organ of your body for years and years, they do not usually die in 3 weeks like the IDSA doctors think. Have these 3 forms of Borrelia burgdorferi been proven to exist? You betcha! And because they hide and change their ‘masks’ they are pretty hard to annihilate, so the ILADS docs don’t agree with the IDSA docs. The ILADS-trained doctors also know that Lyme organisms can render your immune system inactive. Seriously, that’s why they can live in the body for years and years. To give you a visual, imagine the Lyme germs sneaking up on your immune system cells and putting chloroform on them, to knock them out, then your immune system falls into submission, a weak complacency… and the germs can then do their nasty business to your body causing hundreds of symptoms.
This division between the IDSA docs and ILADS creates a huge divide about treatment protocols. Should you use powerful antibiotics (sometimes even intravenous ones) for just a month, or should you treat for many months, or years? While the doctors are busy arguing about whether chronic lyme is real, and how long to treat, most Lymies are misdiagnosed. They bounce from doctor to doctor, suffer beyond belief and some die. Others want to.
A person with LD will have symptoms that mimic some of the most common conditions. As you know, conventional doctors treat symptoms with medications, so as you have seen for yourself, you can be prescribed various medications without benefit (because it is an antibiotic that you need, not symptomatic relief). People with undiagnosed LD often bounce from doctor to doctor, and suffer beyond belief. Some die from the complications which often affect the vagus nerve, and cause dysautonmia. Some can die from a heart attack or stroke and it would never be traced to Lyme. Just so you know, Lyme organisms, or co-infections can cause every type of cardiac arrhythmia and ablation or pacemakers won’t cure the Lyme infection.
Symptoms of Lyme vary from person to person, making it really hard to standardize treatment. For example, one person can have chronic fatigue, another can have joint pain that moves around the body, while another can have what appears to be a seizure disorder. If you want to see what a very serious case of Lyme looks like, watch this video, it’s the story of Christa Vanderham, and her sweet husband who stuck by her. I can’t believe the footage he got of her. I don’t know them, but I liked the ending, and I actually tracked down the physician who saved this woman’s life, and I interviewed him for this article. His name is Dr. Marty Ross and there’s more about him below. Anyway, this video gives you an indication of how serious Lyme can be, and fuels my anger towards physicians who say “chronic” lyme is not possible. Bologna! Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So2K68r8pOY
Some people with serious symptoms, get temporary bouts of depersonalization, trigeminal neuralgia, stroke-like symptoms that come and go, Bells Palsy, brain fog, problems with memory, comprehension and thinking, and chronic intractable fatigue. The constant spinning of the dial with Lyme, and it’s coinfection, especially Bartonella can make you want to eat a handful of pills. Please don’t! There are effective treatments. You just need to hang on, and be treated by an intelligent LLMD, (lyme-literate medical doctor) preferably one who belongs to ILADS or is familiar with their protocols. You can search on their website. I definitely believe Lyme can persist beyond 3 or 4 weeks and to show my support I joined the ILADS organization recently.
Did you know they’ve extracted Bb from the joints of people with arthritis years after infection. Yes, some cases of arthritis are tied to Lyme, and it could look like either osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. It’s not everyone though, arthritis is usually a “wear and tear” disease, but I’m saying that for some of you, it could be infectious. (Docs, levels of IL-17 are high too!)
Moving on to Bartonella organisms… It’s carried in ticks, all kinds of tick species, so when they bite you, and you won’t ever feel the bite, these critters inject their sewage all at once. Bartonella (or Bart for short) is usually injected into you, along with Borrelia burgdorferi. Bart is called the “co-infection” in this case, and Borrelia burgdorferi or “Bb” is the causative organism in Lyme, I only tell you in case you want to have an intelligent discussion with your practitioner, or you want to research on the Internet When you read about Borrelia, that’s a reference to Lyme and when you read about Bartonella, that is a co-infection, it’s a different pathogen (germ) than the Lyme germ, however it’s usually transmitted to you by the same tick bite. Some call the infection “bartonellosis.” Just FYI, there are other potential co-infections, one called Babesia which causes breathing difficulties (like “air hunger”) and night sweats and 100 other symptoms.
There are an estimated 30 Bartonella-like species. I’ll call it “Bart” from now on, just for reading ease. You can get infected from cat bites/scratches, mites, fleas, mosquitoes, biting flies and of course ticks. The most commonly known Bartonella-related disease is commonly referred to as cat scratch disease, and can be carried in a cat’s bloodstream for months to years.
Sadly, antibody blood tests only detect a few strains. So your test result may say negative for Bart (and Lyme for that matter) but you still have it. Physicians unaware of the limitations of standard ELISA blood tests mistakenly accept a “negative” result and diagnose you with a neurological or autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or CFIDS), or any one of 300 diseases that Lyme mimics. It’s a terrible oversight because you might really have Lyme and co-infections like Bart, Babesia or Ehrlichia. Physicians who subscribe to the ILADS school of training will know to use specialized labs, and know how to interpret the results. Never accept a false positive, that is often a correct positive. Too often, physicians ignorant of the process called “epitope switching” (also known as “antigenic variation”) will dismiss you with a false positive because you have a positive IgM but that is actually a real positive, and a sign of active infection. The interpretation of your test result is crucial and all too often it’s done wrong. If you’re going to bother testing, do it right. See my resources below for more information about testing. Even with a good lab, those with Lyme will only have a positive test 80 percent of the time. Ultimately Lyme can be diagnosed based on symptoms (your clinical presentations) and what the risks were of you getting a tick bite, even if you don’t remember one. For example, do you take walks, lay in the grass, have pets that go outdoors, work at a job where animals are allowed, and so forth. The big shocker to people (and some physicians) is that only half of those with Lyme disease ever remember their tick bite, the other half just get sick and have no idea why. Not every one gets the famous bullseye rash (and it’s not always a bullseye either), so that complicates diagnosing Lyme.
I’m sure you are alarmed by now, but do you realize there’s no conclusive test for fibromyalgia or CFS either? So if you were told you had fibro or CFS, how can you be sure? These are diagnoses of “exclusion” meaning your doctor tests you for this and that, and tries to rule out every other disease before stamping you with fibro or CFS diagnosis. But you must ask if Lyme and Bartonella have been ruled out properly by capable, specialized laboratories.
Testing is a challenge right now because there isn’t a lot of money or focus on Lyme, and the bacteria are good at evading detection. The ELISA and Western Blot tests are the most common tests currently used to confirm the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) antibodies. An antibody doesn’t mean you have Lyme disease, it just means your body has seen the germ, you may be asymptomatic. If you have symptoms and antibodies then I’d go with the diagnosis. The Lyme PCR (polymerase chain reaction) Test is the gold standard but it’s not that well-known. It looks at your blood. The PCR is only positive if you have Lyme about 30 percent of the time because Lyme does not readily live in the blood, but when it is positive it is correct 100% of the time. It’s performed by Igenex Labs in California. So in summary, if you want to test for Lyme, I recommend Igenex Labs, or www.Igenex.com.
For Bartonella, I recommend either Igenex or Galaxy Labs. With all their limitations, they’re still more reliable than standard ELISA tests which are frequently wrong. One statistic I read said that about 7 tests out of every 10 tests, will come back with a “negative” result when you are positively infected. Sad deal, because you walk away thinking you have some other diagnosis, when you’re infected with Lyme the whole time. This changes the course of your life, and usually in a dreadful way.
Physicians Who I Trust
I interviewed a lyme-literate medical doctor, the same one in the video link above, Marty Ross M.D who said “I often make my decision to treat Bartonella based on symptoms. If you have enough Bartonella symptoms, you should be treated for the infection regardless of testing.” Dr. Marty Ross offers free webinars that anyone can watch, you just need a computer. He answers quite a bunch of your questions in the 1.5 hours. He does these webinars on certain Tuesday evenings (check his site www.TreatLyme.net) and you can ask him questions for free, and he does his best to answer you. Pretty amazing to do that kind of public service. I suggest you get Dr. Ross’s free treatment manual from www.TreatLyme.net. He also offers one-on-one consultations for people suffering with Lyme or chronic biotoxin or mold issues. You can check rates, and book an appointment online at his site.
I also had a conversation with another highly regarded Lyme-literate doctor in the field, Dr. Richard Horowitz, an internest from New York who has seen more than 12,000 Lyme patients. He’s dubbed the condition more accurately than just “Lyme disease” he calls it “MSIDS” which stands for mulitple systemic infectious disease syndrome.” Dr. Horowitz says it’s more common to see a patient present with a variety of different, associated tick-borne infections such as Chlamydia, Babesia, Mycoplasma, Bartonella and others.
So when you think of Lyme from now on, you should think of it as a variety of physical manifestations, because the condition involves more than one organism and requires much more than antimicrobial treatment. Dr. Richard Horowitz has written a new book, available for pre-order (it comes out in September 2013), called Why Can’t I Get Better? Solving the Mystery of Lyme and Chronic Disease (St. Martin’s Press).
I interviewed another bright mind when it comes to Lyme, Dr. David Jernigan who believes in natural approaches. He explained that when Borrelia burgdorferi germs die, they release a little bit of ammonia and this is converted to “glutamate” which is a potent neurotoxin. It causes neurological and cognitive symptoms galore… like a total fatigue of the brain, memory problems, insomnia and/or seizure like activity. Dr. David Jernigan founded the Hansa Center in Wichita,Ks. https://hansacenter.com He wrote a fascinating article about this, click here: https://www.hansacenter.com/pdfs/AmmoniaBloodBrainBarrier.pdf
(If the link fails to open, just google “leaky brain, david jernigan” and it’s the first hit.) Dr. Jernigan helped to formulate a natural supplement that may help clear ammonia, called “NeuroAntitox CNS/PNS” and it’s an extract of two flowers, blue sage and silphium laciniatum, a flower that looks a lot like a sunflower. The liquid formula is tasteless, I bought it to try for taste (I am not treating Lyme just FYI). I also bought his “Silphitrim” and his “NeuroAntitox Cardio.” He sells a natural anti-Lyme herbal blend called “Borrelogen.”
David Jernigan sells these products through the clinic at the Hansa Center, but even if you aren’t his patient, you can still get the hand-made formula’s from Jernigan Nutraceuticals, which is where all the remedies are manufactured and harvested by his former wife, Dr. Sara Jernigan, DC, a lovely woman with a heart of gold and mind of light. Visit www.jnutra.com to get her proprietary extracts, all made with love. I personally think the Jernigan Nutraceutical formula’s are great to add to other protocols but I’m not an LLMD, and I don’t know what’s right for you, so check with your primary practitioners. With Lyme, everything is so complicated, and reactions are different for everyone. If the NeuroAntitox CNS/PNS is not strong enough to clear your neurological and cognitive problems (by sweeping ammonia out), you can always ask your physician to prescribe Questran or generically known “cholestyramine.” That is a cholesterol-reducing drug that binds neurotoxins.
Another physician I respect and follow the work of is Dr. Lee Cowden, he created the famous natural protocol made by Nutramedix. The heart of this is Banderol and Samento, two natural herbal antimicrobials that appear to work just as well as prescribed antibiotics for some people. You can take a look at the entire line of Nutramedix here: https://www.nutramedix.com
This is an option for very fragile patients who could die from a Herx reaction, but it’s not terribly effective at getting into the brain or treating Bartonella and Babesia. The line helps with detoxification, it is not just a “kill” protocol, it is very supportive. If your symptoms are mainly in your head (ie neurological/cognitive/fog/memory), you may need to add something else to the Nutramedix protocol. Nevertheless, Dr. Cowden is a champion in the field of Lyme, and I often recommend his formulas, occasionally called the “Cowden Protocol.” He is also the founder of ACIM, which any practitioners can join to learn more about Lyme and associated illnesses. https://www.acimconnect.com
Symptoms of Lyme and Bart
So many people are told that Lyme is all in their head. It’s really sad. But in all seriousness, Bart symptoms classically do cause problems in your head! By that I mean: Severe insomnia, migraines, anxiety, constant worry, agitated-depression, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, depression, agitation, autistic-like symptoms, hallucinations, memory loss, brain fog, and aggression. I’ve even heard of sudden “Bartonella rage” as a consequence of Bart infection. I really like the following video, I don’t know who made it but it’s an outstanding way to explain weird symptoms that a Lyme sufferer sees, or hears and feels. I’m sure many of you will relate to this, watch it’s only about 5 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44CiA4XqNPo
All that can come from a tick, and you may have one symptom, or many. See how easy it is to be misdiagnosed with some psychiatric or mental illness when all you have is an infection? I wonder how many people were institutionalized for an infection that could’ve been treated with an antibiotic! And this is interesting, some research suggests that a subset of autistic kids might have Lyme, the article is posted at the ILADS site, click here to read “Lyme disease may play a role in causing autism according to a recent study published in Medical Hypothesis, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.” Eegads because these kids have lifelong issues and if this is true for some kids, antimicrobial treatment could change their lives dramatically.
Bartonella (and also Lyme) can definitely cause symptoms below the head, including endocarditis (inflammation of heart valves), chronic fatigue, tenderness in the muscles, chronic pain anywhere in the body, but often in the joints, pain in the bottom of your feet (like plantar fasciitis), abdominal pain, vomiting, fever/chills, electric shocks in your organs that come out of nowhere, pins and needles sensation or numbness (termed neuropathy), neuropathy in any part of your body, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), joint pain, skin rash, stretch marks anywhere in the body (it looks like someone wrote on you with a red pen), thermal dysregulation, mitochondrial dysfunction, frequency, urgency, cystitis and/or excessive day sweats.
Bartonellosis commonly affects the joints, it is often misdiagnosed as Rheumatoid arthritis. If you’re RA factor is normal, but you are being treated for Rheumatoid, it’s possible you have Bartonella infection. I wrote an article about that here: Maybe You Don’t Really Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
An article appeared in Emerging Infectious Diseases.” Researchers tested 296 patients to see if they had evidence of Bartonella infection. The patients weren’t necessarily all infected with Lyme, some were diagnosed with chronic fatigue, or fibromyalgia. Regardless, a whopping 62 percent had evidence of Bartonella antibodies, which supports prior exposure to these bacteria. The researchers concluded “However, our results thus far do implicate Bartonella as a factor in at least some cases. If the link between Bartonella and rheumatoid illnesses is valid, it may also open up more directed treatment options for patients with rheumatoid illnesses.”
Bartonella (as well as Borrelia) can get into your eyes and affect your vision. Just a few visual changes include recurring conjunctivitis, a foreign body sensation in your eye, partial or complete vision loss (usually temporary), floaters, optic neuritis, redness, blurry vision and light sensitivity.
Bart can cause benign fasciculations, or muscle twitching which may cause your physician to incorrectly diagnose you with a progressive, fatal disorder called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as “Lou Gehrig’s” disease. What if you just had Bart?
Would You Risk Your Life for a Pet?
Most Lyme sufferers have pet cats and dogs, they are not aware that their pets gave it to them. But it happens like this, your pets go out into the yard to do their duty, and ticks jump on them, especially in May and June, their breeding season but any time of the year is possible. Your pet totes these ticks into your house and then you cuddle with your pet. The ticks get on you, and numb your skin. They are teeny tiny, about the size of a poppy seed and you’ll never know you got bit. They like every part of your body, but especially warmer areas, like armpits for example. You may never know. Sometimes the Lyme can happen from a cat scratch or bite. When I ask pet owners about their pets, they go into a bit of denial, because of the great love they have for pets. But you have to realize pets, for as delightful as they are, are tick taxis. If you have Lyme, and get bit again by your pet, you are potentially introducing new coinfections or re-innoculating yourself with more Lyme organisms. It explains why some people just can’t get well, or get setbacks even under treatment.
I watch youtube a lot, to see videos of people with Lyme disease. I follow many of them so I can watch treatment. I am always shocked (less now than at the beginning of my research) to watch Lyme sufferers on youtube and see their pets are in the background of their video. I have almost come to expect it now. This is a very common method of transmission, especially for people who say “I’ve never hiked” or “I mysteriously came down with symptoms.” Or this one, “I was feeling okay for a year, and now I’m sick again, worse than before.” Friends, please don’t send me hate mail, I love animals, but it’s true, if they go outside, they will bring ticks or fleas back into your house with them, and these vectors transmit disease, and incomprehensible suffering for some of you.
It’s not just ticks though, some experts believe transmission of Lyme organisms occurs from other vectors, like fleas, biting flies, sand fleas, mosquitoes and bed bugs. And sexually. And in utero causing autistic-like symptoms in some cases. There’s a lot of debate here, I’m not saying it’s all true because we need more tests to confirm transmission routes, but these are possible routes and worth mentioning. On the autism comment, I know a recent study came out and stated “Study debunks Lyme Disease-Autism Correlation.” I looked at that and was disgusted by the fact that they failed to test these kids properly. I do not believe that their testing methods could accurately confirm the presence of Lyme so I disagree with the results. There are other studies that point to a suggestion of Lyme underlying the autistic behavior. Not in every case, but in some. I tell you this because pediatricians will be perpetuating this new study’s results and dismissing Lyme, but what if your child really had it?
Spiro Stat Technologies offers a PCR type of testing which can identify multiple species of Borrelia. It’s interesting that this test requires one blood sample, but can sequence information to try to identify many idfferent insect vector-borne pathogens at the same time. You can do a needle stick, plus a finger stick for a little more money to get a bigger picture of what’s going on. I think this testing can help you come closer to identifying which organisms are the trouble ones for you even though we are not yet able to test for them all. I’m not very familiar with this lab, so I cannot speak to their advantages/disadvantages yet. As I learn more I will let you know. The point is that they do PCR testing (great), and they can help you sequence information from your blood to try to match it with known sequences of ‘bugs.’ https://www.spirostat.com
I know a lot of people believe in applied kinesiology for testing for Lyme, and co-infections. It’s usually where the practitioner pushes down on your arm while you hold something within your energetic field. I’m not a disbeliever, but I’m not a strong believer either. It depends on the practitioner, and how they are pushing (is it the same place, is it the same pressure, etc). I’ve been hoodwinked a few times by some well-intentioned practitioners so I would not recommend you put your life into this method of testing. In fact, a friend of mine was told she did not have Lyme years ago, and she chased other diagnoses, submitting herself to surgery, medication, needless suffering for years… and when I told her to test properly she did so only to find out that she did have Lyme after all. All that pain and lost time in her life (and discomfort), it cost her. So I do not recommend this type of testing (all by itself) as a general rule, but as part of other tests and panels, then it’s fine. Homeopathic doctors in Germany use it all the time, along with various pieces of equipment, to confirm the presence/absence of micro-organisms. More to come on the various treatments used in Germany, and world-wide. I’ll leave that to a future article.
As I said earlier, proper testing is crucial and I recommend PCR testing, not ELISA or “two tier” testing.A baseline CD57 isn’t a bad idea either, it’s not conclusive, it’s just part of the picture. If you have symptoms of Lyme, and your CD57 result is less than 150, I’d suspect Lyme, even before you got your PCR (Igenex) test results done.
Since I’m an avid researcher and collect good books, I got my hands on a new one by Stephen Harrod Buhner, it’s called Healing Lyme Disease Co-infections (Healing Arts Press, May 2013) and it’s now available at Amazon. I really like this book, and have earmarked a hundred pages out of a hundred and one! I want to meet this man, he has devoted so much of his life to helping others. He’s not a physician but he knows more than most, just read his latest book and you’ll see what I mean. He is actually an “Earth Poet” and an avid researcher. His website is https://buhnerhealinglyme.com and he has his very own protocol to treat lyme, all natural. This latest book covers complementary and holistic treatments for Lyme disease, and it’s coinfections including bartonella, mycoplasma and others. To give you a brief example of some of his recommendations, he talks about anxiety and the use of skullcap (but not just any kind), as well as motherwort, ashwagandha pasue flower and others. For brain bog, he mensions rhodiola, shisandra, NAC and others. For epilepsy, he suggests a ketogenic diet, and much more. Over 400 pages of useful tips and natural remedies, but a lot of science to support his recommendations.
In “Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections,” Buhner outlines natural protocols, and emphases ways to control the cytokine cascade. This book may be ideal for a practitioner, however, any savvy Lyme sufferer can benefit too. I love the discussion about medicinal mushrooms, herbs and warnings/contraindications for herbs (this stuff is hard to find, trust me). The best part of Stephen Harrod Buhner’s book is the natural herbs that he outlines to treat the organisms. For Bartonella, he suggests high-dose resveratrol as just one option.
Resveratrol is an extract found in grapes and red wine, it helps by detoxifying your body, and reducing levels of “quinolinic acid” a bad compound that causes neurological problems. In combination with resveratrol (and I like the Biotivia brand but you can buy what you want), I’d combine that with curcumin. The curcumin reduces pain-causing cytokines that the resveratrol doesn’t. Curcumin also lowers quinolinic acid, a potent neurotoxin that has been found in difficult-to-treat depression, mental illness, and it’s a risk factor for suicide. Quinolinic acid is one compound you want to reduce. I’m not too sure about the efficacy of this combination (resveratrol and curcumin) meaning I am not sure what percentage of folks will find relief with it, especially at standard dosages on the label… but I do know it isn’t as harsh as other treatments for Bartonella, such as Levaquin, or Rifampin, Doxycyline, Minocycline, Sulfa drugs and/or Azithromycin. I don’t know of a drug that reduces quinolinic acid either, a side benefit of the herbal combination. I’ve also read Bugleweed herb can get to the Bart hiding in blood cells. All of these should be teased out by your LLMD, I’m not sure what is right for you, I’m not even a physician. I’m just trying to help you by shining a flashlight into potential treatments.
The standard conventional drug treatment for Bart varies, it is usually a 4-6 month course of Rifampin, in combination with Minocycline or sometimes Clarithromycin (Biaxin) with Sulfamethoxazole and Trimethoprim (called Septra or Bactrim). I like the Rifampin/Minocycline combination however, an intellectual judgment call on my part by no means suggests it will work for you, or be right for you. Levaquin can work effectively too, but carries a 1 percent risk of tendonitis and a 0.1 percent risk of tendon rupture. There are many good prescribed combinations, it’s really about making sure you start low, and titrate up slowly to minimize the Herx reaction. A Herx or “Herxheimer” reaction is a setback, and a resurgence of symptoms that sometimes occurs with antibiotic use. This can be minimized with herbal supplements such as curcumin (and backing off the drug for a bit).
I have also looked through another good book that was recently released called “Beyond Lyme Disease” by Connie Strasheim, a Lyme survivor, author, speaker and health advocate. Her focus in this particular book is helping you heal the underlying causes of chronic illness, by teasing out other infections and conditions that prevent you from taking care of the Lyme. For example, she includes a discussion of yeast, and the dangers of EMF (electromagnetic frequencies), and emotional trauma/depression, parasitic infections and so on. The little clinical pearls that you get from her book are terrific. For example, she says “Many people with Lyme and chronic illness, especially women, are deficient in iron. Eliminating Babesia, one of the co-infections implicated in chronic Lyme disease, can help to raise iron levels, since Babesia depletes the body of this mineral.” (Just FYI, if you have an infection of H. pylori, you may also have low ferritin/iron… and further, if you are hypochlorhydric, this could also explain low iron. It is not always tied to Babesia, and Connie does not imply that either). She is a great author, and writes in a conversational way, so her book (all her books) are very easy to understand. There were so many, and another clinical pearl from her book was this, “Do a search on www.antennasearch.com to discover how many microwave towers and antennas are within a four-mile radius of where you live. This can give you an idea of how much “outside” EMR you are exposed to.” Connie’s point is to show that we surrounded by electromagnetic radiation, and the effects of it cause similar symptoms to Lyme disease such as anxiety, depression, tremors, numbness, tinnitus, skin rashes, arrhythmias, cognitive problems, fatigue, digestive disorders, trouble breathing, muscle/joint pain, attention problems and symptoms similar to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosos) or Parkinsons. This is all listed on her page 61 of her book available for purchase at www.LymeBytes.Blogspot.com There is a forward by Dr. Lee Cowden and discussion of nutrient deficiencies and toxic foods, mold and mycotoxins and foci infections in the mouth.
What other non-drug interventions can you try if you have Bartonella?
I’ve read that eating foods that are oily or sweet can increase brain fog and neurological problems. For example, I’d limit or eliminate ice cream, refined sugar, French fries, fried chicken and so forth. A good LLMD will also suggest limiting foods that cause yeast or Candida because this makes the Bartonella infection harder to treat. In fact, I’ll tell you right now, Bart is difficult to get completely out of your body. The trick is to kill as many germs as you can, without killing yourself. Remember, LD and Bart suppress your immune system, so obviously ramping up your immune system function is important. Probiotics are first on the list. You can take anything you wish, my personal favorite is Dr. Ohhira’s brand
Aside from cleaning up your diet and eliminating sugar and junk food, I also suggest a Phase One or Paleo diet (these are grain free, dairy free and gluten free).
I recommend no more soda, and instead drink tea. Drinking green tea or Matcha is particularly helpful. Rooibos tea is nice too. Herbal teas that can help include Chamomile tea and Boneset tea (which has antimicrobial properties).
I personally recommend you talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for “LDN” or low-dose naltrexone. You cannot take it however, if you are taking narcotic drugs (like hydrocodone or oxycodone, etc). If you are able to take LDN, the rationale is that it boosts immune system, giving your body a fighting chance to beat the bugs.
I like medicinal mushroom supplements like Reishi or Cordyceps. Some of herbs have action against Bartonella, but I would not undertake these without physician supervision’s blessings because I want you to run everything by your doctor.
One of the most popular herbal treatments you’ll hear about is Artemisinin (also called “wormwood”) which is used to treat a coinfection Babesia. Tea preparations are milder than oral supplements. This herb is used to treat many different kinds of infections. It’s not so great at treating Bartonella. But for Babesia, you’ll see Artemisinin commonly suggested, or sometimes another herb called Cryptolepis (by Woodland Essence).
Dosing the Artemisinin is tricky. You can doublecheck with your Lyme doctor. There are different ways this herb is used. According to Dr. Marty Ross the most effective is to take it three days in a row, then you take 11 days off. Your intestines have the ability to deactivate the Arteminisin, and that develops 3 to 4 days into treatment, so it’s good to take a high dose then stop (for about 11 days). Most people cycling like this will often get a worsening of their Babesia symptoms but that gradually goes away.
For this herb, I recommend Artemisinin by Allergy Research, 300mg taken three times daily for 3 days, then stop for 11 days. Then next cycle goes up in dosage, about 400mg three times daily for 3 days, then go off for 11 days. This is not gospel, just an idea, you need to ask your doctor what’s right for you.
Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) comes as a tea and I mentioned it earlier. It’s commonly used to treat flu and influenza. Really terrific for influenza actually, and fever/chills, allergies, urinary tract infections and jaundice. Boneset is also helpful for Bartonella infections.
I mentioned Banderol with Samento, these are sold as liquid droppers without a prescription. by Nutramedix (www.Nutramedix.com). As I mentioned earlier the Nutramedix protocol is an entirely natural protocol touted by a well-respected Lyme-literate doctor, Lee Cowden Banderol is an herb and it’s pretty much anti-everything! Antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiviral, antiprotozoal, antirickettsial and so forth. It is also anti-inflammatory. It may help with prostatitis, asthma, thrush, urinary tract infections, psoriasis and other conditions.
In combination with Samento, another amazing anti-everything herb, lovely things happen for Lyme patients. Samento is TOA-free Cat’s Claw.
Even though I like Banderol and Samento in combination, it’s not a foolproof program. For some patients, they need a little bit more to kick the infection altogether, but it’s a great start and worth your time to research.
No matter what medicine or supplements that you take, I suggest that you work out the dosages with your LLMD.
As a general rule, and this applies to all Lyme treatments (prescribed or natural) you should titrate upwards, slowly to avoid a herx reaction, which is a resurgence of symptoms as your body is faced with dead ‘bug parts’ during antimicrobial treatment. The only exception to this rule is with Artemesinin, suggestions for it’s use are above.
There are very good books on the subject of Lyme, and many different treatment options. I read about all sorts of things but don’t yet have an opinion. For example, I’ve heard of ozone therapy, MMS, Rife machines, the Salt C protocol, silver IVs, Hydrogen Peroxide, Light Beam generators, lymph machines, lasers, Biophotonics and saunas. The only thing I’m willing to comfortably suggest from those (right now) is the sauna treatment, infrared or full-spectrum. If you’ve experienced a cure from any of the other treatments I’ve mentioned, I’d love to hear about it (email me firstname.lastname@example.org). I own the full-spectrum sauna. It’s great when it gets cold in Colorado. As for Lyme patients, I think warming the body can be helpful in terms of detoxing,plus it helps if you have mitochondrial dysfunction or low thyroid. Many of you have mitochondrial damage, and your body temperature runs low, so saunas are helpful, and some thyroid medicine may be recommended too. Base that on your labs please. Also consider vitamin D (I disagree with the Marshall protocol because I believe in the value of vitamin D).
I wish you well, let me know if there is something specific that worked for you, or if you have a testimonial you’d like to share. Click on the “contact” button above to reach me or email direct, email@example.com (I regret that I cannot consult personally with you and advise regarding your medical condition, I am not a physician).
To learn more about Borrelia burdorferi: https://borreliaburgdorferi.org
To learn more about testing, visit here: Here’s a webpage that discusses testing for LD, and Bartonella (as well as other co-infections): https://www.ilads.org/lyme_research/lyme_articles6.html
To learn more about lab testing & Lyme Disease:
Galaxy Diagnostics (for Bartonella testing only): https://www.galaxydx.com/web/
Stony Brook: https://stonybrookmedicine.edu/patientcare/lyme
How to Remove a Tick:
DON’T BURN IT, that is a MYTH, and the fastest way to get it to spit it’s germs into you!
- Use tweezers or forceps.
- Grasp the tick mouthparts close to the skin.
- Avoid squeezing the tick which may spread infected body fluids.
- Pull the tick straight out. Do not twist.
- Save the tick (you can have it tested for B. burgdorferi and coinfections)
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Apply antiseptic to bite site.
New Idea for Consideration:
Transvascular autonomic modulation or “TAM”
This is a procedure that may affect affects your vagus nerve, and helps with autonomic dysregulation seen in many conditions. From what I’ve read, significant complications are rare, and even though there are no clinical trials to test it’s effect on Lyme patients, some have undergone this procedure and reported benefits. So again, this may be amazing or it may be all wrong, I can just tell you that I’ve read anecdotal reports from Lyme patients who have tried it. Some refer to TAMas “CCSVI” used on patients with multiple sclerosis (Could that be misdiagnosed Lyme too? Who knows…). Years ago, I made a video on CCSVI, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOkjj59qsd8 and here’s my article on the same topic: https://suzycohen.com/articles/new-discovery-liberation-treatment-for-multiple-sclerosis/
And now, I will provide the website link for TAM, because it’s come up in my studies and interesting to read. According to their website, “Patients respond with relief from cognitive impairment (brain fog), chronic fatigue, waking headaches, thermal intolerance, bladder/bowel dysfunction, and other debilitating symptoms of autonomic dysfunction.”
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This information is strictly educational, nothing presented here is intended to treat, cure or diagnose you. Please consult your physician for all changes to your drug and supplement regimen.
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Bartonella spp. Bacteremia and Rheumatic Symptoms in Patients from Lyme Disease–endemic Region https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/18/5/11-1366_article.htm
Do Bartonella Infections Cause Agitation, Panic Disorder, and Treatment-Resistant Depression? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2100128/
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Snydman DR, Schenkein DP, Berardi VP, Lastavica CC, Pariser KM. Borrelia burgdorferi in joint fluid in chronic Lyme arthritis. Ann Intern Med. 1986 Jun;104(6):798-800. PubMed PMID: 3518562.
Cruz M, Hansen K, Ernerudh J, Steere AC, Link H. Lyme arthritis: oligoclonal anti-Borrelia burgdorferi IgG antibodies occur in joint fluid and serum. Scand J Immunol. 1991 Jan;33(1):61-71. PubMed PMID: 1996408.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.