LYME'S DISEASE: A New Rationale for Therapy

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LYME'S DISEASE is spirochetal blood disorder that is currently receiving a great deal of national media attention. The intensity of this focus has created widespread fear and misunderstanding in areas where Lyme's disease is prevalent. Part of this fear is from the fact that the standard western medical therapy is only partly effective, and the results erratic at best. However, when a clear and indepth study of the situation is made, a more positive view can be reached.

Lyme's disease gets it's name from Lyme, Connecticut, where it was first identified about 15 years ago. It is more often seen. in Europe, but in recent years the prevalence in the U.S. has increased considerably, especially in areas where white tail deer are found. The disease was originally thought to be carried and spread by deer ticks (lxodes dammini), but modern research has begun to show the possibility of many types of carriers, including transmission by mosquitos under laboratory conditions.

Signs and Symptoms

The first sign of Lyme's disease is often a bulls-eye shaped rash that appears a few days after a tick bite. Accompanying symptoms often include a fluish feeling, headache, stiff neck and hack, nausea and vomiting. Arthralgia is perhaps the most common symptom, but confusion, depression, loss of speech, diminished vision, enlargement of the spleen and lymph nodes, irregular heart beat, temporary deafness and brain damage can also occur. But the disease is rarely fatal.

The severity of Lyme's disease varies from patient to patient. Some patients recover in a matter of weeks, with only minor complaints, and do so without any therapy. Others agonize for years with the most minimal response from numerous therapies.

Because tick bites can be painless, many people never know that they have been bitten. This may cause the disease to go undetected--or to be misdiagnosed--and therefore reach an advanced stage without a true understanding of the situation. It can resemble Multiple Sclerosis, Gout, Epstein Barr, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

A test has been developed to detect Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria which cause Lyme's disease. A blood sample is used to determine the number of specific antibodies present, which increases from three days to three weeks after infection. This test, however, has proven to be fairly unreliable. A much more accurate test is expected to be available within a few months.

Western Medical Therapy

The standard medical therapy is based around long term and intensive antibiotic therapy. Usually antibiotics are started as soon as there is any suspicion of possible Lyme's inoculation. Patients are often on this regime for months or even years. The most common side effects are digestive disturbances and immune suppression, but other side effects can and do occur. Other drugs are used for various symptoms; anti- inflamitories are standard in most cases.

The response to antibiotic therapy varies greatly from patient to patient. Most seem to go through an immediate improvement, followed by a gradual return of symptoms. Many patients are virtually unresponsive, while others recover quickly.

The main rationale for long term antibiotic therapy is that the bacteria reproduce slowly and sporadically, so it is necessary to infuse the system for long periods so as to kill each new generation as soon as they arrive.

Rethinking the Situation

When I first heard of Lyme's disease, I had a strong feeling that oriental and natural medicine would have a better chance of healing the problem, but it took several months of research before the clues of how to do this started to appear.

The first light began to dawn when I discovered that western researchers had considered infecting Lyme's disease patients with malaria so as to induce fever. The had found that fever had a reducing effect on the severity of the Lyme symptomology. This made great sense to me. I remembered that in 1978, at the University of Michigan Medical School, research had shown that patients who were allowed to have an unchecked fever got well sooner and stayed well longer.

Naturopathic medicine has long valued fever for it's great healing properties. This view is based on a hundred years of empirical experience, and from the facts arising out of modern micobiology and immunology that show that the higher the temperature of the body, the better the white cells are able to do their job.

I reasoned that the strength of the immune response was the most likely factor to explain the differences in susceptibility in Lyme patients. I felt besides Chinese herbs I would also use nutritional and anti-oxident support, as well as lifestyle augmentation to reestablish immune system integrity. Within the next month my first Lyme patient arrived and the real work began. The following protocol is based only on the results of a few patients, but all of them are doing extremely well after doing poorly with the proscribed western treatment.

A New Protocol for Lyme Disease

When patients come for treatment who are already under the care of an M.D., I ask them to keep their doctor as a partner in the process. I do not have them discontinue the antibiotics, but I do ask that they stop all use of anti-inflamitories. As the therapy continues, it becomes obvious whether and/or when to change the course of the antibiotic use.

Each Lyme patient that came to me showed clear symptoms of extreme fatigue and adrenal exhaustion. Their history revealed either a) a persistent Type A behavior or b) a suppressed emotional effect. My instructions to them were to rest whenever the urge arose, no matter what time of day it was, and not to let any external preconception of schedule dictate the what or when of the rest/activity cycle. Although each patient took to this in their own way, all of them began to find themselves back on a normal routine within ten days.

Chinese Herbal Heat Therapy

After some experimentation I found that I could warm up most patients with a combination of ZHEN WU TANG and PANTOCRINE (deer horn extract). After a few days of each of these three times a day, patients reported feeling warm or hot. When heat symptoms such as thirst or irritability occured, I would have them take a few LIU WER DI HUANG WAN. which seemed to work just fine. The only problem that seemed to happen to many patients was greatly increased libido.

It took several days for patients to withdraw from the anti-inflamitories. During this time they often felt much worse, so it was important to warn them beforehand so they would know what to expect. Usually they would feel better after being off them for a few days. In cases with persistant arthralgia, SHU JING HUO XIE TANG or YI YI REN TANG would bring complete relief.

As each case progressed, various problems would arise, and suitable herbal prescriptions were used as needed, based on standard oriental diagnosis. In this same way acupuncture was used symptomatically. Common western herbs were also suggested as part of a daily regime at home.

Home and Lifestyle Support

Patients were urged to eat as much of a whole and natural food diet as possible. Small meals often were preferable, but the most important thing was to listen to their "inner voice." Relaxation, and emotional honesty and clarity were counseled, as were introspection and the importance of finding the positive influence of the illness on their lives. Fun and the enjoyment of life were seen as primary "medicines."

All patients that followed the regime improved dramatically, with healing proportional to the degree they followed it. No one is cured yet. The original patient has been on this regime for about four months and is back to work, living a normal life again. He is off antibiotics, but must adhere to the program to remain symptom free. Everyone is coming along well. We still have much to learn.

Peter Fairfield is the director of THE CENTER FOR CONSCIOUS HEALING. You can reach him at (707) 935-7072.

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By Peter Fairfield

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It is "Lyme" disease, NOT "Lyme's". It is not a spirochetal blood disorder. It is a deep tissue infection. It is a little hard to take this person seriously when they have some of the basic facts incorrect.