Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Dr. Mark Hyman: 7 Ways to Tackle Lyme Disease

Health + Wellness

“I have Lyme disease,” writes this week’s viewer. “Is there anything I can do to treat it naturally?”

Lyme disease, the most common American tick-borne infectious disease, often goes undiagnosed or becomes misdiagnosed. That becomes a real problem when you consider that in America, up to 300,000 new cases a year of Lyme disease diagnoses have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an increase of up to 10 times what researchers previously believed.

Lyme disease, or borreliosis, is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which can proliferate to every area in your body. An infected blacklegged deer tick transmits the virus to humans through a bite.

Unfortunately, Borrelia burgdorferi has the ability to proliferate within every area of your body, hiding from and suppressing your natural immune system. Lyme infections literally hijack your immune system like AIDS.

Lyme is one of the most challenging, difficult situations in my practice because it mimics other illnesses such as the flu, manifesting as diverse symptoms like headaches, muscle aches, stomach ulcers, constipation, and joint pain. That makes diagnosing and treating Lyme very difficult. 

A weakened immune system paired with suboptimal cellular function and protection, chronic bacterial infections, and exposure to environmental toxinslike molds and parasites, can make things much worse for those who suffer from chronic Lyme.

Some of my patients who are diagnosed with Lyme have struggled for years with undiagnosed symptoms that conventional doctors overlooked.

My own dentist had a chronic inflammatory problem that no one could figure out. After copious sleuthing, it turns out he had a tick-borne infection. Just as bad, my patients have been misdiagnosed. Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt believes conventional doctors misdiagnose many cases of Lyme as fibromyalgia.

Left unchecked, Lyme symptoms worsen, creating a long-running inflammatory response and autoimmune illness. Early treatment can be successful but many go undiagnosed for years.

Although I believe antibiotics become necessary for treating Lyme, many conventional doctors stop there. But to truly recover from Lyme disease, you want to work with a practitioner who takes a whole-system approach rather than simply believing a few courses of antibiotics will make things better.

If you suspect Lyme, the first step is to complete the Horowitz Lyme-MSIDS Questionnaire. This will help you pinpoint many Lyme-related symptoms and their severity.

If you believe you have Lyme, please visit your doctor to confirm your suspicion. Needless to say, the sooner you address these conditions and begin treatment, the more effectively you will recover.

The most popular conventional way to test for Lyme disease is a combination of the Western blot and ELISA test, which measure specific antibodies in the blood. 

Read page 1

The problem with this and other conventional testing is that it’s not always accurate. This approach also misses up to 60 percent of cases of early-stage Lyme disease, since it can take weeks for the body to develop measurable antibodies against the infection.

Whereas, many conventional doctors go wrong by not supporting your entire system, Functional Medicine becomes a systems-biology approach to personalized medicine that focuses on the underlying causes of disease. The very  definition of Functional Medicine states that we focus on WHY, not WHAT.

Functional Medicine doctors are like soil farmers. They create a healthy soil, so pests can’t come and weeds can’t flourish. A healthy soil means disease can’t come. You want to do everything possible to cultivate healthy soil so disease doesn’t have a place to take root.

The good news is that with some work and effort, you can successfully treat Lyme disease. After you are correctly diagnosed, you want to become proactive about eliminating this disease.

If you suffer from Lyme and really want to dive deep into healing strategies, I highly recommend Why Can’t I Get Better? Solving the Mystery of Lyme and Chronic Disease, by Dr. Richard Horowitz.  Whether you’re a practitioner or someone who struggles with Lyme, this book contains a wealth of copiously referenced information.

Treating Lyme disease involves diagnosis followed by treatment with a Functional Medicine practitioner. As I’ve mentioned, this can become a challenging trial-and-error process that requires patience and effort.

As you work with your practitioner to eliminate Lyme disease, consider  implementing the following seven strategies to help you become an effective soil farmer.

  1. Eat real food. The key here involves removing the bad stuff like processed foods and sugar and incorporating more good stuff like protein, healthy fats and plenty of anti-inflammatory omega 3-rich foods like wild fish. You can grab plenty of my favorite healthy recipes here.
  2. Supplement smartly. A host of nutrients, including herbs, can help with Lyme. These include immune-boosting herbs including cordycep, reishi, and maitake mushrooms that help kill off bad bacteria, as well as immune-boosting vitamin D, anti-inflammatory curcumin (found in turmeric) and magnesium. I strongly encourage you to work with a Functional Medicine practitioner to customize these and other supplements, which you can find in my store.
  3. Repopulate. While I believe they are absolutely crucial to treat Lyme, antibiotics kill off all bacteria (good and bad). After you’ve zapped them, you want to repopulate with good bacteria. Eat probiotic-rich fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi.  And supplement with a high-dose, multi-strain probiotic.
  4. Address food sensitivities. Gluten, dairy and other food sensitivities can increase inflammation, weaken your immune system and worsen Lyme disease symptoms. Eliminate these foods for three weeks and see if your symptoms improve. The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet provides an easy-to-implement plan that removes food sensitivities, sugar, and processed foods to help your body heal quickly.
  5. Get good sleep. Studies show that sleep disturbances and chronic fatigue are prevalent with Lyme disease. Sleep deprivation has numerous ramifications, including reduced levels of your feel-good hormone serotonin (I frequently see this with patients) and diminished immunity, giving pathogens more leeway to ramp up. Get 19 of my top sleep tips here.
  6. Control stress. Chronic stress can crash your immune system and exacerbate Lyme disease symptoms. Whether you do yoga, deep breathing, or meditation, find something you can consistently do to lower stress levels. Many Lyme disease patients find my UltraCalm CD ideal to melt away stress and anxiety.
  7. Reduce your toxic load. These include heavy metals and pesticides, which have a broad range of negative effects on human biology; they damage the nervous and immune systems and contribute to diabesity. If you suspect metal or other toxicity, please work with your Functional Medicine doctor to develop a customized detoxification plan.

The right strategies, combined with working with a Functional Medicine practitioner can help address Lyme. The healing process can become frustrating and sometimes seemingly insurmountable, but with time, effort, and a focus on a whole-system, integrative approach with the right practitioner, you can tackle it. I’ve seen patients have miraculous recoveries, especially when we diagnose and tackle Lyme in the early stages.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Can Drinking Water Help You Lose Weight?

5 Smoothie Ingredients to Fuel Your Workout + Recipe

6 Foods That Are Anti-Inflammatory Powerhouses

7 Incredibly Common Nutrient Deficiencies and How to Recognize Them

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

In the tropics, farmers often slash and burn forests to clear fertile land for crops, but a new method avoids that technique. Inga Foundation video

Rainforests are an important defense against climate change because they absorb carbon. But many are being destroyed on a massive scale.

Read More Show Less
A truck spreads lime on a meadow to increase the soil's fertility in Yorkshire Dales, UK. Farm Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

As we look for advanced technology to replace our dependence on fossil fuels and to rid the oceans of plastic, one solution to the climate crisis might simply be found in rocks. New research found that dispersing rock dust over farmland could suck billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the air every year, according to the first detailed large scale analysis of the technique, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Global heating imposes a harsh cost at the most critical time of all: the moment of spawning. Pxfuel

By Tim Radford

German scientists now know why so many fish are so vulnerable to ever-warming oceans. Global heating imposes a harsh cost at the most critical time of all: the moment of spawning.

Read More Show Less
Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body's own immune system attacks and injures the nerves outside of the spinal cord or brain – the peripheral nervous system. Niq Steele / Getty Images

By Sherry H-Y. Chou, Aarti Sarwal and Neha S. Dangayach

The patient in the case report (let's call him Tom) was 54 and in good health. For two days in May, he felt unwell and was too weak to get out of bed. When his family finally brought him to the hospital, doctors found that he had a fever and signs of a severe infection, or sepsis. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. In addition to symptoms of COVID-19, he was also too weak to move his legs.

When a neurologist examined him, Tom was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes abnormal sensation and weakness due to delays in sending signals through the nerves. Usually reversible, in severe cases it can cause prolonged paralysis involving breathing muscles, require ventilator support and sometimes leave permanent neurological deficits. Early recognition by expert neurologists is key to proper treatment.

We are neurologists specializing in intensive care and leading studies related to neurological complications from COVID-19. Given the occurrence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in prior pandemics with other corona viruses like SARS and MERS, we are investigating a possible link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19 and tracking published reports to see if there is any link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19.

Some patients may not seek timely medical care for neurological symptoms like prolonged headache, vision loss and new muscle weakness due to fear of getting exposed to virus in the emergency setting. People need to know that medical facilities have taken full precautions to protect patients. Seeking timely medical evaluation for neurological symptoms can help treat many of these diseases.

What Is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body's own immune system attacks and injures the nerves outside of the spinal cord or brain – the peripheral nervous system. Most commonly, the injury involves the protective sheath, or myelin, that wraps nerves and is essential to nerve function.

Without the myelin sheath, signals that go through a nerve are slowed or lost, which causes the nerve to malfunction.

To diagnose Guillain-Barre Syndrome, neurologists perform a detailed neurological exam. Due to the nerve injury, patients often may have loss of reflexes on examination. Doctors often need to perform a lumbar puncture, otherwise known as spinal tap, to sample spinal fluid and look for signs of inflammation and abnormal antibodies.

Studies have shown that giving patients an infusion of antibodies derived from donated blood or plasma exchange – a process that cleans patients' blood of harmful antibodies - can speed up recovery. A very small subset of patients may need these therapies long-term.

The majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients improve within a few weeks and eventually can make a full recovery. However, some patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome have lingering symptoms including weakness and abnormal sensations in arms and/or legs; rarely patients may be bedridden or disabled long-term.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Pandemics

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, many neurologic specialists have been on the lookout for potentially serious nervous system complications such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Though Guillain-Barre Syndrome is rare, it is well known to emerge following bacterial infections, such as Campylobacter jejuni, a common cause of food poisoning, and a multitude of viral infections including the flu virus, Zika virus and other coronaviruses.

Studies showed an increase in Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases following the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, suggesting a possible connection. The presumed cause for this link is that the body's own immune response to fight the infection turns on itself and attacks the peripheral nerves. This is called an "autoimmune" condition. When a pandemic affects as many people as our current COVID-19 crisis, even a rare complication can become a significant public health problem. That is especially true for one that causes neurological dysfunction where the recovery takes a long time and may be incomplete.

The first reports of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in COVID-19 pandemic originated from Italy, Spain and China, where the pandemic surged before the U.S. crisis.

Though there is clear clinical suspicion that COVID-19 can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, many important questions remain. What are the chances that someone gets Guillain-Barre Syndrome during or following a COVID-19 infection? Does Guillain-Barre Syndrome happen more often in those who have been infected with COVID-19 compared to other types of infections, such as the flu?

The only way to get answers is through a prospective study where doctors perform systematic surveillance and collect data on a large group of patients. There are ongoing large research consortia hard at work to figure out answers to these questions.

Understanding the Association Between COVID-19 and Guillain-Barre Syndrome

While large research studies are underway, overall it appears that Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare but serious phenomenon possibly linked to COVID-19. Given that more than 10.7 million cases have been reported for COVID-19, there have been 10 reported cases of COVID-19 patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far – only two reported cases in the U.S., five in Italy, two cases in Iran and one from Wuhan, China.

It is certainly possible that there are other cases that have not been reported. The Global Consortium Study of Neurological Dysfunctions in COVID-19 is actively underway to find out how often neurological problems like Guillain-Barre Syndrome is seen in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Also, just because Guillain-Barre Syndrome occurs in a patient diagnosed with COVID-19, that does not imply that it was caused by the virus; this still may be a coincident occurrence. More research is needed to understand how the two events are related.

Due to the pandemic and infection-containment considerations, diagnostic tests, such as a nerve conduction study that used to be routine for patients with suspected Guillain-Barre Syndrome, are more difficult to do. In both U.S. cases, the initial diagnosis and treatment were all based on clinical examination by a neurological experts rather than any tests. Both patients survived but with significant residual weakness at the time these case reports came out, but that is not uncommon for Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients. The road to recovery may sometimes be long, but many patients can make a full recovery with time.

Though the reported cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far all have severe symptoms, this is not uncommon in a pandemic situation where the less sick patients may stay home and not present for medical care for fear of being exposed to the virus. This, plus the limited COVID-19 testing capability across the U.S., may skew our current detection of Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases toward the sicker patients who have to go to a hospital. In general, the majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients do recover, given enough time. We do not yet know whether this is true for COVID-19-related cases at this stage of the pandemic. We and colleagues around the world are working around the clock to find answers to these critical questions.

Sherry H-Y. Chou is an Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Neurology, and Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh.

Aarti Sarwal is an Associate Professor, Neurology, Wake Forest University.

Neha S. Dangayach is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Disclosure statement: Sherry H-Y. Chou receives funding from The University of Pittsburgh Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the National Institute of Health, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Dean's Faculty Advancement Award. Sherry H-Y. Chou is a member of Board of Directors for the Neurocritical Care Society. Neha S. Dangayach receives funding from the Bee Foundation, the Friedman Brain Institute, the Neurocritical Care Society, InCHIP-UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media Seed Grant. She is faculty for emcrit.org and for AiSinai. Aarti Sarwal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Reposted with permission from The Conversation.


Nurses wear PPE prior to caring for a COVID-19 patient in the ICU at Sharp Grossmont Hospital on May 5, 2020 in La Mesa, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

One of the initial reasons social distancing guidelines were put in place was to allow the healthcare system to adapt to a surge in patients since there was a critical shortage of beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment. In fact, masks that were designed for single-use were reused for an entire week in some hospitals.

Read More Show Less
Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders greet each other with a safe elbow bump before the start of the Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, DC on March 15, 2020. Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

Unity Task Forces formed by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled sweeping party platform recommendations Wednesday that—while falling short of progressive ambitions in a number of areas, from climate to healthcare—were applauded as important steps toward a bold and just policy agenda that matches the severity of the moment.

"We've moved the needle a lot, especially on environmental justice and upping Biden's ambition," said Sunrise Movement co-founder and executive director Varshini Prakash, a member of the Biden-Sanders Climate Task Force. "But there's still more work to do to push Democrats to act at the scale of the climate crisis."

The climate panel—co-chaired by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and former Secretary of State John Kerry—recommended that the Democratic Party commit to "eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035," massively expanding investments in clean energy sources, and "achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings by 2030."

In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Ocasio-Cortez—the lead sponsor of the House Green New Deal resolution—noted that the Climate Task Force "shaved 15 years off Biden's previous target for 100% clean energy."

"Of course, like in any collaborative effort, there are areas of negotiation and compromise," said the New York Democrat. "But I do believe that the Climate Task Force effort meaningfully and substantively improved Biden's positions."

 

The 110 pages of policy recommendations from the six eight-person Unity Task Forces on education, the economy, criminal justice, immigration, climate change, and healthcare are aimed at shaping negotiations over the 2020 Democratic platform at the party's convention next month.

Sanders said that while the "end result isn't what I or my supporters would've written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country."

"I look forward to working with Vice President Biden to help him win this campaign," the Vermont senator added, "and to move this country forward toward economic, racial, social, and environmental justice."

Biden, for his part, applauded the task forces "for helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country."

"I am deeply grateful to Bernie Sanders for working with us to unite our party and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come," said the former vice president.

On the life-or-death matter of reforming America's dysfunctional private health insurance system—a subject on which Sanders and Biden clashed repeatedly throughout the Democratic primary process—the Unity Task Force affirmed healthcare as "a right" but did not embrace Medicare for All, the signature policy plank of the Vermont senator's presidential bid.

Instead, the panel recommended building on the Affordable Care Act by establishing a public option, investing in community health centers, and lowering prescription drug costs by allowing the federal government to negotiate prices. The task force also endorsed making all Covid-19 testing, treatments, and potential vaccines free and expanding Medicaid for the duration of the pandemic.

"It has always been a crisis that tens of millions of Americans have no or inadequate health insurance—but in a pandemic, it's potentially catastrophic for public health," the task force wrote.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a former Michigan gubernatorial candidate and Sanders-appointed member of the Healthcare Task Force, said that despite major disagreements, the panel "came to recommendations that will yield one of the most progressive Democratic campaign platforms in history—though we have further yet to go."

 

Observers and advocacy groups also applauded the Unity Task Forces for recommending the creation of a postal banking system, endorsing a ban on for-profit charter schools, ending the use of private prisons, and imposing a 100-day moratorium on deportations "while conducting a full-scale study on current practices to develop recommendations for transforming enforcement policies and practices at ICE and CBP."

Marisa Franco, director of immigrant rights group Mijente, said in a statement that "going into these task force negotiations, we knew we were going to have to push Biden past his comfort zone, both to reconcile with past offenses and to carve a new path forward."

"That is exactly what we did, unapologetically," said Franco, a member of the Immigration Task Force. "For years, Mijente, along with the broader immigrant rights movement, has fought to reshape the narrative around immigration towards racial justice and to focus these very demands. We expect Biden and the Democratic Party to implement them in their entirety."

"There is no going back," Franco added. "Not an inch, not a step. We must only move forward from here."

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.

Trending

A grizzly bear sow with cub in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Danita Delimont / Gallo Images / Getty Images Plus

Grizzly bears in Wyoming and Idaho won't be subject to a trophy hunt thanks to a federal court decision Wednesday upholding endangered species protections for these iconic animals.

Read More Show Less