This won't be my most well received blog post, since I am going to lay down some hard truths about chronic Lyme that some may not want to hear, but it needs to be said: long term use of antibiotics just does not heal chronic Lyme.
The reasons are 1) the well-developed trend of antibiotic resistance 2) antibiotic don't address the real cause of chronic Lyme. Antibiotics have saved many lives and if we want them to keep doing so we need to use them wisely. Being on antibiotics for months and or years for Lyme is not using them wisely. I need to point out that I certainly advocate the use of antibiotics for new /recent Lyme infections because when Lyme is caught early, it is cured with the proper antibiotic protocol.
Having had chronic Lyme disease myself for over 20 years, I know full well the pain of trying to get a diagnosis and the pain of finding treatment. Once I got well, I was determined to help others heal and spread the word that healing chronic Lyme naturally is possible. I went on to become a Lyme Literate Naturopath. In my almost 8 years of practice, each and every Lyme patient that walks into my office has been through the Lyme war. Not just the war of this disease ravaging their mind. body and spirit, but also the war of the medical community and how they deal with Lyme. The war of what months and/or years of antibiotics have done to their body. My clients present in my office in pain, skeptical, broken, financially broke and hopeless. They sit down slumped over just waiting to hear the next wave of how to heal.
When someone is diagnosed with chronic Lyme or suspects Lyme, their first reaction is to see a medical doctor (or LLMD- Lyme Literate Medical Doctor) so that they can start pharmaceutical treatment right away. The problem with that is, the medical doctors only treat the Lyme with drugs and rarely if ever begin to address the body's other healing mechanisms. There is a whole other healing paradigm that medical doctors totally neglect and dismiss. which accompanies all chronic disease.
When I was sick with Lyme, all the LLMD's did for me was give me endless antibiotics. The mental and physical strain from taking all the medications, put my body at a healing disadvantage. I was either throwing up, sleeping, in pain or spending hours on the toilet with chronic diarrhea caused from the antibiotics. Not one MD every advised me to clean up my diet, avoid certain foods, check for MTHFR, take good probioitcs or detox. I trusted the medical profession to heal me when in fact, their pharmaceutical elixirs were making me more sick. You will often hear from the LLMD that a Herxheimer Reaction is a good sign. Hog wash! It's far from a good sign. A Herxheimer Reaction is a sign that your body cannot eliminate the bio-toxins that are being created by the endless cocktails of meds these LLMD's are dishing out. You cannot heal in a herx state since a herx is warfare on the body.
There was a patient who came to me and her LLMD had her on antibiotics for an entire 3 years and in my professional and personal opinion, the LLMD's who are prescribing that amount of antibiotics should lose their medical license. It's totally blows my mind how any medical doctor who took the Hippocratic oath to "do no harm" could possibly not see the damage they are inflicting on these patients. Thankfully with the onset of the internet and the vast sources of educational information out there, Lyme sufferers are seeing how preposterous a LLMD's over-prescribing of antibiotics is. What's also preposterous is their fees that range from $900-$1900 a hour when most of them do is simply hand patients a template diet and detox protocol that they've given to every other Lyme patient. Lyme treatment is and never will be a "one-size- fits- all" protocol. There are no clear stats on how many people fully heal from Lyme on long-term antibiotics alone, but I can tell you this for sure, in my 11 years in the Lyme world and in my 8 years in Lyme practice, I've not met one.
There can be 10 people infected with Lyme and 8 will fully heal with or without medications and 2 will always been in the Lyme battle even with medications. Why is that? Well that's because there are other underlying issues that need to be worked on and medications alone is not the answer. Once Lyme goes chronic, it's already causes systemic havoc. Most people in a chronic Lyme state often have severe candida issues, gut issues, heavy metals, detox issues, MTHFR and emotional issue all of which are never addressed within the medical community. The use of long term antibiotics worsens of all these. Medical doctors offer little to no support for these issues because they are either not schooled in how to address them or they simply don't believe they exist. Lyme sufferers see Naturopaths as their last hope to healing since they've exhausted all their other options. Naturopathic healing in North America is often not a first line therapy for most people since they trust their medicals doctors more with their health. Sadly, conventional medicine fails chronic Lyme sufferers over and over. This is why natural healing for long term chronic Lyme should be the first stop.
I've had LLMDs send me their toughest Lyme cases (maybe not after this article) because these patients have been on antibiotics for years and most of them didn't improve but got worse. The LLMDs were stumped on what to do next so they had no choice but to refer them off. When these patients come to me, there is always underlying systemic issues and once I work with these patients to get issues under control, they heal. Healing chronic Lyme (like any chronic disease) is not a quick fix and there's no one naturopathic protocol that does the trick. Each person heals in different ways with different protocols. Patients often feel frustrated at the healing process and only because they've already been on the Lyme ride for years prior to seeking out natural methods.
The best way to heal from chronic Lyme is to make sure all systems checked and addressed. First and foremost, you need to rule out MTHFR. You can get this done via blood work with your medical doctor or by ordering a genetic testing kit at www.23andme.com. Most LLMDs are now schooled on MTHFR but your basic medical doctors won't be, therefore they may refuse to run the blood work and won't know how to read the results or treat. Dr Ben Lynch is the MTHFR pioneer and his web site (http://mthfr.net/) and FB group ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrateGene/) offers endless educational information on Lyme and MTHFR. If you have MTHFR mutations, you cannot heal from any disease unless the MTHFR is addressed and treated. Then you need to work on the other systemic issues mentioned.
Find a Naturopathic or Medical practitioner who treats all systems and doesn't just prescribe pharmaceutical medications like candy. Ask to speak to the Lyme specialist you're going to work with and ask them what their general system is for treating Lyme. Take notes and research before working with anyone.
What if you cannot get a conclusive diagnosis? Not to worry, when a patients comes to me that cannot get a diagnosis using diagnostic tools or cannot get a clinical diagnosis, but still feels strongly they have Lyme, I have my own criteria that I work with. I am very knowledge about Lyme so I am able to identify the symptoms, even subtle symptoms. At this point, I will work with a patient and not name the disease, but rather work on cleaning the body's terrain, building up immunity, work the mind/body/spirit and happily most of my Lyme clients are well again.
Jennifer Sierzant (Lyme Literate Naturopath)