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The Truth About a Lyme Disease Diagnosis

Chronic Lyme Disease is probably one of the most misunderstood diseases of the 21st century. People are frantically trying to find a doctor who will listen to them, test them and treat them. Most of the conventional medical community refuses to acknowledge chronic Lyme Disease because there is no real or progressive forms of Lyme testing out there. If a medical doctors can't see it, they can't treat it, so they don't acknowledge it. Naturopaths are often the last resort for those who cannot get a conclusive diagnosis for Lyme or for those who've been diagnosed with Lyme, but are just not getting better with standard treatments. Once a Lyme client walks into my office, they've often ran the gamut of seeing medical doctors or LLMD's (Lyme Literate medical doctors) and cannot find answers or just aren't healing from Lyme. They are exhausted, broke and often more sick than when they started the Lyme journey.

Chronic Lyme Disease is an extremely hard disease to diagnoses and not easy to treat. Most of the standard Lyme testing has very high "failure to diagnose" rates. There are only a few labs like Igenex that offer somewhat conclusive testing, but even those tests are not full-proof. At that point, some practitioners will make a clinician (based on symptoms alone) diagnosis. Conventional medical doctors will not clinically diagnose Lyme unless they see the bullseye (EM) rash. The clinical diagnosis is often made by an LLMD or an Integrative Practitioner. I am not one of those practitioners that will clinically diagnose Lyme because other diseases can mask as Lyme, just as much as Lyme masks other diseases. I've seen clients who's LLMD diagnosed them with Lyme when in fact all they had was a food allergy and sadly they were given dangerous amounts of antibiotics. It's very risky to assume a Lyme diagnosis since the treatment for Lyme is to prescribe large and often damaging rounds of antibiotics. What I prefer to do when there is no conclusive diagnosis is to start from the ground up. I will address the symptoms and work on strengthening the terrain of a person. It's not always about killing the bacteria, but often about getting the immune system strong so it can fight on it's own.

The need to be heard about Lyme has created a whole new specialization called LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctors). I've been very vocal about my distaste for the LLMD specialization. Sure there are some LLMD's out there who are generally trying to heal their patients, but more often that not, these LLMD's are MD's who added the LL to their title because they saw the amazing money making that is chronic Lyme. People sick with Lyme that cannot get answers become desperate and search out anyone who will listen to them. Unfortunately, some of these LLMD's know this and have increased their fees from $125 an hour to $900-$1500 an hour. There is not one reason any doctor should be charging a client $1500 an hour when basically what they are doing is giving a template protocol to each and every Lyme patient. I've had clients come to me from the same LLMD and every single one had the same protocol right down to the diet portion. Healing chronic Lyme is not a "one size fits all" protocol. In fact, there is no disease that has a one-size-fits all paradigm. Doctors who are prescribing these lengthy courses of medications for Lyme should be scrutinized not only for the misuse of medications and misdiagnosis but also for their unethical consult fees. I am happy to report that some LLMD's are now learning and teaching healing as a whole and not just writing scripts for antibiotics.

Back in 2006 when I was sick, I was originally diagnose with Lupus from my Rheumatolgist but I felt there was something more to my disease. I researched as much as I could about Lyme and went off to the US to meet with an LLMD. At the time this LLMD was charging $200 a consult where today her fee is $900. She saw me for an hour and diagnosed me with Lyme. She sent me off with a prescription for 5 different antibiotics and like anyone, I listened to the doctor, filled the prescriptions and took the medications. The medications made me so sick that I could barely get out of bed. I felt more sick on the medication than I did with the disease. Then I was told that the Herxheimer reaction I was experiencing was normal. My instincts knew that these reactions were not anywhere near normal. There is nothing normal or even healthy about a herx reaction. A herx is a clear indication that the body cannot handle the die off; it's not a sign that you're healing.

In my 10 years in the "Lyme" world and 8 years as a practicing clinical Lyme Literate Naturopath, I've yet to see anyone on long term antibiotics fully heal from Lyme. In fact, long and drawn out courses of antibiotics often do more harm than good. Antibiotics do not address many of the other health crisis that often accompany chronic Lyme. Yes antibiotics are very effective for new Lyme infections but are mostly ineffective and damaging for chronic Lyme.

I was frustrated that I wasn't healing or getting answers so I took matters into my own hands and decided to start taking courses in Naturopathic healing so I could become my own healer. It was time for a reboot of my mind and body. Once I learned how the body really heals, I got off all the medications and started with the basics. It took me 2 full years to figure it all out, but I healed from chronic disease without drugs and have been in full remission for close to 10 years now. It was my mission to share my knowledge so after 3 years of taking Naturopathic courses, I got certified as a Naturopath and decided to specialize in Lyme Disease. My goal has always been to guide others on how to heal properly and in a healthy way. I am happy to say that many of my Lyme clients have healed from chronic Lyme and other conditions. The clients with antibiotic injury take longer to heal because of the damage to their gut and immune system but they do heal. Healing isn't a quick process and it takes time, compliance and trust, but healing does happens.

Those with Chronic Lyme or suspected Chronic Lyme have so much to battle from doctors not believing them, to not being able to find a doctor to test them, then finding doctors who gouge them to finding doctors who clinically diagnose them without ruling out other diseases. The only way to win with Lyme or suspected Lyme is to start working on your body's own innate ability to heal by finding a Lyme Literate Naturopath or Integrative MD who understands and treats the entire organism as a whole. Its important to do your research and due diligence in finding the practitioner who's right for you. Don't waste your time worrying about trying to get an actual Lyme diagnosis if you can't. It's best to trust that your body knows how to heal whatever disease is manifesting once you've worked on strengthening it. In my opinion, there is no other way to treat chronic Lyme than to address the entire body as a whole because medicine alone just doesn't do that.

Jennifer Sierzant (Lyme Literate Naturopath)

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