Knowing Lyme Disease
Dr. Fetters and Lyme Disease
I had just entered a family medicine group practice in the summer of 1988 when I read a powerful article in a family practice Journal in regards to the under estimation and lack of recognition of Lyme disease in the United States.
Within a few weeks, a middle-aged woman presented to me with classic symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. To my surprise, her Lyme blood test returned positive. The treatment protocol seemed simple; nevertheless, “to be safe”, I referred her to a local favorite infectious disease specialist. She returned to see me six weeks later after a four-week round of antibiotics, and she was totally free of any symptoms.
One month later, she returned in tears with the return of all of her symptoms. I reassured her that common sense dictates that she just needs a longer round of antibiotics. “That’s what I thought,” she said, and then explained to me that the infectious disease doctor told her that Lyme disease could not return after treatment with antibiotics.
I took over her case and treated her with a four-month course of antibiotics, which put her into complete remission.
That was the last time I referred a Lyme patient to infectious disease specialist.
Her treatment was so simple, and the resolution of symptoms was so profound, that I questioned how many other arthritic patients were suffering from an infectious process rather than an unexplained autoimmune condition.
My research back in 1988 revealed that there was much evidence that infectious diseases were not only a common cause of arthritis, but perhaps many “autoimmune diseases”. Therefore, I decided to treat all of my patients with unexplained inflammatory arthritis with antibiotics regardless of the results of the Lyme test.
I learned that a host of infectious agents were known to cause arthritis in humans. I felt I had nothing to lose since the current treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and other autoimmune conditions was aimed at just treating symptoms, and usually did little to modify the disease progression. Later disease-modifying drugs were used, but these drugs work by suppressing the immune system which can lead to a host of potential serious side effects.
With limited knowledge I was able to put over three quarters of my patients into complete remission.
Now fast forward 26 years and millions of hours of research by Lyme Literate practitioners and scientist, and we know have a wealth of knowledge in treating Lyme disease.
The reason why 3-4 weeks of a single antibiotic rarely leads to a complete remission, is due to the fact that the germ that causes Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi I) has the ability to shed its cell wall, form a cyst, and produce biofilm (a biological slime) to protect itself from antibiotics as well as the body’s own immune system.
Rarely does the Lyme bacterium act alone. It is often accompanied by many other germs (co-infections) which work together to suppress our immune system. The co-infections may be other bacteria, viruses, molds or parasites. Lyme disease is more accurately described by the phrase “multiple systemic infectious disease syndrome” or MSlDS. The majority of our patients have MSIDS with multiple infections that do not include the germ that causes Lyme disease. A protozoa infection is most commonly seen in our practice.
This would explain why only high dose antibiotics would “cure” many patients with Lyme disease. Certain antibiotics at high doses will kill protozoa. Fortunately, we have antiprotozoal agents and natural substances which are much safer to use then high-dose antibiotics.
The most important things I have learned about this condition is that Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis, and no single test can rule it in or out. Most medical doctors, including infectious disease specialist and major medical centers across the country (such as the Mayo clinic and Cleveland clinic), do not diagnose Lyme disease or the associated co-infections. This is primarily due to politics (money) rather than the proper ethical care of patients.
Virtually all autoimmune conditions are due to an active infection that can be treated and put in remission without the use of immuno suppressants. Herbs are just as effective, if not more effective, as antibiotics with a fraction of the side effects. Achieving remission usually requires boosting the immune system, healing the gut (leaky gut), avoiding food allergies and processed foods, eliminating any heavy metal burden, ensuring no leaky root canals or dental infections, and overall living a healthy lifestyle.
Usually the longer the disease has been present, the longer it takes for complete remission. However, virtually all patients will get better.
The sickest patients often do best on IV vitamin C or ozone and glutathione. All patients should be screened for co-infections.
The Lyme bacterium is not the worst actor. Patients are often screened for protozoa, micro-filaria, mycoplasma, chlamydia species, Babesia, Bartonella, tularemia, Rickettsia, mold, viruses including HHV-6, CMV, and other herpes viruses, other parasites and the degree of biofilm.
Most experts in the field will agree that 90% of patients can be put in remission with herbs, and the remaining 10% will do better on antibiotics (and may require IV vitamin C or ozone, and rarely need IV antibiotics). Also 90% of patients can be put into remission with the use of antibiotics and the 10% failure rate usually do well with herbs or IV therapy or a combination of both herbs and antibiotics.
We intentionally say “remission” rather than “cure” because most of these infections have been living harmoniously in our bodies since the beginning of time. They are most likely present to keep our immune system in balance. Our toxic environment and the ingestion of toxic foods are likely a contributing factor to the epidemic of Lyme disease in this country. We encourage avoiding genetically modified and pesticide ridden foods.
Our ultimate goal is to maintain a healthy immune system to keep these germs in check. A recent study in Wisconsin suggested that virtually all stinging insects are capable of transmitting Lyme disease and many of the co-infections. Therefore, it’s just not realistic to think that we will not be exposed to these germs in the future and therefore it’s not worth the effort of trying to live in a sterile environment.
Borrelia Burgdorferi (along with other strains of Borrelia) are the cause of Lyme disease. Borrelli is a spiral shaped bacterium known as a spirochete. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of an insect, most commonly a tick. The bite is usually not appreciated when it occurs.
There are 3 different stages of Lyme disease…
Close to half of the patients will develop a local rash. The classic appearance is a bull’s eye rash (a target lesion) surrounding the bite. The rash may also cover a large patch of the body, be patchy, or diffuse. These are often mistaken for ringworm, cellulitis, or spider bites.
- Patient may also experience flu-like symptoms in the early stages of the infection. This is the early disseminated with the bacteria spread to the bloodstream that may eventually go to other parts of body. This bacterium can virtually attack any organ system the body. It most commonly affects the heart, muscles, central nervous system, and joints.
- Patient may experience swollen glands, joint and muscle pain, severe headaches, stiff neck, sensitivity to light consistent with meningitis, burning or shooting pains, and unusual skin sensations such as burning tingling or crawling on the skin. Patient may develop a tremor or seizures. Mental impairment is common (such as memory loss, brain fog, difficulty finding words and difficulty concentrating). Psychological symptoms include mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, and delusions.
Protomyxoa rheumatica. This protozoa infection is a single-celled organism related to an amoeba and malaria. It is transmitted by mosquito bites, is capable of producing significant amount of biofilm, and is seen in many patients with autoimmune disease. It is possible that the biofilm is responsible for the obstruction of flow in the brain leading to multiple sclerosis. It generally responds well to antiprotozoal agents. Some physicians recommend a low-fat diet, as the organism appears to thrive on a high-fat diet. Our experience is that Lyme disease will not resolve with a co-infection of protozoa. Therefore, it’s imperative to rule this organism in or out.
Bartonella. This is a intracerebral bacteria that affects humans carried by body lice, sand fleas, and ticks. Early signs of infection or fever, fatigue, poor appetite, headaches, and dark red streaks of the skin that appear to be stretch marks. Symptoms are usually gradual in onset and can lead to quite severe irritability, muscle twitching, tremors, insomnia, seizures, agitation, and periods known to cause anxiety, mood swings, and antisocial, and OCD behavior. Other complaints are ice pick-like headaches, abdominal pains, IBS, swollen glands, and pain in the soles of the feet.
Babesia is a malaria white parasite. The infection often starts with a high fever and chills. It often causes symptoms of shortness of breath, air hunger, sighing, and a dry chronic cough. Symptoms also include severe headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, nightmares, anxiety, and a sensation of impending doom.
Ehrlichia/Anaplasma – this bacteria often causes high fever, fatigue, muscle aches, and headache. The disease can be mild or life-threatening. They may cause stabbing headaches, low white blood cell count and platelets, and elevated liver enzymes.
Rickettsia (also known as Rocky Mountain spotted fever) is caused by a bacteria that may produce a high fever, rash, headache and bleeding problems. Patients may experience confusion, aching muscles, nausea, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes and fatigue.
Mycoplasma (a group of bacteria without a cell wall) disrupt the immune system causing fatigue, musculoskeletal symptoms and cognitive problems.
Chlamydia is also an intracellular infection like mycoplasma. Not all Chlamydia is sexually transmitted. The infection may cause infections in the joint and may also impair the immune system.
Tularemia (or rabbit fever) is caused by bacteria and may cause skin ulcers, swollen and painful lymph glands, sore throat, pneumonia, diarrhea, vomiting, mouth sores and inflamed eyes. It has been implicated in inducing cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.
Viral infections are a common cause of excessive fatigue and loss of appetite. They have been associated with symptoms of fibromyalgia. The most common viruses associated with Lyme are Epstein-Barr, human herpes virus 6 (HHV-6) cytomegalovirus (CMV), and West Nile.
Candida is a fungal infection that can cause intestinal dysbiosis (and imbalance of the germs that live in the gut) and associated with fatigue, joint and muscle pain, brain fog and headaches. Candida is exacerbated by oral contraceptives. Candida thrives in patients whose immune system has been compromised by Lyme disease and the other co-infections, or by heavy metals. Patients may develop symptoms of low blood sugar, depression, poor motor coordination, gas and bloating, headaches, itching skin, problems with concentration and memory, recurrent vaginitis, and white exudation on the tongue.
Mold susceptibility is present in virtually all individuals with difficult-to-treat lyme disease and in those with recurrent disease. This genetic predisposition (along with the exposure to toxic mold) can lead to a significantly compromised immune system. Close to half of all homes and buildings in most of America have at least some mold contamination. Fortunately, there are excellent screening tests and effective therapies which have a profound improvement in one’s health.
– Dr. Clifford Fetters
If You are experiencing any of the symptoms described above, then you might have Lyme Disease – Call us, as our functional medicine providers are experts at diagnosing and treating Lyme disease in the most natural way.
Call or go to our Contact Us Page by clicking here!