11 Reasons Why You're Not Yet Better from Chronic Lyme Disease
Healing from Chronic Lyme Requires Giving the Body What It Needs and Removing What It Doesn't in an Effort to Completely Restore the Immune System
Yes, Lyme disease is when a spirochetal bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi infects a person’s body and causes symptoms such as joint pain, brain fog, and fatigue. In some people, this infection can be removed or eradicated with just a couple weeks of antibiotics. In others, a likely large amount of people, 3 weeks of antibiotics does not rid the bacteria, symptoms remain, and chronic Lyme disease becomes evident.
Once Lyme disease becomes chronic, the central goal of healing should partly shift away from solely killing the bacteria and be just as focused, if not more, on why 3 weeks of antibiotics didn’t work. Lyme disease becomes MSIDS, or Multi-Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome (i.e., chronic Lyme disease), in which there are other things keeping a person ill and chronic Lyme disease is, or isn’t, just one piece of that puzzle.
The immune system is down and weakened enough to not take over from 3 weeks of antibiotics and here is an extensively thorough compilation for why a person may not be healing from chronic Lyme disease. Remember, a person with chronic Lyme could be dealing with just one, a few, all, or none of these reasons. More information on MSIDS can be found in Dr. Richard Horowitz's book "Why Can't I get Better: Solving The Mystery Of Lyme & Chronic Disease".
Reason 1: Co-infections
If a person contracts Lyme disease from the bite of a tick, the tick could have also transmitted other types of infections that 3 weeks of antibiotic won’t touch because the antibiotic given was designed to only kill the Lyme bacteria. A person could be infected with other types of bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi that are contributing to symptoms that are being passed off as chronic Lyme.
In fact, according to Dr. Wayne Anderson, ND, 85% of the time the Lyme bacteria isn’t even the dominant pathogen. It’s important to see coinfections as the infection because many of them can be just a crippling and deadly to the body as Lyme. When testing for co-infections, make sure to use the correct labs and tests, and remember, just like Lyme tests, coinfection tests are not 100% accurate and should be clinically diagnosed. For Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever use IGeneX. For Mycoplasma use LabCorp. Candida needs to diagnosed clinically.
Reason 2: Biofilms
The Lyme bacteria knows well how to avoid the immune system and one of the tactics is does so by is through biofilms. Biofilms are a sticky, gluey substance comprised of fibrin, a protein the human body makes for blood clotting, and protect all within from the immune system. Biofilms are generated not just by Lyme, but other coinfections as well, and even multiple infections can share one biofilm. Pathogens exchange information such as drug-resistant genes in a biofilm and can even house cyst forms of the Lyme bacteria.
Treating biofilms employs the use of biofilm dissolvers, which, as you guessed, dissolve the biofilm and expose the pathogens within to the immune system. According to Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, lumbrokinase is the strongest biofilm dissolver, followed by nattokinase, serrapeptase, wobenzym, and finally bromelain.
Reason 3: KPU/HPU
KPU, which is short for Kryptopyrroluria, is a condition in which several of the 8 enzymes needed by the body to produce heme become defective, which results in an abnormal amount of the natural byproduct of heme synthesis, HPL or Hydroxy-hemopyrrolin-2-one.
The abnormal HPL amount then binds to essential micronutrients the body needs for proper methylation such as zinc, biotin, vitamin b6, manganese, etc and then they’re excreted in the urine. Without proper methylation, the immune system, detoxification, neurotransmitter regeneration, inflammation, etc all suffer and become compromised.
When a person continues to excrete essential nutrients through their urine, enzymes of the methylation cycle that require those micronutrients, look for alternatives to function, at least partially. For example, over 300 enzymes of the methylation cycle require zinc to function properly, and if a good portion of the body’s zinc is being excreted through the urine, then those enzymes will bind with other metals such a mercury, lead, cadmium, or aluminum to continue functioning, but will do so poorly resulting in a dysfunctional methylation cycle.
Testing for KPU can be done through Health Diagnostics and Research Institute (formerly Vitamin Diagnostics) for around $55. Treating KPU involves supplementing with high amounts of the nutrients that are being excreted through the urine in order to literally knock off the other toxic metals, such as mercury and lead, from the enzymes of the methylation cycle. Specific instructions for testing and treating KPU can be found here.
Reason 4: MTHFR Gene Mutation
Part of healing from chronic Lyme disease is detoxification. If a person with chronic Lyme disease has an MTHFR gene mutation, they will not produce adequate amounts of glutathione, the body’s master detoxing agent, due to poor conversion of folate from its inactive form to its active form. If toxins aren’t being removed efficiently, they’re hanging around in the body contributing to more inflammation and keeping a person feeling ill. In order to make glutathione, the body needs folate in its activated form, and an MTHFR gene mutation does not allow proper conversion. Treating the MTHFR gene mutation actually just involves supplementing with folate in its activated form. Testing for the MTHFR gene mutation can be done through labs such as 23andMe. More information on treating and testing the MTHFR gene mutation can found here.
Reason 5: Biotoxin Illness (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome)
Biotoxins are toxins generated from lifeforms such as mycotoxins from mold, endotoxins from Lyme, or toxins from Candida, that contribute to inflammation in the human body. Biotoxin Illness is a condition in which the lack of a specific gene, HLA DR, determines whether a person can or can not remove biotoxins.
Simply put, if a person lacks the HLA DR gene, their immune system does not tag biotoxins with the HLA molecule, it then is not presented to the white bloods which would create an antibody, which would then effectively eliminate the biotoxin. Since the body isn’t removing biotoxins, the body continues to release cytokines such as TGF-b1 in hopes that the immune system will eventually tag the biotoxins with the HLA molecule, but it never does -- the biotoxins remain indefinitely. As a result, inflammation becomes chronic and symptoms will persist.
Treating biotoxin illness involves removing the source of biotoxins, or being removed from the source of biotoxins, as well as binding to these biotoxins with a prescription drug called Cholestyramine, or the less powerful drug for those who have severe biotoxin illness, Welchol. A natural binder such as modified citrus pectin can also be employed, but it is not a powerful as Cholestyramine. More information on the 11 steps to treating biotoxin illness can be found through Dr. Richie Shoemaker’s website here.
Testing for the HLA DR gene can be done through LabCorp. You should also consider TGF-b1 testing, a cytokine that is elevated when biotoxins are in high concentration in the body, through LabCorp. Also test MSH (melanocyte-stimulating hormones) levels through LabCorp. MSH is a hormone responsible for sleep, pain modulation, cortisol levels, etc and excessive inflammation due to biotoxin illness will reduce its presence in the body. The effects of biotoxin illness can be found here.
Reason 6: The Basics - Sleep, Diet, Environment
Sleep, diet, and environment are probably the main factors that lead to a person becoming ill in the first place, with some of them being completely out of a person’s control. As established before, chronic Lyme disease is really an immune system not strong enough to suppress the Lyme bacteria, or other infections, because it has been compromised by other pieces of the puzzle.
It seems if you’re going to heal, it would make the most sense to secure the body’s basic foundation for healing with adequate, restorative sleep, a good diet, and an environment (e.g., home, school, work) that is not mentally or physically toxic. Dr. Marty Ross, MD recommends 7-9 hours of sleep, with many Lyme doctors recommending eating a Paleo-like diet, organic and free range would be ideal, and the leaving of a physically or mentally stress and/or toxic environment that can be contributing to keeping a person’s immune system weak and compromised.
Reason 7: Cyst Form of Lyme Bacteria
Much like a biofilm, the Lyme bacteria can transform into a cyst which will not only shield it from the immune system and non-ideal living conditions, but allow it to survive long durations without eating. Once its living conditions are ideal, it will transform back into a spirochete from a cyst and be a primary reason for a relapse a person, who used to have chronic Lyme disease, may experience.
Treating the cyst form of the Lyme bacteria is done so with cyst busters such as the prescription drug Flagyl, but can also be treated with grapefruit seed extract and Samento. It isn’t uncommon for people with chronic Lyme to not experience a herxheimer reaction until a cyst buster is added to their treatment protocol.
Reason 8: Mitochondrial Dysfunction
The energy needed by the cells of the body for proper metabolism is created in the mitochondria, which is located within cells. If the mitochondria isn’t producing adequate levels of ATP, cells of the human body won’t have the energy they need to efficiently perform the chemical reactions needed for proper metabolism. The mitochondria can become dysfunctional by different infections such as mycoplasma, as well as heavy metals.
Supporting and protecting the mitochondria allows a better production of the cell energy molecule, ATP, which gives the cells of the body the energy they need to do their jobs. Interestingly enough, the BX Protocol, a popular Lyme disease treatment protocol, bases its treatment for chronic Lyme disease on restoring the body’s ability to metabolize. More information on treating mitochondrial dysfunction can be found in Dr. Richard Horowitz’s book, “Why Can’t I Get Better: Solving The Mystery Of Lyme And Chronic Disease”.
Reason 9: Heavy Metals
Heavy metals are naturally occurring elements found in the universe with a relatively high atomic weight, are 5x more dense than water, and are troublesome at even their smallest dose of 1 atom. They serve no biological benefit or purpose, and induce toxicity and disrupt biological mechanisms. You may have noticed that heavy metals have been mentioned quite extensively throughout this article and its because they can cause all kinds of trouble for people with chronic Lyme disease.
Because of our modern industrialized society, we as humans are constantly exposed to heavy metals through water, food, air, dental work, etc. We can even inherit them if we are the first born child as, according to Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, a mother will unload ⅔ of her mercury burden onto her firstborn child.
These heavy metals interfere with methylation, metabolism, and can even cause symptoms in people with chronic Lyme, such as tingling and numbness, which are sometimes passed off as Lyme symptoms. Certain coinfections such as Candida are thought to bind to heavy metals and work synergistically with them.
Testing for heavy metals involves the use of a 6 hour chelation challenge in which DMSA is taken on a weight dependent dosage to excrete heavy metals in the urine for analysis. It’s important to not base an entire heavy metal burden solely on this test because treating KPU, for example, can remove metals from the body a 6 hour DMSA challenge or heavy metal treatment protocol can’t touch. According to Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, many people with chronic Lyme who test for heavy metals and show little or no result, are then treated for KPU and the metals come pouring out. For more information on testing and treating heavy metals with chronic Lyme disease, refer to Dr. Richard Horowitz’s book. For more information on testing and treating KPU, go here.
Reason 10: Nutrition
If it’s not apparent by now, chronic Lyme disease is very taxing on the body’s nutrient supply. Specific biological mechanisms (e.g., detoxification) are working overtime to deal with chronic Lyme and its cronies, and to do so, will use up more of the body’s nutrients. Not to mention the Lyme bacteria itself consumes much of the body’s nutrient supply as people with chronic Lyme tend to be low in magnesium and zinc.
Also, conditions such as KPU can further contribute to nutrient depletion. Eating a wholesome diet alone isn’t enough to replenish and restore the body’s nutrients so supplementation is required. Getting adequate levels of nutrients can be supplemented with products such as Thorne, Integrative Therapeutics, and All One. A nutrient test can definitely help as it can show you what exactly the deficiencies are and the lab Spectracell provides an excellent, all around nutrient profile test.
Reason 11: Lyme Itself
Yes, while there are many reasons why a person with chronic Lyme disease isn’t getting better, it’s not too hard to overlook the piece of the puzzle that is so obvious - Lyme. While reducing the bacterial load is important, the best Lyme physicians and healers all agree that a chronic Lyme infection can’t be completely eradicated. However, this doesn’t mean a person can’t be symptom free and lead a normal life once more.
The goal in healing from chronic Lyme is really to build the immune system back up so that it can take over command from your antibiotics and/or antimicrobials and push the infection into dormancy and keep it there. As complex as chronic Lyme disease is, keep it simple and take these words from Stephen Buhner’s Lyme philosophy -- address the conditions responsible for keeping the immune system weak, reduce inflammation, treat the symptoms, and reduce the pathogens’ load with an effective antibiotic/antimicrobial. Stephen Buhner would add an “if then” onto the latter.
Will there ever be a cure for chronic Lyme disease? No one knows for sure, but what we do know is the cure would have to address all the reasons why the immune system is down and weak, and at the same time, reduce the bacteria’s load. But how are we defining a cure? One pill taken once and chronic Lyme disease is gone? It’s an interesting concept, and it may exist one day, but that one pill would need to be highly intelligent, adaptable, and capable of free will in order to absolve and accomplish what currently can not be done with a single pill alone.
What does this mean? Well, earlier in 2015, we learned that a leaky breast implant was contributing to Yolanda Foster’s poor health and battle with chronic Lyme. Not everyone with chronic Lyme disease has a leaky breast implant contributing to their chronic Lyme, so the ideal cure, that one pill, for chronic Lyme disease would need to address this problem on its own and every other unique contributor to an individual’s unique chronic Lyme.
Here’s the thing -- all the knowledge that would somehow be programmed into that one pill cure for chronic Lyme disease already exists -- it’s the knowledge of creating such a pill that doesn’t exist or just hasn’t been put to use. Instead of being compacted into a convenient, one time pill, the knowledge exists in the minds of doctors, scientists, and researchers. This knowledge, coupled with the outside-the-box thinking of these incredible humans, is the cure (i.e., remission or 100% symptom free), but - and there is a but - it’s incredibly rare to find one doctor who knows it all. Healing from chronic Lyme disease can be complex and multifaceted, and while some Lyme doctors know a lot, most don’t know all.
This is where you, as not just the patient, but the researcher and detective, come in and make it a responsibility to understand, figure out, and propose possible reasons why you’re not getting better to your physician. Remember, don’t over step a doctor’s authority, experience, and knowledge, but there is a difference when a doctor nobly listens and takes into consideration the opinions of their patient, who, for so long, can’t find a reason why they’re not getting better. You know your body best -- be the advocate for your health.
- Forsgren, Scott. "BioResource 2011 Conference." BetterHealthGuy.com - A Site Dedicated to Lyme Disease. N.p., 4 July 2013. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.
- Tchounwou, Paul B., Clement G. Yedjou, Anita K. Patlolla, and Dwayne J. Sutton. "Heavy Metals Toxicity and the Environment." EXS. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 26 Aug. 2014. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.
- TMZ Staff. "Yolanda Foster -- I Removed My Leaky Breast Implants."Http://www.tmz.com. TMZ, 7 Oct. 2015. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.
- Forgren, Scott, and Dr Ann Corson, MD. "Saving Our Children: Evaluation and Management of Pediatric Tick-Borne Diseases." Public Health Alert. N.p., 1 Oct. 2009. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.
- Datar, Akshita, Navroop Kaur, Seema Patel, David F. Luecke, and Dr. Eva Sapi, Ph D. "In Vitro: Effectiveness of Samento and Banderol Herbal Extracts on the Different Morphological Forms of Borrelia Burgdorferi." Public Health Alert. N.p., 3 Dec. 2010. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.
- Klinghardt, Dr. Dietrich, MD. "Dietrich Klinghardt, M.D.'s Presentation on HPU / KPU / Pyroluria, Lyme Disease and Autism." YouTube. N.p., 7 Apr. 2011. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.
Chronic Lyme Resources
Cleaning Up The Mess Left By Dead Spirochetes
Search the world with an interactive map
An essential tool in determining the probability of Lyme & MSIDS
Recipes that are gluten, dairy, and sugar free
Find an online or local community support group for Lyme
A Lyme Disease search engine