Spring is one of my favorite times of year in Maine. The warmth of the sun on my face, the flowers coming up from the ground to share their beauty, the leaves unfolding in a brilliant display of green, and the inner sense of being able to breathe again. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being outdoors in Winter, but I crave outside time in the Spring. Unfortunately some of this wonderful “Spring back to life” includes the resurgence of the deer tick population, and the challenge of enjoying the outdoors without becoming a meal for these local nuisances, and the unfriendly bacteria that they carry – namely the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease, (along with a growing number of other “co-infectious” diseases as well).
Lyme Disease has become a common household word in our country and is the most common “vector-borne” (transmitted by a secondary method, such as a Tick/mosquito etc) infectious disease in North America, Northern Europe, and Asia. Many estimates now state that the likely number of new Lyme Disease cases is over three hundred thousand a year, and our very own state of Maine has the highest Lyme Disease Rates per capita, in the nation.
The Complexity of Lyme Disease
These high rates of exposure are further compounded by the fact that Lyme Disease is also a very complex infection, both to understand and to treat. The problem is that it can, and so often does, present as something other than Lyme. The list includes multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, heart disease, nervous system disorders, psychiatric disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, polymyalgia rheumatica, thyroid disease, or several other autoimmune diseases. It does this so successfully that it has become known as the new “Great Imitator” of other diseases. The previous “great imitator” was Syphilis which, coincidentally, is also a bacterial infection that has a very similar structure to Lyme; they are both Spirochetes. Since Lyme can act like so many other bacterial/viral/autoimmune diseases it is hard to diagnose. Unfortunately, if not diagnosed and treated early, it can go on to cause; heart and blood vessel complications, nerve damage, joint damage, and other systemic problems within both the endocrine and central nervous systems. This widespread systemic effect can do real damage throughout our body, and often creates havoc in the lives of those who are struggling with Lyme Disease. In fact, this effect has been described by Lyme experts as a Multi-Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome (MSIDS) and I believe that this is a useful way to look at Lyme. Here’s why: “Multi-Systemic” simply means that it will affect numerous areas of our body and reminds us that each person will be affected differently. This means that Lyme really needs to be seen as an individual disease.
Therefore we need to understand and treat Lyme Disease with an approach that reflects an awareness of it’s “systemic impact”, and that accounts for the individual ways in which Lyme may affect each one of us. We can not assume that there is one best and only approach to treatment. Knowing this, it becomes evident that there needs to be a supportive and multi-disciplinary approach if we are to find real, effective, and sustainable treatments.
Treatment Based on A Spirit of Collaboration
Thankfully we live in Maine, and even though we have the highest rates per capita of Lyme Disease in the country, we are also blessed to live in a community where there are a great many “Lyme Aware” providers who are using a number of unique and different therapies to bring healing to those who suffer from this disease. Additionally, it has been my experience that these providers also bring a true attitude of collaboration and a sincere desire to work together for the best interest of the patient.
When this collaborative attitude and integrative approach is used for Lyme it allows for some fantastic results. This attitude of integrative collaboration is what drives the approach at our clinic (DaySpring Integrative Wellness) and is reflected in both our treatment recommendations and the counsel we give to our patients. Below I have included a brief overview of the approach that we recommend for you to consider if you find yourself confronted with the challenge of Lyme Disease or other multiple co-infections.
4 Approaches to Treatment
#1. Start with Prevention and go as natural as possible.
- Remember to do, “Tick checks”, immediately after you are exposed to areas where you might have come into contact with ticks. Get them off quickly, (The CDC states that a tick must be on for 24-48 hours to infect you, however, I have personally seen cases where someone tested positive for acute Lyme when the tick had only been attached for less than four hours).
- Find a healthy and natural tick repellant, like the natural Cedar defense that is recommended by Mary Penner, NP, (One of our local “Lyme Experts”, and the Founder of Therapia in Brunswick).
- If you find a tick that is embedded get a device that will effectively pull the entire tick off intact, (like the “ticked off” scoop for instance). Then keep the tick intact, contained in clear tape so that it can be inspected/identified, and if needed sent to a lab for testing to confirm if the tick is a carrier.
- Contact a “Lyme Aware” provider as soon as you find a tick that has been embedded to discuss the signs and symptoms to be aware of that might indicate that you have been infected with Lyme Disease.
#2. Build your Immune System: “The best defense is a good offense.”
- At our Clinic, we promote and teach “The Eight Natural Laws of Health”, which are essential in building and maintaining your immune system
- “The Key” to maintaining health, and successfully overcoming any illness/disease.
- Seek out ways to work in harmony with the natural design that your body has to fight diseases such as Lyme. For instance, instead of trying to work against the body’s natural fever mechanism, at our clinic we augment this powerful disease-fighting response by using, “Whole-body Hyperthermia” treatments that elevate the core body temperature to a level that has been shown to effectively kill Lyme Bacteria. Remember that the body is designed well and we should be partnering with this design.
#3: Keep your courage up, and don’t give up until you find a team and treatment plan that will work for you.
- Think with an Integrative Mindset that looks at the best that every healing art has to offer including; herbal/nutritive supplements, medications, diet, various types of exercise, lifestyle modifications, detoxification protocols, counseling, and other alternative modalities that may prove to be helpful. Discuss these options with your health team and carefully weigh out the risks and benefits. You should also consider the following alternative therapies:
- Ozone therapy
- Hydrotherapy, which has been shown to dramatically reduce, and in some cases eliminate, the bacteria from the body. It is also a powerful stimulator of the immune system.
- Osteopathic manipulation
- Chiropractic treatments
- Oxygen therapies
- Pulsed electromagnetic therapies
- And other new or old modalities that may prove useful.
Remember to: “Keep an open mind, just not so open that your brain falls out” ~ Groucho Marx
#4: Finally, remember to seek out physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual support for yourself in the process.
Lyme support groups, encouraging friends, family, spiritual connection, faith groups, and a team of Lyme-knowledgeable practitioners are all critical in helping you carry the burden of Lyme Disease and finding a long-term solution.
Most of all don’t let Lyme steal your joy – because regardless of the season, Life is a gift that is meant to be enjoyed.
Be of Good Cheer,
Dr. Zach Mazone, D.O.