Articles by Dr. Gardner
Treating Lyme Disease Naturally & Effectively
by Dr. C. Gardner, PhD, HD (RHom), MH., DHom, CHom
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease and, in general, is one of the fastest growing infectious diseases today. The CDC reports approximately 10,000 new cases per year but we believe that that number is actually closer to 250,000 new cases. What may not be as well known is that it can be transmitted through other means as well, including breast milk, semen, tears, saliva, and bites from mosquitoes and mites.
Lyme disease got its name from a town in Connecticut where physicians were treating an unusually large number of cases of what was first thought to be juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Medical investigators eventually found that the condition was actually caused by a spirochete bacterial infection. Today we know that we are looking at more than just a simple bacterial disease.
Many Lyme symptoms mimic those seen in multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and other autoimmune disorders as well as Parkinson’s, making it difficult to determine whether a patient has Lyme or another disease. Because of this mimicry, many Lyme patients go undiagnosed until they are in a more chronic state.
When I wrote my first Lyme article over 18 years ago, there were less than a handful of practitioners who specialized in the treatment of Lyme. Today, the Internet is filled with many different opinions and treatments promising success with the latest fads, expensive gadgets, fancy waters, and one-size-fits-all herbal, or homeopathic, remedies. We used to receive more calls from people in the beginning stages of Lyme disease, or immediately post tick bite. Now, we frequently find that people are delaying proper treatment of their Lyme disease as they pursue the various therapies they’ve found online. Today, most people who enlist our office for help have already spent thousands of dollars in tests, repeated doses of antibiotics, or other, natural antidotes before they contact us for help; and they commonly still have the majority of their original symptoms.
Although I now see many of the very homeopathic, herbal and supplement recommendations that I’ve made through the years, reproduced in other people’s articles and protocols, what they are lacking in their composition is the individualization of the program to work with the unique predispositions of individual in question. One may be taking some very good supplements, but they are not balanced to address both the destruction of the invaders and aiding the system’s detoxification to ensure they are not reabsorbed into the system.
More and more people, following repeated cocktails of antibiotics and antifungals, the current trend in treatment of Lyme, start producing symptoms of neurotoxicity.When this imbalance occurs, an individual suffers from what is known as a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, commonly referred to as a Herx. It manifests as an exacerbation of symptoms. When one is suffering already, putting them through repeated, uncomfortable Herxes are hard on the system and damage the adrenals, and the endocrine system.
When a patient exhibits a specific combination of symptoms, even without having yet seen the results of expensive Lyme tests, we will assume we’re dealing with Lyme, or a similar tic-borne illness. These are a few of the many presenting symptoms for which we’re looking: Persistent flu-like symptoms; sore soles, especially in the morning; joint pain and/or swelling, numbness in the appendages, unexplained back pain or stiffness, muscle pain, cramps, weakness or twitching; confusion and/or difficulty with focus and concentration, memory loss and other Alzheimer-like issues; mood swings, anxiety or panic attacks; hallucinations, delusions or paranoia; seizures, headaches, fatigue or problems with vision or hearing; increased motion sickness, vertigo, nausea, lightheadedness or fainting; skin hypersensitivity, facial paralysis; dental pain or TMJ; insomnia or other sleep issues; unexplained weight gain or loss; unexplained hair loss; genital pain, unexplained menstrual irregularity or lactation, or breast pain; erectile dysfunction or loss of libido; heartburn, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea and constipation alternating with diarrhea; lower abdominal pain or cramps; heart murmur or palpitations; chronic congestion, breathlessness or unexplained chronic cough; night sweats, exaggerated effects from alcohol, skin rashes, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), herpes, Zoster/Shingles, Morgellons; or any number of similar symptoms.
It can be confusing, because a Lyme sufferer may not display the telltale rash, erythema migrans, a painless, bullseye-shaped blotch on the skin, the size of a silver dollar; or the more diverse, larger rash; or any at all. When the rash is present, there is no doubt that a person has Lyme. However, the rash is only present in about 50% of the cases and may take up to one month to even appear. To add insult to injury, many Lyme patients don’t even remember getting bitten as the tick is very small and can easily go unnoticed.
There are mixed opinions about treatments and simply because someone is listed as a Lyme-literate doctor, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they do anything differently than other doctors. Typical treatment consists of antibiotics, though Lyme-literate doctors may better recognize the symptoms and possess the awareness of the importance of recommending the appropriate tests to better settle on the correct indication. We are grateful to these insightful men and women for starting down the correct path for their patients.
Naturally, there are rifts in the medical orthodoxy, as well as in the alternative medicine community, which have led to divergent diagnoses and treatment of Lyme disease, with the real loser being the patient displaying Lyme-like symptoms. These patients are often trapped between opposing medical opinions. Indeed, the severity and treatment of Lyme disease is often complicated due to late diagnoses, failure of antibiotic treatment, and immune suppression in the patient (sometimes resulting from inappropriate treatment with steroids). Often times, this is when people call our office for help. Many of our referrals are from Lyme-literate doctors who have reached the limits of what they have to offer their patients.
Thankfully, the homeopathic community remains united over the treatment of Lyme disease. This is due, mainly, to the different philosophy that homeopaths use to treat disease. Regardless of what diagnosis the conventional medical system decides to attribute to a particular collection of symptoms – be it Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, etc.- the homeopathic response remains the same. Homeopathy is a system of medicine that treats the whole person as an individual, using the symptoms as guideposts.
This is not to say the allopathic diagnosis is unimportant. Homeopathic treatment is based upon well-selected remedies, chosen specifically for the individual patient. A proper diagnosis can determine which intercurrent homeopathic nosode to use. These remedies are made from molecules of the organism causing the infection, similar to the way in which a vaccine works, which can be of help. In addition to the intercurrent remedies we would also use acute remedies as indicated for side effects and die-off symptoms. These remedies should be changed, according to the patient’s responses. Once the symptoms have greatly diminished or the Lyme has been eradicated, we would prescribe constitutional remedies at least once a year, to maintain the patient’s health.
I wish that I could say that using homeopathic treatment alone would prove to be sufficient, but I have found it to be an excellent treatment when used in conjunction with a variety of supportive therapies, including a rotation of medicinal herbs, vitamins, and other health enhancing products. The herbs are rotated to help curb the adaptive nature of the Lyme. Using them all together properly and in a balanced fashion while being mindful of detoxification shows itself to be the best protocol.
In addition to the disease itself, many sufferers of Lyme also have co-infections, which can cause a lot more problems than the Lyme itself. Babesia, the most common of the co-infections, is found in about 66% of Lyme patients. Symptoms of Babesia are usually neurological in nature, and may include fever, chills, night sweats, weight loss, numbness, tingling, OCD, anxiety and depression. There are many herbs that can be effective in the treatment of Lyme/tick co-infection conditions. A combination of specific herbs has been shown to help with Babesia. Babesia is a protozoan parasite that feeds on iron and causes the destruction of red blood cells. One must take care to not supplement with iron that is unable to be utilized by the body.
Bartonella is another common co-infection that can wreak havoc in a Lyme patient. Bartonella causes what is referred to as “cat scratch fever.” It attacks the surface of the gut lining and also causes skin problems, sharp pains on the soles of the feet, painful migraines, and the sensation of something crawling under the skin. Another noteworthy co-infection is Rickettsia, which manifests as fatigue, anorexia, anemia, fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, tremors and gut problems. It has a special affinity for the adrenal glands with a key symptom of adrenal fatigue. Herbal adaptogens chosen specifically for the patient are crucial to use for immune depletion along with adrenal building herbs. Natures Folate (not folic acid) and iron-rich easily absorbable herbs may also be beneficial as well as nervine herbs, again chosen for the person’s symptoms.
Lyme bugs/coinfections work hard to protect themselves by existing in a self-produced matrix. The bugs secrete exopolysaccharides and exoproteins, effectively creating an armored shell around the community. Because of these methods, they remain stealth to the immune system and even antibiotics have a difficult time penetrating. Inside these shells, called biofilms, the bugs communicate with each other regarding when to grow. When the community grows large enough, the biofilm breaks, flooding the system with bugs. There are many natural supplements that work to break these up, creating movement, including fish oil, antioxidants, herbal compounds and enzymes. Specific herbs can reduce the number of colonies and reduce the number of cells inside the colonies.
There are any number of additional co-infections, not limited to but including twenty of newly identified piroplasms, for instance, Erlichiosis, parasitic mycoplasmas, STARI (still controversial) and tularemia (rabbit fever); as well as multiple parasitic and bacterial infections which we believe also carry a host of viral cells as well. Several of the infections such as Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis share the same symptoms: but may require different herb protocols. Most individuals with Morgellons disease report disturbing crawling, stinging, and biting sensations, as well as non-healing skin lesions as symptoms and require topical remedies as well as internal ones. There are more co-infections that are not even tested for. This is where the homeopathic remedies shine because we are looking at the symptoms rather than attempting treatment based on the name of the disease.
Proper case management is the key to treating Lyme disease effectively. It is crucial to a rapid and permanent restoration of health. It involves first, a careful analysis of both the progression of the disease, and the patient. A practitioner must not only work on symptomology and the patient’s state of health at the time of the consultation but also attempt to prescribe one step ahead of the expected pathology, gently stimulating the person’s vital force and providing detoxification, while strengthening the patient along the way.
In cases where a person exhibits a clear pattern of a known tick or co-infection, or when testing reveals a positive band, I will use specific remedies that work best in the earlier stages of the disorder. There are upwards of 50 remedies from which to choose; if the person has previously used the incorrect remedies or improper doses of those remedies, we may have to start by clearing the slate with a clearing remedy before we can focus on the Lyme symptoms. In the later stages of Lyme disease, I would include -along with the nosode therapy mentioned above- a miasmatic remedy to work through genetic weaknesses, using the health history of the patient as a guide. Then I would follow that remedy with the remedies that fits the person’s individual symptoms. I use a more clinical approach with Lyme, as I find simply using a constitutional remedy has never been able to keep up with the pathological progression.
When using homeopathic remedies in conjunction with corresponding herb combinations, it can greatly accelerate the immune response of a person infected with Lyme disease. Herbs are great at helping the body keep its terrain less habitable for harmful bacteria and viruses. Unlike orthodox drugs, that are relatively simple mixtures, herbs often contain hundreds of complex constituents that bacteria and viruses cannot become easily resistant to. To even further lessen the chance of the bacteria evolving, I recommend changing the dosages of the homeopathics and the herbs on a monthly basis. In many instances this has accelerated the healing process at a much faster rate than using the same homeopathic remedies and dosages over an extended period. Choosing the proper ones and taking a more aggressive approach may be needed for the patient to see enough results to know that the program is working and, therefore, to inspire continuation throughout the entire program for complete healing.
Here are a couple of typical examples of two patients using two different protocols:
#1 - A male patient, aged 52, who did not have a positive diagnosis but clearly exhibited many symptoms of chronic Lyme was repertorized as having cimicifuga and arnica as his chief remedies to start the case for the first two weeks. His next remedy was EBV nosode for several days, followed by gelsemium LMo6 daily for a month. The homeopathic protocol was then repeated, but he was given gelsemium LM12 for the next month. Along with the homeopathics, he was given several herbal formulas including ashwagandha, black cohosh, wood betony, and kava for symptoms of chronic aching and soreness of the muscles and nerves. We alternated two Lyme formulas that incorporated antiviral herbs, as well as some detoxifying NAC to aid the liver, and R-Fraction Alpha Lipoic Acid to help with the mitochondria. We also used an essential oil blend topically on the areas where there was discomfort. He was given several dietary suggestions, including anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial foods. We adjusted the remedies a few times and after six months, he was symptom free.
#2 – In another case, female aged 70, who was diagnosed with Lyme (several bands) and co-infections who also suffered from Bell’s Palsy as a result of a tick bite, her protocol consisted of the homeopathic remedy causticum for symptoms including a history of warts on the hands and a rheumatic tearing sensation on the limbs combined with shaking of the forearm. We used a Lyme nosode intercurrently and followed with ammonium phosphoricum as it fit the case after the causticum gave only partial relief. Along with several Lyme herbs, combos which were given in rotation every two weeks, she also received antispasmodic herbs that included cimicifuga, cramp bark, melilotis and prickly ash bark and, as the treatment progressed, we increased the dosage of B12 to tolerance levels. We used St. John’s Wort in a standardized formula and also in a decoction tea, and topically massaged chamomile essential oil into the neck and spine with several other detoxification supplements. Her spasms were gone in less than three months, and the other symptoms of the case also improved greatly. TMJ, which was a problem of hers before the protocol, was resolved within a short time.
Each of the two patients above were treated as individuals, and their medical histories were considered in addition to the presenting symptoms of Lyme.
Good dietary changes, stress reduction techniques and any other therapies that balance or strengthen immune response help us in our healing journey. For over 25 years, I’ve used a specific aloe product called Super Aloe Vera Juice -available from Archeus Supply, at 412-380-HERB- to help rebuild the gut lining. In some cases, I give a pre and probiotic, following antimicrobials. In a full case protocol, we use immune response modifiers that enhance NK cell activity, phagocytosis, and reduction of bacterial load. We also use herbs and nutrients that inhibit the inflammatory cytokine production as well as inhibit fibrinolytic systems. In addition, we also use topical essential oils that enter the brain through the nervous system and cross the brain barrier. It is important to stop the adhesion molecules and prevent lymphocyte entry into the brain and spinal fluids. Part of the protocol is designed to cell remodel.
Using a well-balanced approach is crucial to obtaining a permanent restoration of health. I believe that the body can heal itself of any disorder if given the proper stimulus. Lyme disease is no exception. It makes sense to try an approach that will work with your immune system, like homeopathy, instead of against it. Never settle for being told that a disease is incurable. Get empowered; and get well!
Please feel free to contact my office if you’d like help treating yourself, whether you have a specific diagnosis or simply the symptom picture of Lyme disease.
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