Note: This article was originally published on ProHealth.com on January 19, 2017: http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=29865
People often ask me what's the most effective antimicrobial treatment for chronic Lyme disease and co-infections. While antibiotics and anti-parasitic medications have typically been considered the treatments of choice by most Lyme-literate doctors - especially those on the East coast - I've observed that in recent years, more doctors and patients have been turning to alternatives to manage Lyme disease, as antibiotics don’t always help everyone to recover.
Granted, antibiotics are important and necessary for some people, perhaps especially those with very aggressive and/or severe cases of neurological Lyme disease. Indeed, Lyme-literate naturopath Wayne Anderson, ND, has found that only 20% of his patients- those with severe neurological Lyme disease (such as those featured in the documentary Under Our Skin) absolutely require antibiotics. Other doctors may prescribe them as part of a protocol that includes other antimicrobials, or only during certain intervals throughout the treatment process.
Some Lyme-literate doctors have also shared with me that they don’t believe that it matters as much what treatments you use to attack the infections as much as what else you are doing to support and heal the body. The theory behind this is that if you support the body and immune system enough, then the body can overcome the infections, no matter what antimicrobials you use to remove the infections.
My experience with Lyme disease and that of others that I know with Lyme, is that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all treatment for everyone, and that it is vitally important to support the healing of the entire body—not just focus on infectious treatment.
Some of the more effective, and popular treatments for Lyme include, in addition to antibiotics:
· Intravenous ozone therapy
· Colloidal silver
· Botanical remedies, such as andrographis and cat’s claw, and the Beyond Balance, NutraMedix, David Jernigan, Byron White and Buhner remedies.
· Essential oils
· Hyperbaric oxygen
Other therapies that have some anecdotal evidence for effectiveness (but which are not often used among Lyme-literate doctors) include:
· Miracle Mineral Supplement (chlorine dioxide)
· Rife machine therapy
· High dose sea salt/Vitamin C
I’ve observed though, that the most savvy and experienced Lyme-literate practitioners won’t just focus on using just one type of treatment on their patients. Rather, most will stack or layer multiple modalities of treatment- one on top of the other, and over time, as their patients tolerate increasingly greater amounts or dosages of treatment.
One mistake that some medical practitioners and patients have made when treating Lyme disease is to give their patients too much treatment, too soon, or just one type of treatment, during their patient’s recovery process. But, as several Lyme-literate practitioners such as David Jernigan, DC, Neil Nathan, MD and Wayne Anderson, ND shared with me in their interviews for my 2016 book, New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment: 10 Top Doctors Reveal Healing Strategies that Work, too much treatment will cause patients to have strong Herxheimer, or microbial die-off reactions—which is not a good thing. Similarly, just doing one type of treatment is ineffective.
A Herxheimer reaction basically means that the body is toxic, and that the toxins generated by the microbes during the detox or die-off reaction are being circulated back into the body, rather than shuttled out. Basically, the organs of elimination are being overloaded.
Those practitioners who understand this treat their patients based on whether their patients improve over time with a treatment, rather than whether they have a severe reaction to the treatment. At the same time, they understand the importance of giving multiple treatments to their patients; say, antibiotics in combination with some herbal remedies and/or ozone, but not all at once, but rather, in a layered fashion over time.
Those who believe in a stronger approach to treatment will argue that microbes quickly develop resistance to antimicrobial remedies and therefore, high dosages of multiple medications at the outset are important. In other words, you really have to “whack the bugs” and catch them off guard. Yet those who advocate lower, slower dosages of treatment and the “stacking” of remedies, have found that an effective treatment approach is based more upon giving the patient a wide variety of remedies and rotating those over time. This is so that the patient can remain strong and functional, and so that the microbes don’t have an opportunity to become resistant to just one type of treatment.
Herxheimer reactions can yet occur with this kind of approach, but if the treatments are done properly, detoxification reactions can be minimized and managed, so that the patient’s energy can instead be focused on removing microbes rather than trying to remove a backup of biotoxins. For instance, for my current mold treatment regimen (mold is a common Lyme co-condition), my doctor started off by prescribing me just one capsule daily of a probiotic called saccromyces boulardii. And I’ll admit, I was tempted to want to take more than he prescribed, just because I wanted my treatment to be “over and done with” and because I thought I was strong enough to handle it. But then I recalled that in the past, the heavy-hitting, get-it-over-with fast treatment approaches that my doctors would often give me had never really worked, and in fact, made me feel worse—for months at a time!
So I decided to stick with my doctor’s suggestion to take just one teeny-weeny capsule of the probiotic, and in so doing, I avoided feeling horrible during the first weeks of my treatment. To the probiotic treatment, my doctor then added in one capsule of bentonite clay daily, to bind the mold toxins in my body. Over a period of weeks, he then gradually increased the dosage to three capsules daily. About two months into my regimen, he started me on three nasal sprays to clear up the mold in my sinuses, and break up any biofilms and staph infections there. I was instructed to take these sprays for 4-6 weeks before starting on mold treatment for my gut, which consisted of, at first, nothing more than a teaspoon of colloidal silver, but to which my doctor added over time, Sporonox and then Nystatin. The entire build-up process took four months.
While I have experienced some detoxification symptoms as a result of my treatments, they have not been severe and they have not incapacitated me as my former Lyme disease treatment regimens, which at times nearly sent me to the ER. I think this is how Lyme disease (and mold) treatment should be.
Besides that, imagine the immense amount of suffering that people with Lyme disease go through when they have to endure Herx reactions for weeks, or months, on end! It can destroy people's morale and desire to get well, and cause them to lose hope as they wonder if they will ever feel better. Doctors and patients need to seriously consider this when taking into account the type of regimen that their patients need to be on.
In the end, through my many years of research and experience with this disease, I have come to believe that a combined regimen that includes multiple types of treatment is best—and the greater the variety, the better, but not all at once, and not in dosages that make patients bedridden or send them to the hospital. Indeed, many Lyme-literate doctors have found a gentler approach to be a more effective approach for their patients, too.