When you think of the word inflammation, what comes to mind? A bit of redness around that boo-boo you got while gardening? A swollen gut after you ingested that e-coli infested burger?
But inflammation is more than just swelling and redness. It’s the reason you hurt. The reason you’re tired. The reason you can’t function at all.
Oh wait, I forgot. Don’t the bugs cause all these symptoms? Well, indirectly, but…and I hate to break the news to you, but it’s really your body’s response to them that causes you to feel terrible. Yes, your body is the reason you feel poorly.
It’s like this. In the presence of toxins, pro-inflammatory immune system proteins, called cytokines, are sent out to areas of infection. Problem is, they tend to be battalion-happy and, when it comes to Lyme disease, they are fond of flooding the body with their presence. Don’t get me wrong; cytokines play a vital role in the immune system. They mobilize white blood cells for the purpose of destroying pathogens, recognize antigens (invaders) and have a number of vital functions besides. Problem is, and especially in the presence of Lyme biotoxins, their overwhelming presence causes a person to suffer.
How? Well…where do I start? First, inflammation blocks oxygen flow to cells by suppressing VEGF-vascular endothelial growth factor, which is responsible for blood vessel dilation and growth. Without proper dilation and growth, red blood cells can’t get through the capillaries in order to make it to the tissues! As a result, cells don’t get the nutrients they need, which has a multitude of negative implications for the body. It’s why you feel tired; it’s why your gut and your brain don’t function right. Cells need oxygen and nutrients, in order to function!
Also, cytokines cause the release of an enzyme called MMP9, which allows inflammatory compounds to move from the bloodstream into the tissues and organs. MMP9 makes you feel absolutely horrible. Measuring MMP9 levels, by the way, can help you to discern whether you have an explosion of inflammatory cytokines in the body.
Further, it is thought that inflammation can initiate auto-immune processes, causing the body to produce different types of antibodies, which in turn exacerbates the inflammation!
The process can become out of control. But that’s not the worst of it. The initiation of auto-immune processes brings more trouble to the body. For instance, in people with high levels of biotoxins, inflammation is thought to induce the production of anticardiolipins, which contribute to abnormal blood clotting processes. As another example, it can initiate the destruction of myelin shealth, the protective covering of nerve fibers.
Controlling inflammation in Lyme disease is vital for healing, and for more reasons than those I describe above. Maintaining a healthy, low-glycemic diet, with plenty of non-starchy veggies, alkaline foods, and an absence of processed and sugary foods is a good start. Herbs such as tumeric and bromelain also lower inflammation, as do antioxidants such as Vitamin C, E and alpha-lipoic acid. Fish oil is also high on the list.
Deep breathing and other exercises, as well as getting enough sleep, can likewise help to put the brakes on a cytokine-happy body.
If you are one of those sufferers who has trouble removing biotoxins, (see my earlier post on the HLA gene test) greater intervention may be required to stop the body’s out-of-control inflammatory processes. Powerful toxin binders such as Cholestopure and Cholestyramine are two of these. By removing toxins, cytokine response is reduced. Dr. Shoemaker, in his book, Mold Warriors, notes that in Lyme disease patients, Cholestyramine may need to be supplemented by Actos, a drug that is typically used to treat diabetes but which is helpful for lowering cytokine response when the body doesn’t do this on its own, while or after the biotoxins are removed.