The Three “P’s” Of Illness

Lyme disease is a bit like the story of the chicken and the egg, except in Lyme disease, the question is; which came first, the borrelia infection or a weak immune system? Did a borrelia infection weaken the immune system, or was the immune system already weakened before borrelia came along?

Dr. Robert Bransfield, one of the speakers at the LIA Conference this past weekend, has a nice way of looking at the matter, which makes it a bit less chicken and egg-ish. He suggests that illness is the result of three “P’s”: predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors.

I agree with him. Rarely, if ever, is Lyme disease the result of precipitating factors alone. No, a tick didn’t just inject you with a half-dozen infections which made you sick. Chances are, predisposing factors played a role in encouraging your illness, and perpetuating factors have kept you from attaining a fast recovery. Below I outline in greater detail the three “P’s”, and what each one encompasses.

Predisposing Factors of Illness

This factor asks the question; What caused you to become susceptible to Lyme disease in the first place? Sorry, but you can’t just blame your illness on the tick. Chances are, something was awry with your immune system to begin with, which enabled the borrelia complex to get a foothold and provide you with full-blown Lyme disease.

Perhaps you were in a stressful relationship, or were working too many hours. Or maybe you weren’t eating enough greens and were loading up on the wrong kinds of fuel. Maybe a genetic defect left you susceptible to illness. Or more likely, it was some combination of all of the above, along with other factors.

Personally, I feel that few predisposing factors, in particular, have left society more vulnerable to serious illness from tick-borne and other infections. The first is the high level of environmental contamination; in the air, our food supply, the products we use, and in general, as a result from industry. The second is childhood abuse and/or emotional trauma. Dr. Horowitz, M.D., at the LIA Conference, affirmed what I have heard elsewhere; that most chronically ill people have a history of childhood abuse or other severe trauma. Finally, the misuse of allopathic medicine has played a significant role. Specifically, the use of dental amalgams and vaccinations has caused a sharp rise in the number of chronically ill, due to heavy-metal poisoning, and the overuse of antibiotics has resulted in metabolic inefficiencies, and consequently, illness. Not to mention the side effects of prescription drugs, which often do more harm than good.

Precipitating Factors of Illness

Once the immune system has been affected by a person’s predispositions to illness, then Borrelia and the Co-Infection Creeps are given an open invitation to come in and do whatever the heck they like to the body. When you are weak, then they walk all over you. In some ways, the factors I mention above might also fit into the “precipitating” category, because they play just as causative role in illness as does a borrelia infection. And, while some might argue that predisposing factors are purely genetic–things we are born with, I think that environmental factors can also be considered as predisposing. To me, the principal precipitating factor of Lyme disease, is the tick bite. It is the catalyst for illness–but not necessarily its main cause.

Perpetuating Factors of Illness

One of the reasons that Lyme disease is so difficult to heal from is that once the body has broken down from infections and other environmental garbage, its biochemistry has gone seriously amok. Like a puzzle with a million pieces, it’s an almost super-human feat to get everything to fit back together properly. Not only do infections make this difficult, but so do lifestyle changes. A lack of income, troublesome relationships, and a life of inactivity, can all keep a person stuck in the mire of Lyme. Not only that, but a body riddled with infection invites more infection, and a weakened immune system means fewer defenses agains the continued onslaught of environmental toxins. A million factors conspire against health, once it has been stolen from a sufferer.

So what’s the point of knowing all of this? Well, by knowing what made you sick in the first place (besides that darned tick!) you can be empowered to make healthier choices for your life. By recognizing that illness is the result of multiple causes, and is perpetuated by environmental factors, you can approach healing with a broader, more holistic perspective. For most of us, it’s not just about the tick. It’s about how we have lived our lives, and how we continue to live our lives.