Dr. Singleton, M.D.., in his book, "The Lyme Disease Solution", provides insights into the problem of healing from Lyme disease. One of these insights struck me, because I hadn't really thought much about it before, and I believe that it could be a major reason why people aren't healing from this thing called Lyme.
That insight has to do with chronic inflammation, a condition common to most chronic Lyme disease sufferers. Yes, I know I used the word "chronic" twice in that last sentence. That's because chronic equals chronic in this equation!
Dr. Singleton describes how an exaggerated response of the immune system, (which is what chronic inflammation essentially is), inhibits healing. The immune system uses cytokines, pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory immune messengers, to direct other immune cells in their activities. When faced with a pathogenic attack, the body responds with a T1 response, which involves pro-inflammatory cytokines, whose effects, along with other immune cells, allow the body to kill invading organisms. If the pro-inflammatory process is not replaced at some stage with a "cooling down" process involving anti-inflammatory cytokines, then damage to the body occurs, because the pro-inflammatory cytokines continue to direct immune cells to bomb the bug site, and the result is not only destruction to pathogens, but to healthy cells, as well. Hence, the T1 response should be, (in a person whose immune system is properly functioning), balanced by a T2, anti-inflammatory cytokine response. Antibodies are also developed during the T2 response, in order to keep the infection under control.
In Lyme disease, however, this T1-T2 balancing process goes amok, leaving most chronic sufferers in a state of perpetual T1 dominance. That is, the body is constantly attacking Borrelia and co-infections, perpetuating inflammation, and unfortunately, causing on-going damage to the body.
Healing from Lyme disease, therefore, requires reducing inflammation in the body. The simplest way to do this is by eliminating inflammatory foods from the diet, such as simple sugars, as well as incorporating anti-inflammatory supplements into that diet. Dr. Singleton also advocates cooking with anti-inflammatory spices such as cucumin, tumeric and ginger. Anti-inflammatory supplements, especially omega-3 oils, are likewise important, as is eliminating refined, fried, and preservative-loaded foods.
Avoiding environmental contaminants and allergies is another way to lower inflammation, and this encompasses such strategies as using natural household products, breathing fresh air, and performing techniques to remove toxins from the body.
An amazing new treatment for inflammation, whose results have been miraculous for some of Dr. Singleton's patients, is low-dose Naltrexone. This drug functions by blocking opiod (endorphin) receptors so that the body is fooled into thinking that it needs to produce more endorphins. The result is an increased number of endorphins, which have powerful immune system regulating effects, which includes reducing the body's inflammatory response when it is in overdrive.
Furthermore, over time, this supposedly side-effect free drug trains the body to make an appropriate amount of endorphins, so that at some point, the Lyme sufferer no longer needs the drug to control inflammation.
Other ways to reduce inflammation, according to Dr. Singleton, and especially that which causes pain, are through the use of NSAID's (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen), devil's claw (thought to be especially effective for muscle pain and tension in the neck, back and shoulders), white willow bark (which is also an anti-coagulant), and boswellia (which functions much like the NSAID's, but which is probably safer). One particular combination product, called Zyflamend, provides the following herbs for reduction of pain and inflammation: ginger, turmeric, oregano, green tea, rosemary, gold thread, barberry, holy basil, japanese knotweed, and skullcap.
Finally, systemic enzymes help to lower inflammtion, since they break down CIC's (circulating immune complexes, which occur when antigen-antibody complexes pair and circulate in the blood and sometimes end up in the tissues as "debris."). Enzymes also reduce levels of a a pro-inflammatory prostaglandin called E2.
Healing the body from excessive inflammation depends in part upon identifying its sources. Infections in themselves cause inflammation, as do the factors that I mention above. Treating every possible source will provide you with the greatest opportunity for a full recovery.
If you suffer from chronic Lyme disease, take it for granted that you probably have some degree of inflammation in your body. However, if you wish to know just how much of a mess it is making of things, consider asking your doctor to perform a simple lab test called the CRP, or C-reactive protein, which measures inflammation levels and can be ordered from your local lab. (Yes, thank goodness you don't need to barf up four hundred bucks for this one!).
I, for one, am grateful to Dr. Singleton for his solutions to inflammation! I am sure that this information will help to remove another "roadblock" to healing for some chronic Lyme sufferers.