Living with Lyme disease

Tests look for antibodies, not diseases. When white cells are infected, they do not respond like they should to the infection by making antibodies.

Tests look for antibodies, not diseases. When white cells are infected, they do not respond like they should to the infection by making antibodies.

by Dr. Paul Stallone — 

Lyme disease (LD) can be a lifelong battle with many complications and setbacks. The biggest obstacle is obtaining an early and proper diagnosis. LD is often called “The Great Imitator” because it mimics numerous disorders such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and ADHD.

Testing for it is difficult because the spirochete (the pathogen that causes LD) begins to infect the individual’s white blood cells. Traditional tests measure the antibodies produced by white blood cells (antibodies fight diseases) in order to establish which disease is present.

Tests look for antibodies, not diseases. When white cells are infected, they do not respond like they should to the infection by making antibodies. With no guaranteed method of testing and nondescript symptoms, the disease has been written off by many physicians. Patients jump from one specialist to another, trying one medication after another.

Once a diagnosis of LD has been confirmed, the disease needs to be classified into an appropriate stage. Different stages result in different treatment plans. Someone in the early stage will require treatment that someone in the chronic stage would not respond to. The disease can manifest itself in one part of or throughout the body, resulting in either localized or disseminated treatment.

The longer LD is left untreated, multiple system symptoms involving the whole body become affected, especially the central and peripheral nervous systems and the musculoskeletal, skin and circulatory systems. During LD testing, co-infections need to be either confirmed or ruled out. These co-infections do not respond to a one-size-fits-all approach and may not be affected by LD treatment. Certain co-infections require a whole different treatment plan.

Involving a physician who is experienced with LD can hasten the process. Many in-office treatments work extremely well on LD and co-infections. Each patient will need to be evaluated to determine specific needs, but a customized plan can work better and faster at treating all infections. Besides intravenous (IV) treatments, prescribed supplements and injections, a physician can make other suggestions for the patient to use at home.

Diet, as with all aspects of health, can help ease the symptoms of disease. For some people with advance cases of LD, the immune system can become so confused and overworked that it stops attacking the chronic infections and begins attacking the good things in the body, like certain foods. Each individual might have different foods that they become intolerant to, some might have just a few foods and others might have entire food groups. As the disease progresses, some might notice an increase in the number of foods they react to.

Chronic stage LD can cause severe widespread inflammation in the body. This inflammation can easily be irritated by foods that are difficult to digest. Some LD sufferers may not have true food sensitivities, but they might still react to certain foods that are just harder for a sick body to metabolize.

A trained physician can help customize a diet that is appropriate for patients. Most people would benefit from avoiding sugar because this can feed any disease. Maintaining a high pH balance through diet has been reported by many to reduce inflammation and pain.

Besides tailoring a diet around triggers and sensitivities, there are many supplements that can provide additional support. One of the supplements that anyone who has ever taken an antibiotic should take is a high-quality probiotic. High quality cannot be stressed enough. Most LD patients probably began their journey with multiple courses of antibiotics, which kill all the good, beneficial bacteria that are crucial to every function of the G.I. tract.

Fish oil and borage seed oil are great anti-inflammatories. High-potency multivitamins, mineral formulas, CoQ10 and other mitochondrial nutrients can help with fatigue and overall support. Obtaining the guidance of a physician can help avoid drug interactions and complications.

Some studies have shown that grapefruit seed extract and some other substances can actually interfere with tissue uptake of the antibiotics and make them less effective. If taking an antibiotic is a must, then they need to be taken properly so that they are successful. A physician knowledgeable about nutrition can make recommendations about restricting non-essential supplements so the body does not become overwhelmed.

Many patients hinder their recovery with good intentions. Some treatments can even be too taxing on the body or require special aftercare.

Symptoms of Lyme disease 

  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision or drooping eyelids
  • Fainting
  • Speech impairment
  • Confusion
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Facial paralysis (also called Bell’s palsy)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Loss of muscle function and feeling
  • Headache
  • Joint inflammation in large joints
  • Abnormal sensitivity to light
  • Muscle pains or stiff neck

The symptom list of LD is long, and many of these symptoms are common enough that they are often overlooked. Symptoms can come and go and may disappear after days, weeks, or months. A physician can weed through the symptoms to either confirm LD or pinpoint any other possible causes.


Paul Stallone, N.M.D., founded the Arizona Integrative Medical Center, located in Scottsdale, Ariz. He combines natural, alternative and conventional treatments to best fit each patient’s needs. or 480-214-3922.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 32, Number 4, August/September 2013.


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