Lyme Disease2020-12-15T23:35:10+00:00

Successful Treatment of Chronic Lyme Disease

by Kristy Fassler, ND

Many of our patients with chronic Lyme Disease may be understandably discouraged that effective and successful treatment can take months and even years to treat depending on the burden of infection. Some patients have been infected for a decade or more and may have one or more co-infections.  The most I have seen in one patient is 8 tick infections found with PCR urine testing.

Fortunately, these infections do resolve when treated aggressively and systematically for all 3 forms of Lyme and co-infections. We can be confident with the infections are cleared when there is no longer a herxheimer reaction for 2-3 months and every form of infection has been treated.

A March 28, 2019 article published by Discovery Medicine regarding the treatment of persistent Lyme Disease shares the problematic nature of treating the three forms of Borrelia:  spirochetes, persister or round body forms and biofilm colonies which evade the immune system and many antibiotics.  The article concludes that after 35 or more days of 3 different infused antibiotics most of the 3 forms were finally eradicated in mice.  Biopsies of mouse tissue were stained to visualize the three different forms of infection at different intervals during treatment.  See below for link to article and photos of 3 forms of infection.

The 3 antibiotics infused in mice each day were doxycycline, ceftriaxone (rocephin) and daptomycin. There have been no human studies to date with this combination of medications. An obvious challenge in a human study is the need to biopsy muscle, brain, heart and other tissues to check if the 3 forms of infection are still present in these tissues.

If a human were to be treated with the same antibiotics infused in the mice study, it would require a PICC line and 3 to 4 hours per IV treatment for at least 35 days to treat persistent Lyme.  (Not necessarily co-infections) As I consider the side effects of the antibiotics utilized along with the known concerns of antibiotic resistance over time, the microbiome disruption and resultant intestinal permeability and fungal infections, I am grateful to have effective alternatives to prescribe for patients.

Intravenous Laser Therapy in treating Chronic Lyme Disease

One alternative I have witnessed very good success with in patients with chronic tick infections is intravenous laser therapy or Photodynamic therapy (PDT).  The advantages of this therapy are:

  • It treats multiple infections; mold, bacteria, viruses, parasites. (New research is showing effectiveness in treating HIV, malaria and Hepatitis C as well as Lyme and Babesia)

  • Antibiotic resistance is not a concern (no evolution of super bugs that resist antibiotic treatment)

  • The intestinal microbiome does not appear to be adversely affected. I haven’t seen diarrhea or C. Diff infections.

  • There are other advantages to the patient, including immune stimulation, improved circulation and improved mitochondrial function supporting healing and improved energy.

Intravenous Laser Therapy in treating Chronic Lyme Disease

One alternative I have witnessed very good success with in patients with chronic tick infections is intravenous laser therapy or Photodynamic therapy (PDT).  The advantages of this therapy are:

* It treats multiple infections; mold, bacteria, viruses, parasites. (New research is showing effectiveness in treating HIV, malaria and Hepatitis C as well as Lyme and Babesia)
* Antibiotic resistance is not a concern (no evolution of super bugs that resist antibiotic treatment)
* The intestinal microbiome does not appear to be adversely affected. I haven’t seen diarrhea or C. Diff infections.
* There are other advantages to the patient, including immune stimulation, improved circulation and improved mitochondrial function supporting healing and improved energy.

I have overseen a handful of chronically infected patients treated with 30-40 IV laser treatments do very well, including some with complete resolution of symptoms.  These patients were severely sick with multiple infections when they started treatment.  Oral antibiotics and antimicrobial herbs have been prescribed periodically to be taken in addition to the IV laser treatments.  Several patients have only done IV laser photodynamic therapy and are much improved after 10-15 treatments but they are not long term chronically infected patients.

A Tick Bite! What Should I Do Now?

Ticks have been described as nature’s dirty needles. A tick will feed on lizards, birds, deer, foxes, moose, bears, all rodents, and pets! They carry multiple infections, not just Lyme disease. Be prudent and prevent possible infections as soon as you find a tick bite by following these recommendations.

Tick Bite Information

How do I remove a tick if I’ve been bitten? 

Ideally, wear a pair of gloves during the removal. Using a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull firmly but gently to release the tick’s mouth from the site of the bite. It’s very important to not squeeze the tick or twist it when you remove it. Simply pull straight up and out.

Squeezing the tick’s body may cause the infection to be squeezed into the person being bitten. For this reason, do not use your fingers to pull the tick out. If the tick’s mouth parts remain attached to the skin, you may remove them as you would a splinter. Wash the area with a disinfectant. We suggest you apply rubbing alcohol, betadyne or an antibiotic cream to the bite after cleaned.

Why is it important to have ALL TICKS tested for potential infections?

The deer tick is not the only infectious tick! Wood ticks, dog ticks, and soft ticks can also carry infections, such as Rickettsia, Tularemia, Erlichia and Anaplasma, Q Fever, Babesia and Bartonella.

Once the tick is removed, place it in a zip lock plastic bag with a damp paper towel or moist leaf to keep it hydrated. As soon as possible, send the tick to be analyzed for possible infections.

Where do I send the tick for analysis?

Our patients have had very good success with the University of Massachusetts tick-borne disease diagnostic service in Amherst, Mass. For $50, the UMass lab will test for appropriate infections carried by the specific tick species you send in.

If you are sending a deer tick, please be sure to ask that the tick be tested for Bartonella in addition to the five other infections the lab tests for. Find all the instructions on how to go about having the tick tested and the results of the test sent to you.

Visit the tick report website.

Why does Dr. Fassler treat acute tick bites?

It is much safer to prevent tick-borne infections than it is to wait until you are sick with one or more of them. It’s also very helpful for Dr. Fassler to actually see the tick bite and check for a fever and other possible symptoms. She can also make recommendations about any potential symptoms to watch for within the following days to weeks.

Whether you happen to be a current patient of Dr. Fassler’s or not, we will schedule you immediately for a 30 minute visit to treat a recent tick bite

How long does the tick need to be attached for infection to be transmitted?

Many of our patients have been told a tick must be attached for 24 to 48 hours in order to transmit an infection. We don’t find this to be true in our practice. We have seen patients exposed to ticks for far less time who have contracted an infection.

For one of our patients, the tick was attached for only a few minutes and, due to the location of the bite (i.e., on a large vein in her arm), the patient became infected. She developed a 102-degree fever the following day.

What can I expect regarding treatment?

Typically, we will prescribe one or more antimicrobials for 4 to 6 weeks to treat the majority of newly acquired infections carried by ticks. We prescribe for this length of time based on the research of Eva Sapi, PhD, in New Haven, CT. Dr. Sapi grew Borrelia Burgdorferi (Lyme bacteria) on a growth plate in the lab and treated it with aggressive doses of doxycycline. After 3 weeks of treatment, half of the bacteria on the growth plate were still living. We have no reason to believe this wouldn’t be the case in a human being as well.

Once the results of the tick analysis come back, we can determine if all of the infections found in the tick are being addressed and the treatment can be adjusted accordingly. If no infections have been detected, the prophylactic treatment for prevention of potential infections may be discontinued.

Why is this advice different than that of my PCP?

on Dr. Fassler’s experience as a Lyme-Literate Naturopathic Doctor who has seen and treated a thousand or more patients with tick-borne infections. She has trained with the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS.com) at many annual conferences as well as with other tick-borne disease experts while with North Coast Family Health.

As we’ve already mentioned, it’s much safer to prevent tick-borne infections than it is to wait until you are sick. Some of these infections can cause very disabling symptoms – and even death – if not treated. Unfortunately, many of the tests available are less than 50% sensitive once you have been infected, which results in misdiagnosis and ineffective treatment. This is the risk you take if you don’t treat an acute tick bite.

For more information about tick infections and tick bites, you may find these websites helpful:

About Ticks

About Lyme Disease Co-Infections

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