- Last Updated: 27 April 2013 27 April 2013
Disclaimer: All items discussed here are simply my opinion. All treatment decisions should be made solely by a medical professional.
Q: Do you believe in the use of antibiotics for treating Lyme disease?
A: Yes, and no. This is a difficult question with no easy answer. The shortest answer would be that I support the use of antibiotics as part of a well-planned treatment protocol that includes a heavy focus on detoxification, supporting organs such as thyroid and adrenals, removal of heavy metals, and a number of other often necessary treatments.
I do not believe that antibiotics alone are a solution for chronic Lyme disease nor do I believe that they result in long-term positive outcomes for most people. Generally speaking, when one stops antibiotic treatment for chronic Lyme, the relapse rate is observed to be quite high - some argue as high as 99%. That said, it seems very likely that antibiotics suppress the infection and reduce symptoms possibly by pushing Lyme into a less-active cystic form which generally re-emerges when the coast is clear. Thus, many people require antibiotic treatment for life.
I personally incorporated antibiotics into my treatment of Lyme disease for over three years until I stopped fully in October 2008. Back in 2005 when I was first diagnosed, I did not understand what I do now about Lyme disease and antibiotics. That said, even if I had, I likely still would have opted to pursue antibiotics given that I was so severely impacted by the disease at that stage.
I think the decision to use or not use antibiotics in the treatment of Lyme disease is a very personal one. No one except you and your doctor can say what is likely the best option for your unique situation. I think much of the decision may be based on how severely impacted you are by the disease. If your symptoms are severe, then incorporating antibiotics into your treatment protocol may be the very best option. Several LLMDs consider the entire body and create a treatment plan that focuses on anti-microbials (antibiotics or natural options), detoxification, and supporting the body. These are the treatment programs that I have observed having some of the better outcomes.
Q: Do you believe in a "cure" for Lyme disease?
A: The word "cure" is used to mean different things to different people. If by "cure" one means an absence of symptoms, then yes, I do think that is attainable over time. If by "cure" one means complete eradication of the offending organisms and no chance of relapse in the future, I do not believe this is possible with today's treatment options for Lyme disease.
This sounds quite discouraging and yet, it really is not. If you think about getting Chicken Pox as a child, the virus lives within your body for the rest of your life. It does not generally cause any symptoms and yet as an adult, under a period of stress, one may find themselves having a bout with shingles. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. I see Lyme similarly. We can become much improved or even symptom free, but we have to continue to support our body's proper functioning and avoid stress in order to minimize the possibility of a relapse.
I had very severe symptoms from 1997 to 2000, then an improved phase from 2000-2004, followed by a relapse in 2004 that was almost as bad as the initial illness. That said, we didn't know it was Lyme disease until 2005 so the relapse may have ultimately saved my life and been a guide to getting proper treatment.
By far, the best explanation of "curing" Lyme I have read is from Dr. David Jernigan and can be found here. He says:
Can Lyme disease really be cured? This is the third in a series on Lyme disease.
The question of whether or not Lyme disease can be cured is a recurring question that is asked every doctor who is faced with a person suffering from the disease.
The term “Cure” is almost taboo in the healing arts profession. No doctor that I know of is willing to say they can cure any illness…especially not Lyme disease.
Before we just say an absolute “No” that Lyme disease is incurable lets see what the best medical dictionaries define the word “Cure” as meaning. After all, these medical dictionaries are the basis of what even the most agnostic doctors hold up as “truth.”
The following definitions are taken from Dorland’s Medical Dictionary and Stedman’s Medical Dictionary.
1. Restoration of health; recovery from disease.
2. A method or course of medical treatment used to restore health.
3. An agent, such as a drug, that restores health; a remedy.
4. Something that corrects or relieves a harmful or disturbing situation.
1. To restore to health.
2. To effect a recovery from: cure a cold.
3. To remove or remedy (something harmful or disturbing): cure an evil.
Reading these definitions one immediately notices that at no time does the word cure mean all the bacteria are gone.
A patient of mine said it best on a Lyme forum, “Antibiotics are for killing, not healing.” Now doctors may read this and say the antibiotic “killing” of the bacteria creates healing by eliminating the cause of the disease…but in their own scientific scrutiny does this line of thought hold up to its claims? Not according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the worlds leading, peer-reviewed, medical journal.
Articles in the JAMA encourage doctors to stop treating every suspected infection with antibiotics. This is because international research, which is cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have demonstrated that a doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics for a “routine” sinus, ear, eye, respiratory infection for approximately 7-10 days. What the research found is that even without prescribing antibiotics that the infection was resolved with 7-10 days.
So the medical research and the medical definition of cure show that a “Cure” is not the absence of bacteria. The people experienced a “Restoration of health” without killing all of the bacteria. And yes for those of you who might say the body killed the bacteria via the immune system, this too is not borne out by the medical research that reveals the Strep or whatever bacteria is was is still in the body, only it is now non-pathological.
Q: Can I treat my Lyme disease myself without a doctor?
A: This one I feel very strongly about. The answer is NO! Lyme disease is a complex illness with many different layers of problems that will need to be addressed. If not treated properly, the disease can progress into neurological diseases such as Parkinson's, MS, ALS, and others. Thus, I do not support the idea of self-treating and do recommend that you work closely with a Lyme-Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD); ideally from ILADS (http://www.ilads.org). If a person does not have the resources to work closely with a doctor, an herbal protocol such as the Cowden Condensed Protocol may be a reasonable option, but I don't view Lyme disease as a condition where self-treatment is appropriate.
Q: Are you "betterhealthguy" on eBay?
A: No, I am not "betterhealthguy" on eBay. Someone else has apparently chosen to use the name there and I have no affiliation with that person.
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BetterHealthGuy.com is intended to share my personal experience in recovering from my own chronic illness. Information presented is based on my journey working with my doctors and other practitioners as well as things I have learned from conferences and other helpful resources. As always, any medical decisions should be made only with the guidance of your own personal medical authority. Everyone is unique and what may be right for me may not be right for others.