Many of my patients tell me about their positive Lyme tests or the diagnosis made by a “Lyme Literate” physician. Doctors or articles have told them that their Chronic Lyme Disease is the root cause of all of their symptoms.
This is the convenient but incorrect idea that one germ equals one drug for easy treatment. While that sounds wonderful and simple, it is truly wishful thinking. When Lyme keeps coming back, then we must realize something is going on at the root of reinfection.
Recurrent infections (of Lyme or any viral infections like Epstein-Barr) are the result of an underlying condition, not the cause.
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is caused by a specific spirochete bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. It often coexists with coinfections such as Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, and others. Deer ticks carry these pathogens and transmit them to humans when the tick bites us.
Lyme disease and its coinfections are quite common, especially in the Northeast and Midwest of the U.S. According to the CDC, Lyme disease exists throughout the country. The south and along the West Coast see the next highest prevalence.
Acute infection can cause symptoms of a rash, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, brain fog, fever, night sweats, and more. This infection is typically treated with antibiotics and resolves completely within weeks.
Several factors that make CLD a bit mysterious to the medical community. The nonspecific symptoms and the lack of reliable testing for anything but acute infection are all obstacles to proper treatment. The inconsistent presence of a rash at the onset also confuses things.
Of course, we don’t dispute the fact that acute Lyme disease exists. But for Chronic Lyme Disease, it’s another story.
There’s a Difference Between Acute and Chronic Lyme Disease
Testing is far from perfect for anything other than acute Lyme infection. A patient can just present with a certain set of symptoms and then be diagnosed. Usually this occurs when the patient sees a “Lyme Literate MD” (LLMD). That doctor diagnoses presumptively, based on a set of symptoms or the patient’s history of a tick bite.
The problem here is that the set of symptoms is similar to that of Adrenal Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and other conditions.
Chronic Lyme Disease, sometimes called Post Lyme Disease Syndrome, is confusing and controversial. The disease is so controversial that conventional medicine does not view it as an official diagnosable condition.
Chronic Lyme Disease has a set of symptoms that is similar to that of Adrenal Fatigue,
Theoretically, CLD can occur months to years after a possible initial infection. The symptoms can be similar, and the testing is inconclusive. Typical treatment is long-term antibiotic cocktails. Results vary tremendously, and symptoms appear to reoccur.
This begs the question: Is it Lyme disease that’s causing these non-specific symptoms, or could it be something else?
Why Do Some of Us Experience Chronic Lyme Disease?
Chronic infection suggests there’s a problem with your immune system, which is not strong enough to fight the “bug.” The “bug” is not the problem; a weakened immune system is. A weakened immune system is the result of Adrenal Fatigue and Stress Response Dysfunction (SRD).
A compromised immune system is fertile ground for reactivation of Lyme disease.
Perhpas you or someone you love has experienced recurrent Lyme disease. Think about other people you may know who also had Lyme disease once but were never affected again. That’s the case for the majority of Lyme infections. But if it’s recurrent in you, there’s a reason. Your immune system is compromised and theirs is not, at least not to the extent yours is.
How Most Doctors Miss Treating Chronic Lyme Infections
The treatments for Lyme disease vary depending on the severity and duration of the illness. Acute Lyme disease should be treated with antibiotics. Most of my patients, however, experience Chronic Lyme Disease, which needs to be treated differently.
After a person is infected with Lyme, a combination of antibiotics and a strong immune system eradicates the disease. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
But what if the tick bite wasn’t noticed or ignored? Or perhaps it just wasn’t treated with antibiotics at the time? Or maybe the symptoms developed years later insidiously. For those with weakened immune systems, however, the symptoms are more severe and prolonged.
If Chronic Lyme Disease is occurring, the underlying Adrenal Fatigue must also be treated.
The majority of my Adrenal Fatigue patients present with immunologic symptoms. In these patients, I will not chase after chronic infections. Instead, I will focus on the system that is leading to immunosuppression. The underlying troublemaker is the stress response system, which includes, but is not limited to, the adrenal glands.
When it comes to Chronic Lyme, what many practitioners fail to do is to address the underlying cause of the susceptibility to Lyme and its co-infections. The susceptibility stems from a weakened and imbalanced immune system.
What Adrenal Fatigue Means for Your Immune System
Adrenal Fatigue is the result of chronic, perpetual stress over time, severe or prolonged enough to overwhelm one’s capacity for that stress. I refer to the capacity for stress as a “bucket” of tolerance. As the bucket fills up, the body shifts into stress physiology, or “fight or flight,” and away from “rest and digest” physiology.
This shift turns on the organs of stress response and turns off the organs of healing and repair (the “rest and digest” function). The immune system is one of the main rest and digest systems, along with the digestive, reproductive, and thyroid.
The immunosuppression that occurs because of the release of excess stress hormones—cortisol and adrenaline—is very well documented, researched, and predictable.
By fixing the dysfunctional stress response system (or the Adrenal Fatigue), we remove the immunosuppression. Then, the immune system has a chance to recover. A strong, functional immune system can keep viruses from reactivating over and over. It will certainly keep the symptoms to a minimum should reactivation occur.
There is an increased susceptibility to:
- Herpes viruses (EBV, CMV, and HHV6)
- Lyme (and its co-infections)
- Chronic staph
- Strep infections
How I Treat Chronic Lyme Disease
I begin by assessing the adrenal hormones. I then treat any subsequent nutritional imbalances and work with the nuances of each patient’s stress-response system. Healing needs to be a multi-factorial approach; it cannot just be antibiotics. We must support the immune system, as well.
Remember, though the immune system is compromised, the main underlying cause of this dysfunction is the Adrenal Fatigue. Treat it, and you’ll be far more successful in balancing your immune system.
I heal your dysfunctional stress response system (or the Adrenal Fatigue), we remove the immunosuppression. Then, the immune system has a chance to recover. A strong, functional immune system can keep viruses from reactivating over and over. It will certainly keep the symptoms to a minimum should reactivation occur.