Lyme disease is not easy to understand. In fact, most doctors don’t even fully understand Lyme (Borrelia burgdorferi), unless they are a LLMD (Lyme literate medical doctor) or someone who has extensively studied the disease.
It’s complex, highly adaptable, and difficult to diagnose, which only adds to the Lyme epidemic that we’re experiencing in the United States. If you combine the lack of understanding with incorrect treatment protocols, you’re left with a population that’s chronically ill and they don’t know why. So what are the different treatments for Lyme disease?
Depending on the type of medical professional that you see, your treatment plan will vary. If you suspect Lyme disease, I’m going to encourage you to find a LLMD of your own to see, and do your own research.
If you get pregnant, you’re not going to go to a proctologist- you want an OB/GYN. If you break your foot, you want a podiatrist, not a urologist. These doctors have specialties for a reason, and going to your primary care doctor for Lyme concerns will likely just end in frustration for you.
Treatments for Lyme Disease:
- Antibiotics- This is usually the first step for most doctors. Now, antibiotics can be helpful if you have just been bitten by a tick and either found the tick or got the bulls-eye rash. You may not feel this at the time, but this makes you one of the lucky ones.The sooner you can begin treating Lyme, the faster you can help your body to be prepared to fight it. The recommended amount by most Lyme doctors is 4-6 weeks of Doxycycline for an acute Lyme infection.However, after the first couple of weeks have passed, your window for antibiotics is gone.You don’t want to use antibiotics for chronic Lyme disease for several reasons. First of all, Lyme is a very advanced microbe. Shortly after it enters your bloodstream, it uses its corkscrew shape and burrows into our tissues, where it is protected from antibiotics and the immune system. It also has the ability to encase itself in a cyst, where it is protected from antibiotics as well. The Borrelia then lays dormant until the antibiotic threat is over, and will resume causing problems.
- Long-term IV antibiotics- Some LLMD’s prescribe long-term IV antibiotics for the treatment of chronic Lyme disease because short-term antibiotics are only helpful right after you’ve been infected. However, many of those who are on long-term antibiotics suffer immenseley, as their gut bacteria is destroyed, thereby compromising the immune system as well and possibly even contributing to antibiotic resistance.Additionally, we know that Borrelia has the ability to encase itself in cysts where it can hide from antibiotics until the threat is gone. Many Lyme experts don’t recommend long-term antibiotics because the risks outweigh the benefits.
- Herbal therapy- The power of using herbs for medicine goes back thousands of years. Back before we had pharmaceuticals, people used tinctures and herbs for treating illness. So many herbs have amazing healing benefits, and unlike conventional antibiotics, they are able to penetrate tissues and organs, which makes them much more effective in the treatment for Lyme disease. I personally started with the Restore Kit by Dr. Rawls, before customizing my own therapy through the Buhner Protocol recommended herbs.
- Immune system boosting- While this won’t help heal your Lyme on its own, it’s essential for preventing the Borrelia or any other co-infections from taking you for a ride. If your immune system is functioning at optimal levels, then the Borrelia and its friends won’t be able to take advantage of your body because your immune system will fight back.
- Ozone Therapy- Ozone therapy is a controversial therapy in the United States because it can be very dangerous if it’s not done right. The premise behind it is that ozone therapy eliminates free radicals from the body very quickly, which greatly improves the immune system. And we really need our immune systems to be performing ideally in order to keep the Lyme from taking advantage of us as hosts.
- CBD Oil- Cannabinoid oil is oil extracted from hemp plants. CBD is one of 85 cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. So while CBD is found in cannabis, the CBD oil doesn’t contain THC, which is the psychoactive element in cannabis. CBD does not give you a high, but still offers significant healing properties such as eliminating anxiety, significantly decreasing inflammation, and stopping seizures. It also helps to fight cancer, relieves nausea, and works as a painkiller. So while it doesn’t do anything to the Lyme bacteria, it can help your body to heal while herbal therapy addresses the actual Lyme spirochetes.
So while there are several different treatments for Lyme disease, they are not one size fits all. The treatment plan depends on whether you have acute or chronic Lyme, any co-infections that you may have contracted, whether your symptoms are neurological, cardiac, or otherwise, and which doctor you see.
One of the best things that you can do with treating Lyme is to use multiple forms of therapy in conjunction. I know that when it comes to healing from this complicated microbe, hitting it from multiple angles is a great way to get a leg up on it.
The one thing that I cannot recommend enough is for you to do your own research. You must understand your own illness, you can’t depend on your doctor to know everything about everything.
Two great resources to get started with are: Healing Lyme by brilliant herbalist Stephen Buhner; and Unlocking Lyme by Dr. Bill Rawls who healed his own Lyme and fibromyalgia herbally. They are comprehensive, extremely detailed, and incredibly interesting.
You are in charge of your healthcare. If you are educated in your disease and possible treatment plans, then you can share your insights with your doctor. And if your doctor doesn’t listen – find one that will.
Next up in the series so you can continue learning Lyme: Co-Infections of Lyme Disease.