Tips about Ticks:
A 6-Part Overview of Lyme Disease, Co-infections, Diagnosis, Conventional and Alternative Treatments, Complications and Prevention Strategies
By Dr. Deanna Walker, ND and Dr. Rahima Hirji, ND
PART 5: What are Alternative Treatments?
Alternative Treatments depend on how many systems have been affected by the infection. Typically, especially in chronic cases many systems are involved. A thorough investigation will reveal what treatments would need to be prioritized. The following are systems that can be affected with Lyme and some alternative treatments to help.
Immune Dysfunction: B. burgdorferi does a very good job of hiding in the tissues of the body rather than in the blood. This leaves the immune system confused. Initial infection should be addressed with antibiotics as mentioned in Part 4 of this series. A combination of natural antimicrobials can also be used in combination or alternative times to antibiotics and if there are cases where antibiotics are not available they can be given in isolation. Another essential consideration are supplements that address microbial products stuck or hidden in the biofilm.This would allow them to be released to enhance the effectiveness of an antibiotic or antimicrobial that is used.
Inflammation: there are many processes that contribute to inflammation in Lyme disease patients. These include the infection itself, immune dysregulation, gastrointestinal dysbiosis and leaky gut as well as sleep disorders. The treatment would depend on the source of the inflammation from an individual case basis. There are many supplements options to address the inflammation itself and strategies to healing the gut by recognizing food intolerances and establishing an anti-inflammatory diet.
Toxicity and Liver dysfunction: detoxification pathways appear to be more sluggish in Lyme Disease patients especially then there is an added burden of environmental toxins in the body (heavy metals, pesticides, mold, etc.). This is thought to be due to the lack of adequate glutathione in the body which is our bodies main antioxidant that detoxifies toxins out of the body. There are many supplements, lifestyle and dietary strategies to improve detoxification pathways through the liver and kidney that at Naturopathic Doctor can help you with. It is also important to improve methylation pathways as these tend to be problematic in Lyme Disease patients as well.
Nutritional and Enzyme deficiencies: this can be the result of gastrointestinal disorders that impede absorption or malnutrition. Nutritional deficiencies increase the the inflammatory load on the body and contribute to heightened feelings of malaise and lethargy. In addition to strategies to reduce gut inflammation and promote healing, intravenous therapy is an optimal way to replenish nutrients, support immune function and promote microbial “die-off”. Other benefits include increased energy, mood and improve quality of sleep. Only Naturopathic Doctors that have received extended training as Certified IV Therapist can administer this treatment and fortunately, 3 practitioners at Sage Naturopathic Clinic do!
Endocrine disorders: adrenal dysfunction is usually the primary hormone imbalance due to the chronic stress involved with chronic illness. Sex and thyroid hormones usually become imbalanced secondary to long term adrenal dysfunction. Hormone changes affect all aspects of our wellbeing including our mental health, weight. nervous system and fertility. Hormone testing can be provided to determine the extent of the imbalance and treatment with supplements or bio-identical hormones can be provided.
Psychological disorders: these are usually secondary to the infection and mental/emotional stress of chronic illness. There are natural therapies to help manage psychological disorders including supplements that dietary strategies but typically a referral to an psychotherapist or social worker is optimal.
Sleep disorders: this usually the result related to hormone imbalances and an inflammatory load on the body. Strategies to treat the source of the sleep disorder as well as specific supplementation to target improvements in falling or staying asleep.
Other systems that may require support include allergies (food and environmental), mitochondrial dysfunction, neurologic dysfunction, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, gastrointestinal disorders and various pain syndromes.
What is important to recognize is that not all of these systems may be affected in every case. As a Naturopathic Doctor we take pride in providing individualized care and treatment.
Make sure to look out for the last part of this series-
Part 6: How can I prevent infection?