Now that summer is here, you may be spending more time outside. Unfortunately, so are ticks. Discovering that you’ve been bitten by one of these little blood-suckers is bad enough, but Adam Breiner, ND, warns that your worries might not be over after the tick is removed. In many areas of the country, contracting Lyme disease is a real possibility.
“Even if you clearly remember being bitten by a tick—which half of patients don’t!—Lyme disease is hard to diagnose and sometimes even harder to treat,” says Dr. Breiner, who practices family medicine at Whole-Body Medicine, LLC—a division of Breiner Whole-Body Health Center in Fairfield, CT—and specializes in detecting and removing “obstacles to cure” for Lyme patients from across the country.
Dr. Breiner explains that Lyme disease doesn’t always result in the telltale bull’s-eye rash and is known for its high false negative rate in screening tests. It’s also known as the Great Imitator because of the wide array of misleading symptoms it can cause, ranging from chronic pain to musculoskeletal disorders to psychological issues.
“The good news is, we’re discovering many innovative ways to effectively combat this ailment,” says Dr. Breiner. “In particular, using natural therapies to remove ‘obstacles to cure’ like toxins, inflammation, and infections can go a long way toward restoring health.”
Here, he shares six ways to treat Lyme disease in addition to the standard course of antibiotics:
Botanical Medicine. No matter how advanced medical science becomes, never underestimate the powers of Mother Nature! Many antimicrobial herbs and herbal formula combinations have been shown to effectively kill Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme disease) and other tick-borne pathogens.
“Herbs have an incredibly complex combination of phytochemicals that can be very harmful to certain bacteria, yet are harmless to people,” Dr. Breiner shares. “Even top PhD pharmaceutical researchers have a hard time creating such things in the lab! Incorporating botanical medicine into a patient’s overall treatment protocol can help prevent a resistance to medications such as antibiotics from forming.”
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is incredibly effective at killing Borrelia burgdorferi. In fact, one clinical study has shown that 75 percent of patients with chronic Lyme disease experience improvements in their symptoms while using HBOT. (Of this 75 percent, a quarter experience complete remission of symptoms!)
During HBOT, patients are placed inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber with an oxygen concentration of 100 percent. The chamber is slowly raised between 1.5 to 2 times the normal atmospheric pressure, allowing more oxygen to enter the bloodstream and cerebral spinal fluid.
“Borrelia bacteria are microphilic anaerobes, meaning that they don’t like a lot of oxygen,” Dr. Breiner explains. “Under hyperbaric conditions, the concentration of oxygen can become great enough to kill Borrelia, especially in combination with antibiotic and/or herbal therapies. Furthermore, since HBOT reduces inflammation in the brain and other tissues, it can bring healing and resolution to many of the inflammatory side effects of Lyme disease, such as brain fog and other neurological impairments.”
EEG Neurofeedback. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is one of the most accurate tools to measure the functioning of the brain. As patients’ brain waves are read in real time, special software gives rewards—for example, audible feedback or making a movie brighter—when optimal brain wave patterns occur. This prompts the brain to subconsciously repattern itself.
“Neurofeedback can help treat the ‘brain fog’ from which many Lyme patients suffer,” Dr. Breiner says. “Certain neurofeedback protocols can even help boost the immune system, since the brain is the master commander of the immune system.”
Diet. Diets that are pro-inflammatory and depleted of nutrients (i.e., the average American diet!) cause imbalances in the body’s biochemistry. Specifically, says Dr. Breiner, the body will become more acidic and inflamed, and less oxygen will be available on the cellular level. Infections such as Borrelia burgdorferi thrive in these conditions. Borrelia bacteria and other co-infections common with Lyme then release their own toxins, which further disrupt cellular functions and chemistry. Enter nutritional intervention, which focuses on using supplements and a proper diet to restore biochemical balance.
“Blood tests and hair analysis can tell a clinician which nutrients are most needed for a particular patient,” Dr. Breiner explains. “These tests can also indicate how the patient’s body best metabolizes foods, and which type of diet will work best. Most Lyme patients will benefit from a low-glycemic, high-antioxidant diet rich in fresh organic produce. Patients should also be tested for hidden food sensitivities, such as to gluten, since these can increase inflammation.”
Homeopathic Medicines. Homeopathics are gentle yet effective medicines that use highly diluted natural substances to stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities. They can boost the immune system to more effectively fight the infectious pathogenic organisms that are contributing to the Lyme patient’s symptoms (including the Borrelia bacteria, viruses, and other co-infections). Homeopathics can also assist various organs in eliminating toxins.
“Homeopathics do not actually kill the organisms themselves, but send information to the body that tells it to ‘wake up’ and address pathogens via its natural immune responses,” Dr. Breiner comments. “The remedies chosen are tailored to the individual patient and may be updated on subsequent visits as organism levels change.”
Acupuncture. Traditional Oriental medicine such as acupuncture is rapidly finding its way into the mainstream—and for good reason. Dr. Breiner explains that electromagnetic energy (referred to as Qi) flows in “rivers” (or meridians) throughout the body. When certain meridians have too much or too little Qi flowing through them, the body becomes imbalanced. This can be corrected by tapping into acupuncture points where the “rivers” of energetic meridians tend to “well.”
“Lyme disease tends to create energetic blockages that can contribute to the patient’s symptoms and make them harder to treat,” Dr. Breiner shares. “For instance, many patients have blockages in some of the meridians that feed energy to the head, and may experience symptoms such as brain fog or headaches. These same energetic blockages can prevent medicines from reaching their intended destination. On the flip side, the toxic die-off of the Borrelia bacteria may have more difficulty exiting the body effectively. Opening these energetic blockages through acupuncture will often improve a patient’s symptoms and allow other therapies to work more effectively.”
“Lyme disease is an under-recognized epidemic that’s adversely affecting the health of many Americans,” Dr. Breiner concludes. “If you suspect that you may be suffering from this illness, be proactive in seeking out answers. Remember, Lyme disease can be experienced very differently by each patient, and there is no such thing as a cookie-cutter treatment.”
About Dr. Adam Breiner:
Adam Breiner, ND, is the medical director of The NeuroEdge Brain Performance Center, a division of Whole-Body Medicine, LLC, in Fairfield, CT. The Center is one of the only free-standing hyperbaric facilities in the region, focusing on helping patients with neurological conditions.