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Trust your doctor. Or not?

Anyone in the medical profession deserves heartfelt respect. Most of us honor these men and women for serving humanity in the most fundamental way: Caring for the sick. But what do you do when your own doctor, the saint with a compassionate heart, won't listen, and you know something is wrong? This frustrating experience is common among people with Lyme disease.

Many people, doctors included, believe that a bull's eye rash is the definitive Lyme symptom. In fact, up to two-thirds of people infected with Lyme never develop a rash. When I say doctors I mean doctors from all fields. That includes GPs, Infectious Disease specialists, Neurologists, Dermatologists, Hematologists, Cardiologists, you name it.

  • It is a mistake to assume that your family doctor (or your dentist, for that matter) knows anything about Lyme disease or common Lyme co-infections, such as Babesia, Bartonella, or Ehrlichia. They will most likely tell you with some degree of confidence that Lyme is rare, hard to get, easy to cure, or that it simply doesn't exist where you live. This is old thinking, but you may be surprised how many people (doctors too) are not educated about Lyme, yet possess strong opinions about it.

Tick bites can occur without anyone noticing. They do not hurt. You may have never seen a tick on your skin, or you might have been told the ticks in your region don't carry Lyme. You might remember a tick bite, but you never developed the bull's eye rash, and wrote off the other symptoms as a bad flu, a touch of arthritis, or a passing case of tachycardia.

If you are symptomatic, and have been told that you don't have Lyme but you strongly suspect it, have your blood tested through the IGeneX laboratory. Obtain a second, third, or fourth opinion. Most people who are now successfully overcoming Lyme will tell you they saw 10, 20, 30 doctors or more before they found help.

In my own case, several Infectious Disease doctors I consulted with were quickly convincing themselves that I must have multiple sclerosis. Every cell in body and mind knew with absolute certainty that they were wrong. During that period, I had my blood tested at IGeneX, so I knew that they were wrong. These doctors saw the test results with their own eyes and did not trust them. However, I was in no shape to refute them. At the time I was extremely weak, unable to articulate my thoughts, speak clearly, and was essentially wasted from a horrible full-body rash (not the bull's eye, which actually might have been helpful in terms of their diagnoses).

Prior to my IGeneX test, the expensive dermatologist I consulted had prescribed Prednisone, and taking it (I later learned) was possibly the worst thing I could have done. The steroids explosively multiplied the spirochetes and drove them deeper into my body and brain. Finally I found a naturopath who believed my test results and had treated several patients who had Lyme and co-infections. He was my saving grace. He was hard to find, because I entered this illness naively, believing that all doctors knew best. I had no clue that I'd have to fight them for my life.

You may love and trust your family doc. And indeed, he or she may be saintly and have a heart of gold. But it's your life we're talking about. If your intuition is nagging you to get another opinion, listen to that inner voice. Your intuition is a highly sensitive and intelligent guide, designed to nag for purposes such as this.

The good news is there are educated Lyme doctors who can help you. However, you might have to make an effort to find them. In addition to IGeneX, check out these two new tests, the DNA test and the antigen test.

Healing Lyme Naturally

Healing Lyme Disease Naturally: History, Analysis, and Treatments
by Wolf D. Storl
Foreword by Matthew Wood
North Atlantic Books

In our interview with herbalist and teacher Matthew Wood, you may recall his mentioning a new book, Healing Lyme Disease Naturally, by Wolf Storl. Matthew wrote the foreword to this book, and talked to us about the role of the herb teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris) in healing Lyme. Dr Storl is an anthropologist and herbalist, as well as an engaging and prolific writer. He has published twenty-eight books, and his work has been translated into numerous different languages. He has also taught university courses in medical anthropology. As a result of a superinfection that resisted antibiotic treatment in an earlier illness he suffered, he was unable to take antibiotics when he discovered he had Lyme. For this reason, he was forced to turn to older methods of treating a serious disease. Dr Storl healed himself using teasel and supportive therapies, such as a light diet, exercise and hyperthermia.

This new book is not going to appeal to everyone. However, if you are interested in herbal medicine and lore, or if you're investigating alternatives to antibiotics, you may find it a captivating read, as I did. It will give you a comprehensive picture of Lyme and another spirochetal illness that resembles Lyme, and that is syphilis. (Matthew Wood and others have called Lyme "deer syphilis".) Through the wide lens of medical history, and illustrated with his own personal story, he shows us how these diseases have been viewed and treated in different cultures through time.

If you've become paranoid of picnicking by the lake, or you panic at the sight of a weird-looking spider on the wall, this book may help restore your sense of wonder about nature, and lose a little of the fear. After all, as he points out in a provocative examination of the advent of antibiotics after WWII, microbes are not the enemy. They are an integral part of us.

Early in the book there is a fascinating chapter about the stealthy make-up of the Borrelia spirochete. Research scientists have told me that the Borrelia bacteria is capable of dormancy, changing forms, and hiding from the immune system. I just never really understood quite how until I read this chapter, which explains the Borrelia bergdorferi and its "astonishing typical characteristics." Among them:

  • Depending on the conditions of their environment, borrelia can take on different forms. Besides the normal spiral or corkscrew spirochete form, they can cast off their cell wall and, held together by a thin pliable membrane, take on globular form. In this way, cell-wall-inhibiting antibiotics are rendered useless. In this spheric form (also called L-form) they are not recognizable for the immune cells; they have, so to say, no "features," no antigens, by which they could be recognized.
  • Borrelia can also encapsulate and go into dormancy within minutes. They seem to do this when their environment is polluted by antibiotics, for example. Until the environment improves for them, they can remain dormant for at least ten months without carrying on basic life functions such as metabolism or dividing. As long as they are metabolically inactive, antibiotics have no effect of them. The patient believes he has been finally cured, but then the symptoms rebound anew.
  • Borrelia can attach to host cell walls (mainly scar-tissue cells and even defense cells) and induce the cell to release its own digestive enzymes, which eat a hole in the cell wall. The spirochete then enters the cell, kills the nucleus, and wears the cell wall as a disguising cloak or mask. This is another way in which these terrorists of the microscopic world evade recognition by the immune cells.

Included in his telling of herbal lore and histories are intriguing ethno-medical stories. For example, did you know that at one point in the 19th century, doctors injected syphilitic patients with malaria? It seemed to help. About a third of the patients would get healed. Another third weren't affected at all, and the other third entered a long remission. Years later, in the 1930s, the medical establishment discovered why it helped: the malaria caused spiking fevers of 107 degrees, which killed the Borrelia bacteria. Hyperthermia has long been used by many different cultures to kill bacteria of all kinds.

Dr Storl raises and explores important questions, such as whether Lyme is a new illness, or an old disease that was diagnosed as other conditions. Aside from an examination of teasel and how it works in healing Lyme, dosages, preparation methods, and more, there are many practical tips included here, such as measures to take to protect against tick bites (essential oils such as cedar milk, clove oil, tea tree oil, peppermint oil and others may be effective when rubbed onto exposed skin areas), and an explanation of the way antibiotics such as doxycycline work.