Alternative Health Care News

Lyme Disease. The Great Imitator

I want to bring to your attention some extremely important information I have been researching over the last 6 weeks. There is an undiagnosed epidemic of Lyme Disease in the United States that may be affecting millions of people. New research suggests that Lyme Disease is the underlying causative agent of many chronic health conditions, including but not limited to: allergies, heart arrhythmias, arthritis (both osteo and rheumatoid), ADD, auto-immune disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, macular degeneration, sensory or motor radiculoneuropathies (i.e., clumsiness in the hands or feet and/or burning, tingling or numbness), Alzheimer's Disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), Bell's palsy, irritable bowel syndrome and gastrointestinal distress, lupus, polymyalgia rheumatica (a more severe form of fibromyalgia), sleep disorders, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, brain fog, memory loss, joint pain/swelling/stiffness, lack of coordination, unexplained chills and fevers, recurrent infections, poor concentration, tremors, shortness of breath, anxiety or panic attacks, heart palpitations, weight changes (loss or gain), sore throats, loss of appetite, muscle pain or cramps, obsessive compulsive disorders, headaches/migraines, light sensitivity, trigeminal neuralgia, unexplained hair loss, and visual changes. And, this is only a partial list!! There are actually more than 300 references in the medical literature to conditions which have been linked to an underlying Lyme Disease infection. I printed such a list off of the Internet, with each disorder referenced to the Publ. Med. abstract.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one of the more conservative medical institutions in the US, estimates that there are 10 times as many undiagnosed cases of Lyme in the US than the 180,000 reported cases. That means approximately 2 million people have an undiagnosed, treatable bacterial infection that is severely affecting their quality of life.

The problem with diagnosing Lyme Disease is that -- until now -- our diagnostic tests have been quite inadequate. The serologic blood test for Lyme is insensitive, inaccurate and misses over 40% of cases (JA Whitaker, MD, "Q-RIBB A New Quantitative Rapid Test for Diagnosing Lyme Disease," Focus, Feb 04, p7.) This is because of the nature of the Lyme disease organism. The bacterium is a spirochete, which changes its shape from a spiral to a filament, cyst, granule, hooked rod or elbow, as it loses its cell wall (CWD forms). These CWD forms do not produce an antibody response, making it impossible for your immune system to respond and making the ELISA and Western Blot tests give false negatives. Additionally, in this form they are able to hide within most tissues of the body, thus protecting themselves from any adverse host response.

Furthermore, the bull's eye rash (the most diagnostic symptom in the medical community) occurs in only about 50% of all infected people.

Dr. Whitaker has tested over 3500 indivdiuals (500 of them very sick children) from a wide geographical distribution, and all of them have tested positive for Lyme Disease. Other researchers have done smaller studies with similar results (Mattman, 1995, 43 of 47 patients with chronic disease were positive for Lyme while 22 of 23 control cultures were negative). Since 1999, all blood cultures have been positive and there have been no negatives. Dr. Whitaker and other researchers believe this indicates the magnitude of the problem.

For many years, we have been taught that Lyme Disease is a disease found only on the East Coast and that it is transmitted by deer ticks. This information is false. Lyme Disease is endemic along the entire West Coast of the US, extending north into British Columbia. It is also found throughout the Eastern Seaboard and is particularly endemic in Florida and Connecticut. More alarming, the organism has been identified in bodily fluids, including semen, tears and saliva, so the suspicion is it can be communicated between individuals by close bodily contact. We know that it can also cross the placenta into the unborn child. We also know that it is carried by mites and mosquitoes, as well as ticks. Furthermore, birds can act as a reservoir for the disease.

Why am I bringing this to your attention? Primarily because there is now hope for people who have been chronically ill for years. And, there is hope that otherwise chronic, incurable conditions can be stopped, and in some cases, reversed. As an example, ALS patients have had their symptoms reverse when treated for Lyme Disease.

The problem is that the medical community is loathe to admit the widespread nature of the problem, and even more reluctant to treat it. One of my patients whom I recently diagnosed with Lyme took the information to her neurologist who abused her. He shouted at her that Lyme Disease doesn't exist in California (see the CDC web site and that anyone who told her she had Lyme Disease was out of their mind. He refused to recognize the test result or to offer any assistance in treating her.

Fortunately, a recent study demonstrated the efficacy of Cat's Claw (Unicaria tomentosa) in destroying the Lyme organism. In fact, in the study, the control group of 14 patients all took antibiotics and only 3 improved slightly, 3 got worse and the remainder had no change in their clinical condition. The experimental group was treated with Cat's Claw and 85% of them were negative for the Lyme organism after 6 months and all the patients experienced a dramatic improvement in their clinical condition. (Cowden, WE, MD, et al., "Lyme Disease: Nutraceutical Breakthrough Using TOA-Free Cat's Claw", Focus, Feb '04, pp.3,4)

In utilizing Cat's Claw, it is extremely important that the quality and purity of the product be assured. This herb occurs naturally in 2 forms: the more common TOA form and the rarer POA form. For those of you with a chemical bent, TOA stands for tetracyclic oxindole alkaloid and POA for pentacyclic oxindole alkaloid. Only the POA form is effective in stimulating the immunity which destroys the organism. As little as 1% TOA can cause a 30% reduction in the immune system modulating properties that POAs provide. Unfortunately some commercially available products contain as much as 80% TOAs. (Ibid, p. 3)

The Medi-Herb Cat's Claw that we use at the RFHC is 1.5% to 2.0% POAs, the highest concentration available, and is TOA free. Therefore, the amount needed is less, making it much more affordable than other POA products on the market. We did a cost study and determined that using Medi-Herb Cat's Claw was very cost effective. ($60 for a month's supply vs. $325 for a month's supply from the other retailer.)

There are many other considerations in treating Lyme Disease, as well, including managing the die-off reactions which occur in chronic cases by titrating the dosage and supporting the ancillary system s of the body. Also, since the treatment of Lyme may take 9 to 12 months, it is important to have the support of a health professional. I have developed a protocol to enable you to continue to function while eliminating the organism. If you suspect that you or anyone you care about may be suffering from this insidious disease, contact us today and arrange for the testing. If you would like to read more about Lyme Disease, send a self-addressed, stamped 11" x 13" manila envelope, and we will send you a copy of the Focus Newsletter quoted in this article.

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