In the past month, I was able to participate in two teleseminars given by Dr. Corson, MD. Dr. Corson is an expert in the treatment of chronic lyme disease and has been lecturing about tick-borne diseases to the public, practitioners, and legislators since 2004. She has been a member of ILADS (the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) since 2003. Dr. Corson has trained with Doctors Joseph Burrascano and Charles Ray Jones on grants provided by ILADS-Turn the Corner Foundation. Her practice, located in PA, is devoted fulltime to the treatment of patients with Lyme and associated tick-borne diseases.

What I really appreciated about Dr. Corson was her humility and ability to share her experience. Do you ever wonder why a doctor calls their clinic, a “practice?” The collaborative health care practitioners know that there is no one simple answer that will work for everyone, that our obsession with being right versus working with the patient gets us in trouble, and that if we are all in this together, we’ll be ok. So, that being said, let me share with you some highlights I’ve learned over the years.

Background on Lyme:

According to the CDC, there are approximately 300,000 DIAGNOSED (under-reporting and bad diagnostics an issue, remember?) cases of Lyme Disease per year. The star of this horror show, Borrelia burgdorferi, is from the Ixodes genius. Co-infections with tick and other bacterial infections can occur, complicating the matter more. Dr. Corson estimates that one-fourth of lyme diagnoses can lead to chronic carrier states. Dr. Scott Taylor, DVM, and author of A Plague of Ignorance Regarding the Ignorance of a Plague, believes that this chronic nature of lyme and its related symptoms are due to the spirochetes’ release of BLPs (bacterial lipoproteins). These BLPs leak into various organ systems causing inflammation and damage to the body.

The signs of lyme disease are vast and hard to pinpoint in a lot of people. Most are familiar with the famous bulls eye rash, erythema migrans (EM), but this is not present in all cases and can go unnoticed. Other signs and symptoms can range from headaches, aches and pains in joints, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, gastro-intestinal issues, behavioral and neurological problems, cardiovascular symptoms, skin rashes, mood disorders, and many other vague complaints. It is being coined as the newest “disease mimicker”, meaning it could be a tick that caused the diagnosis label you are currently holding.

Lyme has 3 stages of infection and it progresses into more severe symptoms the longer it remains in the body. If your tick has been removed, skinny and angry, within less than 24 hours, there are good prognostic statistics to support that you are unlikely to go into a chronic attack. Still, the fact that this spirochete has a doctorate in avoiding medical bullets is my main concern. It hides in tissues and can remain dormant, then reappear in a more unwanted fashion than your ex-spouse. Also, some people carry certain genetic markers that make them higher risk for chronic symptoms when the spirochete sets up residence in their system. (And, yes, I am aware of fancy, new functional diagnostic tests which are more specific than conventional labs and are more than most insurance will pay for. At the risk of this article turning into yet another dissertation, if you’re interested, contact me and I’ll email them to you.)

Some gentle reminders for summer fun:

Prevention (some suggestions from the CDC)

1. Start out on the positive side of health: Nothing pleases a hungry tick more than an immune system that is too weak to fight back. Create a healthy immune system by practicing preventative medicine. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising, stress reduction, and laughing with friends.

2. Avoid Ticks when possible, by avoiding anything outdoors, stay a shut in and become pasty, especially from May-July. I’m just kidding, try to plan your trips outdoors when the weather is cooler. For campers, wear long pants and sleeves, cover your neck and wear hats to avoid a hungry pesk in your hairline.

3. Tick removal:

  • Remove ticks from your clothes before going indoors. To kill ticks that you may have missed, wash your clothes with hot water and dry them using high heat for at least one hour.

  • Perform daily tick checks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Inspect all parts of your body carefully including your armpits, scalp, neck, and groin where ticks like to set up camp. Remove ticks immediately using fine-tipped tweezers.

4. Tick Free Landscaping:

  • Remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edges of lawns.

  • Place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration to recreational areas.

  • Mow the lawn and clear brush and leaf litter frequently.

  • Keep the ground under bird feeders clean.

  • Stack wood neatly and in dry areas.

  • Keep playground equipment, decks and patios away from yard edges and trees.

5. Avoid deer in your lawn (not a big fan of this suggestion, but I see the point)

  • Construct physical barriers, such as fencing, to discourage deer from entering your yard.

  • Do not feed deer on your property.

  • Check with garden centers, nurseries, or local extension agents to learn about deer-resistant plants.

6. DEET is recommended, but I prefer purification, lemon, or peppermint essential oil.

7. Reduce Mold and EMF (electromagnetic fields) in your home, which can further dampen the immune response

My Naturopathic Steps in Managing Lyme Disease (with help from Dr. Corson):

1. Start with restoring vitality: eat a healthy diet and use nutritional support to account for any deficiencies that would create an obstacle to healing.

2. Detoxification and Cleansing:

  • Remove debris and sludge from the extracellular matrix of cells and surrounding tissues.

  • Provide support for gut functioning, mucosal integrity, and detoxification pathways.

  • Provide support for all mucosal excretory organs, including the respiratory tract and kidneys

  • Clear away heavy metals

3. Support healthy immune function via herbals, supplements, and individualized protocols.

4. Support the nervous and cardiovasculature system.

5. Control oxidative stress response. This includes using substances that access the brain and central nervous system (Sesquiterpenal essential oils or Gingko, anyone?).

6. Antibiotics and potent natural anti-microbials/virals to eradicate the nasty critter and its co-infective sidekicks.

7. Follow the new Living Well blog on about details coming on a Fun-raiser for Patch Adams’ Medical Center. I envision a community effort with you, the patients, exposing yourselves to the limelight. So all you dashboard drummers, America Idol lovers, and hairbrush singers, get prepared! Oh, oops, that’s not related to Lyme. 😉