I recently read a great article called, “The Six Stages of Chronic Lyme Disease” on a blog called Lyme Knowledge (see article here), and it gave me goose bumps as I have discussed this with many other sufferers of chronic Lyme disease.The article is very thoughtful but I felt incredibly sad when reading the author’s callous dismissal of the importance of antibiotics for treatment and the associated judgement that is naturally implied with such a stance. To be fair the author uses the term “antibiotic-only treatment” but it is a rare bird who doesn’t take multiple herbs, supplements and probiotics to go along with any antibiotic treatment.
I have tried many different protocols over the last decade of illness and can speak with lots of personal experience. I tried Doxy, IV Rocephin, shots of Bicillin, and multiple combinations (along with herbs and supplements) but after initially getting much, much worse, it was seven years before I started to improve. I am quite sure that I would still be in a wheelchair if I hadn’t persisted with antibiotic treatment.
I may seem defensive, but the use of antibiotics is at the heart of the medical controversy that has bogged down all advancement of treatment, and even definition of chronic Lyme disease.
Anti Chronic Lyme Doctors preach damnation and brim-fire (for the Lyme Loonies and their LLMDs) and preach about the over-use of antibiotics. They warn of the coming apocalypse which will be delivered by antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria and wage legal battles with the doctors who have the gall to treat people who mistakenly believe they have chronic Lyme disease. “It doesn’t exist!” they cry. Their King is Dr. Alan Steere who is the top dog at the IDSA, and he has successfully maintained the incredibly inefficient two-tier Lyme testing standard which is the major culprit for chronic Lyme disease. [Note: I believe that chronic Lyme would be cut in half if the standard treatment for people who test positive (or see the bulls-eye rash) were given 6 – 8 weeks of Doxy instead of 3 – 6 weeks, and twice the dose to really crush it at the outset.]
The hallmark of the Lyme Literate Doctor is compassion. Yes, they prescribe a combination of antibiotics, herbs, supplements and pro-biotics (and frequently more intense pharmaceuticals for the myriad of symptoms), and they are vilified as quacks. But thank God for the doctors who are willing to go against the mainstream! Perhaps the King was Dr. Willy Burgdorfer who has sadly passed, or Dr. Joe Burrascano, or one of the other founding ILADS doctors, but they all agree that antibiotics are the first and best defense.
The key factor to understand with Lyme treatment is that everybody is different due to strain of bacteria, length of infection, immune system and co-infections. Another factor that rarely gets discussed is the incredible complications that arise from parasitic infections (even benign parasites).
I always ask people if they would take antibiotics if they contracted syphilis – not one person says, “I would only take herbs!” – so what gives?
I think that antibiotics get a bad rap when people don’t improve immediately – they lose faith and begin to treatment-hop. Meanwhile the University medical centers have finally gotten a handle on persistent forms of Borrelia, and they are finally publishing on the best combinations of antibiotics for Lyme disease (see previous posts on Johns Hopkins and Stanford).
Treatment for chronic Lyme is very personal and I agree that herbs and supplements are an important part of treatment but I have yet to meet someone who has totally recovered without antibiotics.