What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a multi-system illness that affects 300 0001 new Americans and a reported 20252 new Canadians (based on 2017 statistics) in a year. These cases are estimated to be much higher as it is suspected many people are not getting diagnosed via regular channels in Canada, due to a political storm that has been occurring. In 2020, Canadian musician Justin Bieber announced he had been diagnosed with Lyme disease, which raised significant awareness of the disease. Other celebrities like Shania Twain, Bella Hadid, and Avril Lavigne have also spoken about their struggles with the illness, garnering even more attention from the public eye. Those who suffer with this disease often have difficulty when they try to get answers for their illness, as many doctors and specialists are unwilling to answer or approach the subject.
Lyme disease is the only infectious illness that insurance companies, government agencies, and medical boards around the world have questioned the existence of - even with the presence of positive lab results. The Canadian government's Bill C-4423 officially recognises the existence of Lyme disease, which was a huge step in starting a wave of changes across the country4. This illness is getting more recognition as more information is becoming apparent, yet due to copious amounts of misinformation in the healthcare system, many people will still go undiagnosed for years.
Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete bacterium, similar to syphilis5. The bacteria can be contracted from a tick bite, which is its most well-known form of transmission. Lyme disease can also be transmitted from fleas, mosquitoes, blood transfusions, trans-placental to fetus, breast feeding, unpasteurized milk and sexual contact6. Worldwide, Lyme disease is recognized as endemic - including in all of North America. The diagnosis of Lyme disease can be difficult, while testing is available in Canada, unfortunately it is not sensitive enough to always provide an accurate result, or overcome the challenges that the Lyme bacteria can present.
At Ananta Health, we look for Lyme disease in patients by combining assessments of symptoms and history, performing BioScan SRT testing, and working with IGeneX in California for further testing to get a diagnosis.
Lyme Disease Symptoms
There are many symptoms that can be considered symptoms of Lyme disease - the most commonly known, tell-tale sign after a being infected is the target rash (Erythema migrans) or "bullseye rash" - however, only a small percentage of patients report having gotten a rash. This is commonly followed by fever and joint pain. Most individuals with Chronic Persistent Lyme do not remember having a tick bite, and for some it could have happened so long ago that they simply cannot recall whether or not they had one. Symptoms of Lyme disease can also include neurological symptoms, pain, sleep disorders, and mood disorders among many others. Some patients may only have two symptoms while others, like in Dr. Risk's case at the height of her illness, will have over 120 total symptoms.
Lyme disease is a very complicated disease with a multitude of different symptoms. Due to this unfortunate fact, Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed by healthcare practitioners many times before an individual realizes that this is the case. Illnesses that are often misdiagnosed for Lyme disease may include the following:
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Parkinson's disease
- Neurological disorders
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myeloencephalitis (ME)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren's syndrome
- Raynaud's disease
- Crohn's disease or colitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Interstitial cystitis
- Meniere's disease
Lyme Disease Treatment
Treatment for Lyme disease can be extremely complicated. Many patients with Chronic Persistent Lyme have suffered for a long time and are extremely ill. Some people can jump into treatment, while others need to approach it slowly. Not only does Lyme disease need to be assessed, but it can be accompanied by several other infections as well, called co-infections. Among these infections are Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlicia, HPV, Mycoplasma fermentans (and other species), Powassan Virus, Q Fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tick Paralysis, Tickborne Relapsing Fever, Tularemia and others. These infections all intermingle together and can create a confusing plethora of symptoms. Other complications of Lyme disease are biofilm (an armour that the bacteria encases itself in that can make it go undetected), parasites and candida, neurotoxicity, heavy metal and mold toxicity, adrenal fatigue, and other viruses and bacterias; the patient's own genetics and specific situation are also contributing factors. Each case is assessed on an individual basis to determine treatment. Each patient is also treated differently according to their specific needs. It is dangerous to take this treatment quickly due to neurotoxicity, and important to treat each issue as needed.
At Ananta Health, we do not use antibiotics in our treatment, but instead anti-microbial herbs, traditional Chinese medicine methods, supplements and other treatments the patient may need. Each treatment is catered to the individual and comes with plenty of information and resources to ensure that everything is understood and that our patients are given as much guidance and support as possible, as well as a full wealth of knowledge about their own care.
LYME DISEASE: Falling Through The Cracks
Dr. Rebecca Risk has dedicated her practise to treating Lyme disease (and other complicated illnesses) after her own personal struggle with the illness. The following video is a presentation she gave about her experience with Lyme disease, her difficulty getting diagnosed, and the basics of the illness.
(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infected Diseases (NCEZID), Divison of Vector Brone Diseases (DVBD). (2015, March 4). How many people get Lyme Disease? Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/humancases.html
(2) Government of Canada. (2016, September 20). Surveillance of Lyme Disease. Retrieved from http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/diseases-conditions-maladies-affections/disease-maladie/lyme/surveillance-eng.php
(3) Parliament of Canada. (2014, December 16). An Act Respecting a Federal Framework on Lyme Disease; Bill C-442. Retrieved from http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&DocId=6836507
(4) Green Party of Canada. (2014, December 12). Senate Unanimously Passes Elizabeth May's Federal Framework on Lyme Disease Act. Retrieved from https://www.greenparty.ca/en/media-release/2014-12-12/senate-unanimously-passes-elizabeth-may%E2%80%99s-federal-framework-lyme-disease
(5) Dean, L., McEntyre, J. (1999, September 1). What do Lyme Disease and syphilis have in common? Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2314/
(6)Carmel, C.A. (2014, January 25). Lyme Disease May Be Sexually Transmitted, Study Suggests. Retrieved from http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/01/prweb11506441.html