Chinese Medicine and Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease (LD) affects people in many parts of the world including Europe, Asia and North America (9). In the US alone, a positive diagnosis is now more common than previously thought (1). Infections can be both acute and chronic. The existence of Chronic Lyme Disease (CLD) remains a topic of controversy (10).
If you think you might be suffering from acute symptoms of flu-like illness or arthritic type after a recent tick bite, please consult immediately with your GP or you can contact me to point you towards one my Integrative GP colleagues.
Currently, the Australian Government does not accept the existence of Borrellia within the endemic tick population, neither does the existence of CLD (2). There is some evidence that might support the existence of CLD due to the atypical and cystic forms of Borrelia burgdorferi and local inflammation in Lyme neuroborreliosis (7,8). However, the purpose of this blog is not to defend the existence of CLD. Rather, it aims at reaching and offering support for those who might suffer Lyme-like illness chronically or have been properly diagnosed with Lyme disease.
LD or Lyme-like illness can have very detrimental effects on a person's physical, mental and emotional well being (6). Chronic fatigue, severe depression, exhausting unresponsive pain, auto-immune type illnesses, affected relationships, strong mental fogginess, amongst many other insidious symptoms can be present in Lyme disease (3,6,10); and are some of the most common presentations that I have seen over 7 years working with Lyme disease and Lyme-like illness.
From my experience, two aspects need to be addressed with someone with suspected LD or Lyme-like Illness: One is to target the pathogens that can cause Lyme (Borrelia and Co-infections). The other involves the resolution of the chronic immune and inflammatory dysfunctions caused by the illness, which can be shared with other illnesses such as auto-immune diseases and other chronic infections.
Value of Chinese Medicine.
Currently, many patients worldwide take Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture to manage their symptoms (6). Not every patient that shows these symptoms will have Lyme but they might not be well regardless. Chinese medicine can still provide support in these circumstances as the diagnostic and treatment framework of the practice can identify other possible circumstances within a Chinese medicine theoretical framework. Numerous similar presentations have been identified for at least 2000 years with the presentations and treatments recorded over time (4, 5).
The severe symptoms such as CFS, general debility and significant unresponsive pain can occur when an infection/s occur at different systems/organs and as such, they can be termed Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome (MSIDS) (3). In essence, it means that different parts of ourselves may carry a chronic infection, and the variety of multiple affected locations can make it very hard to manage as different approaches need to be delivered simultaneously.
Chinese medicine is a completely holistic system (possibly the oldest one in existence) and it's designed to delivered multiple approaches for different organs/systems at the same time. Additionally, it can also aim towards direct targets such as delivering a substance to destroy a microorganism. In modern times, it is widely used for many ailments worldwide and forms part of the main health system in China, including the Infectious Diseases Area.
Please contact me through the Contact section if you would like more information about my work with Lyme disease.
- Skerrett, P. J. (2013). Lyme disease 10 times more common than thought. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Accessed February the 20th, 2020 from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/lyme-disease-10-times-more-common-than-thought-201308206621
- Commonwealth of Australia. (2019). Lyme Disease. Australian Government, Department of Health. Accessed February the 20th, 2020 from: https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-lyme-disease.htm
- Horowitz, I. R., Citera, M., Freeman, P. R. (2017). Empirical validation of the Horowitz Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome Questionnaire for suspected Lyme disease. International Journal of General Medicine 2017:10 249–273
- Freuhauf, H. (1998). Driving out Demons and Snakes, Gu Syndrome: A Forgotten Clinical Approach. Journal of Chinese Medicine, Number 57, 1998, pp. 10-17.
- Liu, G. (2005). Warm Pathogen Diseases, a Clinical Guide. Revised Edition, Eastland Press, USA.
- Ali, A., et. al. (2014). Experiences of patients identifying with chronic Lyme disease in the healthcare system: a qualitative study. BMC Family Practice 2014, 15:79
- Lacout, A. et. al. (2018). The Persistent Lyme Disease: “True Chronic Lyme Disease” rather than “Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome”. Journal of Global Infectious Diseases; Mumbai Vol. 10, Iss. 3, (Jul/Sep 2018): 170-171.
- Miklossy, J. (2008). Persisting atypical and cystic forms of Borrelia burgdorferi and local inflammation in Lyme neuroborreliosis. J Neuroinflammation. 2008 Sep 25;5:40.
- Tilli, K., et. al. (2008). Biology of Infection with Borrelia burgdorferi. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2008 June ; 22(2): 217–234.
- Bamm, V. V., et. al. (2019). Lyme Disease Frontiers: Reconciling Borrelia Biology and Clinical Conundrums. Pathogens 2019, 8, 299; doi:10.3390/pathogens8040299
Image Credit: Predi from Flickr