According to the CDC, Lyme disease is the most common and fastest growing occurring vector-borne disease in the U.S. Vector-borne means another living organism directly transmits an infection into a host. In this case, the vector is a black-legged tick and the infection is a certain type of bacteria. If you discovered a tick recently and have begun to experience the symptoms listed below, an integrative family doctor will be able to properly diagnose the condition.
Lyme Disease and Bacteria
The most common bacteria associated with Lyme disease is called Borrelia burgdorferi. Other strains of bacteria associated with black-legged tick associated Lyme disease have been recently discovered, making it a hard disease for an integrative family doctor – or any doctor – to diagnose because lab testing is not definitive.
It is recommended to treat if patients have seen a tick on them or they have signs of a rash that can occur after the tick bite. Although, it’s comforting and important to note that not everyone that gets a tick bite will get Lyme disease. Phew!
It is said that the tick must be attached for at least 36 hours before enough bacteria is transmitted. So, if you see a tick bite, immediate action should be taken to take the tick bite out. Then watch out for signs and symptoms of the disease.
Signs and Symptoms
The following may occur 3 – 30 days after the tick bite:
- Rash (varies in size and description)
- Flu-like aches in muscles/joints
- Swollen lymph nodes
Early Treatment – Seek an Integrative Family Doctor Sooner, Rather Than Later
Most guidelines consider an empirical treatment of 14 to 21 days of antibiotics are sufficient in eradicating the bacteria from the body. The approved medications used for acute Lyme symptoms include doxycycline, amoxicillin, and cefuroxime.
It is critical to eradication of the disease that the patient complete the prescribed course of medication, lest you risk developing Chronic Lyme Disease. Recent studies also show rare but possible transmission of the bacteria to the placenta if still present in the body. If you are concerned about having possible Lyme disease, make sure you discuss this with your integrative family doctor as soon as possible.
Sometimes, the infection can go undiagnosed and may turn into chronic Lyme six months after the initial tick bite. Some signs and symptoms may include chronic fatigue, neck stiffness with headaches, arthritis in joints, heart and nerve problems, cognitive and memory issues, and mood issues. This can be very serious and hard to treat because it turns into more of an auto-immune issue with potential other co-infections. Understanding what other co-infections are present and how strong your immune system is will help in creating an individualized plan for recovery.
This is why chronic Lyme needs an innovative approach from an integrative family doctor for proper healing.
An Functional and Integrative Medicine Approach
New research is showing potential benefit in using herbal methods of treatment for chronic Lyme (1)(2).
- Black walnut (Juglans nigra)
- Sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua)
- Ghanaian quinine (Cryptolepis sanguinolenta)
- Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa)
- Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)
- Essential oils because they can cross biofilms
At CentreSpring MD, we take an Integrative approach and use current guidelines and new research to help patients with chronic Lyme disease. We believe it is important to give the body nutritional and immune support, optimize lymphatic detoxification, and prioritize self-care when dealing with acute or chronic Lyme disease.
Check out the following immune / detox tips:
- Anti-inflammatory diet
- Healthy fats such as MCT coconut oil, chia seeds, grounded flaxseeds
- Bone broth
- Antioxidants foods (vegetables, green tea)
- Limiting sugars and foods with yeast
- Vitamin D3 supplementation if low
- Stretching to help lymphatic flow
- Sauna/Regular exercise to help detox
- Sleeping 7-9 hours nightly
- Drinking half your body weight (lbs) in ounces daily