In part one we identified what Lyme disease, or Lyme Borreliosis, is and how it is transmitted. Now we take a look at testing and further treatment.
Testing for Lyme disease
Testing for Lyme disease is not straightforward. Lyme disease, the bacteria called Borrelia, can live in tissues, organs, the nervous system, and in collagen and joints. So may not come up in blood tests, especially in chronic cases. Rather than use blood tests to detect the bacteria, the tests are used to check the body’s immune response to it.
The tests currently used to diagnose Lyme are very poor at detecting Borrelia, and results may come back falsely negative. This leaves a significant number of individuals with Lyme disease undiagnosed and untreated.
Studies have indicated that PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is more accurate than culture and serologic testing in early Lyme disease. There are only a few laboratories in the world that offer more comprehensive Lyme testing, and only one in Australia.
What about CD57+?
If you have read through any forums on Lyme disease chances are you have come across the term CD57+. This is a test that some practitioners are using in Lyme disease. Lymphocytes, a class of white blood cells, have different markers
on them. One of these markers is the CD57 marker. Cells with the marker are said to be CD57+. The CD57+ test measures how many lymphocytes have this marker on them.
One study (and two case reports) from the early 2000’s reported that patients with chronic Lyme disease have low levels of CD57+ cells. They found that when patients responded to treatment, these levels went up; and in patients who did not respond to treatment, these levels stayed low. However, another group of researchers found that there was no correlation between CD57+ cells and Lyme disease.
So there are only really two studies that have looked at CD57+ cells in Lyme, and one found that it was a good marker for Lyme, and one found that it was not. Given the research we have to go on, we really cant say whether it is reliable for Lyme.
The complexities of treating Lyme disease
Treatment of Lyme disease can be a long and difficult journey. At The Health Lodge, our treatment plan for patients with Lyme disease involves three main phases.
Phase 1: Detox
Detoxification is the first and hardest part of the treatment process. Borrelia, like several other bacteria, produces neurotoxins. These compounds can cause many of the virus-like symptoms common in Lyme disease, and also potentially interfere with hormone action by blocking hormone receptors. It has been said that the longer one is ill with Lyme, the more neurotoxin is present in the body. It probably is stored in fatty tissues, and once present, persists for a very long time.
Phase 2: Pathogen clearing
Lyme disease is not your average bacterial infection. Ticks often carry other organisms, including Babesia, Rickettsia, Ehrlichia, and Bartonella. These can be transmitted to humans at the same time as the Borrelia bacteria, causing co-infection. It is incredibly important to test and treat these co-infections as well. Animal and human studies show that these co-infections can cause more severe and treatment-resistant Lyme disease.
Phase 3: Breaking down biofilms
Borrelia is also capable of creating a biofilm. A biofilm is a slippery, glue-like coating that some bacteria create to act as a protective shield. The plaque on your teeth is a type of biofilm produced by Treponema denticola, which causes gum disease. To create the biofilm, the bacteria clump together and build a complex matrix around themselves. They can do this on a range of surfaces including our soft tissues. Other organisms, including the co-infections common in Lyme disease, can live inside the biofilm. The biofilm protects the bacteria from attacks from the immune system and antibiotics. The Borrelia biofilm is one of the reasons Lyme disease and its co-infections are so difficult to treat.
Your integrative team of health care specialists
We believe that a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals is essential in managing all the aspects of Lyme disease. The multidisciplinary team may include general practitioners, psychologists, nutritionists, naturopaths, osteopaths, and acupuncturists. This comprehensive and holistic approach is designed to support the patient’s physical, mental, and emotional well being.
For enquiries call The Health Lodge on 02 6685 6445