Even with everything that we know about Lyme disease, it continues to be misdiagnosed by physicians everywhere. Correctly called “the great imitator,” Lyme disease is commonly confused with Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and MS, to name a few. But what’s the reason for all the confusion?
For one thing, the Lyme bacteria is a spirochete, meaning it’s shaped like a corkscrew which enables it to be very stealthy against the immune system and treatments. Further, Lyme disease paired with emotional stress and the widespread use of antibiotics results in very high levels of toxicity in the body’s connective tissue and white blood cells, which completely destroys a person’s inner milieu. This impairs the body’s innate immune response and results in exacerbated symptoms.
Additionally, in patients with Lyme disease, it’s never just Lyme disease. Research shows that approximately 60% of the ticks with Lyme disease also carry other disease-causing pathogens, including Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Mycoplasma, and Anaplasma, to name a few. One infection is bad enough, but two, three, or more complicate a diagnosis and treatment, as well as the body’s basic ability to heal.
Heavy metal toxicity is another common friend of the Lyme bacteria, as it is observed in many patients diagnosed with Lyme disease. A full heavy metal detox with chelation is not uncommon before Lyme disease can be fully treated.
But why is the cure worse than the disease?
From emotional stress and heavy metal toxicity to gut dysbiosis and coinfections, Lyme disease is a multifaceted condition that requires a laundry list of treatments to effectively address the root cause, and get patients into remission.
Sharing from her own experience with Lyme disease as well as her extensive work at our clinic, Physician Assistant Heather Lowery shares why, even with so many symptoms and conditions attributed to Lyme disease, detoxification is often the worst part.
The Herx Reaction
Colloquially called a “Herx,” the Herxheimer reaction is what happens when the body undergoes extreme detoxification. With flu-like symptoms such as headache, fatigue, joint pain, muscle aches, nausea, and even fever, the Herxheimer occurs when the release of endotoxins (toxic chemicals) fall off the cell walls after bacteria have been killed in response to treatment. This usually occurs after a patient begins a course of antibiotics. Although this reaction varies in severity, the Herxheimer can be quite severe and even fatal.
“You’re not just dealing with Lyme, you’re dealing with Lyme, a sluggish lymphatic system, and a lowered immune system and candida overgrowth and co-infections that people sometimes get whenever they have Lyme disease…So I feel like it’s never just Lyme, it’s Lyme plus everything else that goes along with it. ”
Heather Lowery is a highly trained and skilled Physician Assistant who has the rare advantage of being able to speak from the patient’s perspective, having battled chronic Lyme disease, and undergone treatment at NYCIM.
Sharing from her personal journey from the depths of despair to her eventual triumph and return to health, Heather explains what a true Herxheimer reaction is, why the term is often misused in medicine — especially among patients, what one can expect from a true Herxheimer Reaction and how to minimize the side effects before treatment begins.
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