Lyme and the Functional Medicine Approach.

Anyone who has suffered from the long-term consequences of Lyme disease knows that it can be a devastating, life-altering illness.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is an infection with a bacteria of the variety Borrelia. Several types of Borrelia can result in the clinical condition known as Lyme. Other Borrelia and other Spirochetes (the kind of bacteria that Borrelia is) can cause similar illnesses. Acute Lyme is a disease that everyone in the medical community agrees exists. It is a syndrome of fever, sweats, joint pains and fatigue. Of interest is that most people with acute Lyme seem to get over it without intervention. Others continue to be ill and get tested and treated. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion surrounding even acute Lyme. Many doctors will see a patient who is worried about Lyme who may even have a rash called an Erythema Migrans and tell the patient they will order a test. The test returns negative and the patient is told they do not have Lyme. The problem is that when a patient first develops the rash, it is often too early for the test to be positive. The patient’s Lyme goes untreated.

In other cases, the patient never developed the typical acute symptoms of Lyme and is never considered for acute disease.

The controversial part of Lyme is the chronic or persistent form. It is so controversial that even using the term Chronic Lyme raises the ire of many doctors.

Even among “Holistic Doctors” antibiotics are often the mainstay of treatment for the persistent form of Lyme. Yet even with years of antibiotic therapy, many people remain crippled with symptoms.

Many theories try to explain why the persistent form of Lyme has a poor response to antibiotics. They range from the long-life cycle of the bacteria to antibiotic indifferent forms of the bacteria evading therapy, to it not being related to an ongoing infection at all. And there is good reason to believe elements of all those theories.

Back to the notion that many people with Lyme just get over it with no intervention. This is something that has been shown in many publications. That begs the question, how can we mobilize your defenses to rid your body of Lyme? This is just one of the questions raised by Functional Medicine.

Wellness is the optimal expression of your genes. At Just Be Well, we use the principles of Functional Medicine to help you express the very best version of yourself.

We look at your ATMs (Antecedents, Triggers, and Mediators). Antecedents are genetic factors, prior illnesses, injuries, and habits. Triggers are those events that set-in motion the aberrant biochemistry that results in illness. Mediators are the biochemical processes that keep you ill. Then we look at 7 domains of physiological function, Assimilation (how you get things into your body), Defense and Repair (your immune system, repair system, and inflammation system), Energy (conversion of food into energy to fuel every biochemical process in your body), Detoxification (how you remove toxins), Communication (hormones, neurotransmitters, and other signaling molecules), and Structural integrity (Cellular and intracellular dynamics to muscle and bones)

And we look at Mental (thinking, cognitive, memory), Emotional (gratitude, love, anxiety, anger) and Spiritual (a sense of purpose and place in the larger context of life and death) processes. Studies have shown over and over again that mental patterns, emotional states, and spiritual connections have profound effects on our health.

All of this is investigated using deep conversation, history, physical exam, various laboratory tests, and questionnaires.

From here we optimize your 5 Modifiable Lifestyle Factors:

  1. Sleep and Relaxation
  2. Exercise and Movement
  3. Nutrition
  4. Stress Management
  5. Relationships

This builds a Whole Life intervention designed to express the very best version of you. This forms the foundation of treatment for any “infirmity” in Functional Medicine.

We then layer on specific therapies for Lyme. These treatments can be to reduce symptoms so you can live your life more fully to therapies directed at killing the bug. I call this a Whole Life Therapy, not just Lyme Therapy.