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  • Writer's pictureAku Energija

Lyme Disease - In Depth Protection Strategies with TCM

When the weather is warm, more people would spend time outdoors enjoying the nature. It’s especially important to be aware of tick bites if you plan to spend time hiking or camping. Ticks are known to carry Lyme Disease which could lead to several health problems that might not immediately seem related to the disease–some symptoms include a rash, dizziness, fever, headaches, and fatigue.

Small bite, potentially big problem

Some people could have had Lyme Disease without knowing it for several years. They may suffer from “unexplained” medical issues for many years, from dizziness, light headedness, brain fog, trying to find out words when they talk, chest pains, arthritis–the list goes on and on.

What Is Lyme Disease? The Understanding From Modern Medicine

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans that may be followed weeks or months later by neurologic, cardiac, or joint abnormalities. [1]

Symptoms Of Lyme Disease

Symptoms of Lyme disease can be different from person to person. [2] Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease usually start 3 to 30 days after you have been bitten by an infected black-legged tick. Most people experience mild flu-like symptoms soon after being bitten, while a small number may have more serious symptoms, sometimes weeks after the bite.

Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease may include:

If left untreated, more severe symptoms may occur and can last from months to years.

Severe symptoms may include:

  • Severe headaches

  • Additional EM skin rashes

  • Facial paralysis (i.e. Bell's palsy)

  • Heart disorders (heart palpitations, abnormal heartbeat), known as Lyme carditis

  • Neurological disorders (dizziness, mental confusion or inability to think clearly, and memory loss, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, nerve pain, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet)

  • Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly in the knees and less commonly in other joints such as the ankle, elbow, and wrists.

In rare cases, Lyme disease can lead to death usually because of complications involving infection of the heart.

The Difficulties With Diagnosing Lyme Disease

The typical erythema migrans in an endemic area usually do not require laboratory confirmation but sometimes patients only demonstrate early flu-like symptoms which is non-specific. Testing for Lyme disease, however, remains a challenging problem. The standard blood tests, which test only the antibody produced by the body in response to Lyme disease, have been shown to have many “false negative” readings. And when patients show other neurological or joint problems, there is a long list of differential diagnosis, like Bell’s palsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis to be distinguished from.

How Can Chinese Medicine Help Treat Lyme Disease

An alternative approach may provide a complete remission with TCM. Throughout my practice in Slovenia for the past few years, acupuncture and herbal supplements have been showing strong effect in supporting immunity and speeding up recovery. [Read more: Strengthen your Wei Qi for better immunity]

Traditional Chinese Medicine Understanding Of Lyme Disease

In the Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, illness can come from an external source (a pathogenic invasion) or it can be caused by an internal imbalance (deficient or excessive energy in our organ systems). [Read more: Qi deficiency: What is it and how do you manage it?]

Pathogenic invaders from the external environment include forms of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and yeast, among others. Four thousand years ago, when The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine was written, TCM did not have a concept of “germs,” as we know it today; the invasion was rather described and attributed to the overt and covert manifestations of the disease, and its symptoms resembled the climates, including heat, cold, damp, wind, and dry. Shang Han Lun is also one of the TCM classics which is specialized in infectious disease. It stated that there are 6 stages of disease, the later the stage, the deeper of our system is damaged.

The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi is with no doubt a strong invader. It has a tick as its carrier so it can break through our strongest defense--- skin, the wall protecting us from outside hazards. Unlike most viruses and bacteria which enter our body from stage 1 (the surface), the Lyme bacteria enter stage 2 or 3 very quickly. This bacteria also have strong adaptation ability to hide from immune attack. Research has indicated that as this bacteria invades our cells, it releases a protein substance that coagulates and eventually forms what is called a “biofilm”. It serves as a mechanism to protect itself from an antibiotic attack, as well as against our own immune cells from dealing with this invasion. So they are like trojan horse hiding in our body and wait for attack. When they finally strike for the attack, it could be stage 4-6 in the Shang Han Lun category, which involves the heart and brain.

TCM Treatment For Lyme Disease

It is very important that in treating Lyme disease (as well as other infectious disease), we need to both kill the pathogen (like antibiotics) as well as supporting the bodies immune system at the same time. Otherwise, over killing could harm the body’s own defense and actually cause more infection in the long run.

Since the Lyme bacteria is a strong, fast adapting pathogen, Chinese medicine needs to treat the presenting picture so there is no standard protocol for treatment. Every patient is treated based on their unique symptom picture and constitution which changes as time progresses. The the herbal formula needs to be modified every 1-3 weeks in order to prevent bacterial resistance and autoimmune reactions.

Besides herbal medicine, other modalities are also helpful in the recovery of the patient:

For more details, please read:

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