Deer ticks. Lyme disease. These words might be enough to keep you indoors this summer.
First discovered in Lyme, Connecticut, this disease is now found in all 50 US states and on every continent except Antarctica. Currently there are 30,000 reported new cases each year, but since so many cases are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, numbers could be up to 12 times higher.
It’s growing in numbers and spreading geographically, yet some medical professionals don’t acknowledge that its chronic form even exists!
Lyme Disease Basics
This disease is a hard nut to crack on just about every level.
- Lyme disease is transmitted through a bite from an infected deer tick the size of a poppy seed. Deer have gotten the blame as tick carriers but most people are bit by ticks from mice, not deer.
- Most people who are bitten by a tick never even know it. Fewer than half of people infected get the tell-tale bull’s eye rash, the first obvious sign of the disease.
- There is no accurate diagnostic test for Lyme. Current tests lead to about 50% false negative. You’d do just as well flipping a coin.
- Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria which can lie dormant for months or years, making diagnosis even more difficult.
- Lyme disease is called the “great imitator” because symptoms can mimic many other diseases — fibromyalgia, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and lupus.
- Even if you receive an accurate diagnosis, it is persistent and difficult to treat. The bacteria form “biofilms” — a slimy protective coating that keep the bacteria safe from detection and antibiotics. (2)
The most common symptoms of Lyme disease are fatigue, muscle and joint pain, joint inflammation, memory loss, mental confusion, brain fog, vision problems, digestive issues, and headaches. If undiagnosed or untreated, it can lead to encephalitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain. (3)
The Lyme-Alzheimer’s Connection
There is reason to believe that the Borrelia bacteria might be a cause of Alzheimer’s. Alan MacDonald, MD has been studying Lyme disease for 30 years and came across an amazing discovery while analyzing brain specimens of Alzheimer’s victims: 70% of these Alzheimer’s-riddled brains contained the Lyme bacteria Borrelia. (4)
Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, another Lyme specialist, states he’s never had a single patient with Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis who did not test positive for Borrelia. These are all diseases with no known cause and he suspects that Lyme disease might be the common link.
Both Dr. MacDonald and Dr. Klinghardt are among the many forward-thinking health care professionals interviewed in the award-winning documentary Under Our Skin.
In this movie, you’ll be exposed to a very ugly chapter in modern medicine. You’ll learn how official Lyme disease policy is dictated by insurance companies who don’t want to pay for treatment. You’ll see special interests putting profits above the lives of thousands, including children. You’ll witness doctors losing their licenses for treating chronic patients, including the doctor who is considered the top pediatric Lyme’s specialist in the country.
Watch the movie trailer:
If You Think You Have Lyme Disease
If you suspect you have Lyme disease, visit the International Lyme And Associated Diseases Society. This organization is an excellent place to start for unbiased, evidence-based information on this disease.
Chris Kresser, one of my favorite nutrition experts, interviewed Dr. Sunjya Schweig, a functional medicine physician who specializes in tick-borne illness in a recent podcast. Topics covered include:
- Promising new testing solutions
- What to do if you think you have Lyme disease
- Steps for prevention
- Effective treatment options
Podcast: Diagnosing and Treating Lyme Disease
Lastly, there is an excellent book, Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic by Pamela Weintraub, a science journalist whose oldest son had Lyme disease. This books gets five stars from both the public and health care professionals.
I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more about Lyme disease and the connection with Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases in the future.