Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Is CFIDS a Complex Mind-Body Problem?

A new study (March 2005) has found that people who have chronic fatigue syndrome respond at a lower rate to placebos than patients with other diseases, including migrane headaches, ulcers, and reflux. The paper was published in the March-April issue of Psychosomatic Medicine. I find this quite interesting because it suggests that the mechanism that improves health through positive expectations is not working well for people with chronic fatigue. Some significant part of the mind-body healing mechanism is not working. While some would interpret this to mean that CFS involves a physiological mechanism that can not be influenced by thought, I turn the issue around and wonder why the mind-body healing mechanism does not help CFS at least as much as it helps other very difficult conditions. Even people with completely physiological problems with no 'mind' involvement, such as broken bones, can have better healing with mind-body therapies. So the fact that these therapies do not help people with CFS really is intreaguing.

One possible conclusion is that the type of placebo they used was not designed properly for CFS. There are practitioners using much more complicated mind-body treatments that do indeed appear to work for some people with CFS (PWC), such as Reverse Therapy. While other quite complicated mind-body treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), have mixed results. The only conclusion I believe we can safely draw is that CFS is in its own category of disease, and if mind-body treatments are to help at all, they must probably be carefully designed around the specific pathologies involved. Such as the common problem of a neurotoxin load from Borrelia infection (one study shows this to be present in 80% of CFS illnesses). Ordinary mind-body treatments for a complex condition like CFS are just inadequate.

Maybe a more complex mind-body treatment would work better, or at least could be a powerful adjunct. My own experience is that this is the case, and that most PWC are dealing with emotional and mind-body issues as well as the physical aspects of their illness. Some of these emotional and mind-body issues may have emerged from the strain of the co-infections, while others may have already been present and are being amplified by the illness. I was in denial of this for many years, and was amazed when I started looking deeper into the mirror. I was missing key emotional processing skills prior to my CFS, and had used my intellect alone to manage emotional crisis in the past. There was a lot more baggage than I realized. This did not probably CAUSE my CFS, I am convinced that the Borrelia (Lyme Disease) was the primary factor, but I believe it helped the Borrelia in some peculiar ways. Perhaps the Borrelia neurotoxins were more disruptive to me becasue of my pre-existing weakness in this area.

I would not discount the possibility that a strange neuroimmunological interaction is taking place between cognitive and physiological elements of this disease. For example, stress may be managed poorly (perhaps becasue of missing emotional skills as I just described in my own case, or perhaps in some cases because of genetic predispositions). A high stress event may then lower immunity even further, allowing pre-existing co-infections to take hold. Then co-infections produce neurotoxins that de-stabilize the hypothalamus. The mind-body begins to become 'mis-wired' and is feeding us symptoms that are out of proportion with the actual threats to our health. The pituitary and adrenals respond and the body becomes conditioned to over-response to any threat. Over time this wears down certain body functions, such as digestive, glucose management, adrenal, and detox systems. This weakening leads to even stronger feedback to the hypothalamus telling the mind-body that something is wrong, and every new symptom is like a jack hammer to the brain, to try and get us to 'fix what is wrong.'

My own search is for a combination mind and body treatment. I believe we have acquired a disease 'system' and must treat all aspects to get better. I spent a few years as a computer programmer early in my career, and remember how tough it was to find 'bugs' that involved both software and hardware problems. I believe that may be what we are dealing with and why neither the hardware-only (physiological) nor the software-only (mind) treatments are working for CFIDS. A unique combination may be required. This is consistent with a lot of holistic approaches, and some of them do seem to work, but few have been designed specifically for CFIDS/FM/Lyme, and none that I have found are up-to-date in both the mind and body arenas. So I am trying to incorporate a new combination, what we NOW know about both mind and body goes way beyond what was known when holistic treatments were first discovered. Maybe it is becoming feasible to successfully treat both the mind issues (which are amplified out of normal proportion by the neurotoxins in the Borrelia), and the body issues (the co-infections).

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Saturday, March 12, 2005

A protocol for solving anxiety

Anxiety was one of the most significant challenges I faced with CFIDS-Lyme. This is probably because the neurotoxins from the co-infections amplified a childhood-based anxiety response. As part of solving my own CFIDS-Lyme I have had to deal with a lot of anxiety issues. I have written about getting off benzodiazapine drugs for anxiety. Here is a more thorough description of what I would consider to be the anxiety protocol that I followed. It was holistic, meaning it involved a lot of work on multiple levels of the illness.

Probably my first attempt to solve the anxiety was to use meditations. I listened to a few soundtracks, tried breathing exercises to calm myself, and things like that. My initial reaction was 'this will never work.' I felt that way becasue I could not even calm my mind enough to listen to one of the meditations all the way through, let alone actually work through them. I was in pretty bad shape, I can see that now. Finally, I found binaural beat soundtracks. This is a special relaxation technology, where sounds with slightly differing frequencies are played in each ear, setting up a resonating 'brain wave' in the head that can be quite calming. The break-through for me was that after I down-loaded a free sample off the internet, I found that I could actually relax, even with all the tension from this illness. This was the first step on the road to finally solving most of my life-long anxiety problems, and even solving my anxiety about having anxiety, which is the worst kind.

Initially I used the program offered by I only selected CenterPointe because I didn't know any others. I think their product is very good, but I stopped using it after a few months because I had learned what I needed to, my brain had learned to relax. I think that is the goal. It takes a few months. I also purchased the Insight/Focus programs from and they worked as well for me as the first level of CenterPoint. There are other brands also, one that looks interesting is And a lower cost version is available at There are some differences between the various systems, but I don't think it matters which you use if you goal is simply to teach the brain that relaxation is possible. My approach to binaural beat to was to use the soundtrack for a few months while the body adjusted to relaxing (there was some detox, both physical and mental/emotional), then gradually taper off, and try to start relaxing the mind without the soundtrack. I found I could do that with a little effort after 2-3 months. Basically I used the soundtracks to train my mind. And it worked. The training method I used was to listen to the soundtrack, then turn it off and try to maintain the same relaxed state as long as I could. I also would meditate at times on my own, and think about the soundtrack, and over time I started to experience the same relaxation response from thinking about it as from listening to the soundtrack. I felt like the first battle was won, I could relax on queue, as part of a meditation. But I did not want to have to always take a half hour of meditation to get relaxed, so there was clearly more to accompllish...

I realized that while I now had the skill of relaxing, I was still regularly sending my body messages to be tense. I was having to use the relaxation skill too often, and I did not have time to be continually battling my own body. So the next thing I did, was to start using a guided imagery technique to try and retrain my subconscious mind to stop sending tensing messages. I used the program from, called 'The Linden Method.' This method included a very good meditation soundtrack. There are other good methods as well, including some using 'neuro-linguistic programming' which seems very similar. The idea was to re-program the SUBCONSCIOUS mind to stop interpreting events as threatening and stressful. And this particular approach worked for me, I felt that I was communicating with my fundamental, subconscious programming, and was stopping the tension and stress signals that had been causing the anxiety. After a few months of using the Linden Method, I found I could use the method's soundtrack to help me get to sleep at night. This was very important, I finally got over anxiety/panic responses to herx, and to life in general.

Next, I realized that although I now could relax, and had solved some major elements of my anxiety response, I still had some problems. There were still times when I just would become tense during the day, usually involving my work or interactions with my family. So I decided to work through some emotional processing / emotional release. Earlier in my illness I had learned an emotional release process from Pam Robinson ( One of her facilitators came to my area and I went through several sessions and learned the basics of 'emotional processing. So I already knew how to work through 'emotional release.' This time, as I reviewed my past I looked for the causes of my reaction to career and family stressors. This took several months. I discovered some important details about my early life interests that I had effectively burried. As I discovered this I re-prioritized some aspects of my life that were stressing me. I actually changed career directions as part of this. Next I found that I had established a co-dependent relationship with some family members. This was a bit of a shock becasue I had always felt highly independent, but I was really using them as a crutch emotionally. So I made some changes, and resolved many of the issues I uncovered. This was a HUGE break-through and my entire illness started turning around. I had major herx from this, particularly from the re-prioritization and career change, I think it relieved so much of my stress response that it freed major immune resources. The entire emotional processing took about 3-4 months. I got VERY tired during this time, but felt the body was healing.

Finally, after I started feeling that I was ready to 'recover' I discovered the use of a hot pack around the neck. That was the clincher, and allowed me to finally sleep without seditives, which I had taken for 7 years. The hot pack was very important, helping me to train the neck and shoulder muscles to relax, even during herx / detox times. The 'training' took about four months, after which time I actually could sleep without any assistance, without the hot pack, meditations or any medications. Additionally my anxiety response was mostly gone. I still get some of the 'trigger' symptoms for the anxiety, such as pressure in the chest area, but I now realize that is a detox response, and it generally does not progress into any kind of anxiety.

As I went through each of these holistic treatments, the binaural beat relaxation therapy, the guided imagery to re-program the subconscious mind, the emotional processing, and the use of the hot pack, I viewed them as 'the solution' and for the first three, moved on to the next feeling like the treatment had somehow failed, because I was not yet well. But now as I look back I can see that these treatments were in a useful sequence, and all were necessary in solving the anxiety riddle.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Getting off benzodiazepines (for sleep/anxiety)

When I first was given a prescription for a benzodiazepine, my doctor warned me that some people thought they could be addictive, but he did not believe that they usually were. He said they were intended for short-term use, and should only be taken every other day if possible. Another doctor later told me that his clinical intent when using this type of medication on an extended basis was to give the patient time to 'work things out' and let the body and the neurochemistry recover. I asked what I should do to recover, and he did not know, he only said that some people recovered on their own. Over time I learned that the situation was far more complex than appeared. I am not against using benzo drugs, but I now realize that patient education about how to solve the real problems behind the need for benzo is what is desperately needed. So I will tell my story in hope of helping someone wrestling with the benzo beast.

When I started using benzo I was experiencing the beginning of a crushing case of CFIDS. I had not slept well for over a year, and had actually gone without sleep for a week several times. The benzo drugs saved my life. Over the years I tried most of the major types of benzo, and I became dependent on them, but not addicted. My thought was always 'if only I could sleep naturally, I would not need them.' And that was true. The few times I could sleep without them, I did not need nor take them again until I had insomnia. A few times I also took them for anxiety. I tried natural sleep aids, and some helped. A few were good enough to replace the benzo for a day or two, but not for very long. Eventually I came to rely on the benzo.

The experience of getting off benzo was not what I had expected. The first time I seriously tried to get off them I was not prepared. I actually had severe digestive upset the next day, and received some acid damage to my stomach as a result. So I decided to take a slower route and find ways to gradually make the shift. But I could not just 'get off' the benzo. It was not like a habit, like breaking a sugar habit. It was a biological dependency. My life depended on the use of the benzo.

Eventually I learned that the benzo drugs and similar ‘sleep’ and ‘anxiety’ medications can sedate the digestive and immune systems as well as the rest of the nervous system. I think this is a primary reason to find alternative treatments. For a long time I thought of benzos as sleeping pills. I tried most of the different formulations, settling on Ativan most of the time. However, eventually I learned that benzos are actually anti-anxiety meds, and not true sleep inducers. They stimulate GABA binding, which has a calming effect on the CNS. Our digestive system produces benzodiazepine, so taking benzo drugs is an enhancement of what should be a natural process. So If a person needs benzos to sleep, they probably have a primary anxiety problem and may not be producing or releasing the benzo properly. This does not mean that the person will be aware of the anxiety problem, although I was partly aware. Sometimes the anxiety is a background noise, part of our automatic response to stress, discomfort or pain. But still, it is anxiety and panic responses that are what is being treated by the benzo. And the discomfort causing the anxiety response certainly could be caused or aggravated by CFIDS or Lyme co-infections, because of the neurotoxins and the continual detox and neurological discomfort. I came to believe that if I could solve the anxiety, then perhaps I could sleep naturally again without the benzo. This turned out to be true, but only when the anxiety was solved 24x7, not just for a few hours at night.

Here is what I eventually learned. In order to get off benzos, a person has two choices. #1. replace them with something else; #2. solve the original cause and eliminate the need for them. I tried #1 and found that sedating my self with any other drug or herb or hormone (melatonin) had side-effects and was not a long-term solution. Just dodging the bullets. Sooner or later you have to work through #2 to fix the problem.

And to fix #2 I had to solve ALL anxiety and tension in my life, AND find a way to re-learn to relax while going to sleep, even when I did not feel well or have pain or had stress in the day. And this is hard with co-infections because they aggravate any anxiety/tension you feel. But it is possible, I am evidence of that. I was the worst of the worst cases. I had absolute insomnia for 7 years with only one period of remission for about 6 months when I first went on antibiotics. And it just got worse and worse. I would have died without the benzos. I realized that I was failing at finding the cause. So I focused on lots of holistic changes, a LOT of them over about a year long period, and that finally released the stress/tension response to the co-infection toxins and allowed me to sleep naturally again. And getting off the benzos improved my digestion immediately, and my immune system came back to life. I believe the better sleeps is allowing a more natural healing process to progress now.

And this holistic approach included adding minerals (the salt/c protocol) which were important, going through 9 months of deep-level emotional processing, used a guided anti-anxiety meditation for about 6 months (purchased from, and using a hot pack around the neck 24x7 for relaxation, which was critical. Also, I addressed my mental hyperactivity (a form of ADD) using meditation methods I created to help re-learn how to have balanced brain usage, and that was very important. I eventually re-trained my body and I now can relax again, and even have slept during the day sometimes, which I have not ever done before in my adult life. I know now that I have finally started to ‘overcome’ a life-long problem. And I believe the solution is tied to learning 24x7 relaxation and re-training the mind-body to rest.

So getting off benzodiazapine turned out to be a complex, multi-year holistic struggle. But the beast can be defeated. In the process of solving my anxiety problem I made significant progress with my other major health problem, CFIDS. I am sure that the improved immune response from getting off benzo is helping my body fight CFIDS better.

One final note, I am not angry about benzo, I still keep it around and have used it a few times for one night, when I was very sick, had a bad day, or was too agitated and stressed to sleep. However, I have not needed it after that. What really bothers me is the lack of patient education about using this drug, and many other drugs. Perhaps the patient situations are too unique and individualized, or perhaps there really is insufficient understanding right now about this type of illness to train patients. But in my case, I know I could have benefited greatly from some guidance through this complicated recovery path. I have not really explained the full details of what I had to work through, maybe sometime I will write that up more fully, but I hope at least I have shared the main idea. These types of drugs do not solve any of the causes of stress related disease. Without a lot of holistic work to solve the underlying issues, these drugs can create a monster. And there is a lot of general guidance about dealing with the holistic issues, but little overall guidance for getting off of these medications. Without addressing the whole problem, I believe that most people in my situation will find the challenge of getting off of benzo to be overwhelming.

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Why a holistic approach?

I believe one of the handicaps we all face with this disease (or these diseases if you believe there are more than one), is the modern medical paradigm of "reductionism" in which we analyze and study the minute details of whatever we can measure, and generate medical "factoids" from that and then try to find a treatment from those factoids. Sort of like the blind men and the elephant, with each CFIDS treatment being one blind man, and the disease being the elephant. My own improvement only started when I decided to start addressing the whole elephant, and that required a holistic approach. Holistic does not mean just wishing oneself to be well, or imagining wellness into being through intention. Holistic simply means to take an integrated, whole-person approach to a disease. Holistic medicine honors the incredible complexity of the human, and respects the interconnectedness of each of our systems, organs, thinking processes, feelings, and relationships.
When I review all that I have learned about CFIDS, the co-infections, the depressed endocrine system, the metabolic dysfunctions, the self-regulation problems, and the cognitive impairments that are both causes and effects of some aspects of the disease, I do not see how any treatment that is not holistic can hope to improve the overall health of a person with CFIDS or Lyme. Part of these co-factors for our illness seem to come from the changes in the world around us, and the changes over the past 30-50 years have been drastic and most are irreversible. We can not remove the toxins from our environment very easily, we can not take away the threat of future infections from powerful super-bugs and possibly bugs engineered to evade our immune systems. We can not remove the stress of living in a world that both embraces and rejects pluralism, and the natural conflicts, international tensions, and local challenges those bring. Maybe over time the human race will improve, but we need to find ways to survive in the here and now. We live in the present.

So even if I can imagine ridding my body of all co-infections, toxins, and reducing my stress levels, I can not prevent these triggers from occurring again. I will be re-exposed, I will have heavy stress again, we all will, and we have not acquired any kind of biological immunity. There is no immunity to super bugs, or toxins, or super yeasts and fungi, or life stress. So how do we fight this long-term battle? By changing ourselves, by becoming one of the people who can survive in this challenging world, by becoming like those who have not succumbed to this disease. By being stronger and better. This is an obvious holistic challenge.

So what is this holistic approach then? What do we need to work on? We need to work on all levels of this disease. We need to identify the 'whole person' problems that made us susceptible to infection, solve those problems, correct the damage where possible, assist the immune system where possible, kill the co-infections we can without upsetting the body's inner ecology, assist with the detoxification where needed, restore proper nourishment, and promote healing by re-training the body and mind. And I believe that for many or most people with CFIDS today, the whole person problems involve a combination of biological, emotional, mental, and even spiritual issues. As I have reviewed the CFIDS literature I have found people who claim to have gotten well by focusing on just one or two of these holistic areas. And there really are stories that are convincing. Some have gotten well by changing their stress levels, some by detoxification, some by lots of antibiotics, some through resolving long-standing emotional issues, some through spiritual renewal. But usually, when you get the whole story you discover that they did more than just work on that one area, they either had already worked on the other issues previously for some other health problem, or they were not aware but actually were working on all of these areas.

So I believe that a holistic approach is the only real solution, a long-term change. A holistic treatment is not like a drug or supplement, the results are not immediate and are only drastic when you look back a year or more and realize the changes. But the holistic treatment stays for life, it is a permanent change, and I believe and hope it can give us back much of our lives, for many years to come.

Here is one other angle, one more reason I believe a holistic approach is the only sensible approach for a complicated disease in a complicated system such as the human body-mind-soul. My background includes a decade as a computer programmer. Sometimes I like to think of this disease in terms of my experience as a programmer, designing and debugging complicated software systems. Even the most capable and skilled computer programmer will run into some system problems once in awhile, as a software system design gets highly complicated. This usually happens over years, as software is maintained. Eventually you get to a point where the system needs some restructuring. And 'holistic' thinking about the problem is often required in order to understand the nature of the system, any problems or limitations that are occurring, and how best to rebuild the system to work better.

When conducting a restructuring of a complicated software system you must revisit all elements of the original design. Has the purpose of the system changed? Are there new requirements that have emerged over the years? Are the existing processes adequate or do they need to be updated? Are there chronic errors or problems that need to be addressed and have languished, and been patched-up again and again? These last issues, chronic problems, are often the stimulus to rebuild the system. And the rebuilding will take a variety of forms, from changing the environment to re-writing much of the basic software that guides the system. This is really a holistic type of treatment plan for the software, and I believe this is somewhat parallel to the circumstance of a person with CFIDS. There is no part of our existence that should not be carefully scrutinized, no sacred cows, we need to be open to the truth about our situation and condition, and not protect ourselves from the truth. The cure is change, without change, we will just treat the symptoms, until the system fails entirely. Change is mandatory for rebuilding any complex system.

I am not suggesting that we abandon the biologically-focused treatments that are helping us. Quite to the contrary, those may be essential components of a holistic treatment. However, I do believe that over time, as we begin to recover, our need for the biological treatments will be reduced and maybe some can eventually be discontinued. They are crutches only, and not a long-term solution. The solution is healing and eventually recovered wellness, and I believe that requires a holistic approach.

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Testimonials for using minerals for CFIDS-Lyme

People may wonder ‘where is the evidence?’ If these mineral treatments such as Salt/C are so important for CFIDS and Lyme and related illnesses like FM, then why don’t we know about this? Well, there are anecdotal reports of success.

The owners of the site have gotten well from Salt/C, and their testimonies are on that site. The moderator of the Yahoo LymeStrategies group, Marc Fett, got well from Salt/C after going the usual route of trying ‘everything under the sun’ and he claims to be completely well and on a low maintenance dose of Salt/C. He customized the protocol a bit, adding a few items, which probably contributed to his recovery, and Marc was able to return to work after about 3 months. You must purchase access to his ‘e-book’ style web page to get his exact protocol, but the group discusses the protocol, it is mostly there in the LymeStrategies list. Marc probably is the most knowledgeable non-medical person around on the Salt/C protocol. And I haven’t found many medical folks who understand the issues better.

There have been a number of testimonials in that group from people who have had dramatic improvements on Salt/C, a few believe they are on the road to recovery, but the site is recent, starting in November 2004. There are thousands of messages on that site now and dozens, and maybe a hundred positive testimonials. There is no tracking of how many people try it and quit, so the stats are unknown. In my own case, I tried salt/C about a year ago based strictly on the LymeStrategies site, and I gave up after a month because of the back and kidney pain I experienced. But I tried it again in December 2004, and this time I decided that I would find the salt/c serving that worked for me, and did not try to target the levels that worked for Nancy (owner of LymePhotos). And this time it worked much better, I have been able to manage the protocol better and manage the back/kidney pain by adjusting the dose and targeting lower serving levels. And the protocol has restored some important functions, such as having energy to work much of the day again. But I am not completely recovered like Marc and Nancy. However, I haven’t braved the full dose yet either, I’m going slow. Nancy was sick for 13 years and took several years to recover fully on salt/c.

A recent paper by Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt describes his successful use of salt/c for the first three months of a Lyme treatment protocol. Dr. Klinghardt's goal for the salt/c is parasite eradication. He believes he sees evidence that it helps his patients. The paper is here.

The Blasi protocol also uses minerals, but for FM. I have been monitoring the Yahoo Blasi group and have read a lot of positive testimonials, but a lot of people don’t get immediate effects and some get a bad healing crisis, and some quit. Also, I have heard from some people on other groups that they got worse on the Blasi protocol, even after prolonged use. My own ‘hunch’ is that the mineral mix of the Blasi protocol contains too much potassium for people with late-stage adrenal exhaustion or genetic adrenal weaknesses (I have read that those people need to be careful of potassium because of adrenal issue). I tried a ‘home-made’ Blasi mix (not hard to do), and it definitely did something, but I got bad tinnitus from it and some strange head sensations. Still, I felt better that day than usual, so I think it probably is a credible treatment for some people. A study is in progress by the company that sells the Recuperat-Ion product that Blasi used, perhaps that will reveal the contraindications better.

Clearly there is a key mineral depletion issue with CFIDS, and these protocols seem to be addressing that. But also, I believe there is some grass-roots evidence that people need specific and perhaps individualized mineral treatments. Nearly everyone who tries Salt/C seems to benefit to some level. I have yet to hear of a story of someone getting worse and staying worse, only healing crisis types of responses that passes. And even people with Blood Pressure issues notice eventual BP improvement after a period of worsening.

Mineral treatment is a very interesting direction, and I believe will eventually be explained and will become an important part of a long-term CFIDS solution.

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Friday, March 04, 2005

Another mineral supplement protocol that works - Blasi

Alfred Blasi is a computer programmer in Spain, who experimented with a mixture of minerals until he solved his own rather complicated Fibromyalgia-type pain disease. His mineral mix includes 2-3 daily doses of a mix of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium in a form that will be absorbed in roughly the same proportions that they are found in muscle tissue. The key to his formula was discovering how to mix the minerals so the body would ABSORB the minerals in the right ratio. The mix is called Reuperat-Ion, as it is an ‘ionic’ form of the minerals to allow better absorption.

What I find most interesting is that his mix includes a similar amount of sodium to a 1g dose of Salt. The effects being reported on the Yahoo group discussing the Blasi protocol sound quite similar to what some people using the Salt/C protocol experience. Many folks on the list have CFS and some have Lyme. His protocol does not work for everyone, but it helps a lot of people.

The Yahoo Blasi discussion group is found here.

Alfred Blasi’s website is found here.

This seems to confirm the importance of mineral supplementation for CFS/Lyme. I have read that one study showed that nearly 100% of people with Fibromyalgia also have Lyme as a co-infection. I don't know if there is a direct correlation between the Blasi protocol and Salt/C, but think the issue merits further exploration.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

How are Lyme and CFS-related illnesses related?

The Lyme Disease community is mostly composed of people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and some with CFIDS (CFS with Immune Dysfunction), Fibromyalgia, and many other related disorders. The Lyme infection creates instant CFIDS because the ticks basically ‘vaccinate’ a person with 3-5 immune-resistant co-infections. That is too much for anybody. And it usually includes a protozoa, a spirochete bacteria (borellia burgdorferi), one or more very bad viruses, and one or more other critters including brucella, mycoplasma, and/or parasites. This is a difficult combination for the immune system to address, because some of the infections are single-cell organisms (the protozoa), some are moving around through tissues and causing inflammation responses (the spirochete bacteria), some are nesting inside our cells (the cell-wall deficient bacteria such as mycoplasmas), and some are attacking our cells directly (the viruses). Each of these 'classes' of infection creates a DIFFERENT immune response, we are designed to fight them off one at a time, or two at a time at the most. The immune system has many 'either-or' functions. We can have either an active cellular defense response (T-helper cell 1), or an active humoral response for infections within cells (T-helper cell 2). We can not have both activated at one time. Thus, when we have a high load of co-infections of differing varieties, the body becomes overloaded (see for lengthy discussions of this issue).

Research into CFIDS has generally shown that the immune system is dysregulated in a ways that are consistent with multiple active co-infections, or infections that act against the immune system (such as HHV6, a common co-factor in AIDS). This happens to also be consistent with the immune response of people with Lyme, and many similar diseases. We seem to have an epidemic of multiple co-infection diseases. A good scientific article discussing how to deal with multiple co-infections is by Dr. Garth Nicolson, a noted mycoplasma researcher (article is here).

So, I am gradually becoming convinced that CFIDS and Lyme Disease share the same origin, which is multiple co-infections of pathogens belonging to different classes. These pathogens seem to have overwhelmed the immune system and caused a gradual (or sudden) slowing of many metabolic processes. The body has a natural protection mechanism for dealing with difficult infections, and that is expressed as a chronic fatigue state, a state clearly designed in our bodies to help us get enough rest to fight off difficult infections. However, in the case of diverse co-infections, I believe the immune system becomes confused, and can not restore its balance.

So how are Lyme and CFS-related illness related? Both classes of disease appear to involve multiple co-infections that confuse the immune system. And I believe this suggests that both classes of disease may benefit from the same sets of treatments. By combining some of the best treatments for Lyme with some of the best treatments for CFS, I believe we have a chance at conquering this beast. I don't believe we need to run dozens of complicated and expensive tests. There are a limited number of treatments available for each of these classes of infections, some pharmaceutical, and some natural. We just need to find a combination that will work for us, on an individual basis. And so far, in my experience the Salt/C treatment is one of the best for both conditions. And probably other treatments that will address each of these classes of infection are helpful or even critical.

Additionally, many detoxifying and stress-reducing treatments should help in treating these diseases. This is becasue multiple co-infections overload the body's detox mechanisms. Also, because stress has been proven to lower immune function. So dealing with all life stress, stress from past unresolved emotions, stress from life situations, stress from the disease itself, must be part of any reasonable treatment plan, for CFS or Lyme disease.

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