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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