New Tests and Treatments for Lyme Disease

Once assumed to be a regional disease largely bound to the
northeastern United States and spread by bacteria transported only by deer
ticks, Lyme experts now report that cases of the illness have been
documented in every state. There is also evidence to suggest that it
can be spread through other means, including mosquitoes and body
fluids. According to JoAnne Whitaker, MD, of Bowen Research
Laboratory in Florida, "Lyme disease is not just a tick-borne
infection. I have found the bacteria in every single mosquito that I've
examined, from blood all over California and all over Florida. Dr.
Whitaker believes that "Lyme is the most prevalent disease
there is. "

Dr. Tod Thoring is a naturopath and the owner of Pacific Natural
Medicine and Skin Care Center in Arroyo Grande, California. In his
family practice, Thoring has observed a steady increase in the
frequency of patients with Lyme. Although the evidence suggests that
Lyme is on the rise through the country, many people have been told
by medical professionals that Lyme disease does not exist in California.

"The medical community is in its infancy in learning about
this disease, "says Dr. Thoring.

Lyme is considered a difficult disease to diagnose and treat. Lyme
symptoms mimic hundreds of other diseases, and has prompted the medical
community's nickname for the disease: the new Great Imitator. The Lyme
bug is a spirochete, the same type of spiral-shaped bacterium that is
responsible for syphilis. Capable of moving through body tissue as well
as the bloodstream, the spirochete can evade the body's immune system,
change from a spiral into a ball and pull a protective shell, a fibrin,
over itself.

Prognosis for recovering from Lyme is better if the disease is caught
and treated early on. However, arriving at a correct diagnosis is often
complicated. One reason for this is Lyme symptoms vary from patient to
patient, and may not appear immediately after infection. Lyme symptoms
can be alarming or bizarre, they can include hallucinations and severe
mood swings, and patients are frequently dismissed as psychotic or
ignored by medical doctors who are dangerously uninformed about the
increase of this endemic illness.

Diagnosis is further complicated because the common test for Lyme, the
Western Blot, yields unreliable results. It tests for antibodies, which
are not always present and detectable in the Lyme patient. Negative
clinical results do not necessarily mean that a person is free of Lyme.

Unreliable tests and unreasonable expectations of the results serves to
prolong the suffering of Lyme patients who are often done in the
controversial over treatment protocol. To mitigate this problem, Lyme
experts currently advise that if Lyme is suspected and the patient is
showing symptoms typical of the disease, the patient should be treated
as if the disease is present, even when positive test results are
pending.

"When you first get Lyme disease, your body does not produce
any antibodies, and so the antibody tests are not any good, and if
you're very far along in the disease sometimes an antibody test is not
any good either, "says Dr. Whitaker.

Over the past five years Dr. Whitaker has developed and patented a new
test for Lyme, the Q-RrBb, which she claims is more reliable and
produces results more quickly than the Western Blot test. Q-RrBb stands
for Quantitative Rapid Identification of Borrelia Burgdorferi, the name
of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Instead of detecting
antibodies as an indication of the bacteria's presence, the Q-RiBb
tests for antigens. says that the new test is better,
"because we look for the bug itself."

Lyme disease patients are given standard antibiotics to kill the
bacteria and address the co-infections which commonly accompany the
illness. The duration, type of delivery and the antibiotic best suited
for treatment are all points of controversies in the medical community.
According to the protocol promoted by the Center for Disease Control,
Lyme disease can be cured with a 30-day course of antibiotics. But Lyme
disease expert Lee Cowden, MD, is concerned that few people with Lyme
can be cured within that amount of time.

The standard antibiotic treatment is not as successful as
antimicrobials, according to Dr. Cowden's studies. "Unless
you start treating the infection during the first three to six
weeks, "he says," patients tend to have to get
repeated rounds of antibiotics longterm, for years and years and
years. "Cowden devotes much of his time educating others
medical doctors about the use of antimicrobial herbs to help patients
heal from Lyme disease, and as a result of intensive medical studies,
has developed a protocol with a high success rate.

"We want to try and get as many doctors as possible familiar
with these protocols, "says Dr. Cowden." They're
working well, they're non-toxic, they're not giving the opposite
reactions like a lot of people see, with the fungal overgrowth from
standard antibiotics. And the patients are getting well and staying
well even though the basic protocol is stopped at some point. "

The studies and doctors quoted in the article are all included in the Lyme Disease Research Database Conversations
with Lyme Experts Interview Series .