Why Lyme Treatments Fail
Dr. James Schaller, M.D.
My average patient has been to 10-50 physicians before me. Below are some sample reasons for treatment failure:
- Many patients and health care workers are profoundly ignorant about how to interpret a Western Blot. If a person has one "fingerprint band," they have Lyme disease. These specific bands are the 18, 23, 25, 31, 34, 39, 83 or 93. The lab can be a junk lab that invests nothing to optimize their kit, but if one of these bands is positive even once—Lyme is present. IGeneX has the best Western Blot in the world. No other lab has invested so much for so long to create the best test. If your clinician wants to first use an ELISA, simply run. To put it bluntly, the ELISA test as a screening tool is useless, missing even the most obvious PCR positive patients.
- Ten years of Lyme treatment is not acceptable. The practitioner who follows a year-after-year IV treatment approach is not "up-to-date." These so called "cure" treatments often merely lower body loads or decrease symptoms without fully eradicating all the different types of infectious agents.
- Some treatments are simply useless. For example, the use of hyperbaric oxygen (HBOT), for tick infection treatment, fails. The use of HBOT in mice is not applicable. To prove this, I decided to perform a self-funded study examining HBOT benefits on Lyme, Babesia, Ehrlichia and Bartonella. After 120 treatments at 2.4 atmospheres for 90 minutes each, all participants still had clear positive findings for all four infections. There is no validity to the claim that HBOT "kills" Lyme disease. I have talked to the late Dr. Fife in detail and carefully evaluated the HBOT research of Dr. Robert Lombard. I love this treatment for many medical problems, but it is not a tick infection cure. The last time I published this information, an HBOT owner retaliated with verbal attacks on a public forum. She was obviously biased. She offered no independent research to support her marketing.
- Ignoring new data leads to treatment failures. For example, I have published many new books on advanced tick-borne infections, all showing new critical information. For some "Lyme-literate" physicians, it took educated patients throwing a copy at them before they read our new information, and by then, years had already passed...
- Some health care workers believe in a Lyme literate Pope or President, but no such expert exists. Sure, some offer useful information from past investigations. However, no one has mastered 2010 tick-borne medicine and all the newest co-infection information.
- I have been asked by a number of physicians to share my new findings. Most ask because they are ill themselves. I have asked them to stop treating themselves, and to do an hour consultation with very extensive labs. Most have refused. Tragically, what they could have learned by fixing themselves would have translated into real help for their patients.
- Current treatment recommendations are all too often profoundly flawed. IV treatments are often used without a herbal or synthetic antibiotic cyst buster. The most common treatment for Babesia is 750 mg/teaspoon of Mepron taken twice a day. The most commonly used Babesia herbal cures are artemisinin or artesunate (for example, Zhang Artemisia from Heprapro.com). The latter involves a standard dose of one capsule three times a day — yet all four of the approaches listed above fail even after long trials.
- The flaw in all Bartonella treatment is the lack of one-year blinded follow-up studies. I have found that Levaquin, Rifampin, Zithromax, doxycycline, Mycobutin, Cumunda, Banderol and Rife machines, at various frequencies and power, may lower body load and lead to initial feelings of improvement. None of these treatments leads to Bartonella cure.
- The current testing for Babesia, Bartonella and Ehrlichia is markedly flawed. Some DNA or PCR tests processed by an East Coast lab can miss a positive infection ten times. If you need to do ten urine or blood samples to show a positive, this is not functional. Some labs are only fair at tissue PCR testing, when the tissue has clear Lyme, Babesia and Bartonella that can be visualized in the tissue microscopically. This is a diagnostic disaster. Amazingly, some use large national labs to do manual examination of red blood cells to look for Babesia and Bartonella. I have never seen a large national lab detect Babesia or Bartonella in over 1,000 manual smears. In patients with certain Babesia and Bartonella, no large national lab captured these infections even once. I repeatedly offered to assist them in improving their technology by linking them with hematology experts in tick infections. They did not care that their manual smears were worthless, and I was repeatedly ignored.
- The knowledge base about both Bartonella testing and treatment borders on catastrophic. Bartonella is one of the most common infections in the world. Calling it a "co-infection" is nonsense. If anything, Lyme is the "co-infection." Bartonella is found in vast numbers of common vectors including dust mites, fleas, flea feces, pet saliva, ticks, etc. Amazingly, it can turn off or lower antibodies to Lyme disease, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma and even itself. Bartonella floats in blood and also enters all blood vessel walls without causing a fatal fever, and indeed, actually lowers fevers. It is the ultimate stealth infection. It turns off antibodies, fevers and immune function defense chemicals as it damages organs in anywhere from 20-60 different ways.
- The use of fixed "protocols" or "procedures" in the treatment of tick infections is sadistic medicine. Why? It treats each ill human person as a machine that is built the same and has the exact same problems, which in turn objectifies a patient and flirts with the sociopathic. We see this mind set in serious criminals, molding people into "things" in an effort to fit their rigid perceptions of the world. To force a unique human body, with a unique infection cluster, and a unique biochemical response, into a blanket protocol is the equivalent of the objectification of the patient. It is junk "mill medicine," plain and simple.
- Since Bartonella turns off the production of antibodies to infections like Babesia microti or Babesia duncani and Lyme disease, I suggest that this infection must be considered in all initial consults. I would suggest learning the 40 skin patterns made by Bartonella or Bartonella/Lyme mixed infections that are made by increased tissue and blood vessels. It is also useful to know the indirect labs associated with Bartonella alone, or Bartonella with Babesia, such as IL-6, IL-1B, TNF-a, ECP, and VEGF. We discuss clinical patterns from lab results of these infections in a Babesia 2009 Update book.
- Some patients have very few Babesia protozoa parasites, but they cause serious trouble in the body. Their small numbers cause them to be missed in a visual a FISH exam or a PCR test.
- If your lab does not test for new species such as Babesia duncani or the many other documented species of Babesia or Bartonella that infect humans, than you cannot rule out these infections with a "negative result." One way to decrease treatment failures is to use a new medical trick to detect stealth Babesia, whose presence can cause ongoing fatigue, headaches, weight gain and Lyme treatment failure, to name a few.
The "trick" is simple: A patient takes at least two Babesia killing medications such as Mepron, artesunate or Malarone (given for the proguanil). These medications are used for ten days at a dose you and your physician feel is worth the risk, and usually at least one will kill a few Babesia parasites.
Approximately ten to fourteen days later a second ECP level is taken to compare to the baseline. If the ECP pops up significantly, it is usually a sign of Babesia die off. Eosinophils are releasing ECP, possibly injecting Babesia debris. ECP is produced to kill parasites.
An alternative or added option is to wait five weeks and have the patient tested for antibodies to microti or duncani. One youth patient with profound illness was finally diagnosed in this manner, and after three weeks of triple Babesia treatment had significant clinical improvement for the first time in six years. Stealthy low volume Babesia is a common problem in tick and flea infection treatment. Talented health care workers commonly miss these red blood cell parasites, but this trick usually causes them to show up and can save someone from years of failed treatment.
- The Bartonella testing of most national labs is useless. It is stunning to read so called "sages" reporting a patient does not have Bartonella because a large lab has found negative antibodies. First, they do not understand that Bartonella turns off its own antibodies, so these large labs only check for one (or two) species that infect humans, and their cut-off titers are unrealistically high. Thankfully, IGeneX Bartonella FISH testing will be available approximately July/2009 to everyone but citizens of New York State.
- Infections and inflammation decrease insight. Tick-borne infections routinely destroy insight and lead to a personality change and/or rigid resistance to testing. This is largely due to an impaired frontal lobe (the part of the brain involved in self-awareness). Examples of decreased insight are shown in the following situations:
- Some feel they are cured when they are only improved.
- Others intentionally go to practitioners using inferior labs.
- Some refuse to be tested with eccentric resistance.
- Positive results are amazingly dismissed with a wave of the hand.
- Some patients feel their trouble is mold alone, without any tick-borne infections. They cannot believe both are important, and both can be present. Indeed, either could be "the last straw." Some patients get ill after a flood, large leak or some other water intrusion problem. They feel they are ill only because of mold mycotoxins that form 36-48 hours after water intrusion into drywall, insulation, carpeting and other dust or cellulose-filled materials. The EPA reports 30% of USA structures have indoor mold. Some of these indoor molds have war-grade chemicals on their surface. When the tomb room of the last King of Poland, Casimir IV was opened in Paris in 1973, ten of the twelve scientists present died. One survivor had expertise in mold and subsequently found three toxic mold species.
- Given the average of 40,000 - 120,000 inhalations per week while residing in a moldy location, it is no wonder some are not easily cured of tick and flea infections. This significant factor was the catalyst for my decision to write two mold remediation books.
We have also known since the 1880's that dust and high humidity leads to mold and bacteria growth indoors. Their presence makes Lyme disease much more difficult to cure.
- Lyme has at least one surface biotoxin, the patented BbTox1. Patients with 15/16--6/5--51 HLA patterns probably are unable to remove Lyme biotoxins (R. Shoemaker) and require a binder, like cholestyramine, which has been used to bind biotoxins since the 1970's.
- Many patients who have had tick-borne infections have very high inflammation levels. Therefore, all starting doses of medications or herbs should be very low and gradually raised to higher levels with liver-protecting substances. Starting at full dosing in a "medically sensitive" patient is chemical battery. Massive die-offs can be confused with allergic reactions and can cause panic attacks, shortness of breath, chest pain and severe migraines. This sloppy, one-size-fits all approach, is common in large practices in which a few major "protocols" are routine.
- Medical "Band-Aids" are often required to save a job, a marriage and to care for children. They are often a highly useful component of care. Pain, fatigue, severe insomnia, depression and anxiety often are increased with the die-off or presence of the infections carried in deer ticks. Band-Aid treatments are often useful and helpful. I treat people who run companies, schools, very large families and professional teams. They want to sleep 13 hours per day. They need stimulants for a period of time. The use of natural or synthetic stimulant options is discussed in The Diagnosis and Treatment of Babesia. Patients do not benefit from sleep in excess of 8 hours. It may just serve to get them fired!
- If you have healthcare workers who do not feel comfortable being aggressive with treatment and diagnosis of all the top tick and flea infections, you are at the wrong place. If your healthcare provider has not spent 1,000 hours learning this complex emerging area of medicine requiring a great deal of study, find someone who is serious about it, and not someone "doing you a favor" by simply running a few tests
- Some relapse due to treatment fatigue. Meaning, you have been treated for many years and are fed up. You have done IV antibiotics or IV nutrients, you have taken 40 pills per day, you have tried a wide range of specialized treatments, and now you tired of it all. You can now function at 80% of your baseline. You are at the end of your treatment rope. This is what happens when someone does not treat you fully and effectively at the beginning of your treatment. You can get treatment fatigue. Consider a short treatment break, and discuss this frankly with your health care provider. Do not confuse cure with improvement.
- The treatment approach that leads to cure is not the same dose that leads to stunning organisms. A cure is not a mere reduction in bacteria load. For example, using Bicillin once a week with no cyst buster will never cure you of Lyme disease because it does not remove cysts. So years after receiving this treatment, your cancer-fighting cells, marked by some as the CD57 level, may be under 90. This is one good test that is possibly specific for Lyme disease or at least tick-borne infections. (The C3a and C4a tests are definitely not specific for Lyme).
- Cynical relatives, friends or other health care workers can defame Lyme experts, and convince patients to drop healthcare workers who are helping. They usually use "the money" argument or "the speed of your recovery" argument to cut you off from someone sincerely trying to help you. If you have been battling for years with multiple infections, you will not be cured in four months.
- In recent seasons the existence of a Lyme biofilm has been proposed. Organizations with millions in grants and research money have never addressed this issue. We know that many spirochetes have biofilms. Indeed, many spirochetes in your mouth are known to cause biofilms, and they are believed to limit antibiotic effectiveness.
I am currently working on a textbook that addresses the many options for attacking biofilms. No article or book exists that explores the twenty plus ways I would propose to beat a Lyme biofilm. It is believed by some professionals that highly specific enzymes (or one mineral) can undermine a Lyme biofilm. Yet enzymes are like keys, and no single enzyme is a proven "key" to undermining a Lyme biofilm.
- Self-treatment is easy to pursue. Many experts are expensive, and their level of expertise may be uncertain. The Internet seems to offer many effective options. Some health care providers seem too narrow. Others are open to virtually everything. So you get in a medical boat and push yourself out to sea. You read like crazy. You try a, b and c. You read testimonies of hundreds of patients. You try a wide range of non-prescription options. Some days, weeks or months you feel better. Other weeks, you are not so good. You are upset. You ask yourself, "Why do I have to do all the work and learning?" This is not a good place. People exist who have already explored virtually all of the things you are going to explore in the next ten years. You need a mentor. Many
- In many of my books and many Internet sites you can read about preventing flea and tick bites. You do not need to be re-infected with Bartonella, Lyme, Babesia or any other infection. So learn the basic steps to protection in about thirty minutes of reading.
- Tick and flea-borne infections cause isolation. They ruin relationships due to fogginess, poor insight, depression, various addictions, rage, anxiety, extreme hostility, and refusing to get treatment, and they can sometimes provoke violence. Bartonella is likely the worst cause of these problems, but Lyme and Babesia and their die offs can also increase these problems. Isolation leads to decreased treatment options. It can ultimately lead to divorce and the loss of family relationships and friendships. This, in turn, leads to decreased resources and support while ill. Isolated humans, as Mother Teresa often said, are the poorest beings on earth.
About the Author:
Dr. Schaller is the author of 27 peer-reviewed journal articles and is one of the most prolific LL MD's in the world. He is the author of 25 books and has published many recent books on tick-borne infections. He is a full-time self-funded researcher with a part-time private practice in the United States. For more information about Dr. Schaller, or to access free articles on topics including the one mentioned in this article, please visit www.personalconsult.com.