Lyme Disease Treatment In Toronto – Integrative Functional Medicine Approach
The Dr. Amauri Wellness Centre’s Lyme disease treatment program is led by Dr. Amauri Caversan, ND, and Arv Buttar, NP. Protocols are designed to help eradicate infection, boost the immune system and improve detoxification. Our integrative medical treatments may help alleviate fatigue, joint pains, aches, brain fog, neurologic symptoms, and other symptoms of Lyme disease.
Close to 80 countries see a growth in Lyme disease cases each year. Due to the surge of international Lyme disease cases, it’s been suggested that post-treatment Lyme disease could affect around 2 million people by the end of 2020. Education is key to treating Lyme disease by understanding its nature, transmission, symptoms, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease that affects different organ systems in the body. It can affect the skin, joints, nerves, and heart. This condition is caused by infection from the species of the Borrelia bacteria. The infection is transmitted by the bite of Ixodes ticks. The majority of the cases in North America are caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, though infections in Europe and Asia are caused by Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii. Lyme is currently listed as the most common tick-borne illness in North American and European countries.
Ticks That Carry Lyme disease
Ixodes ticks are the vectors of Lyme disease. The ticks that carry Lyme disease in the United States and other countries are the Ixodes scapularis ticks. In Canada, the emergence of Lyme disease between 2010 and 2016 was due to the rapid spread of Ixodes scapularis ticks.
Ixodes scapularis, known as the blacklegged tick or deer tick, is a small hard tick that can attach to any part of the body. In order for humans to be infected with Lyme, ticks must stay attached to the body surface for 36-48 hours or longer. Blacklegged ticks usually attach on the groin, armpits, and scalp.
Lyme Disease in humans is mostly from the bites of immature blacklegged ticks. Known as nymphs and less than 2mm in size, these ticks are difficult to see. Adult blacklegged ticks can also carry Lyme disease, but their size allows them to be easily seen and removed. Nymphs are active during spring and summer; adult blacklegged ticks feed during the colder months.
Other ticks capable of transmitting Lyme disease include Ixodes minor, Ixodes dentatus, Ixodes spinipalpis, and Haemaphysalis longicornis. Compared to Ixodes scapularis, these tick species have a low risk in transmitting Lyme as they rarely bite humans. Since these species could serve as vectors of Borrelia burgdorferi, they continue to play a significant function in maintaining the populations of Borrelia burgdorferi.
The 3 stages of Lyme disease infection
- Early-localized disease stage – the hallmark symptom is a classic tick bite that looks like a bull’s eye or a target sign, known as erythema migrans (EM).
- Early-disseminated disease stage – occurs days to weeks after the initial infection. During this stage, the EM may be found in different areas of the body, accompanied by neurologic and/or cardiac manifestations. Cardiac symptoms manifest weeks to months after the initial infection.
- Late Lyme disease stage – occurs months or years after the first infection. Intermittent or persistent joint pains characterize this stage, typically in the knee. There are also rare neurologic symptoms during this stage, including polyneuropathy or encephalopathy.
Lyme disease Symptoms
The manifestations of Lyme disease include the characteristic tick bite and symptoms that mimic flu such as fever, chills, and body weakness, joint pain, and headache, and lethargy.
The characteristic lesion in Lyme disease is known as erythema migrans (EM), which is the bull’s-eye rash. It appears as a red, target-like plaque with centrifugal spread. In some cases, the rash may reveal central clearing and concentric rings. The skin lesion may reach a diameter of 5 cm or more and it may progress to a bulla (a fluid-filled lesion) with surrounding vesicles.
Symptoms of Lyme disease that come with the tick bite rash include fever, chills, lethargy, fatigue, and headaches. During the early-disseminated stage of the disease, an infected person may have joint and body pain. Symptoms such as a headache with stiff neck may suggest meningitis, while changes in vision and weakness of the facial muscles may be symptoms of cranial nerve palsies.
Lyme disease in humans may also cause neuropathy or radiculopathy and these would be perceived as tingling sensations and weaknesses of a certain body part. It may lead to cardiac disease. A heart block may occur and this may manifest as syncope (fainting). Palpitations and chest pain may also be present.
During the late persistent stage of Lyme disease, arthritis is the most common symptom. Neuropathy, radiculopathy, or encephalopathy may also be present during this stage of the disease. A person infected with Lyme disease during this stage may undergo painful tingling sensations (paresthesia), cognitive impairment, and gait disturbance.
Diagnosis of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease diagnosis involves eliciting a history of exposure to ticks and the presence of the classic tick rash. A definitive diagnosis of Lyme disease could be made if the classic tick bull’s eye rash is present on a patient who is living in an endemic area. However, not all patients report a tick bite.
Diagnosing Lyme disease via laboratory tests has its challenges; this is because Lyme patients are frequently misdiagnosed with other ailments. Even when a proper diagnosis is made, it’s often difficult to verify because appropriate testing may not be available.
Nevertheless, laboratory diagnosis of Lyme disease may occur through two-tiered serology (blood) testing, which check for antibodies related to Lyme. Antibodies are typically formed in response to an infection, against other foreign proteins or to one’s own proteins. Serology tests help recognize when patients have been subjected to a specific pathogen. These tests analyze the patient’s immune response to an infection, against other foreign proteins, or to one’s own proteins.
The serological tests conducted include the first-tier enzyme immunoassay (ELISA) and the second-tier Western Blot. During the first-tier enzyme ELISA, potential antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi are screened for. If the result of the ELISA is positive or cannot be ascertained, the Western Blot is conducted. The Western Blot test detects Borrelia burgdorferi surface proteins. The controversy with the two-tier testing method is that the ELISA test is not sensitive (in other words, it doesn’t accurately identify Lyme disease in the body). Therefore, the two-tier testing process has a 50% chance of being inaccurate when testing for Lyme. Many professionals in the medical community, therefore, go directly to the Western Blot test for diagnosing Lyme.
Here at the Dr. Amauri Wellness Centre, we have partnered with two internationally recognized third-party testing facilities to test for Lyme disease and co-infections: IGeneX Labs (California) and Armin Labs (Germany). (Please note that test results may take 3-4 business weeks.) See more of our lyme disease treatment process below.
Cure for Lyme disease
If you’re asking “Is lyme disease curable?”, the answer is yes, there is a cure for lyme disease. The main goals of Lyme disease treatment are to relieve the symptoms, prevent the progression of the disease, and to provide supportive care for neurologic and cardiac manifestations. Since it is caused by a bacterial species, Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics.
Doxycycline is the antibiotic of choice for treating Lyme disease because it may target other bacteria that commonly co-exist with Borrelia burgdorferi infections. Doxycycline should not be given to pregnant patients since it can cause adverse effects to the baby.
Patients with neurological manifestations, meningitis, motor radiculopathy or specifically facial nerve palsy have also been prescribed doxycycline.
Amoxicillin or cefuroxime are antibiotics that could be administered as a lyme disease alternative treatment method. Patients with heart inflammation are treated with intravenous antibiotics.
Most patients who follow a lyme disease treatment protocol have a good prognosis and recover. However, for some patients, Lyme disease may not completely resolve, even after completing the full course of antibiotic treatments.
Alongside antibiotics, some patients are turning to herbal treatment for lyme disease. According to the co-author of a Frontiers in Medicine article, Sunjya K. Schweig, MD, CEO and co-director of the California Center for Functional Medicine: “Traditional antibiotic approaches fail to resolve symptoms in up to 25% of patients treated for Lyme disease and many suffer disabling effects of the disease, there is a need for novel treatment proven effective against B. burgdorferi.”
Lyme patients are embracing herbal remedies to fill the treatment cracks left by antibiotics. In fact, herbal medicine studies are helping clinicians and patients understand which herbs may be beneficial in treating Lyme disease. According to a study by Prof. Ying Zhang’s group at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the seven herbs for lyme disease treatment that have demonstrated killing B. burgdorferi in test tubes are: Ghanaian quinine; black walnut; Japanese knotweed; sweet wormwood; cat’s claw; hoary rock-rose; and Chinese skullcap.
Note: although these herbs have shown to be useful in test tubes against B. burgdorferi, they may potentially cause side effects in patients. All herbal treatments for Lyme disease should be taken under the supervision of a clinician who is educated in herbal medicine and possible toxicities.
Lyme Disease Prevention
It is best to take preventive measures to avoid tick bites, especially when travelling to areas with reported cases of Lyme disease. The primary prevention of Lyme disease includes:
- avoiding tick bites and wearing clothing that covers the skin (i.e. long-sleeve shirts and pants).
- tucking your pants into your socks.
- wearing light-coloured clothes so that you can quickly spot and brush off ticks.
- applying insect repellent onto your skin and clothes.
- when travelling, stick to paths as much as possible.
Lyme Disease Natural Treatment
If you are suffering from Lyme symptoms, our integrative Lyme disease treatment program may be of interest to you. At Dr. Amauri Wellness Centre, our healthcare practitioners (Dr. Amauri Caversan, ND & Arv Buttar NP) get to know patients individually, which helps us understand unique health needs. Using integrative functional medicine, we foster optimal, personalized healthcare by blending naturopathy and conventional medical practices to help treat lyme disease.
At our clinic, our lyme disease naturopathic treatment methods may include:
- Antibiotics and herbs (note: antibiotics are prescribed by Arv Buttar, NP. You may be administered only herbal treatments by Dr. Caversan, ND, upon request)
- Intravenous (IV) therapy by Dr. Caversan, ND
- Guidance on implementing the Paleo Autoimmune Diet Protocol, which may help alleviate some symptoms of Lyme disease
- Gut microbiome support, which may help strengthen your immune system
Lyme Disease Treatment Guidelines – What Every Patient Should Know Before the First Appointment.
You must visit our office for an initial consultation before you officially become our patient.
Our healthcare providers will not speak to patients over the phone or interpret lab reports without seeing you in our office first. This is a rule we strictly follow in order to maintain our health licenses.
A minimum of four appointments per year is required (one appointment every 3 months). You must have an in-office visit with our healthcare providers every 6 months.
In between visits, you have the option of video telemedicine consults if you have been a patient of ours for a minimum of three months. If you are receiving naturopathic IV therapy treatments, all consultations must be in person.
Please schedule your appointments in advance. We cannot promise that an appointment will be available if you attempt to book a few weeks prior to the time your next appointment is due. If you are cancelling an appointment, please notify us 48 hours prior to your booked visit; otherwise, you will be charged a late cancellation fee (which is equal to a consultation fee).
If you’re concerned that Lyme disease is affecting your life, or would like to get started on your own lyme disease treatment program, please leave us a message at https://dramaurinaturopath.com/contact-us/ and our clinic will contact you shortly. You may also call us at 416-922-4114 to book your appointment, or visit our Toronto naturopathic clinic located at the heart of Yorkville.
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Who is at risk of contracting Lyme disease?
People living near a tick habitat are at high risk of contracting Lyme disease. Young people who are 5-15 years old and adults older than 50 years are the high-risk populations that tend to contract Lyme. Genetically speaking, people with the HLA-DRB1*04:01 allele have a high risk of having persistent post-treatment arthritis of Lyme disease.
Which international areas have ticks that carry Lyme disease?
Areas that harbor large numbers of blacklegged ticks are at high risks for spreading Lyme disease. In the United States, high incidences of cases were reported in Washington, DC, Connecticut, Delaware, Minnesota, and New York. Lyme disease is not limited to these areas though, as other states have also reported cases.
In Canada, tick populations have been recounted in the eastern and central regions. Risk areas include: Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia
High numbers of blacklegged ticks may also be found in northwestern, central, and Eastern Europe. Blacklegged ticks may be located throughout the UK, especially in grassy and wooded areas. Within Asia, the identified risk areas include China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
What is post-Lyme disease syndrome?
Post-Lyme disease syndrome (or post-treatment Lyme disease) may occur weeks or months after completely treating the initial infection, and could last for 6 months or longer. Symptoms of post-Lyme disease syndrome may be debilitating and include fatigue, joint pains, and cognitive problems. The cause is uncertain, though it is stipulated that post-Lyme disease syndrome results from an autoimmune process.
Is there a vaccine for Lyme disease?
No. Currently, vaccines for Lyme disease treatment are not available. However, there was once a vaccine in the 1990s, which targeted the surface protein of Borrelia burgdorferi. The use of this vaccine reduced the risk of contracting Lyme disease and was deemed as a preventative tool. The production of this vaccine was discontinued in 2002 due to low consumer demand.
Nonetheless, a second-generation vaccine targeting the same surface protein is being developed. The new vaccine is currently in phase-two clinical trials. The development of this vaccine is expected to address the rising cases of Lyme in different parts of the world.
How are scientists continuing to research Lyme disease treatment?
The rising cases of Lyme disease – not only in North America and Europe, but also in Asia – have drawn attention from the scientific and health community.
Aside from vaccine development, current research on Lyme focuses on developing innovative diagnostic methods for confirming infections. The main reason new methods are being developed is because it can take up to three weeks for the body to produce the adequate number of B-cells that would be detectable in a two-tiered serological investigative test. (B-cells make antibodies in the body, which help fight pathogens (i.e. viruses and bacteria).) Scientists are looking into using antigen-capture assays, which will directly detect the presence of bacterial antigens. Unfortunately, attempts to develop a specific and sensitive antigen-capture assay have not been fruitful to date.
Another method being explored is through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays, but the low number of Borrelia burgdorferi in tissues and body fluids pose a challenge in conducting this method. To date, history, physical examinations, and the two-tiered serology system remain the cornerstone methods of diagnosing Lyme disease.
If you would like to learn more about Lyme disease and how it might be affecting your life, or would like to implement a lyme disease treatment plan, kindly leave us a message at https://dramaurinaturopath.com/contact-us/ and our clinic will contact you. You may also call us at 416-922-4114 to book your appointment, or visit our Toronto naturopathic clinic located at the heart of Yorkville.
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