There is much debate within the Lyme disease community about the best way to treat Borrelia and coinfections. Or maybe should I say, Babesia, Bartonella, and confections, since most Lyme disease doctors that I’ve interviewed have shared with me that these infections are most often a bigger problem for the body than Borrelia! Indeed, the notion that Lyme is “a Borrelia infection transmitted through the bite of a tick” is outdated and inaccurate, since nearly everyone with Lyme is battling an array of infections, which include a variety of parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungi and mold.
The Nuances of Treating Lyme Disease
Because of this, it can be complicated to sort out what antimicrobial methods are best for addressing all of these infections. Typically, long-term antibiotics and pharmaceutical medications have been the treatment of choice for many doctors, while others use herbal remedies in combination with medications, and still others, just herbal remedies.
That said, after twelve years of researching Lyme, I’ve come to believe that what matters most in this game is not just what antimicrobials you use, but how you use them, and what other treatments you do to support, heal, and detoxify your body. Because if you don’t repair, replenish and restore your body, and treat things in the right order, your body may not be able to mount an immune response against the infections, anyway, no matter what antimicrobial you use.
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For instance, Wayne Anderson, ND, a Lyme-literate doctor who has been treating Lyme for over 25 years (which is about as long as most doctors have been treating it!) shared with me in an interview for my book New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment that his treatments are based upon what the patient’s primary issues are, which aren’t always Lyme.
This is because some people’s main problem may be primarily metabolic in nature, while others may have mold toxicity or some other condition as a main issue. Understanding this is important for prioritizing treatment, as, while most doctors might agree that everyone with Lyme has certain issues in common, such as metabolic disturbances, immune dysfunction, toxins and infections, understanding which of these is the current primary cause of disease, is essential for recovery. You can kill as many bugs as you want but if you aren’t treating the primary issues, the bugs may not go away.
As Dr. David Minkoff, another Lyme-literate doctor that I interviewed shared with me, you have to prioritize treatment according to what the body’s greatest threat is. You can’t fix everything at once. So for some people, that might mean removing mold from the body before treating Lyme infections, because the body may not be able to knock out Babesia or Bartonella until the mold is addressed. For others, it might mean getting the detox organs working and functional, or supporting the hormones with bioidentical hormone therapy, before starting antimicrobial treatment.
However, the type of antimicrobial treatment that you do does matter. But again, the best treatment strategy is the one that takes into account and supports the whole person, and which prioritizes what the greatest issues are for the body and the person — not the one that aims to first or just eliminate infections.
This article was first published on ProHealth.com on August 12, 2016 and was updated on January 19, 2021.