Lyme disease is commonly known to be caused by the bacteria, Borrelia Burgdorferi through a tick bite. After the initial bite, symptoms can appear up to 4 weeks later and includes fever, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes and the characteristic bull’s eye rash that is also diagnostic of LD. Doctors will order the Elisa Lyme test with reflex to Western Blot if Lyme is suspected or if the patient presents with the erythema migrans rash, the doctor will prescribe a course of an antibiotic without the need for a positive test because it is so specific to Lyme Disease. Seems straightforward, right? Unfortunately, it is not that easy and simple!
The first issue is that the Lyme bacteria have now mutated and the estimate for different number of strains are upwards of 200-300 or more and only a few have been identified. The current test that is run only tests for the presence of b. burgdorferi.
The second is that LD isn’t just spread by ticks anymore, it can be spread by any biting insect, including spiders, horse flies, mosquitoes, fleas, etc. It is known now as a vector borne illness, not a tick borne illness. LD was also once thought to only affect those on the east coast because the first case was in CT in 1975 but the bacteria has been around much longer than that and has origins in Europe. Cases of LD are reported on every continent except Antarctica because it is too cold for the bacteria to survive.
Third, the Elisa and Western Blot are highly inaccurate and miss active Lyme in over 50% of cases. This means that people go undiagnosed for months and even years and get treated for hormonal imbalance, multiple sclerosis, early onset Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s, anxiety/depression, fibromyalgia, and many others but not improve. Lyme is considered the “”great mimicker because it can mistaken for many other diseases and many go misdiagnosed. The most common stories I see in my practice is that a patient has seen over 5-10 doctors and specialists over a several year span and have been told it can’t be Lyme because it didn’t show up in their blood work, have been told “it’s all in their head”, they would just feel better if they lose weight, they are depressed, and so on. As one would imagine, the patient is very frustrated and sometimes hopeless that they will never get better and there is still no diagnosis to explain their symptoms. The bull’s eye rash which is so characteristic and specific for LD only shows up on about 50-60% of cases so not seeing the rash does not rule out Lyme. The Merck Manual even states that Lyme Disease is one of a clinical diagnosis because the current testing is highly inaccurate. Thankfully, there are more accurate tests no test is 100%. Dr. Futterman uses IGenex labs and iSpot Lyme test from Pharmasan Labs as well as other specialized testing such as heavy metal testing, Galaxy Labs, neurotransmitter and adrenal testing and many more.
Dr. Futterman uses a range of treatments and therapies that are tailored to the individual. Treating chronic Lyme is actually a lifestyle and nutrition/diet is addressed, sleeping habits, supporting detoxification pathways, exposure to toxins, etc. Herbal, nutritional, homeopathic modalities are used as treatment since it is imperative that the immune system be strengthened, detox pathways are working efficiently because this is what will heal a person. The bacteria and other co-infections have taken over because the immune system was comprised in some way we want the immune system to do it’s job. Dr. Futterman is not opposed to antibiotics when used appropriately and with immune support and does refer to Lyme Literate Medical Doctors (LLMD’s) if necessary.
Dr. Futterman and her husband have personally battled chronic Lyme and co-infections which opened her eyes to the lack of knowledge the typical current medical community has and even what she was taught in Naturopathic school. She spent countless hours searching on her own and attending conferences for further knowledge so she can not only help herself and husband but her valued patients. Chronic Lyme Disease is a journey but people can get their life back!