We ended the last article by revealing that the chronic Lyme patient who is not responding to the present “classical” alternative Lyme protocols is because these are acute protocols attempting to address a chronic autoimmune disease.
Indeed Lyme has been verified to be an autoimmune disease. We have learned so much about autoimmune diseases within in the last year or so. We now know that rheumatoid arthritis is triggered by bacteria in the mouth, gut, and urinary tract1. We know that multiple sclerosis is associated with leaky gut syndrome and that it is also associated with chronic Epstein Bar infection. We also know that Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is triggered by gastro-intestinal food reactions, genetics, stress, and infections in the thyroid from 1 to 3 different viruses. In our clinical experience we’ve observed gut and infectious components driving most autoimmune conditions. Sjogrens has been proven to be related to Epstein Bar viral and H. Pylori infections. This is the new field of autoimmunity. And we now know that chronic Lyme disease is an autoimmune condition that has joined the party.
Let’s go a little deeper into the mechanisms of Lyme as an autoimmune condition. This new study1 looked at Lyme disease patients from the perspective of one specific enzyme called Matrix Metallo Protienase 10 (MMP10). This tiny enzyme chews up collagen (the main insoluble fibrous protein in connective tissue) in joints to keep it physiology balanced normally. In the people who are inoculated with the Lyme bacteria the immune system starts making antibodies (immune cells that tell the brain that these are bad cells that have to be eliminated) to this MMP10 enzyme. Even if the inoculated person has been treated by antibiotics to kill the Lyme bacteria their immune system frequently, at the same time, is making antibodies to this enzyme (MMP10) – even if they are feeling better from the antibiotic therapy. And this same study has demonstrated that those antibodies that were created in those people that had been treated with the antibiotics but still had symptoms were the culprits for the ongoing problem.
For the non-biochemically or immunologically inclined – you may skip this paragraph. The difference between the above group that felt better with antibiotic therapy and the group that doesn’t feel better or feels worse is that there is actually a t-cell (t-cells or t-lymphocytes are white blood cells kill and play a central role in cell-mediated immunity) response that continues to try to kill the MMP10 enzyme. B-cells make the antibodies to the MMP10 enzyme, t-cells then come in to kill the targeted enemy. Except MMP10 wasn’t the enemy until the antibody’s mistakenly attacked and target them for being killed. This is a classic autoimmune response. And every time something wakes up your immune system it attacks all MMP10 enzymes in your joint collagen and you have autoimmune mediated joint pain.
So let’s say the Lyme patient is being treated with antibodies and your Western Blot or Igenix or Darkfield Microscopy say the bacteria is gone but the patient still feels terrible. It’s because your immune system is still killing the heck out of your joints (the MMP10 enzyme) and at the same time whatever other tissues in your body that your immune system has already been programmed to attack. The article that we have referred to in the references confirms that you are getting antibody attacks (an autoimmune attack) on those other affected tissues. Who knows what other tissues you may have developed antibodies to? In our office we see antibody attacks to the thyroid, gut, cerebellum, pancreas, and other structures daily. We don’t really know all of the other tissues that can be involved in an established immune attack. But we do know that it’s rarely only one. So the Lyme patient in the above mentioned example won’t just get joint pain from their immune system attacking the MMP10 enzyme – but instead they will get symptoms from all of the tissues in their bodies that are vulnerable to the generalized attack. If they have rheumatoid arthritis their symptoms will flair, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis symptoms will flair, MS symptoms will flair, etc. If you don’t know that you have these immune conditions and these symptoms flair it creates quite an eclectic set of symptoms and quite a bit of confusion as to what’s going on. And the diagnosis is often Lyme and the approach is often to kill the bacteria and its “coinfections.”
What does it all Mean?
Once Lyme is chronic (has developed antibodies to MMP10) the approach is no longer to kill the bacteria. The answer is regulating your immune system. This is why we see consistently substantial improvement in our fibromyalgia patients who are also presented with Lyme diagnosis even though we were directing treatment only to dampen their immune system and stress response. In the end the problem for the chronic “Lyme” patient was autoimmunity all along.
It all starts in the gut. There’s definitely a gut-immune system connection. It’s a pretty well known fact that 70% of the immune system resides in the gut. We have observed clinically that by figuring out the GI tract and healing in terms of 1. Utilizing as many as 7 different diets based on that patient’s history, exam, and blood work. 2. Working with the bacteria population in the gut (we rarely use probiotics). 3. Killing off bad bacteria. 4. Making sure that antigens from food and bacterial components also are absorbed less because when they’re being absorbed at too high a rate in your gut your immune system is unable to calm down. When it calms down your immune system can better fight off other infections in your body and can come into better balance. 5. Killing off any pathogens in the area. 6. Healing the inevitable leaky gut. 7. Eliminate the increased cortisol load on the gut and immune system.
Relative to number 7, we have seen (and this is a key to long term recovery) that there is a significant brain/neurological component to addressing autoimmunity. So frequently chronic autoimmune patients are massively stressed out, often to the degree that you could accurately designate these patients as experiencing some level of PTSD. These sufferers have an over-firing fear mechanism in the brain (specifically in the amygdala) that is driving their stress hormone cortisol too high or too low in such a way that your immune system is further continuously out of balance allowing it to keep attacking your “healthy tissues.” And this is not a mechanism you can sufficiently dampen with drugs (Xanax, Prozac, etc.) or adaptocrines, or neurotransmitters for any length of time because none of them are directly affecting the mid-brain (the location of the fight/flight response) from which the problem originates.
So the initial battles for dampening the immune system are gut and “stress” mechanisms. Then, and only then, can the practitioner have any chance of directly handling any other contributing infections. Yes we handle the non-gut infections if at all last, not first. And that generally is the algorithm for chronic pain, many chronic conditions, autoimmunity, and as of February 25, 2016, “Lyme disease as well.”