Thursday, March 5, 2009

Enzymes, Lyme and other Tick-borne Diseases

Enzyme therapy, Chronic Lyme and other tick-borne Diseases by Dr. Jenefer Huntoon, Naturopathic Physician, Seattle, WA

Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by several species of the bacteria of the genus Borrelia. It is the most common tick-borne disease in North America. Early symptoms may include fever, headache, fatigue, depression and a skin rash called erythema migrans. If you believe you have been bitten by a tick or have these symptoms, it is important that you get antibiotics right away to prevent late stage manifestations of the disease that can be difficult to treat and can lead to serious complications. In most cases, if diagnosis and treatment occur early in the course of the disease, the infection and its symptoms are eliminated with antibiotics. Our approach would be to follow the initial course of antibiotics with natural remedies to strengthen the immune system including therapeutic potency plant and pancreatic enzymes.

If left untreated, acute Lyme disease can affect the joints, heart and nervous system. Some patients who have finished several courses of antibiotics continue to have symptoms such as extreme fatigue, inability to sleep and cognitive difficulties. These chronic symptoms comprise the condition referred to as Chronic Lyme disease.

Chronic Lyme disease is responsible for a wide range of chronic symptoms similar to those of Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue, MS and various neurological disorders. Chronic Lyme imitates these and many other disorders, so it is helpful to rule out various conditions with similar symptoms. Laboratory tests for Lyme Disease are not always accurate so a person may actually have Lyme but the Lyme tests may be normal.

Chronic Lyme disease is a controversial subject. One medical belief is that several rounds of antibiotics will completely eradicate the problem. This may be true in many cases. The alternative perspective is that Chronic Lyme is a serious infection that can cause a myriad of symptoms. Both viewpoints have research to support their perspectives and hopefully one day both groups will work together in solving these serious chronic conditions.

My approach to chronic Lyme is to build the patient's immune system with enzymes, nutrition and botanicals and use therapeutic doses of plant and pancreatic enzymes to digest the various stages of the bacteria. In order to determine underlying causes of immune imbalance, it helps to do preventive lab tests and a preventive physical exam. (See my article PDR: A Preventive physical exam). Spirochetes feed on sugar, so a low glycemic index diet is essential to controlling both Lyme and Candida Yeast (See my article: Plant Enzymes and Candida Treatment). Also, natural remedies help to strengthen connective tissue to make it harder for the bacteria to invade.

Systemic enzymes have been proven beneficial for inflammation, immune disorders, digestion, improved energy, detoxification, liver congestion, wound healing and many other health conditions. (See my article: Plant Enzymes: A key to health).

Digestive enzymes are taken with meals so that the food is properly digested and can nourish the body. Patients are encouraged to eat a natural food, low sugar diet. Undigested food causes bloating, gas, constipation, malabsorption of nutrients, food allergies, diarrhea, and this further lowers the immune system. So, it is important to take digestive enzymes to improve digestion of food and thereby improve immune function.

When high potency therapeutic enzymes are taken away from meals they circulate throughout the blood stream and digest the various stages of the Spirochete. Systemic enzymes have an anti-inflammatory effect and this reduces the need for anti-inflammatory medications that have serious side effects. In infectious diseases such as Lyme Disease, inflammation is caused by circulating immune complexes (CIC's) due to debris of undigested protein left over after a battle between Lyme Disease bacteria and the immune system. If CIC's are not removed by the body, they lodge in various areas of the body such as the joints and cause pain. The protease in the enzymes digests this circulating protein and thereby reduces inflammation and associated pain. Therapeutic enzymes lead to permanent relief of symptoms, because the cause of the inflammation is being removed.

In Lyme Disease, hyper-coagulation (overly thick blood) is a common problem due to circulating debris resulting from the infection. This can cause symptoms such as poor oxygenation, poor circulation, fatigue, stiffness, muscle soreness, joint pain, diminished blood flow to the brain and associated neurological symptoms. Systemic plant and pancreatic enzymes can reduce the thickness of the blood and resolve these symptoms.

The enzymes digest neurotoxins and also digest CIC's and dead bacterial fragments. This dramatically reduces herx reactions which usually occur when killing the bacteria with antibiotics.

Some researchers believe that the enzymes kill the spirochetes as well as the cyst form of the organism. Systemic enzyme therapy selectively targets foreign protein and since bacteria is a protein, the enzymes digest the bacteria. Improved protein digestion also strengthens the immune system since immunoglobulins are made of protein. Better protein digestion aids the body's regeneration.

Systemic plant and pancreatic enzyme therapy helps in treatment of Lyme Disease in a number of ways. It digests CIC's thereby reducing inflammation and pain. The enzymes help to kill bacteria and the digested protein helps to re-build the immune system. The patient experiences significant relief of symptoms on an ongoing basis and during periods of herx reactions. Enzymes help to reduce the bacterial load, detoxify the body through reduction of CIC's and strengthen the immune system due to improved protein digestion.

Dr. Huntoon is a Northwest expert in plant enzyme therapy and has studied under Dr. Howard Loomis (the world expert in plant enzyme therapy) since 1987. She is currently one of a few Internal Health Specialists certified by Logan College.