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Can Lyme Disease Cause Immune Deficiency

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How To Treat Lyme Disease To Fight Autoimmunity

Lyme Disease Diagnosis – Johns Hopkins (3 of 5)

Ill be honest with you, Lyme is one of the most complex conditions to treat and it takes time and hard work.

Simply prescribing an antibiotic doesnt do the trick once inflammation is systemic, the condition is chronic, or there are autoimmune complications involved.

You need a holistic approach that supports your immune system from the ground up so that your body can fight back against the disease and restore a normal inflammatory response.

This includes eating a nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory diet, relieving stress, getting plenty of sleep, promoting detox, and overcoming any underlying deficiencies and imbalances.

That being said, Ive seen patients make tremendous progress with a functional medicine approach to Lyme disease.

The patient I mentioned earlier is currently leaps and bounds from where she was before. She is now living life how she wants to, as opposed to what her body and illness was letting her do before.

About the Author: Dr. Seth Osgood is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Institute of Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner. Dr. Osgood received his post-graduate training in Functional Medicine through the IFM and from working with Dr. Amy Myers. He has helped people from around the world improve their health utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.

Research Story Tip: Lyme Disease Bacteria Alter Immune System And May Cause It To Attack Healthy Cells

With the incidence of Lyme disease rising to over 300,000 new U.S. cases annually, more people are suffering with the debilitating and persistent symptoms associated with what clinicians call post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. Now, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center have found that the bacterium behind the disease, , causes significant changes in how the human body responds to its presence.

In a recent study, the researchers showed that Borrelia burgdorferi alters dendritic cells, which normally present antigens proteins from pathogens such as bacteria and viruses to immune system T-cells, signaling an immune response against the foreign invaders. However, Borrelia burgdorferi stops this communication, which may then lead to the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy cells.

We believe these observations are relevant not only to how Borrelia burgdorferi disrupts the immune system but other infections as well, says senior author , co-director for basic research at the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center, and professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Antibodies that react with a persons own tissues or organs have been reported in patients with infections, including COVID-19.

How Lyme Disease Subverts The Immune System

Press release from the University of California, Davis:

The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are able to trick an animals immune system into not launching a full-blown immune response or developing lasting immunity to the disease, report researchers at the University of California, Davis.

The discovery may explain why some human patients remain vulnerable to repeat infections by the same strain of bacteria, especially in regions where Lyme disease is prevalent. It also suggests that blood tests may not be an effective method for detecting previous exposure to Lyme disease, by far the most common vector-borne disease in the United States and Europe.

Findings from this mouse-based study are reported July 2 in the online scientific journal PLOS Pathogens, published by the Public Library of Science.

We demonstrated that an animal infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the corkscrew-shaped bacteria that cause Lyme disease, launches only a short-lived immune response, and that protective immunity against repeat infections quickly wanes, said Nicole Baumgarth, a professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine and an authority on immune response to infectious diseases at the UC Davis Center for Comparative Medicine.

This study also suggests a possible mechanism responsible for the disappearance of antibodies following infection and subsequent treatment with antibiotics, she said.

Also Check: What Kind Of Antibiotics Treat Lyme Disease

Diagnosis Testing And Treatment

You may have heard that the blood test for Lyme disease is correctly positive only 65% of the time or less. This is misleading information. As with serologic tests for other infectious diseases, the accuracy of the test depends upon how long youve been infected. During the first few weeks of infection, such as when a patient has an erythema migrans rash, the test is expected to be negative.

Several weeks after infection, FDA cleared tests have very good sensitivity.

It is possible for someone who was infected with Lyme disease to test negative because:

  • Some people who receive antibiotics early in disease may not have a fully developed antibody response or may only develop an antibody response at levels too low to be detected by the test.
  • Antibodies against Lyme disease bacteria usually take a few weeks to develop, so tests performed before this time may be negative even if the person is infected. In this case, if the person is retested a few weeks later, they should have a positive test if they have Lyme disease. It is not until 4 to 6 weeks have passed that the test is likely to be positive. This does not mean that the test is bad, only that it needs to be used correctly.
  • If you are pregnant and suspect you have contracted Lyme disease, contact your physician immediately.

    * Silver HM. Lyme disease during pregnancy. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 1997 Mar 11:93-7.

    The most common co-infections that occur with Lyme disease are anaplasmosis and babesiosis. In general:


    A New Study Has Shown That The Bacteria That Causes Lyme Disease Alters The Immune System Causing It To Attack The Healthy Cells In The Human Body

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    The bacteria that causes Lyme disease Borrelia burgdorferi has been shown to stop communication between dendritic cells and T-cells, which normally signals for a response against foreign invaders.

    The study, carried out by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center, has demonstrated that the bacteria alters dendritic cells, which normally present proteins from pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, known as antigens, to immune system T-cells, which then signals an immune response against any viruses or infections.

    The study has been published in Frontiers in Medicine.

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    Lyme Vs Autoimmune Disease: Similarities Differences And Misdiagnoses

    Physicians and researchers have made important discoveries about the connections between Lyme disease and autoimmune diseases. While more research is still needed, the existing evidence can be useful for both physicians and patients in understanding and treating their symptoms.

    In this article, well cover some basic information on autoimmune diseases, how Lyme disease may trigger them, and how the similarities between the symptoms of Lyme and symptoms of some autoimmune diseases can lead to a missed or misdiagnosis.

    What Vitamins Are Good For Lyme Disease

    Since Lyme disease can cause the immune system to become weak, being able to battle other infections becomes much more difficult. The immune response slows with the onset of the infection caused by the Borrelia bacteria, and for those with a lowered immune function, nutritional deficiency is not that far behind. This is because the body needs all systems to work symbiotically for the absorption of proper nutrients, as well as the ability to send them where they need to go.

    In the case of Lyme disease, some vitamins are better than others in battling chronic symptoms. They include:

    • Alpha lipoic acid

    Vitamin B1 has been shown to help improve energy levels, and thus can help people with Lyme disease combat chronic fatigue. Fish oil is known for its brain-boosting abilities, which can lead to improved cognitive function in people fighting Lyme-induced brain fog.

    Image by on Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits and is a vital component in the healthy functioning of the immune system.

    Recommended Reading: Lyme Disease Symptoms And Treatment In Humans

    Get Good Sleep Every Night

    Sleep is essential for a healthy immune system. Cytokines that regulate the immune system are released in higher amounts during sleep. If you arent getting a good nights sleep, you arent getting the right amount of cytokines needed to fight off infections.

    This means your immune system cannot prevent Lyme bacteria from spreading throughout your body.

    Getting Enough Vitamin D If You Suffer From Lyme Disease

    Understanding the Persistent Symptoms in Lyme Disease | Johns Hopkins Medicine

    As previously mentioned, one of the best ways patients with Lyme disease to encourage the proper levels of vitamin D is to introduce higher levels of magnesium. Since one relies on the other to be synthesized, both magnesium and vitamin D are needed for optimal health.

    Supplementation and a healthy diet could help increase levels of both, and when the nutrients in the body are back at their ideal levels, a patient has a better chance at recovering from Lyme disease alongside proper treatment.

    Featured image by A.L. on Unsplash

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    Later Symptoms Of Lyme Disease

    More serious symptoms may develop if Lyme disease is left untreated or is not treated early. These can include:

    • pain and swelling in the joints
    • nerve problems such as numbness or pain in your limbs
    • memory problems
    • difficulty concentrating

    Some of these problems will get better slowly with treatment. But they can persist if treatment is started late.

    A few people with Lyme disease go on to develop long-term symptoms similar to those of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. This is known as post-infectious Lyme disease. It’s not clear exactly why this happens. It’s likely to be related to overactivity of your immune system rather than continued infection.

    How To Manage Inflammation In Lyme Disease

    Infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterial cause of Lyme disease, and co-infections causes the immune system to launch a profound inflammatory response. While antibiotic treatments, such as doxycycline and cefuroxime, can destroy B. burgdorferi, these drugs do little to mitigate the inflammatory response launched in response to these microbes. Left untreated, Lyme-induced inflammation damages cells, tissues, and organs, inducing widespread bodily dysfunction.

    While the CDC offers recommendations for Lyme disease treatment from the antimicrobial perspective, it makes no recommendations as to how affected individuals should manage the inflammatory side effects of the illness. Functional medicine, on the other hand, offers a unique set of tools for managing Lyme-associated inflammation, including nutrition changes, lifestyle changes, and natural anti-inflammatory compounds. These holistic interventions can significantly improve Lyme disease inflammation, creating a strong foundation for healing.

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    What Is An Autoimmune Disease

    The immune system comprises millions of cells that work together to protect the body from foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. A healthy immune system doesn’t attack its own tissues, but in people with autoimmune diseases, this system malfunctions . Many different cell and protein components make up the immune system, and problems with any one of them could cause malfunction.

    Sometimes the immune system mistakes its own tissues for foreign invaders and attacks them. Thus, in autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakenly attacks parts of your body, such as your joints or skin. It releases antibodies that attack the healthy cells.

    Autoimmune diseases can affect many parts of the body. The most common areas affected are the thyroid gland, joints, muscles, connective tissues , and blood vessels . Some autoimmune diseases target only one organ. Type 1 diabetes damages the pancreas, for example. Others cause damage all over the body.

    The causes of autoimmune diseases are unknown. Doctors and researchers think that some combination of genes, environmental triggers, and hormonal factors may play a role in who gets them and why. With some conditions, having another disease caused by bacteria or virus or even taking certain medicines can trigger an autoimmune response in your body.

    Can A Vitamin D Deficiency Exacerbate Lyme Disease Symptoms

    Lyme Stats

    As mentioned, Lyme disease disables the immune function. Whether it does so in a mild or serious way depends on a case by case basis. Since vitamin D is an important part of overall immunity, having low levels can reduce a Lyme patients ability to ward off infection. This leads to less absorption of vitamin D over the course of the disease, resulting in overall depleted levels that may continue to get worse if not addressed.

    A vitamin D deficiency can also be hard to treat in Lyme patients because when the immune system isnt functioning as it should, nutrients are not being utilized as well, and all the processes in the body are essentially thrown off.

    Image by on Lyme disease patients with vitamin D deficiency should also take magnesium, which can be found in many nuts.

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    Meet With An Autoimmune Or Lyme Disease Specialist

    With any chronic condition such as Lyme disease, implementing effective & holistic treatments that will put you on the road to recovery is a top priority for all of us at LifeWorks Wellness Center.

    We provide every patient with individualized, quality treatment. As one of Floridas top autoimmune disease clinics, our doctors understand what you are going through and can give you a proper diagnosis that will identify whether you are suffering from an autoimmune disease or even Lyme.

    What Causes Autoimmune Diseases

    Most experts agree that autoimmune diseases are caused by environmental triggers. Common examples include foods , toxins , and viral or bacterial infections.

    Indeed, there is growing evidence that Lyme disease and other bacterial infections can trigger autoimmune diseases, especially in patients who are genetically predisposed to them. Studies have documented several cases of Lyme disease that appeared to trigger or mimic autoimmune diseases, including Sjogrens syndrome, dermatomyocitis , rheumatoid arthritis , psoriatic arthritis , and spondyloarthritis .

    Read Also: Can Lyme Disease Be Chronic

    Big Misconceptions Around Lyme Disease

    A lot of people think that Lyme disease is relatively rare, but its actually one of the fastest-growing infectious diseases in the US. There are an estimated 329,000 new cases each year, which is 10x higher than the Centers for Disease Control predicted just a few years ago and a 320% increase from the 90s.

    You may have also heard that the first sign of Lyme disease is a bullseye-shaped rash. However, not everyone gets this telltale rash and basic tests often dont pick it up, which is why its easy for patients and doctors to miss.

    The third big misconception is that its an acute, short-lived sickness. Most people, and honestly most doctors, think you get bitten by a tick, you get sick, you take antibiotics, and you get better.

    In reality, a lot of people develop chronic persistent Lyme either because it doesnt get diagnosed and treated, or because it isnt fully treated and youre left with lingering symptoms.

    In these cases, there are often co-infections at play, such as Bartonella, Babesia, Mycoplasma, or Rickettsia. They are called co-infections because they are also passed on with the tick bite that transmitted the Lyme disease. They are important to identify because they can be just as problematic for your health.

    How Good Nutrition Can Help You Recover From Lyme Disease

    Do Vaccines Cause Autoimmune or Chronic Disorders?

    Your immune system, brain, and gastrointestinal system, not to mention the rest of your body, require optimal nutrition to function properly.

    Improving nutrition can help your body fight Lyme disease, allow your immune system to work optimally and reduce the adverse effects of Lyme disease on the gut, brain, musculoskeletal system, and hormones.

    Unfortunately, nutrition is often placed on the back burner and sometimes wholly overlooked in Lyme disease treatment protocols

    Also Check: Supplements For Horses With Lyme

    Autoimmune Disease Vs Systemic Autoinflammatory Disease : Understanding The Immune System

    Autoimmune diseases are not the only type of immune system disorder associated with immune system overactivity. A newer, less recognized category is that of systemic autoinflammatory diseases, or SAIDs. Though they share many symptoms, they actually arise from two different immune systems: the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system.

    Autoimmune diseases are disorders of the adaptive immune system, which works by creating specialized antibodies to attack specific antigens. The cells involved in these processes are B-cells or T-cells. Vaccines work by utilizing the adaptive immune system, introducing pathogens to the body so that it will create the specific antibodies needed to fight off that pathogen. This system is also engaged to fight off bacterial infections like Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

    The other immune system is what is known as the innate immune system. This is the immune system affected by SAIDs. The innate immune system is the immune system youre born with, consisting of all the physical barriers , defense mechanisms , and general immune responses that protect the body from illness. One of the primary forms of general immune responses is inflammation the process of sending immune cells to the site, which will swell as the immune cells go about attacking harmful agents.

    Malfunctioning Immune System May Explain Chronic Lyme Symptoms

    Most people with Lyme disease are cured by antibiotics, but a certain percentage go on to have lasting symptoms even though it looks like all bacteria have been wiped out. A new study suggests lingering symptoms may be due to an immune system malfunction triggered by the original infection.

    Using a mouse model to explore what could be happening to unlucky patients, researchers discovered that an infection with the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, could spark an aberrant immune reaction in which cells that normally target specific pathogens become activated in a more general way. In other words, the body is attacking itself.

    I grew up in Vermont and Lyme disease affected people all around me,said the studys lead author Sarah Whiteside, a graduate student at the University of Utah. It was far worse for those people that continued to suffer even after antibiotic treatment.

    Of the more than 300,000 Americans who contract Lyme disease each year, about 10 percent continue to suffer from symptoms after treatment with antibiotics, which can include arthritis, fatigue and mental fogginess.

    Whiteside was hoping to find an explanation for those prolonged symptoms. The lab research indicates an out-of-whack immune response could be whats responsible for the persistent symptoms in chronic Lyme disease patients.

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