Potential Treatment For Lyme Disease Kills Bacteria That May Cause Lingering Symptoms Study Finds
Screening thousands of drugs, Stanford scientists determined that in mice, azlocillin, an antibiotic approved by the Food and Drug Administration, eliminated the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Deer ticks are vectors of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.Scott Bauer/USDA Agricultural Research Service
For decades, the routine treatment for Lyme disease has been standard antibiotics, which usually kill off the infection. But for up to 20% of people with the tick-borne illness, the antibiotics dont work, and lingering symptoms of muscle pain, fatigue and cognitive impairment can continue for years sometimes indefinitely.
A new Stanford Medicine study in lab dishes and mice provides evidence that the drug azlocillin completely kills off the disease-causing bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi at the onset of the illness. The study suggests it could also be effective for treating patients infected with drug-tolerant bacteria that may cause lingering symptoms.
This compound is just amazing, said Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and director of the Biomaterials and Advanced Drug Delivery Laboratory at the Stanford School of Medicine. It clears the infection without a lot of side effects. We are hoping to repurpose it as an oral treatment for Lyme disease. Rajadas is the senior author of the study, which was published online March 2 in Scientific Reports. The lead author is research associate Venkata Raveendra Pothineni, PhD.
Recent Progress In Lyme Disease And Remaining Challenges
Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States with an estimated 476,000 cases per year. While historically, the long-term impact of Lyme disease on patients has been controversial, mounting evidence supports the idea that a substantial number of patients experience persistent symptoms following treatment. The research community has largely lacked the necessary funding to properly advance the scientific and clinical understanding of the disease, or to develop and evaluate innovative approaches for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Given the many outstanding questions raised into the diagnosis, clinical presentation and treatment of Lyme disease, and the underlying molecular mechanisms that trigger persistent disease, there is an urgent need for more support. This review article summarizes progress over the past 5 years in our understanding of Lyme and tick-borne diseases in the United States and highlights remaining challenges.
Common Conditions Requiring Medication Treatment For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease requires medication treatment. If you don’t take proper medication, your condition can get much worse. It is important to continue seeing your doctor, even if you are feeling better, until your doctor says you are free of the disease. Be sure to share if you are getting new symptoms or have found your symptoms are not improving.
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Why Antibiotics Are Usually The Go
Lyme & tick-borne disease is caused by bacterial pathogens that invade the body, which can cause a multitude of possible co-infections, and make diagnosis and treatment difficult.
Antibiotics are usually the first line of defense for chronic Lyme disease due to its similarities to other conditions, for which antibiotics are usually effective. This can lead to misdiagnosis. Many medical professionals unfamiliar with the complexities of Lyme & tick borne disease strictly treat chronic Lyme disease symptoms with antibiotics rather than explore other treatments.
Although some treatment methods differ between cultures, demand for antibiotics in the United States also tends to be higher while some countries, such as Germany, use antibiotic treatment as a last resort.
Living With Lyme Disease
Most people treated in the early stages of Lyme disease make a quick and complete recovery. Some may experience symptoms for a few weeks after treatment. If you were treated for Lyme disease but you still dont feel well, call your family doctor. He or she can make sure there isnt something else wrong. They can help you find ways to ease your symptoms. Some patients have found relief with treatments typically used for chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.
Other things you can do to help manage Lyme disease include:
- Educate yourself.There is a lot of inaccurate information to be sorted through, especially on the internet. Ask your doctor if you have questions.
- Track your symptoms.Keep a diary of your sleep patterns, eating habits, exercise routines, and how youre feeling. You or your doctor may be able to make connections between them.
- Take care of yourself.Eat a healthy diet. Exercise as regularly as you can. Get plenty of rest.
Find support. It can be hard to not feel well and not know why. Some people may think your symptoms arent real. Talk to friends and family. If they cant offer support, talk with a counselor who can help you.
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The Prescription Antibiotic Study
The latest study is Antibiotic Treatment Response in Chronic Lyme Disease: Why Do Some Patients Improve While Others Do Not? published October 3, 2020. In the study people that got well or responded very well with treatment were studied to see what worked. You can see more details about this study at lymedisease.org here.
Several Antibiotics Appear Effective Against Early
Most cases of Lyme disease, which is an infection carried by ticks, can be easily managed if treated early using antibiotics, with choice of antibiotic agent having little bearing on success.
This network meta-analysis suggests that when symptoms of the disease are confined to a localised skin infection, treatment failures are relatively infrequent, only 2% at 12 months. Effective antibiotics include penicillin V, doxycycline, azithromycin, cefuroxime, amoxicillin and ceftriaxone plus doxycycline.
The research has significant limitations, but choice, dose and duration of antibiotics appear to have little impact on outcomes. This research does not suggest that guidelines need to be reviewed.
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Common Lyme Disease Antibiotic Treatment Side Effects
Any antibiotics for Lyme disease can cause skin rashes, fever or diarrhea, while IV antibiotics can cause a low white blood cell count, and affect gut health. Some antibiotics create colonization or bacterial overgrowth with other antibiotic-resistant organisms unrelated to Lyme because antibiotics kill the good bacteria in our gut along with the bad.
It may be beneficial to use probiotics to restore the good bacteria and balance gut health, but make sure you speak with your doctor before taking anything.
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After treatment, some instances of muscle aches and fatigue have been found as well.Always check with your doctor regarding the possible side effects before taking any medication and contact him if side effects occur.
What Do I Do If I Find A Tick On My Skin
Dont panic. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skins surface as possible. Pull up with steady, even pressure. Be careful not to squeeze or twist the tick body. Sometimes parts of the tick remain in the skin. You can leave them alone or carefully remove them the same way you would a splinter. Do not use heat , petroleum jelly, or other methods to try to make the tick back out on its own. These methods are not effective.
Wash the area where the tick was attached thoroughly with soap and water. Keep an eye on the area for a few weeks and note any changes. Call your doctor if you develop a rash around the area where the tick was attached. Be sure to tell your doctor that you were bitten by a tick and when it happened.
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What Is Lyme Arthritis
Lyme disease presents in many ways, however, Lyme arthritis is a late manifestation of the disease. It typically occurs months after infection with Lyme disease. One of the first signs of Lyme disease is something called erythema migrans, more famously called the bullseye rash. Here is a classic example.
Importantly, this is a classic example. The rash will NOT necessarily have this appearance and about 25% of people with Lyme disease will not have a rash at all.
Lyme arthritis typically manifests 6 months after the first infection but can occur in as little as 4 days to 2 years.
Antimicrobials That Kill Growing Phase Cysts
Intracellular and Extracellular
Note: I work with the following agents as anti-cyst agents based on the mechanism by which these antibiotics work and some scientific experiments. For the Rifamycins, there are no laboratory experiments showing these agents work against cysts. Clinically, I see great benefit in using the Rifamycins as my anti-cyst agents – so I list them here.
- Rifampin 300 mg 2 pills 1 time a day or 1 pill 2 times a day
- Rifabutin 150 mg 2 pills 1 time a day
- Tinidazole 500 mg 1 pill 2 or three times a day usually pulsed for four days on then three days off of each 7 days
- Metronidazole 500 mg 1 pill 2 or three times a day usually pulsed for four days on then three days off of each 7 days.
- Grapefruit seed extract 250 mg 1 pill 2 times a day. Note this is an herbal antibiotic that I find as effective as the prescription options in this list.
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What Did This Study Do
This network meta-analysis included 19 randomised controlled trials involving 2,532 people with erythema migrans due to Lyme disease. No trials were based in the UK most were from the United States or Europe.
Each trial compared two or three antibiotics. Doxycycline was the most frequently used antibiotic. A number of doses and treatment durations were represented. For example, treatment length for doxycycline ranged from 10 to 21 days. For the main analyses, doxycycline was used as the reference treatment.
Both direct and indirect data were extracted from the studies. This approach is helpful when there is a shortage of head to head research, but this, and the overall low quality of included studies means that results need to be treated with some caution.
Why Was This Study Needed
Lyme disease affects around 2,000 to 3,000 people a year in England and Wales. Although still uncommon, cases have risen in recent years, with warmer winters likely to be a contributing factor. It is caused by an infection with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, spread through infected ticks.
Early symptoms are usually mild. Many people experience a rash that starts around the bite area and may have flu-like symptoms. If left untreated, more serious complications can occur such as nerve pain and heart problems.
Antibiotics are the standard treatment, with doxycycline being the first line antibiotic recommended by NICE. Whilst it is clear they work, the evidence supporting the choice of antibiotic agent is not conclusive. Additionally, the researchers wanted to see if the data pointed to a best treatment regimen and whether dose and treatment length are important.
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Antibiotics For Lyme Disease
How long to treat patients with Lyme remains an issue of controversy. With traditional antibiotic therapy, lasting 2-4 weeks, 10-20% of patients will have ongoing symptoms including fatigue, joint pain, insomnia and complaints of brain fog. Indefinite long-term treatment is advocated by ILADS , based on a patients symptoms. In contrast, IDSA only recommends 2-4 weeks’ treatment. The two groups are bitter adversaries.
A new study supports short-course treatmentbut is not entirely above criticism.
This study from the Netherlands, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, was well designed, being randomized and double blind, and with a quasi-placebo group .
The upshot: There were no differences in the outcomes of the three treatment groupsbut some lingering questions remain. Notably, a large percentage of patients had side effects from the antibiotics, some quite serious.
Why is this important?
Lyme has been increasing, especially in the northeastern and upper Midwest portions of the U.S. The CDC now estimates there are about 300,000 cases of Lyme each year, with 30,000 reported cases.
But Lyme can be difficult to diagnose, and the assays miss a lot of patients . So if 20% of patients are left with persistent symptoms, that means that 60,000 people per year are being left with untreated problems that we just dont know what to do with. This study, along with others before it, suggests that longer antibiotics are not the answer.
The fine print:
Tetracycline Plus Rifamycin Plus Disulfiram
- minocycline 100 mg 1 pill 2 times a day
- rifampin 300 mg 2 pills 1 time a day
- disulfiram 4 to 5 mg/ kg body weight. Work up to this dose slowly over 2 months then remain on the disulfiram at the peak dose for 4 months before tapering off.
- This minocycine and rifampin in this combination are as useful for treating a Bartonella co-infection. Co-infections are other germs passed on during a tick bite. If someone has a co-infection, when possible I choose antibiotic combinations that simultaneously treat Lyme germs and the co-infection germs.
- The disulfiram is added here to treat persister Lyme. Note disulfiram does not appear to treat Bartonella.
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How Is Lyme Arthritis Treated
According to Infectious Diseases Society of America , Lyme arthritis is treated as follows:
Sometimes, a 30 day course of antibiotics is not enough to effectively treat Lyme arthritis.
What Should I Do If I Find A Tick On My Child
Don’t panic. First Lyme disease is spread by the black-legged tick, not by the larger and more-common dog tick. The risk of developing Lyme disease after a black-legged tick bite is low, especially if the tick has been attached for a short time.
If you find a tick on your child, remove it using a fine-tipped pair of tweezers. Grasp the body of the tick and pull in an upward motion until the tick comes out. Do not squeeze or twist the ticks body. Take note of the ticks size and color, and how long you think it has been attached to your child.
If your child has been bitten by a black-legged tick that has been attached for more than 24 hours and you are in a Lyme disease endemic area, consult with your pediatrician. In some cases, your child may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent Lyme disease from developing.
The commitment and compassion with which we care for all children and families is matched only by the pioneering spirit of discovery and innovation that drives us to think differently, to find answers, and to build a better tomorrow for children everywhere.
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What Is Neurologic Lyme Disease
Neurologic symptoms of Lyme disease occur when the Lyme disease bacteria affect the peripheral or central nervous systems.
- Cranial nerve involvement: When the cranial nerves are affected, facial palsy can occur on one or both sides of the face.
- Peripheral nerve involvement: When the peripheral nerves are affected, patients can develop radiculoneuropathy which can cause numbness, tingling, shooting pain, or weakness in the arms or legs.
- Central nervous system involvement: When the central nervous system is affected, Lyme meningitis can cause fever, headache, sensitivity to light, and stiff neck.
Out of every 100 patients whose cases are reported to CDC, 9 have facial palsy, 4 have radiculopathy, and 3 have meningitis or encephalitis. Because of reporting practices, this statistic may overestimate how often these manifestations are seen by clinicians.
Integrative Treatment Vs Traditional Treatment
Theres no verifying evidence that supports traditional being better than integrative, and there are pros and cons to each. However, more doctors agree that when you work with your primary care physician and an integrative treatment approach, you experience a collaborative method working in your best interest.
Studies have found that many patients feel that integrative medicine helps with coping and management of chronic illnesses when conventional medicine offers no cure.
Creating an environment conducive to healing may require a multilevel unifying approach and personalized programs that take into the complicated behavior of Lyme disease.
Using your own bodys natural rhythms as a basis for healing also creates a better chance for relief from Lyme symptoms, which is why Infusio has a five step method to help the body find the balance it needs to manage Lyme, based on a foundational idea that your body can heal itself given the right environment, lifestyle changes, and intervention. This foundational protocol consists of:
Evos philosophy which integrates immune system optimization, cell therapy, and cutting-edge treatments even improved symptoms and gave many patients relief when other traditional treatments didnt.
For more information, please reach out to us at or 1-800-470-6229.
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Questions To Ask Your Veterinarian
If your dog has a positive Lyme test but no symptoms of the disease or protein in the urine, ask your veterinarian why he or she is recommending treatment. Experts currently recommend against antibiotic therapy under these circumstances because the dogs immune system is holding the bacteria in check and antibiotics are unable to eliminate the infection.
Dogs who have contracted Lyme disease do not develop prolonged, protective immunity and can be reinfected at a later date. Talk to your veterinarian about how best to prevent future infections. Options include measures to prevent the ticks that carry Lyme disease from biting your dog and Lyme vaccination.
Macrolide Plus Azole Plus Liposomal Essential Oils
- clarithromycin 500 mg 1 pill 2 times a day
- tinidazole 500 mg 1 pill 2 or 3 times a day.
- liposomal cinnamon, clove & oregano oil 1 capsule 2 times a day
- Tinidazole treats cysts and can remove biofilms that block the immune system and antibiotics.
- Liposomal cinnamon, clove & oregano oil can treat persister and growing forms of Lyme. Of the various herbal options to treat persiters – this is my go to persister herbal anti-microbial based on benefits I see in my practice.
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