Homeopathic Lyme Disease Evaluation and Treatment
By Todd A. Hoover, MD
Lyme Disease is a common disorder surrounded by intense controversy with potentially devastating effects for those affected. Given the tendency of this disease to enter a chronic state, chances are high that most physicians will encounter patients suffering from Lyme disease related symptoms over long periods of time. Chronic Lyme symptoms can represent significant therapeutic challenges and Homeopathic medicine may be a very useful tool for recovery in these patients.
Homeopathic medicine was built on the experimental premises of Samuel Hahnemann, MD (1755-1843). As a physician, toxicologist, and chemist, Hahnemann was keenly interested in how to treat patients in the least toxic manner possible. Given that Mercury and Arsenic were in widespread therapeutic use at that time, one can easily understand his desire for increased safety. While medicines have become much safer over time, there are still large numbers of patients who die each year as a result of treatment. Hahnemann's contributions to safe therapeutics may be more important now than ever.
Hahnemann was part of the Vitalist philosophical movement of his time. Vitalism is based on the concept that some dynamic, energetic force drives the human organism toward homeostasis and health. Vitalism presumes that the whole person is more than just the sum of the parts, but an active, dynamic system that acts in an evolutionarily advanced process to maintain health. Human Beings have immensely complex genetics and our adaptive mechanisms are highly individual. Homeopathy is built on the principal that the Individual with the disorder needs to be treated, not just the disease.
Clinically, Lyme Disease is a perfect example of the individual nature of human response to the same disease organism. Many patients may become infected with Lyme disease, but each has a different history. The stress of Borellia burgdorferi is the same, but the response of the individual varies to a significant extent. Why do some patients seem to get a mild version of primary disease, while others show up with Bell's Palsy? Why do only certain patients develop Cardiac related disease? Individual susceptibility and adaptive response determines the character of the disease in each patient. This individual response represents the individual's strain to restore health; and the individual will put forth the best possible effort to balance the health as the first response. Homeopathic treatment is aimed at stimulating this effort of the body to restore health.
Homeopathic medicines are highly diluted forms of plant, mineral and animal substances. These compounds have been studied in test subjects and patients over many years to determine the exact and full extent of the medicine. Once a full profile of all of the actions of the drug is known, the remedy is used to treat patients. A trained homeopath evaluates a patient to determine exactly how the body is trying to defend itself against a force that has created an imbalance. Once this total, whole body response to the disease is understood, the appropriate Homeopathic medicine can be selected to stimulate the person to overcome the disease and restore health.
Therapy for Lyme disease is primarily based upon the chemical destruction of bacteria using various doses and types of antibiotics. I will not expand on the controversial subject of dosing of antibiotics, or duration of therapy as that has been covered extensively by other authors. What is of considerable interest, though, is why some patients seem to recover so easily with a minimal course of antibiotics, while others seem to never recover fully despite years of ever increasing levels of treatment.
Homeopathically, this can be viewed as a type of battle between the bacteria and the human adaptive response, including primarily the immune system. While antibiotics can kill bacteria in the body, typically it is thought that the invading organisms can only be removed completely with the help of a functional immune system. Our experience with AIDS patients gives clear insight into how impotent antibiotics can be without the assistance of our immune reaction.
Simply put, Chronic Lyme patients frequently are treated over and over again with ever higher levels of antibiotics only to relapse with symptoms shortly after the completion of therapy. The hope is that a more powerful drug will cure, but in reality what is required is a more complete and successful immune response. Homeopathic treatment is aimed at the stimulation of the total body response to an imbalance, including the immune system which is intimately tied to the psychological and endocrine and nervous systems. So more than bigger guns from the outside, perhaps Chronic Lyme is best addressed by a stronger response on the inside (one that was supported by the appropriate Homeopathic medicine).
Let us look at several cases.
A 15 year old girl presents with a history of Chronic Lyme Disease.
Initial symptoms 2 years prior to first visit began with:
- Expanding red rash on chest
- Severe Headache as if bursting
- Screaming with the pain
- Fever to 105°
- Red Face
- Fighting and erratic during the fever
- Cramping and Vomiting
She tested positive for Lyme Disease and was treated successfully with antibiotics both orally and intravenous for over 3 months.
Over the past 6 months, she has developed:
- Abrupt onset of recurrence
- Headache, Stiff Neck, High Fever, Weakness, Stomach pain
- Behavior change since the fever (irritable to the point of rage)
- Headaches every other day (pounding quality, worse in afternoon)
- Abrupt episodes of nausea every week
Taking the symptoms of the initial presentation along with the recurrence, a fairly clear homeopathic picture of the medicine Belladonna emerges. Whether this represents a recurrence, a chronic Lyme state, a new infection, or an unassociated disorder is unclear. Homeopathically this differentiation is not critical. A stress has been presented to the individual with clear initial diagnosis of Lyme Disease. A pattern of response is well established and recurring. All symptoms were very consistent with the medicine and so the patient was treated with Belladonna 200c as a single dose.
Over the next 2 months, the headaches and nausea resolved, fever has not recurred and moods have returned to normal. Following the patient over the next year, there was one recurrence of symptoms with associated ear pain and Belladonna was repeated with similar success and a much quicker response. The patient has been very healthy for the past year.
Our next case is a 44 year old woman who was previously very healthy prior to two separate episodes of Lyme Disease. Each episode was verified with appropriate blood tests. Antibiotics were given both orally and intravenously intermittently over one year. Initially, the antibiotics were very helpful; but over time, the effectiveness has been less and less. The initial symptom was primarily severe fatigue with the positive test. Over the next 3 years, she developed progressively severe fatigue, twitching muscles, frequent urination, dizziness, tingling / numbness in the extremities, insomnia and ringing in the ears.
She was treated with antibiotics for an additional 8 months with the diagnosis of Chronic Lyme Disease (Neurological). All symptoms improved except the insomnia. One year after this treatment, she was re-infected with Lyme Disease with a typical EM rash and positive blood test. Antibiotics were given for another 2-3 months, but she developed fungal infections of the oropharynx, skin rashes and rectal bleeding.
On first presentation to my office she complained of:
- Memory loss
- Muscle aches
- Ringing in Ears
- Tingling through whole body
- Joint pains
- Memory weakness
- Digestive Disturbances (indigestion, bloating, diarrhea)
- Racing thoughts / thoughts intruding
- Anxiety of Health
- Sharp pains moving here and there
- Sleepless from palpitations
- Memory weak due to excess thoughts
- Craving sweets
She had a myriad of symptoms that were presented in a rapid and scattered fashion with much underlying anxiety. Careful analysis of symptoms led to the prescription Argentum Nitricum 200c given in a single dose. Over the next 3 months all symptoms resolved very well. I have followed the patient over the next 4 years needing to repeat the remedy only on one occasion for milder constellation of similar symptoms.
These chronic cases have been presented in their skeletonized form. A Homeopathic practitioner will generally take 1-2 hours in carefully reviewing all signs and symptoms of the individual. Due to the highly individual nature of the treatment, different patients will need different treatments and is best done by a well trained Homeopath. Homeopathic treatment tends to be more effective in younger, more vital individuals when the disease is less deep in the system and of less duration. In other words, the stronger you are, the more likely a stimulus will result in your body rallying to recover. Homeopathic medicines are in highly diluted forms and will not interfere or interact with other drug therapies.
Some authors have suggested the use of various Homeopathic medicines in early Primary Lyme disease or as prophylaxis to tick bites. The two primary remedies used are Ledum pallustre which is a remedy which has been shown useful in diseases that result from insect bites and Lyme disease nosode prepared from Borellia burgdorferi. No studies have been conducted to determine if using this style of treatment has any effect. On the other hand, a single dose of Ledum pallustre 30c strength is unlikely to cause any side effect due to its dilute nature, and therefore could be considered along with prophylactic antibiotics in these situations.
Previously Published: Homeopathy Today
Additional information on Homeopathic Medicine and Optimal Wellness
available from Todd A. Hoover, MD, DHt 610 667-2138