"We get into this with Lyme disease also, is that, you know, theoretically think, people think, well I have a, I have a bacteria, I should take an antibiotic and I'll be all better. There is some truth to this. We think antibiotics are part of many people's regiments. Now you can also use, you know, herbals or other things that have antimicrobial activity, but we do run into this problem really head-on with Bartonella that I think is also the main problem with Lyme disease, which is, once you have a chronic infection, antibiotics are really not enough to, you know, get you over the hump. You know, if we look at Lyme disease as a model. If you catch Lyme disease in the first three months, just take doxycycline. 93% success rate if you want to be a negative on the research, 99% success rate if you're probably looking at more accurate data. So if we get an acute case in the first three months, we're just going to antibiotics, no questions asked. You can do probiotic afterwards or some other gut healing stuff afterwards, but antibiotics are extremely successful if you can catch this in the acute phase. Now unfortunately, if we get into chronic, we get into I've had this. People go, what's chronic? 3-6 months is where you're starting to get into chronic. Past 3 months some people will say now it's chronic. Past 6 months pretty much going to have everybody saying now we're chronic. So that's kind of your phase. So once you're in that mode, the success rates for antibiotics really go way down. And I learned this somewhat the hard way, actually the first thing that I ever did when we had this was, you know, 8 years ago we were basically doing, you know, antimicrobial herbs. And when I looked at my own stats, about 2 out of 10 times it went really well, including my very first patient who had Bartonella. And we were doing some oregano oil for them and they did marvelous and they sang my praises to the roof and they sent me six more people with Lyme disease and I did the same thing and they all got terribly worse. And this was my experience of, when you have chronic patients, if you hit them with anti-microbials, whether it's herbs or antibiotics, you get a lot of negative reactions mixed with that. If you look at Dr. Horowitz who's a famous Lyme Disease lecturer and Bartonella lecturer, you know, he kind of jokes he's got a, he's got a book, you know, it's like 400 pages. And he goes through the antibiotic regimens for what he uses on, like, pages 50 to 80. And he goes, the book doesn't end at page 80. There's like 320 more pages of, kind of, the, you know, the complications for this. And that's what we would tell people with, you know, with both Bartonella and Lyme, is if you are dealing with this chronically, you may or may not have antibiotics as part of your protocol but they're not the only thing if you're doing that."
Taking antibiotics after 3-6 months, are they effective at all?
"Well that's a good question. So I can tell you what, what we, kind of, see in our clinic. So in our clinic what I'll often do for, for tick-borne diseases is we start with some detox support and some immune support. Remember there's a lot of people who just get this and get better, so we tell people the primary problem with both these diseases is immune failure. There are some people who think that about 25% of all mammals have Bartonella, including humans. That would mean there's about 80 million Americans who have Bartonella, now most of these are asymptomatic. And really, when I look at symptomatic, there's somewhere between maybe a million, maybe two million people infected with Bartonella. If there's really this big reservoir, a quarter of the population has it and only 1-2% of people are actually sick with it, the problem really is your immune system is unable to handle the problem that it should be able to handle."
Similar to Lyme disease, if symptoms are showing up due to a Bartonella infection, the immune system becomes a critical focus.
"Now, we do antimicrobial herbs at the clinic, and I usually do them for 6-8 weeks and then I rotate. I can usually clear Lyme disease about 30% of the time after one rotation, so in about, you know, 3 months total. And by the time we hit about 7 months, which is about 3 rotations, I've got about 80% success rate in that part of the protocol. And once again, I want to tell people it's not like in chronic Lyme, you just eliminate the bug and it all magically goes away. There's, kind of, a rehabbing the body process, helping the inflammation system work, helping the liver work again. And if you just look at, you know, Dr. Horowitz or Dr. Hammond or Dr. Shoemaker, they kind of emphasize this point in eliminating the bug. Whether they're using herbals, whether they’re using antibiotics is part of the program and maybe an important part, but we honestly feel like it's a part that gets over-emphasized and the rest of the protocol to bring it together gets under-emphasized. People have a lot of hope that if they just took the right antibiotic it would all magically go away. And I'm really here to tell you that I'm sorry but that's not the way it's going to work if you missed that acute window."
Some people, at least on the internet, research this stuff. Some people suggest long-term antibiotic treatment, and so what I'm wondering in my mind is, is that even valuable? And then secondly, with what you do in functional medicine, can that work together?
"So some people are not going to get better without antibiotics, and they really need that as part of their, you know, protocol and regimen. But I also am very hesitant because I see a lot of people who have, first you fight through the regular medical system and you go, I'm sick. And they go, we can't find anything. You finally find someone who's more literate in Lyme or Bartonella, and you go, oh my gosh, you have Bartonella, you have Lyme disease, you have, oh my gosh we found it. Okay then, here's 3 different antibiotics, high-dose, and you're going to take these for 3 years. And then I see them 3 years later and, once again, what I find is the antibiotic portion has been hit really hard for 3 years and the rest of the protocol, the detox, the immune support, has really been given a very fluffy, nonspecific approach. And I, kind of, challenge a lot of Lyme, of my Lyme colleagues and go, if you paid as much attention to your detox protocol and your immune support protocol as you did to your antibiotic protocol, I think you'd be much more successful with some of these tough patients. You know, the 12th round of antibiotics isn't going to be, you know, what magically cures them."
Definitely, that makes a lot of sense. Not to mention the side effects of antibiotics and the additional damage that they're doing.
"Well, and this is one reason why I said we use antibiotics, I have some good partnerships, we work with some medical doctors, and some of our colleagues to help get people what they need, but antibiotics, especially for that long term, are a little bit of a double-edged sword, and let's not pretend they don't cause any problems. So if we can get it without long-term antibiotics we really prefer to, but we do, you know, partner to use them in cases where we think it's worth it."
I like your approach Dr. Kyle, because your approach is all about healing the body from within. The question I have for you is, how long does that typically take?
"Well that's a good question I get, how long. So we, generally as a rule, tell most tick-borne people it takes 12-18 months to get you all the way better. Now my record’s 5 months, 5, 5-1/2. I don't like to count on you being the record or breaking the record, but I tell people, so usually when we just look at stats, you know, 30% of people are through what I call kill phase in about 3 months, and about 80% are through in about 7 months. So then after that there's some you know liver help, some immune help, some other things to help walk out, but at the end of this disease, people feel good, they function well. Usually they're a little paranoid about going out in the woods, they don't want to get bit again, and so I have to calm them down and tell them they have to keep living their life. But, you know, usually you can make a very, very complete recovery. You can have brain function, you don't have to have pain all the time, you know, you can have energy again, you can really be, you know, healthy and functional and well, you know, after these, after these things, if not maybe a little more aware of ticks and your own body then you were before."
That’s great. One of the things that, testimonials from your patients that's, that jumps at me is that they say that you keep them feeling good even as they're going through this. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because the word detox scares most Lyme patients…
"It does. This is actually a big thing in our office. So when I tell people it's going to take 12-18 months, they go, oh gosh. And I say, but if we balance the parts correctly, you really should feel better, you know, during the process. I had a patient who just finished, and he said, well it took 15 months, but it was the best year I had in about 4 or 5 years. And I really strongly disagree with doctors who really push patients very hard through detox, or what are what are known as Herx reactions."
Image Text: Herxheimer Reaction, also known as die-off reaction are a mixed set of symptoms produced within the body as the bad bacteria die and release endotoxins. These endotoxins produce intense inflammatory reaction(s) throughout the body.
Image Text: Patients sometimes dread detox due to fear of the Herx reaction...
"To me, a really, really strong Herx reaction is a signal that you're doing something wrong, you're doing the wrong order, doing the wrong dose, you're not balancing the protocol correctly. So if you'd balance, you know, the detox portion, the immune support portion with, you know, some of those killers in the right way, you can actually feel decent and better and improved while you go through moving forward, as opposed to, sometimes I feel like doctors go, you feel bad now wait till I hit you with this detox reaction you'll be lying on your couch an invalid. And I go, goodness, we really don't think that's the way to do it, especially with Bartonella and Lyme causing so many neurological complaints. So that was really the kicker that made us want to stop doing that was, if you're getting a lot of neurological complaints when you detox, that means you're getting nerve damage. Nerves are very slow to heal and so I'm always wary of causing more nerve damage because it can take such a long time for you to recover from that. If there's any way possible to avoid that while you heal, then we want to make sure we protect you while we're getting you better."
"My big thing for all Lyme disease patients is just have hope. There are some really smart people working on this, there's some great people who, this is kind of their mission in life is to make this more aware and know that there are solutions. Just know that there are people out there, there's other people who have gotten better, so you can do it. I've seen it now. And we were looking at our stats, and since I've been doing this, 7 or 8 years, I think we're up, like 250 to 300 different, you know, Lyme and tick-borne patients that we've seen, so, you know, I've seen it time and time again. And if you're sick and without hope please, please know that there is hope for you. You can be healthy and you can, you know, go live your life."