Question from a consumer on Lyme Disease: So Dr. Litchy, why is the medical community so confused about Lyme disease? Why is it so complicated?
Dr. Litchy's response: Well, it is very complicated right now, and currently the medical community is very divided, or at least very concerned about even the existence of chronic Lyme. So there's a lot of reasons for this.
Number one, this is one of the first bacterial infections we've encountered that is not always eradicated with one to two meds of very intensive antibiotics. It's not acting like other infectious diseases we've seen before.
Two, testing is complicated. Testing is not truly diagnostic, and a lot of false negatives can happen with this, which can be confusing to clinicians.
Another reason which is a little troubling is people with chronic Lyme may have psychiatric comorbidities. They have pain and symptoms that are not explainable by lab tests and historically for forever, people with unexplained symptoms and possible psychiatric comorbidities are not listened to, and put into a category. You do have problems with their psychiatric or somatization issues. But there are other illnesses where this can happen as well, and Lyme is one of them.
I think it is fairly well believed in infectious disease practice that a month of doxycycline or a month of IV Rocephin will treat it and after that, the problems that remain are not Lyme and not infection related, and that is just what their specialty believes. There are people that believe they have Lyme that don't have Lyme and have symptoms which can confuse things as well. When any illness becomes very well-known that this can happen as well, it becomes complicated to diagnose. Certainly until even very recently medical practice did not allow long-term antibiotics, and in fact, people who did the long-term antibiotic usage had faced troubles with their board, troubles with pharmacies, and it's only very recently that it has opened up. In the last year, there have been some position statements that are allowing people to practice within their training, which means they can do treat appropriately and this is a very recent event. There are many reasons why it's complicated to get diagnosed with Lyme, and it can be very difficult to get the Lyme diagnosis unless you go to the right practitioner.
How does somebody know that they are going to the right practitioner?
Dr. Litchy's response: That's a good question. Someone who is literate with Lyme, if you want to be tested for Lyme. Someone who believes in Lyme, that it can happen, that's important as well. Fortunately, most practitioners are very fairly transparent if they believe in Lyme and chronic Lyme or not. They will tell you, and then that can help you understand who you're talking to. It is essential to be educated on the type of testing you've received and if it is appropriate to your situation.
Are there any resources, a book, or an online website, or something that you recommend that people can go to, to read about this information?
Dr. Litchy's response: Yes, there are a variety of resources. There is the ILADs Foundation. There's a Lyme Disease Foundation as well. These are great. Buhner, as an herbalist, has a wonderful website about the herbal treatment of Lyme as well. There's a variety of online resources for this. Anything from the CDC to ILADS all the way to strictly herbal treatment.
Or they can send you a question?
Dr. Litchy's response: That is possible too. I also recommend people dealing with Lyme to be careful about hanging out on the forums too much. Because there are very ill people that are having very difficult experiences that don't represent what happens for most people. So it can be very negative and discouraging if you look too much on certain forums and it can be much scarier than it has to be.
Thank you Dr. Litchy
Special thanks to Dr. Andrew Litchy ND for being an educator on TrailheadHealth.com and for helping answer consumer questions.
Dr. Andrew Litchy, ND specializes in Chronic Lyme Disease, Integrative Cancer Care, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Botanical Medicine. In addition to his clinical practice at the Neighborhood Naturopathic in Edina, Minnesota, he also teaches at the University of Minnesota. He loves Educating consumers and is offering free initial consultation to anyone who has questions on Lyme and wondering if Naturopathic Treatment can help them. He can be reached at (612) 259-8529 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Top 36 consumer questions on Lyme Disease answered by Dr. Andrew Litchy, ND