Natural Strategies for Lyme Disease
As the weather in Connecticut and across New England gets warmer, we expect to see a return of ticks. What can be done naturally to support the immune system in someone with Lyme Disease symptoms? Read below to learn more about natural strategies, particularly manual therapy for Lyme.
Lyme Disease and Immune Deficiency
Having grown up in Connecticut, there was frequent mention of Lyme disease. Today, it is a widespread epidemic. Lyme disease is well known as the most common tick-borne illness in this country. Typical symptoms of this disease include fatigue, achiness, headaches, joint pain, digestive symptoms, and neurologic issues such as muscle weakness.
At the heart of Lyme disease is immune deficiency. Immune deficiency is very prevalent in our culture today. It is a primary cause of many childhood and adult illnesses. The best treatment for immune deficiency is prevention—maintaining an optimally healthy immune system.
Challenges with Traditional Therapy
Traditional intervention for Lyme disease includes antibiotic therapy. Antibiotic therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing Lyme disease. However, the challenges with antibiotic therapy are multiple. If the person is not undergoing any kind of nutritional wellness, they could be left significantly depleted following this course of treatment. The antibiotics target not only the Borrellia bacteria involved in Lyme disease, but in fact, all bacteria, including the important flora in our gut—the ‘good bacteria.’ Without the good bacteria in our gut, we are susceptible to other types of infection. Additionally, whereas the treatment combats the bacterial infection associated with the Lyme disease, if often leaves the person with resultant signs and symptoms. Often, even with a complimentary nutritional program of ‘probiotics’ and other products aimed at augmenting the health of the digestive tract and immune system, the person still experiences discomfort and weakness.
Did you know that one tick can transmit multiple infections? The concept of ‘co-infection’ is growing in popularity among the medical community. Whereas Lyme disease was originally thought to be limited to the Borrellia bacteria, there is a growing body of knowledge correlating Lyme disease symptoms and viral infections or even parasite infections. In these scenarios, the tick would transmit another type of bacteria, a virus or even a parasite into the person’s body. Antibiotics are ineffective for viruses and parasites. In these individuals, they often experience continued weakness, joint pain, mental clarity loss, and many more prolonged symptoms following the antibiotic therapy. With these types of co-infections, it is typically a longer road to recovery.
Integrative Manual Therapy and the Integrated Systems Approach
A missing component to the traditional treatment for Lyme disease as well as a compliment to any alternative treatment program is Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT). IMT has been used for many years to support the immune system in individuals dealing with immune related issues such as Lyme disease. IMT may be used to address many core issues at the heart of immune deficiency. IMT practitioners follow the Integrated Systems Approach, a concept developed by Sharon Giammatteo, PhD, IMT,C, the founder of IMT, close to forty years ago. The Integrated Systems Approach demonstrates that the body is comprised of multiple systems such as the muscular system, the skeletal system, the circulatory system, the nervous system, as well as the immune system. When a person exhibits a specific symptom, it is often manifested by underlying dysfunction in one of these systems.
Let’s illustrate an example. Consider a person with a frozen shoulder syndrome. This person would have pain at the shoulder, limited movement, and weakness of the arm. Very likely, they would be holding their arm in a protective position to avoid injury or added pain. In this example, a typical treatment program would include traditional physical therapy, pain medication and possibly even surgery. All of these approaches are limited to addressing the superficial symptoms of the shoulder. Using an IMT approach, the practitioner would assess the shoulder region and surrounding tissues using manual diagnostics to determine what system was compromised in the area. With a frozen shoulder syndrome, there may be a nerve impingement of the nerve plexus traveling through the shoulder girdle, there may be scar tissue in the soft tissues of the underarm, or even a bone bruise on the joint surface of the shoulder joint. There are multiple tissues in the shoulder region that could be involved. Once the IMT practitioner identifies what tissues are dysfunctional, they implement IMT techniques to correct the dysfunction. These techniques are specifically aimed at improving circulation to and from the compromised tissue, improving integrity of the tissue, augmenting immunity in the region, and decreasing inflammation. As the symptoms of the shoulder begin to decrease and there is greater potential for function, at that point an exercise program may be integrated to re-educate the shoulder region.
Increased Rise in Immune Deficiency
As Lyme disease is growing in incidence, there are many other immune illnesses that are manifesting in our communities today. The recent rise of global pandemic infectious disorders is unprecedented. In the last several years, we have been inundated with news stories on the swine flu, West Nile virus, SARS, NORO virus… The reason for this rise in infectious disorders is hypothesized by many. Is it because of global warming? Or is it because of increased use of pesticides in our culture? Some claim that it is related to increased synthetic preservatives in our food. There are many possibilities. But one thing is for sure, we need to learn how to accommodate to this new earth. The best way to do this is to optimize our immune system.
Integrative Manual Therapy for Immune Deficiency
There are many ways to augment the health of the immune system. Using IMT along with nutritional wellness can be a very successful program to attain optimal immunity. Consider a person with Lyme disease. Often, the kidneys and renal system are involved as well as the liver, the digestive tract and bowel. The liver is involved in the breakdown of toxins. Our renal system and the bowel are our two primary elimination routes in the body. When there is a toxic load, such as with Lyme disease and a possible co-infection, the body needs highly functioning routes of elimination for these toxins to exit the body. When these routes are inhibited because of congestion secondary to chronic toxicity, the person lacks the ability to dispose of these toxins. In this common scenario, the body holds onto these toxins. This leads to further problems in the body. A chronic toxic load in the body can lead to joint pain and inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, and much more. This toxicity can set the stage for future degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s, ALS, and Alzheimer’s.
When using IMT for immune deficiency, treatment is often focused on improving circulation to and from the liver to augment the liver’s capacity to break down toxins. IMT also targets the kidneys and bowel to support elimination of toxins. The lymphatic system is another important component of the body’s immune system. Throughout our body, there is a large network of lymphatic vessels that pick up toxins from our tissues and filter them through lymph nodes. As these toxins are broken down, they are then sent to our elimination routes via the kidneys and bowel. IMT practitioners may use techniques to promote lymphatic drainage in the body to support this process.
Recovery from Lyme disease can be a very challenging process because of the multiple systems that are involved. Antibiotic Therapy has been shown to decrease the effects of Lyme disease in many individuals. But with most, there are resultant symptoms that do not disappear. Using a comprehensive treatment program in addition to the antiobiotic therapy, that includes Integrative Manual Therapy, nutritional wellness and dietary intervention, can shorten the recovery process and help the person find optimal health and wellness.
For more information about how Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT) can help you or your family, please contact our front desk at Info@IntegrativeWellnessAndPT.com or call our Patient Liaison, Mary Farrell, at (203)269-4332.