I never gave too much thought to Lyme disease until I began investigating MTHFR. Suddenly everyone had Lyme! While that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I certainly was not aware of just how common Lyme is and how much it masquerades as other chronic illnesses. Lupus, fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, multiple sclerosis, Epstein-Barr virus and viral meningitis are all examples of misdiagnoses when the person actually has Lyme disease. MTHFR gene mutations create a special environment in your body for toxins, disease and dysfunction to take over every cell in your body. Impaired methylation leads to a defective immune system, which is not what you need when you’re exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi and co-infections. So people with MTHFR issues may not all have Lyme disease, but if they aren’t functioning optimally, conditions are ripe for infection.
This post is not intended to be a comprehensive missive on Lyme disease and all its attributes, politics and health repercussions. What I want to do is make you aware of the disease and correct some common misconceptions so that if you have it, you can start your path to recovery. The symptoms of chronic Lyme and post-Lyme disease syndrome overlap with other illnesses so if you’re feeling really ill and can’t seem to get better, you might want to rule it out. Some insurance plans cover the better tests (and I’ll talk about those), but even if they don’t this is worth investigating. I’ve seen more than one person run in several different directions and spend money they didn’t have to (feeling sick and dysfunctional all the way) only to find out that what they have is actually Lyme disease. I know health care is expensive and unfortunately our insurance and medical systems are fractured at best. It stinks. But spending a few hundred dollars (even thousands) to get to your root cause and get it solved and out of your way so you can get back to your life is, to me, a non-negotiable if that is what it takes. And that goes for anything related to your health. Without health, forget about any money you might be saving. It’s useless to you.
Borrelia burgdorferi are the spirochetes that cause Lyme disease. A spirochete is a type of bacteria that is spiral shaped and can swim through viscous fluids. It leaves the blood and proceeds to assault the body’s tissues, especially those of the joints and nerves. It can also transform into a cyst form and set up house in the spinal fluid and brain. Then it proceeds to evade the immune system, protected, for example, by fibroblasts (connective tissue cells). When we deal with infections in our body, it’s not the actual infectious agents that cause us to feel so badly. It’s our body’s immune responses to these infections, in particular, inflammation. Symptoms of Lyme disease include stiffness, pain, twitching and palsy, unusual eyesight issues, tingling and numbness, night sweats, swollen glands, irritable bowel syndrome, heart palpitations and arthritis (a good symptom checklist is here).
Having MTHFR does not mean that you have Lyme. But as we know already, MTHFR mutations impair the immune system and slow down the detoxification process. People with improperly addressed MTHFR gene mutations often suffer from things like glutathione depletion, a dysfunctional immune system and an overload of heavy metals. It becomes impossible for them to properly kill and/or eliminate bacteria and other toxins. The systemic dysfunction makes it easier for the spirochetes to take hold of their bodies. While some people can take some antibiotics and get better quite quickly, many others go on to develop chronic Lyme disease and endure the debilitating symptoms that come along with it. Eventually this disease can be fatal.
And then when you think having Lyme is bad enough, you enter the maze of treatment. Despite being a pervasive global health concern, Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed, under-diagnosed and improperly treated. Your number one goal will be to find a good Lyme-literate medical doctor (LLMD). You need to do this before you begin your testing. Two labs are ahead of the pack right now in the work to eradicate false negatives: Advanced Labs and Fry Labs (the latter of which is the leader for co-infection and biofilm testing). Please visit the resources list at the end of this post to find a LLMD (and if you have Lyme, please help others by placing links to any resources I’ve missed in the comments section – but no doctor names, please!)
If Lyme isn’t your problem but the symptoms are still nagging at you, it could be another tick-borne illness. Toxic mold illness is also highly prevalent in people with this collection of symptoms and is often also present in Lyme patients, making treatment more complicated. I will be discussing toxic mold illness in an upcoming post. In the meantime I am leaving you with an excellent documentary, which is actually the first one I ever watched about Lyme and really altered my thinking about the disease. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you watch it.