Lyme Disease - Chronic and long term issues resulting from Borrelia burgdorferi
Last Updated: July 17, 2019 | First Published: July 2, 2018
Reviewed by: Dr. Ahmed Zayed, M.D.
Lyme disease remains one of the most common diseases in both Europe and the United States transmitted through animals – in this case, a tick bite. The disease is caused by the transmission and infestation of bacteria in the Borrelia burgdorferi species.
This disease tends to affect the nervous system, the heart, the skin, and the musculoskeletal system (Ref #1). One of the earliest signs of an infection is a Lyme disease rash, also known as erythema migrans, a circular rash which can occur one day to one months after a tick bite.
Other Lyme disease symptoms usually tend to include fatigue, malaise, fever, arthralgia, and headaches (Ref #3). A patient typically also develops swelling and pain in their joints.
Initial Treatment Protocols For Lyme Disease
The most common Lyme disease treatment used during the early and later stages of the infection is antibiotic therapy. This usually includes a daily dose of amoxicillin or doxycycline for up to 14 days. Erythromycin or cefuroxime may also be used, depending on the stage of the infection. When a patient does not respond well to a prescribed antibiotic, another antibiotic may be used. There is a rising concern over antibiotic resistance that physicians need to keep in mind during the prescription of these medications.
Antibiotic borrelia treatment is usually delivered through oral administration, but in more severe cases of Lyme disease, intravenous delivery of the antibiotics may be the preferred option.
Chronic Lyme Disease: A Complex Issue
While most patients tend to experience significant relief of symptoms within the first 14 days of antibiotic treatment, some continue to suffer from joint pain, cognitive impairment and other symptoms even after they have been successfully treated.
While antibiotic treatment has been suggested for the treatment of chronic Lyme disease, the dangers of excessive antibiotic use usually outweigh the potential benefits. Additionally, the infection has cleared up in most cases of chronic Lyme disease, which is why targeting the symptoms instead of Lyme disease itself in such cases may be a better solution.
The continuous use of antibiotics may lead to antibiotic resistance, as well as reactions that may include a compromised immune system. The use of Monolaurin has been suggested as an effective alternative as both a first line of treatment approach, as well as in the case where Lyme disease causes chronic symptoms.
One study (Ref #4) confirms that the antibacterial activity of Monolaurin is highly effective in killing of the Borrelia burgdoferi bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
“Current therapeutic approach to this disease is limited to antibiotics. This study examined the anti-borreliae efficacy of several plant-derived compounds and micronutrients… The results showed that the most potent substances against the spirochete and rounded forms of B. burgdorferi and B. garinii were cis-2-decenoic acid, baicalein, monolaurin and kelp (iodine); whereas, only baicalein and monolaurin revealed significant activity against the biofilm…. The most effective antimicrobial compounds against all morphological forms of the two tested Borrelia sp. were baicalein and monolaurin. This might indicate that the presence of fatty acid and phenyl groups is important for comprehensive antibacterial activity.” [Ref #4]
The study also revealed that, when compared to certain antibacterial phytonutrients and even micronutrients, the use of Monolaurin poses as a potent agent, as lower concentrations of this substance led to similar effects as with some compounds that were used at higher concentrations.
Lyme disease is common in various areas of the world and typically resolves soon after antibiotic treatment is initiated. Some patients do, however, continue to experience symptoms after successful treatment of the infection. Long-term use of antibiotics in the treatment of chronic Lyme disease is discouraged. Attending to the symptoms experienced by the patient may yield a more favorable outcome.
Biesiada, G. Czepiel, J. Leśniak, MR. Garlicki, A, and Mach T. Lyme disease: review. Archives of Medical Science. 8 October 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3542482/
I. Stock. Lyme disease – clinical manifestations and treatment. U.S. National Library of Medicine. May 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27348896
Bratton RL, Whiteside JW, Hovan MJ, Engle RL, Edwards FD.. Diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. U.S. National Library of Medicine. May 2008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18452688
A. Goc, A. Niedzwiecki and M. Rath. In vitro evaluation of antibacterial activity of phytochemicals and micronutrients against Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia garinii. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 22 November 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4738477/