My theory on Lyme disease symptoms, in those with or without co-infections.
I put forward that Lyme disease symptoms are not primarily generated by the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, but by the reactivation of one or more herpes virus within the peripheral and/or central nervous system. This reactivation will primarily affect the vagus nerve, which helps to control the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. Herpes virus plays no favorites and can affect any nerve as well as the entire brain.
Herpesviridae is a large family of DNA viruses of which there are 6 commonly known variants, HHV1-6. This family of virus and its predilection to cause humans great suffering, acutely and over a lifetime, especially those with an immune system that is overtaxed (Lyme, co-infections, stress, nutritional deficiencies…) or suppressed, is totally underestimated by the average person and most doctors – Lyme literate or not.
Herpes 1-6 cannot only invade our nervous system, but it can evade detection by our own immune system as well. It’s lucky, I guess, that both of these mechanisms occur outside of the estimated 100 trillion bacterial cells that make up our microbiome. The good news is that around 70 to 75 percent of our immune system is in our gut. The bad news is that 75 percent of all of my new patients come in for gut related problems. This 75 percent of potential immunity, so to speak, is now reduced by a little or a lot.
As you will notice after reading, below, the effects of herpes viral infections, you will see an overlap if not the exact symptoms of what a person infected or diagnosed with Lyme may experience. Lyme taxes the immune system and the antibiotics given to a Lyme patient further stresses the immune system by altering the gut flora (microbiome), which contributes up to 75% of our total ability to fight a war within our body. This scenario plays right into the hand of one or more herpes virus to reactivate and begin destroying the host’s nervous system, leading to a variety of terrible symptoms as well as named diseases and disorders.
As an FYI: antibiotics are known to cause neurotoxicity in the those with a prior neurological disease. Herpes is a neuroinvasive virus, which may affect both the peripheral and central nervous systems. Most if not all of us have been exposed to one or more herpes virus, beginning in our youth. In those experiencing a reactivation (see HHV1-6 below), which the person may not be aware of, antibiotic use may further aggravate the reactivated virus or may actually initiate the reactivation of the virus. It’s a lose-lose scenario for those with Lyme as well as susceptible antibiotic users.
The Herpes Virus Family: (All herpes virus possess the ability to reactivate at any time).
HHV-1 [Herpes simplex virus-1] Oral and/or genital herpes (predominantly orofacial) The primary symptom is cold sores with associated neuralgia along the affected nerve(s). According to the World Health Organization, 67% of the world population under the age of 50 have HSV-1.
HSV-1 is the most common cause of viral encephalitis, which causes very dangerous inflammation of the brain, and can be fatal. When infecting the brain, the virus shows a preference for the temporal lobe (memory).
HSV-1 has also been proposed as a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease. In the presence of a certain gene variation (APOE-4 carriers). HSV-1 can produce chronic neural inflammation and oxidative stress, inducing oxidative DNA damage during an active infection. This happens predominately in those over 60 but can affect those susceptible at any age.
HHV-2 [Herpes simplex virus-2] Oral and/or genital herpes (predominantly genital) The primary symptom is herpetic lesions which may reoccur throughout one’s lifetime. The lesions or outbreaks can appear on or within the genitals, lips, eyes or affected mucous membranes. There is also associated neuralgia along the affected nerve(s).
HSV-2 is the most common cause of Mollaret’s meningitis (symptoms/reference link)*, a type of recurrent viral meningitis.
*Mollaret’s sounds like a lot of the Lyme patients I’ve seen over the years. Mollaret meningitis is a rare type of viral meningitis that is characterized by repeated episodes of fever, stiff neck (meningismus), muscle aches, and severe headaches separated by weeks or months of no symptoms. About half of affected individuals may also experience long-term abnormalities of the nervous system that come and go, such as seizures, double vision, abnormal reflexes, some paralysis of a cranial nerve (paresis), hallucinations, or coma.
HHV-3 [Varicella zoster virus (VZV)] Chickenpox (usually children) and shingles (usually adults)
VZV multiplies in the lungs and causes a wide variety of symptoms. After the primary infection (chickenpox), the virus goes dormant in the nerves, including the cranial nerve ganglia (nerves above the neck), dorsal root ganglia (sensory nerve endings out of the spine – thermal, mechanical) and autonomic ganglia (control everything – almost). Many years after the patient has recovered from chickenpox, VZV can reactivate to cause mild to severe neurologic conditions.
HHV-4 [Epstein–Barr virus (EBV)]
It is best known as the cause of infectious mononucleosis (glandular fever). It is also associated with particular forms of cancer, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Burkitt’s lymphoma, gastric cancer, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and conditions associated with (HIV). There is evidence that infection with EBV is associated with a higher risk of certain autoimmune diseases, especially dermatomyositis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Sjögren’s syndrome, and multiple sclerosis (MS). Some 200,000 cancer cases per year are thought to be attributable to EBV.
HHV-5 [Cytomegalovirus (CMV)] Infectious mononucleosis.
Over half of all adults, by age 40, have been infected with CMV. Once CMV is in a person’s body, it stays there for life and can reactivate. A person can also be reinfected with a different strain (variety) of the virus.
HHV-6 [Roseolovirus] Sixth disease (roseola infantum).
Like the other herpesviruses, HHV-6 establishes lifelong latency and can become reactivated later in life. This reactivation has been associated with many clinical manifestations. Reactivation can occur in locations throughout the body, including the brain, lungs, heart, kidney and gastrointestinal tract. In some cases, HHV-6 reactivation in the brain tissue can cause cognitive dysfunction, permanent disability, and death.
A growing number of studies also suggest that HHV-6 and (HHV-7 – similar to HHV-6 but 10% smaller) may play a role in a subset of patients with chronic neurological and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (the most common form of epilepsy), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Empirical Data and Clinical Trial:
After treating well over 50 verifiable Lyme patients I have come to a number of conclusions.
- NEVER go into agreement with your diagnosis.
- NEVER claim or own your diagnosis “my MS is acting up today.” If you claim it, you own it.
- The innate, inborn, God-given, intelligence that created the body, if given a chance, is the same power that can heal the body.
- Long-term antibiotics create more problems than they will ever fix – they are not the solution.
- Epigenetic Factors (sleep, diet [including supplementation if necessary], exercise, thought/emotion/perceptions, and nervous system interference) all need to be DIALED-IN before a treatment (medication, supplements, herbs…) will have its fullest potential realized.
- Merely balancing out a patients electrolytes (sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus), and tweaking their microbiome has had a more positive effect on these patients than $1000’s of dollars of medications and esoteric herbs ever did. The cost was also under $200
- Lab testing for herpes virus and APOE genotypes has pinpointed active as well as past exposure to multiple herpes virus. A number of those also tested positive for APOE-4, a predisposing factor for brain involvement (neural Lyme, Alzheimer’s and heart disease).
- Patients who followed a natural anti-herpetic protocol, as well a GI restoration protocol reduced (subjectively – based on routine oral questioning), no less than 75-80% of the symptoms they initially presented with.
- Those who stayed on antibiotics did not benefit from any of the protocols.
- Biofilm protocol has been of immense help to those with biofilm-forming bacteria.
- Low dose naltrexone (LDN) had a benefit on some but not others.
- CBD oil benefited some but not others.
- Exercise benefited all.
- Chiropractic benefited all.
- Thoughts become things, like the development of a disease or the creation of health. Change your beliefs you can change your reality!
- A durable resolution (long-lasting) requires the patient to never drop-out what got them to their new level of health. In fact, the older they get the more diligent they need to be.
In my heart and in my head I don’t believe Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi is the bogeyman. I do believe that Lyme bacteria can be a seed that germinates and causes a latent herpes virus to reactivate. This reactivation, in my opinion, is the cause of most if not all of one’s symptoms. Lyme has the moniker, “the great mimicker.” It’s not. Most in the Lyme community just give Lyme the credit for another’s, behind the scene, dirty work. Add to the mix antibacterial and antiprotozoal agents and you have set up a perfect storm for problems within the nervous system and immune system, and all the repercussions that those problems can create.
When proper testing and a proper protocol is implemented the patient can gently be moved from their fragile straw house to their stronger stick house, and then finally to their impervious brick house. This takes time, patience, and an unwavering belief in the fact that, when epigenetic factors are dialed-in and applied diligently, the body will heal itself to the best of its ability.
If you change your beliefs you can change your reality. Here are two powerful and very enlightening 5-minute videos. The first is, “The Programmable Mind” by cellular biologist and epigeneticist, Bruce Lipton PhD
The second short video, “A grateful Day” stops us in our tracks, calms our nervous systems with gentle music and the voice of Benedictine monk, Br. David Steindl-Rast reminding us to look around and notice the everyday gifts of our lives. The concept of gratitude and gratefulness.
The basic elements of life are (hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon). These combined give us the straw house – weak and flimsy but looks like a house. Add in a proper ratio of minerals (sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus…) and you now have a stick house – stronger but still vulnerable, inside and out. Now, add in through food and/or supplementation (trace minerals, fat, prebiotics [fiber] to benefit the gut flora [microbiome], clean water, exercise, enzymes, polyphenols…) and you have a strong brick house – inside and out. Brick house people get well fast, present with fewer symptoms when sick and/or rarely get sick. Brick house people don’t develop body problems like straw and stick house people do. It may sound too simple of a concept to believe is true but it is and it works in just about every condition that can affect a body, from allergies to cancer.
“The severity of one’s symptoms or condition does not dictate the complexity of the solution” and “There are really no difficult conditions to handle only difficult people.” Dr. Ettinger
I am a supreme optimist! Treating patients for 29+ years has given me the luxury and privilege to follow many of my patients for 10, 15 and 20+ years. I have witnessed incredible, positive transformation as well as progressive decline. I have coached people for years in order for them to realize their dream of regaining health and vitality. There was no magic pill or quick fix. There was a little magic though. It was in the form of a strong belief and desire to be well, combined with action and personal responsibility.
Update 4-23-18 to augment the above paragraph:
Dr. Marcus Ettinger, DC
P.S. I’m grateful for everything I have had, have now and will have. My practice has provided me with not only a living but friendship, education, and purpose. I thank all of you for helping me create my life and I hope, if needed, I can help you when needed. I welcome your feedback, comments or suggestions for future emails or blog posts.
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