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Is Chronic Lyme Disease Real?

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on November 3, 2023

The term 'Chronic Lyme Disease' has been shrouded in medical debate for years. For patients who have experienced its debilitating symptoms long after the initial tick bite, the reality is undeniable. Many naturopathic doctors and functional medicine practitioners, who take a holistic approach to patient care, firmly recognize Chronic Lyme Disease as very real and understand its complexities beyond the mainstream medical lens.

A Multifaceted Illness:

Beyond Acute Lyme: Lyme disease, caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, can, in some cases, transition from an acute to a chronic state. This can happen when symptoms persist long after initial treatment. Symptoms can range from fatigue and joint pain to neurological disturbances. The sheer duration and breadth of symptoms underscore its chronic nature.

Co-infections Are Common: It's not just Lyme that ticks can carry. Other infections like Babesia often accompany Lyme, adding layers of complexity to diagnosis and treatment. These co-infections can exacerbate the patient's condition and prolong recovery.

The Role of Other Chronic Infections: Beyond tick-borne illnesses, other chronic infections, such as mold illness, can present in tandem or mimic the symptoms of Chronic Lyme Disease. Mold illness, or Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), can similarly affect multiple systems in the body, leading to an overlapping symptom profile with Chronic Lyme Disease.

The Role of Lyme Literate Holistic Healthcare Professionals:

When addressing a multifaceted condition like Chronic Lyme Disease, the importance of consulting a Lyme literate holistic healthcare professional cannot be overstated. These practitioners bring a depth of knowledge not only about the disease itself but also about the myriad ways it can manifest uniquely in each individual.

A Lyme literate professional is well-versed in the subtleties of diagnosis and the complexities of treatment, which often require a nuanced and personalized approach. They recognize that Lyme Disease can be an invisible illness with symptoms that mimic many other conditions, often leading to misdiagnosis.

By looking at the patient holistically, these healthcare providers assess all aspects of the individual’s health, considering physical, environmental, and emotional factors that contribute to the illness and recovery process. This comprehensive perspective is critical for those suffering from Chronic Lyme Disease, as it facilitates a tailored treatment plan that addresses not just the infection but also the secondary effects it may have triggered within the body's ecosystems. Working collaboratively with such a healthcare provider can empower patients, providing them with the support and guidance needed to navigate the complexities of their condition and embark on a path toward healing.

The Holistic Understanding:

Naturopathic and functional medicine practitioners prioritize a patient-centric approach, often delving deeper than conventional diagnostic methods. They understand that the body functions as an interconnected system, where a disruption in one area can ripple out to manifest as multifaceted, chronic issues. Their diagnostic processes often involve extensive testing, detailed patient histories, and an open-minded approach to symptom presentation.

Chronic Lyme Disease, as understood by naturopathic doctors and functional medicine practitioners, is more than just prolonged Lyme symptoms. It's a multifaceted condition often accompanied by co-infections and other chronic illnesses like mold exposure. As with all health conditions, a comprehensive, patient-centric approach is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Those experiencing persistent symptoms post-Lyme or suspecting co-infections should seek out professionals versed in the intricate nuances of these conditions.


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  2. Shor S, Green C, Szantyr B, Phillips S, Liegner K, Burrascano JJ Jr, Bransfield R, Maloney EL. Chronic Lyme Disease: An Evidence-Based Definition by the ILADS Working Group. Antibiotics (Basel). 2019 Dec 16;8(4):269. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics8040269. PMID: 31888310; PMCID: PMC6963229.
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