Stem Cell Treatment for Lyme Disease

Question:

Please comment on stem cells?

Dr. AzRa MaElAnswer from Dr. AzRa MaEl:

Before commenting on stem cells, it must be understood that the FDA has banned the use of stem cell treatments in this country, except in research settings, and for a few specific applications. The prohibition of stem cell treatments in the U.S. is said to be for our safety. Some outspoken proponents of stem cells question FDA motives, because there have never been serious adverse reactions reported, despite tens of thousands of patients having been treated worldwide.  Most of the stem cell treatments currently in use are done with the unneeded umbilical cords and placentas from healthy newborn babies, rather than from eggs fertilized in the lab using IVF technology (“embryonic” stem cells).  Unless they are being saved to gather stem cells, umbilical cords are generally discarded. (As amazing as it seems, most cords are still being put in the trash in this country despite being a very valuable resource.)

Thus, most people who receive stem cells travel abroad to India, Mexico, Panama, and other places for this treatment. There aren 20+ patients with “chronic Lyme” who have received stem cell therapy whose stories have been shared with our practice. Many have reported partial or temporary benefits, and some with sustained benefits.

Some patients are benefitting from a related therapy called “particle rich plasma” that is available in this country.  It seems to work in a similar manner as stem cells, though it is still fairly new and under ongoing development.

It is likely an advantage to thoroughly treat Lyme and co-infections before receiving stem cell or related therapies.

AzRa MaEl, MD was educated at Duke University School of Medicine and the University of California San Francisco Family Medicine Residency in Santa Rosa. He specializes in innovative treatment strategies for persistent complex illness. He now practices at Gordon Medical Associates in Santa Rosa. In addition to antibiotics and other allopathic treatments, nutritional support, lifestyle, and emotional factors are considered a vital part of recovery for all patients.

Treating Highly Sensitive Patients

Question:

How do you treat patients with highly sensitive bodies, I.E., people who may develop impairment due to high or even normal dosage of medication?
Dr. AzRa MaElAnswer from Dr. AzRa MaEl:

Highly sensitive patients often fall through the cracks in the medical system, even amongst Lyme literate doctors. Sensitive patients need treatment regimens tailored specifically to them, and doctors who are sensitive to these issues.  Here are some general treatment principles that work for people.

1. You must build up and support their systems, with specific nutritional support and hormone support if needed.

2. You must pay attention to the function of their detox system – i.e. the Gastrointestional tract, liver, kidneys, lymphatics, etc – because many sensitive patients accumulate toxins due to genetic impairments in detoxification.

3. You must detect and eliminate toxic environmental exposures, which could include mold, heavy metals, organic toxins, food allergies, etc.

4. You must treat the dominant infection first, which is often a co-infection of Lyme disease.

5. Often you must start with gentle treatments that could include herbs, homeopathics, etc.

Once all these issues are dealt with, sensitive patients often become a lot less sensitive.

AzRa MaEl, MD was educated at Duke University School of Medicine and the University of California San Francisco Family Medicine Residency in Santa Rosa. He specializes in innovative treatment strategies for persistent complex illness. He now practices at Gordon Medical Associates in Santa Rosa. In addition to antibiotics and other allopathic treatments, nutritional support, lifestyle, and emotional factors are considered a vital part of recovery for all patients.

Therapies for Lyme Disease

Question:

What is your opinion on the drug Naltrexone to help improve immune function?

Answer from Dr. Neil Nathan:

Naltrexone is increasingly being used to treat autoimmune diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. However, the phrase “improve immune function” is a bit more vague than many people realize. The immune system as a whole is very complex. Improvement in one area of immune function may not generalize, so I don’t see Low Dose Naltrexone (commonly abbreviated LDN) as having universal value here. I have seen improvement in my Lyme patients in the areas of cognitive difficulties (brain fog, impaired focus, memory, and concentration), and improvement in some patients with generalized pain. The usual dosage of LDN is 3-4.5mg taken at bedtime, but some of my more sensitive patients cannot tolerate it at all, even at very low doses. Since Naltrexone is a narcotic antagonist  (we use it in much larger doses to treat heroine overdoses), it can not be taken safely by patients on narcotic medications.

Question:

Please comment on the use of arnica for pain?

Answer from Dr. Neil Nathan:

Arnica, taken homeopathically, either by oral use (often in the “dosage” of 30c) or in topical form, can be helpful in pain relief, especially for muscle pain. It is gentle and very well tolerated. It may be particularly useful in those with post-exertional malaise, used before and/or after exercise. Homeopathic remedies are, as a rule, quite well tolerated, even by our most sensitive patients. As with most homeopathic remedies, if arnica is the right remedy for that patient, patients will often notice immediate improvement. If it is not the right remedy, then they will experience no change at all.

Dr. Neil Nathan is a gifted physician who is passionate about healing. Since he loves to learn, he considers himself  “always a student’, and gets fired up about learning new approaches that might work for his patients. Never satisfied to just learn superficially, when something grabs Neil’s attention, he will research and study with the person who really KNOWS how to do it, so he can maximize its clinical benefits. You can find Dr. Nathan at Gordon Medical Associates in both Santa Rosa and Fort Bragg.

Question:

What about the use of infrared sauna?

Answer from Dr. AzRa MaEl:

Infrared (IR) sauna is used to help detoxify the body and to improve circulation.  Many persistent organic toxins (e.g. plastics, pesticides), heavy metals (e.g. lead), ammonia, and other toxins are eliminated through sweat. One study found that any type of sweating produced similar benefits, whether it was exercise, traditional steam sauna, IR sauna, etc.  However, some people think that IR sauna is of particular benefit.  In our experience, IR sauna helps many people. Sensitive people must be careful to start with only 5 – 10 minutes and at lower temperatures, such as 95 – 100 degrees.  If sauna use makes you “crash” it should not be used, or used for less time, and at a lower temperature.  Eventually some people can work up to 30+ minutes at temperatures of 120-135 degrees three times per week. You must be careful to stay hydrated before, during, and after being in the sauna. It may also be important to replace certain minerals and salts that are lost in sweat, such as magnesium and potassium. Sauna use can be a very helpful piece of a comprehensive detox program.

AzRa MaEl, MD was educated at Duke University School of Medicine and the University of California San Francisco Family Medicine Residency in Santa Rosa. He specializes in innovative treatment strategies for persistent complex illness. He now practices at Gordon Medical Associates in Santa Rosa. In addition to antibiotics and other allopathic treatments, nutritional support, lifestyle, and emotional factors are considered a vital part of recovery for all patients.

What Can You Do For “Post Lyme Disease”?

Question:

In treating Post Lyme Disease, what strategies do you recommend after long-term oral or IV antibiotics?

Answer from Dr. AzRa MaEl:

The term “Post Lyme Syndrome” (PLS) is most often used by conventional doctors who believe any Lyme symptoms persisting after 4-6 weeks of antibiotics are caused not by lingering infection, but rather by autoimmune-like inflammation that was triggered by the infection. Post Lyme Syndrome does exist, but one must be careful to distinguish it from the more common scenario of partially treated Lyme disease and co-infections. If one has thoroughly treated Lyme AND all co-infections (often co-infections are missed)until there is no further improvement on antibiotics, and no relapse after stopping antibiotics, then one may be dealing with a true PLS.

Some of our patients with PLS have seen improvements with immune modulating therapies (such as low dose naltrexone (LDN), particle rich plasma, etc), detoxification therapies, nutritional therapies and other treatments. And many people who have finished a long course of antibiotics choose to go on herbal medicines or use electromagnetic therapies for months to years afterwards to prevent recurrence of the tick borne infection symptoms. There is no way to know for sure if Lyme disease or other chronic bacterial infections can ever be completely eliminated, so some sort of a maintenance regimen is often used.

Dr. AzRa MaEl, MD was educated at Duke University School of Medicine and the University of California San Francisco Family Medicine Residency in Santa Rosa.  He now practices at Gordon Medical Associates in Santa Rosa. He specializes in innovative treatment strategies for persistent complex illnesses such as Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, autoimmune disease, mold-related illness, food allergy, environmental illness and others. In addition to using antibiotics and other allopathic treatments, nutritional support, lifestyle and emotional factors are considered a vital part of recovery for all patients.

Exercising With Lyme Disease

Question:

Can I walk every day if I am able to besides doing the exercise that Dr. Burrascano suggested?

Answer from Dr. Neil Nathan:

Yes. I agree with Dr. Burrascano that exercise is important in the healing process. I suspect that he and I would agree that if you exercise to the point of feeling exhausted afterwards, and that if that exhaustion lasts a day or more, (what we refer to as post exertional malaise), that amount of exercise is not healthy for that individual. The key point here is that a patient with Lyme disease is using so much energy to fight their infection(s) that they must no overdo in exercise, or they risk compromising the healing process. Having said that, in addition to the specific program recommended by Dr. Burrascano, I am a proponent of any form of low impact exercise that is well tolerated. It’s all about balance, and moderation, and listening to your body about what you can and can’t do. As long as you don’t overdo, exercise can be quite beneficial.

Dr. Neil Nathan is a gifted physician who is passionate about healing. Since he loves to learn, he considers himself “always a student”, and gets fired up about learning new approaches that might work for his patients. Never satisfied to just learn superficially, when something grabs Neil’s attention, he will research and study with the person who really KNOWS how to do it, so he can maximize its clinical benefits. You can find Dr. Nathan at Gordon Medical Associates in both Santa Rosa and Fort Bragg.

Question:

Dr. Burrascano says to do no aerobic exercise, what about moderate walking. It is good for the spirit?

Answer from Dr. AzRa MaEl:

The point of this message is that aerobic exercise can temporarily deplete the immune system, which can make Lyme disease harder to treat. This lowered immunity is demonstrated by the well documented fact that marathon runners have increased susceptibility to viruses in the days following races. Some people with milder cases of Lyme do feel fine after aerobic exercise. Listen to your body and speak to your doctor. If you feel invigorated after aerobic exercise, then it may be fine for you.  If you feel more tired or stressed after aerobic exercise, then it probably is not serving you. There are many other kinds of gifts for the spirit. If aerobic exercise makes you sick, then it may be better to find a different kind of uplifting activity.

AzRa MaEl, MD was educated at Duke University School of Medicine and the University of California San Francisco Family Medicine Residency in Santa Rosa.  He now practices at Gordon Medical Associates in Santa Rosa. He specializes in innovative treatment strategies for persistent complex illnesses. In addition to using antibiotics and other allopathic treatments, nutritional support, lifestyle and emotional factors are considered a vital part of recovery for all patients.

Question:

Dr. Burrascano says to do no aerobic exercise, what about moderate walking. Is it good for the spirit?

Dr. Burrascano’s advice about avoiding aerobic exercise does not preclude long walks. He is warning against pushing yourself to get the endorphin rush that many athletic people love. Walking is fine as long as you are not exhausted when you finish, or do not feel more tired the next day. Limit activity to a level that doesn’t wear you out. Do not use your memory of what you used to do to guide you. Be aware of what feels good in your present condition. A stressed body will not heal from a chronic infection. If your walk is all you can do for that day, you did too much. Start slowly and incrementally. Increase by 1-3 minutes as you are able and you will regain your health. Push yourself, and you will stay stuck in the exertion and crash pattern. This inhibits immune function and adrenal recovery. Slow but regular physical exercise will increase muscle mass and help modulate your inflammatory response.

Dr Eric Gordon practices in Santa Rosa, California at Gordon Medical Associates. What Dr. Eric Gordon emphasizes is listening to his patients. “I believe my patients. Their description of what is going on in their body is the most accurate way we have to assess what is going on with them. I interpret the information they present, and blend it with laboratory results and imaging and other tests to determine a protocol that is customized to their condition.”

Lyme Disease and Parkinson’s

Question:

I have Lyme, and have received extensive treatment. I now have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which does respond to dopamine. Can Lyme imitate Parkinson’s?

Answer from Dr. Eric Gordon:

Lyme can cause Parkinson’s in a person with the right genetic and environmental risks and exposures. Parkinson’s is probably a result of inflammation in the brain resulting in destruction of dopamine producing cells.

Treating the Lyme will help reduce inflammation. If the Lyme is gone dormant or quiescent, and the Parkinson symptoms persist, treatment with IV phospholipids and glutathione will help the Parkinson’s. Multiple other supportive measures are useful, including structural and nutritional treatments to reestablish a normal balance of immune function. Heavy metal toxicity is often an inciting cause of Parkinson’s and a cause of failure of antibiotic therapy in chronic Lyme.

There is no one treatment for persistent Lyme. Long term antibiotics may be needed, especially for severe neurologic symptoms. You need to have your Lyme status reevaluated to make a better decision on what to do next.

Dopamine is not a long term solution for Parkinson’s. It is an effective band-aid.

Dr Eric Gordon practices in Santa Rosa, California at Gordon Medical Associates. What Dr. Eric Gordon emphasizes is listening to his patients. “I believe my patients. Their description of what is going on in their body is the most accurate way we have to assess what is going on with them. I interpret the information they present, and blend it with laboratory results and imaging and other tests to determine a protocol that is customized to their condition.”

Question:

Can Lyme Imitate Parkinson’s?

Answer from Dr. AzRa MaEl :

The short answer is yes. Lyme can cause or imitate many different types of problems in the nervous system. It can cause or worsen tremors, movement disorders, seizures, cognitive problems, paralysis of specific nerves, etc. Parkinson’s is not primarily an inherited condition, but is caused by inflammatory factors, toxins, and other triggers in the external and internal environment. We have seen patients with Parkinson’s disease whose symptoms have improved, sometimes dramatically, with Lyme treatment and other patients that do not improve much with treatment.

AzRa MaEl, MD was educated at Duke University School of Medicine and the University of California San Francisco Family Medicine Residency in Santa Rosa.  He now practices at Gordon Medical Associates in Santa Rosa. He specializes in innovative treatment strategies for persistent complex illnesses. In addition to using antibiotics and other allopathic treatments, nutritional support, lifestyle and emotional factors are considered a vital part of recovery for all patients.