HBOT and Lyme Disease
Lyme disease, which is borrelia burgdorferi bacteria transmitted to humans through a tick bite, can have massive and debilitating effects. Some of these include fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, meningitis, migraines, among many others.
Unfortunately, the traditional treatments for Lyme are limited to basic antibiotic therapy. If caught quickly this is sometimes enough to recover, but often it is not enough. These infections are very strong and often prove resistant to many traditional therapies. Also, most often Lyme is not alone, since there are a multitude of coinfections that exist along with Lyme. A multi-therapeutic approach is needed to treat these infections. Addressing this condition from multiple angles is paramount to successfully healing.
One of the prongs on this multi-therapeutic approach should Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). HBOT has the capacity to play a major role in healing from Lyme for a few reasons:
Lyme disease is in a classification of bacteria called anaerobes, meaning these bacteria thrive in very low oxygen environments. HBOT, being a very high oxygen environment, has the ability to aid in the killing of the bacteria.
Lyme causes a great deal of inflammation throughout the body affecting joints, muscles and the nervous system. One of the primary uses of HBOT in general is to help manage inflammation. The more oxygen our body can absorb, the more inflammation we can process and move out of our body.
Oxygen is a major nutrient our body needs to heal from damage. As a result of the infection and associated inflammation, damage can be extensive. HBOT provides exceptionally high amounts of oxygen that the body can use to heal the brain, nerves, muscles and joints.
The use of HBOT as part of the multi-therapeutic approach for Lyme is growing rapidly. Lyme experts are coming to see the obvious benefits of including HBOT as part of their patients’ recovery from this debilitating disease. For more info please read a case study below.
In April 2003, our patient was a 31-year-old healthy man who worked in the financial industry and lived in Taipei City, who began suffering from intermittent low- and high-grade fever. These symptoms were accompanied by fatigue and multiple bone pain, especially in the sternum, ribs, and lower back, which made it difficult for the patient to walk. Since that time, the patient had only received symptomatic medications such as painkillers. In January 2004, some erythema migrans lesions were found over the patient’s legs. In addition, he suffered from joint pain in both knees, the shoulders, and temporomandibular joints. Tracing back the patient’s history 2 years prior to clinical presentation, it was noted that he was a frequent hiker in the Yang-Ming Mountains in Taipei, Taiwan, where he often sat on the grass and had contact with wild cattle. He had previously visited infection and dermatology clinics, where his Borrelia serology IgG was positive, and Lyme disease was strongly suspected. Soon thereafter, 500 mg amoxicillin twice daily was prescribed for 1 month, which caused the patient’s symptoms to subside partially. However, in the next 3 years, he was bothered by symptoms including: (1) nervous system, comprised of irritability, mood swings, poor concentration, loss of short-term memory, sleep disturbance, facial tingling, blurred vision, and photophobia; (2) cardiovascular system, consisting of chest pains and palpitations; (3) musculoskeletal system, associated with migrating arthralgias; and (4) other problems, including headache and pelvic pain.
In 2007, the patient again visited another infection clinic, where he received antibiotic agents such as doxycycline, amoxicillin 250 mg + clavulanic acid 125 mg (Augmentin), parenteral penicillin, and oral cefuroxime over the following 4 years. Because the above symptoms had not improved significantly, in October 2011 the patient visited us for HBOT. Before HBOT, some residual symptoms such as elbow and joint pain, numbness of the extremities, perioribital twitch, sleep disorder, and affected thinking ability persisted. After we excluded other infectious and noninfectious etiologies that can mimic certain appearances of the typical multisystem illness seen in CLD, HBOT at 2.5 ATA with treatment duration of 1.5 hours for 30 sessions was given. In the first 10 sessions of HBOT, nervous-system-associated symptoms such as loss of thinking ability and sleep disorder disappeared. In the second 10 sessions of HBOT, additional nervous system symptoms such as numbness of the extremities and perioribital twitch also disappeared. In the third 10 sessions of HBOT, musculoskeletal system symptoms such as migrating arthralgia also vanished. Overall, completion of 30 sessions of HBOT caused noted longstanding Lyme-disease-related symptoms affecting most of the previously affected bodily areas to disappear.