"The spirochete that causes Lyme disease has three times more useful
genes than Syphilis, and uses its evolutionary advantage to evade
detection and survive destruction by both the immune system and
antibiotics. It is both stealthy and insidious." -Tom Grier. Detailed
information is available if you are interested in learning specifics and scientific
explanations. The paragraphs that follow are an attempt to explain in
simple terms the basic functions of how this infection works and why
standard treatments fail.
Although Lyme disease can be transferred in many ways, ticks are a
prime host for transfer to humans due to the amount of time they feed
(typically for 1-3 days although infection can occur immediately). Tick
feeding practices are also designed to counteract host immune responses. This
gives the Lyme bacterium time to familiarize itself with the host's DNA and
immune system; allowing it to travel within the bloodstream undetected.
The Lyme spirochete (Borrelia species) is a uniquely opportunistic
bacterium with an unusual ability to self-preserve. It acts more like an
exceptionally intelligent protozoan parasite than a common bacterium. It is
highly motile, and can penetrate blood vessels easily. It uses the bloodstream
to quickly find opportune sites to hide from immune responses and prefers to
colonize in collagenous tissue such as the brain and central nervous system,
joints, organs, etc....
Once initial infection occurs, the spirochete takes the opportunity to
activate genes that will ensure its ability to survive and thrive within the
new host. One way in which it does this is by altering the expression of
surface proteins further confusing the host immune system. These surface
proteins are what kick-starts the immune system into creating antibodies.
Essentially, the host immune system can't keep up. Once isolated within the
brain it can divide and change many times into an undetectable strain
that the peripheral immune system will simply ignore. The result is an
infection that can quietly inhabit the brain and other tissues for years or
This is why blood tests are unreliable. If our immune system cannot
detect the infection to create antibodies, or if the infection is in a
non-active state, there is no way of finding a positive result in a blood
sample. Therefore, it is especially difficult to find a positive test result in
someone who is in late stage Lyme infection. Clinical diagnosis remains the
most important way of determining if someone is infected with the Lyme
spirochete. It is crucial once diagnosed with Lyme disease and treatment has
begun, that treatment is not stopped prematurely. Relapses can be much more
dangerous and difficult to eradicate than the initial treatment.
The division time and life cycle of Borrelia spirochetes is longer than
typical bacteria, which is why standard treatments fail. The Lyme
bacterium can become metabolically inactive for long periods of time making
antibiotics ineffective as they can only kill bacteria when they divide. No
antibiotic can kill a bacterium that is metabolically inactive and
spirochetes are well known to have mastered this form of survival. Many
naturally occurring simple bacteria, such as the bacteria that cause acne,
successfully survive antibiotic treatment. Simultaneously killing all the surviving
bacteria in late infection with short courses of antibiotics is impossible and may
not even be possible with extended courses of antibiotics.
In its basic form, the Lyme Spirochete is spiral shaped and can literally
bore deep into tissues, hide, and colonize. When it senses "danger", such
as an immune response or antibiotics, it has the ability to change its structural
identity into two different forms to ensure survival. The L-form occurs when it
discards its cell wall and integrated surface proteins. This form often evades
the immune system and many antibiotic treatments, and is capable of
intracellular infection. In some cases, it can trigger an auto-immune
response which then attacks our own tissues.
The cystic form creates new challenges for the immune system which
can be ineffective against all various defense mechanisms of this
bacterium. It mimics good cells in the host body so it can remain invisible,
similar to putting on a costume. This form is resistant to antibiotics, does not
present antigens to the immune system, and can shift into a reproductive state
while encysted. Quite simply, the Lyme spirochete is a survivor at all
Once conditions improve, the Lyme bacterium can change back into the
spirochete form and "re-infect" the host. It can change forms within 1
minute of expression and survive up to 10 months before reconversion. The
preferred form of the Lyme spirochete is dependent on its physical surroundings
and environmental cues. It can also survive both freezing and thawing and
successfully infect the host 12 months of the year.
This unique ability to shift forms and hide from our natural immune
responses and antibiotics makes it difficult, if not impossible, for some to
achieve full recovery. This is why relapse rates are so high in Lyme patients.
It also explains why some people do not show symptoms right away, and may
not show symptoms for weeks, months, or years after the initial infection. The
Lyme spirochete is a highly evolved pathogen with many mechanisms of
evasion and survival. Believing this disease can be easily eradicated and
cured is arrogant, unfounded, and dangerous.
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Special thanks to Tom Grier for his endless support, advice, and help in
understanding this disease. You truly are an inspiration.