Why Can’t I Get a Positive Lyme Test? Limitations of Antibody Testing – Biofilm Presence (pt 2)
This month’s MAND blog post comes from Dr Corrie at New England Naturopathic Health in Waterville, Maine.
So, you have all the symptoms of Lyme and cannot get the positive test that leads to diagnosis and treatment? In my last blog post, we discussed the first, most important limitation in Lyme testing, which is a poor immune function in which the immune system is too weak to make the antibodies necessary for a positive test. In this blog post, we explore another limitation of Lyme testing that occurs when the infection is “hiding” from the immune system behind a Biofilm.
Biofilm can be thought of as a thick, mucilaginous, cocoon-like structure that a chronic infection builds around itself to “hide” from the immune system. If an infection has been around for longer than approximately six weeks, it is likely that Biofilm now protects it. Bacteria, fungi, parasites, and spirochetes like Lyme all have the ability to construct these structures.
Interestingly, these different types of microorganisms have the capability of collaborating to build a Biofilm structure together, which can protect several cohabitating species of infection. Equally interesting is that the “cornerstones” of Biofilm include heavy metals such as mercury and lead. Higher levels of these metals in a Lyme patient’s body mean stronger protection for the infection.
Biofilms can be constructed on all mucosal surfaces, including the sinuses, lungs, mouth, intestines, vaginal canal, prostate, and, in the case of Lyme, the inside of the blood vessels and joints. When a Biofilm is present, the infection is essentially hidden from the immune system. If the immune system cannot “see” the infection, it will not make antibodies necessary for a positive Lyme test.
The Biofilm also offers the benefit of “protecting” the infection from anti-microbial therapies such as antibiotics, both pharmaceutical and natural. You may be aware that Conventional Medicine is facing a large antibiotic resistance crisis in which bacteria are growing immune to antibiotics. Much of this antibiotic resistance can be attributed to the ability of many bacterial species to evolve and construct stronger Biofilm structures.
Many Lyme patients have had the experience of their symptoms initially improving with treatment, then plateauing. When a plateau is hit, we know the top layer of infection was cleaned up. To continue to heal, we must break up Biofilm to access deeper layers of infection.
Though it is my strong opinion that antibiotics such as Doxycycline are not very effective for chronic Lyme infection, I have observed that antibiotics are much more therapeutically effective if used with Biofilm disrupting therapies. Not only do Biofilms prevent successful Lyme diagnosis, but they also prevent well-designed treatment plans from working well.
Successful treatment of chronic Lyme MUST include Biofilm disruption, regardless of the anti-microbial strategy being used. In summary, by addressing the presence of Biofilm, we can both increase the likelihood of an accurate Lyme test and the effectiveness of treatment of the infection. There are multiple effective ways to break up Biofilm. Most Lyme-literate Docs have great strategies for this goal.
Be aware that Biofilm disruption can be a delicate process. It usually requires multiple treatment plan adjustments as the patient’s immune system becomes more aware of the infection. Once the immune system can “see” the infection more clearly, it begins to mount a stronger inflammatory response. Keep in mind that the symptoms of Lyme come from the immune system’s inflammatory reaction to the infection, not necessarily from the infection itself.
The symptoms we associate with Lyme, including pain, fatigue, and neurological disorders, etc., may become WORSE as Biofilm dissolves and more of the actual infection is visible. Therefore, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial strategies must be added judiciously as Biofilm disruption occurs. As with immune system stimulation, Biofilm disruption should be done only under the supervision of a Lyme Literate Doc.
Corrie Marinaro, ND, is the Owner and Medical Director of New England Naturopathic Health in Waterville, Maine. Her clinic specializes in treating chronic diseases in all age groups, including tick-borne illness, Mycotoxin illness, and complications arising from these root causes. The medical opinions expressed in these blog posts result from her 12 years of experience diagnosing and treating chronically ill patients. These posts are intended to provide some insight to sufferers of chronic disease and the families and communities who support them. Strategies outlined in these posts are intended to be implemented under the supervision of a medical professional. For more information about Dr. Marinaro’s practice, please visit naturopathicme.com.