Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD is well known for his successful treatment of neurological illness and chronic pain with Integrative Medicine.
Here, he shares his latest insights into Lyme disease, including its causes, confounding factors that can make proper diagnosis elusive, and how to get around them, along with his own treatment protocol.
By Dr. Mercola
Some experts feel that almost everyone has been exposed to Lyme disease and may have it in one way, shape or form.
Whether that's true or not is up for debate, but clearly there are those who have it and are severely disabled by it.
Dr. Klinghardt—who is one of my earliest mentors in natural health and always on the leading edge—has actually suffered with Lyme disease himself, and as a result, he's passionate about finding effective natural treatments for Lyme.
The Ongoing Discovery of Lyme Disease
It's now been fairly well-established that chronic infection is an underlying factor in most chronic illnesses. Diseases such as Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue are all turning out to be expressions of chronic infections.
"Right at the center of that is the ongoing discovery of Lyme disease," Dr. Klinghardt says.
Lyme disease has recently received a new definition. It now refers to illnesses transferred by insects, as opposed to simply a tick-borne disease. Mosquitoes can carry Lyme disease and many other serious infections, as can spiders, fleas and mites.
"Today I take a very different approach to Lyme disease," Dr. Klinghardt says. "I look at it as nature mingling with our genes. They are trying to incorporate their genome into our genome… Most of the time it goes wrong but sometimes it goes well. This is like the point I want to make upfront; that I take this more evolutionary view of it.
… We know that Lyme spirochetes were around for a long time but something happened maybe 30-40 years ago, where the creatures became more aggressive, more penetrating, and more illness-producing than they were before. Some of us suspect it's a man-made element. Some of us suspect that the global warming may play a role in it.
I personally suspect that the exposure to electromagnetic fields in the home and the microwaves from cell phone radiation are driving the virulence of many of the microbes that are naturally in us, and makes them aggressive and illness producing. There is probably evidence for all sides of the discussion."
Why Lyme Disease is So Tough to Diagnose…
Lyme disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose using conventional tests. And there's great variation in the presentation of the disease as well, depending on where you contracted it, and whether or not you have any other coexisting infections. There is a group of seven or eight microbes that are the most common. The worst ones are Babesia microti and the different forms of Bartonella.
"Underneath that, there's often an infection with Mycoplasma. We still don't know if it's really transferred with the same bite or if the people had it all along and become symptomatic when the immune system is suppressed by the spirochetes," Dr. Klinghardt says.
Other than the co-infections, there is what I call the "opportunistic infections." The combined effect of the initial infection is an immune suppressive effect, and then the patient becomes vulnerable to all sorts of other things. The most common things people contract early on in the course if the illness are different forms of parasites, such as protozoa; Babesia itself being one of them.
There is Giardia, amoebas, Trichomonas, malaria, and different forms of infections that aren't labeled yet. There is a new one, called FL1953. Stephen Frye discovered that. It's a protozoan organism that's causing severe fatigue and illness in chronically ill people. It's almost always present in a patient with Lyme disease.
And then we find a lot of worms in people. They may be microscopic and they may be macroscopic. That means they may be visible in the stool or they may not be visible."
Common Presentations of Lyme Disease
The most simple presentation is the orthopedic forms of Lyme disease as they're typically more superficial, affecting the larger joints. Interestingly, Dr. Klinghardt injects ozone into the joint in these cases, which he claims is:
"100 percent effective if the Lyme disease or… whatever the microbe is, lives in the joint and is confined to the joint space. Simply putting ozone in the joint will kill the spirochetes, and often with one, sometimes two treatments, make the joint completely pain free. That's one form of the expression of Lyme."
When the microbes and the associated immune reactions are situated in the connective tissue, the infection presents as a "vague, dispersed pain," which oftentimes ends up being labeled as fibromyalgia by conventional doctors. The immunological expression of Lyme covers a wide variety of immune system disorders, typically with some aspect of autoimmunity.
"I did my thesis in 1976 on autoimmune diseases and how the autonomic nervous system interacts with the immune system," Dr. Klinghardt says. "We found then that the determining factor of the outcome of an autoimmune disease was the presence of microbes that were catastrophically unresponsive to antibiotics.
Any autoimmune disease, including rheumatoid arthritis, we suspect has an underlying level of Lyme disease that needs to be treated appropriately before the patient has a chance to recover from the illness."
The gastroenterological presentation, where you have constant stomach problems, constipation, recurring stomach ulcers and/or indigestion, is very common, especially with the Babesia infection. This is sometimes the direct outcome of pancreatitis or hepatitis, but it can also be due to parasites acquired after contracting Lyme disease. In these cases, aggressive treatment of the parasites typically resolves the problem.
"The most startling form of the expression of Lyme disease is a wide variety of neurological illnesses," Dr. Klinghardt says.
"That is what we specialize in… We see a lot of cases with multiple sclerosis (MS)… ALS… [and] everything in between: the chronic fatigued patients, the patient with vague, undistinguishable neurological symptoms, the feeling of buzzing in the head, buzzing on the skin, crawling under the skin…"
How to Diagnose Lyme Disease
Insomnia is one of the key symptoms in many cases of Lyme disease, along with neurological symptoms such as headaches and a wide variety of pain syndromes. But you cannot diagnose Lyme disease on symptoms alone, because they're so varied.
Testing is required, but even that is not a sure-shot…
Most commercial tests designed to detect chronic infections are based on measuring your immune reaction—the presence of antibodies—to the invading microbe. However, one of the primary cells that get infected with Lyme spirochetes are the white blood cells themselves, which is a bit of a game-changer… because if your white blood cells are infected, they lose the ability to produce antibodies.
Hence it is relatively common to get a negative test result…
Dr. Klinghardt refers to this as "the Lyme paradox," because in order to diagnose Lyme disease properly with one of the accepted commercial tests, you have to first treat the Lyme disease, in order for your white blood cells to be able to mount an appropriate immune response. Only then can a lab test be used to detect the presence of Lyme disease.
"An exception to that are the test based on direct microscopy, where you're not depending on the immune responses for the patient," he explains.
However, this too has its drawbacks and difficulties. For example, the FISH test for Babesia is done on blood. But Babesia lives in the central nervous system, joints, and connective tissue. It doesn't live in your blood stream, at least not in significant amounts, so it can easily be missed when looking at blood.
To get around the many testing conundrums surrounding Lyme, whenever he suspects Lyme, Dr. Klinghardt treats his patients for Lyme disease for at least six to eight weeks, followed by a Western blot test, which measures immune response. The treatment is initially based on the clinical symptoms presented, along with a form of muscle testing he developed, called autonomic response testing (ART), which incorporates both classical neurological testing and kinesiology.
"It's not related to the applied kinesiology system that's quite distinct," Dr. Klinghardt explains. "It... may look similar… [but] we're looking for very specific reflexes that are connected to very specific illnesses. We arrive at a tentative diagnosis through history taking, through looking at skin signs; palpating the tissues; testing the normal neurological reflexes; orthopedic tests, and then we add the muscle testing as an additional tool."
Tests and Lab Recommendations
Dr. Klinghardt exclusively uses the IGeneX Lab in Palo Alto for his blood tests, and Fry Labs in Arizona for direct microscopy testing.
"I don't have a financial investment in it, but it's the gold standard in our field," he says. "They use two different antigens. The commercial labs and hospitals and so forth, they use one antigen and are notorious in under-diagnosing Lyme disease. We recommend to rather not test it than get a false negative, which will sometimes lead the patient 20 years on the wrong track. With the other co-infections, the detection rate drops way down.
… We do the FISH test [for Borrelia] at IGeneX Lab. It's a direct microscopy test which has more false negatives than the western blot.
… The leading test for Bartonella that we use is Fry Labs in Arizona. Steven Fry, who does a wonderful direct microscopy test, often comes back positive with the diagnosis of hemobartonella. Hemo means simply blood – Bartonella in the blood. Remember, he's testing the blood where the Bartonella typically does not live. It lives in the nervous system. So if you find it in the blood in small amounts it generally is an indicator that there is a high amount in other tissues in the body."
An indirect test is the CD57 test. "CD-57" is a specific group of natural killer cells that are particularly damaged by the Lyme spirochetes. Therefore, if your numbers drop to a certain level, it is an indirect indicator that you may have Lyme disease, because the only known infection to suppress CD57 is that of Borrelia burgdorferi.
Normally, your CD57 value should be over 100. If it's lower than that, you're infected with Borrelia. If it's below 60, you probably have both Borrelia and Mycoplasma, and, most likely, some other co-infections.
Dr. Klinghardt's Treatment Approach
Dr. Klinghardt takes microwave radiation and electromagnetic fields very seriously, as it can have a profound impact on Lyme disease.
"One of my primary treatments for Lyme disease is to put people in protective clothing that shields them from incoming microwaves," he says. "We shield the bedside. We turn off the wireless internet at home. We put shielding paint on the houses. That has been a more successful strategy to treating Lyme disease and to get people neurologically well than any of the antibiotics or any of the antimicrobial compounds."
He's convinced that the increased virulence we're now seeing is related to the dramatic increase in electromagnetic fields and microwave radiation from cell phones, cell towers, and all manner of wireless technologies. Therefore, EMF and microwave radiation mitigation are part of the standard protocol, as any subsequent treatment of Lyme disease will not be as effective unless these external factors are addressed.
Below is a summarized outline of Dr. Klinghardt's treatment for Lyme disease. For more information and details, please listen to the interview in its entirety, or read through the transcript.
- First, external factors that act upon the body 24/7 are evaluated.
This includes electrosmog, EMF, microwave radiation from wireless technologies, and molds. To test for the presence of mold, he uses the ERMI score, which is a semi-quantitative assessment of how much mold is in your home. The score should not exceed 2. However, most of his patients score between 15 and 20. For more information on mold, Dr. Klinghardt recommends www.SurvivingMold.com.
- Once external influencing factors have been determined, they're remediated and mitigated. (For mold remediation, please refer to this previous article.)
To mitigate microwave radiation, Dr. Klinghardt recommends shielding your home with a graphite paint called Y Shield outside, and use special silver-coated cloth for your curtains. These measures will compromise your ability to receive cell phone calls, so depending on your situation, you may opt to shield just your bedroom, or shield your entire home and just use a landline.
All cordless telephones are removed, and patients are instructed to turn off all the fuses at night, until they have recovered from Lyme disease.
- Next, the emotional component of the disease is addressed using Energy Psychology tools, including psychokinesiology (PK) which is similar to the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), but more refined and advanced...
- Dr. Klinghardt begins the treatment for Lyme disease by addressing parasites, followed by "the Klinghardt antimicrobial cocktail," which addresses the Lyme spirochetes, Babesia, and Bartonella. For more details and complete recipes to all his treatment cocktails, see www.KlinghardtAcademy.com or send an email to info@KlinghardtAcademy.com. Some of the ingredients in his formula include: wormwood (artemisinin)—which has been found to be extremely effective for malaria—combined with phospholipids; vitamin C, and specific herbs.
Lastly, viruses are addressed using a tincture of Native American herbs called Viressence, by BioPure.
- Additional lifestyle factors are also addressed, including diet and vitamin supplementation.
A Word on Antibiotics
Conventional Lyme treatment hinges on long-term use of antibiotics. While this treatment can indeed be effective, there are many reasons to opt for alternatives such as those detailed by Dr. Klinghardt, as antibiotics will disrupt your gut flora, thereby exposing you to a whole host of other pathologies.
In Dr. Klinghardt's experience, the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS) is by far the best and most responsible group, so to learn more about Lyme disease, see www.ILADS.org.
"Depending on where you live in the U.S., consider the treatment that is offered to you through a Lyme literate physician. Most of them have been through the training at ILADS and I do recommend that," Dr. Klinghardt says.
"But there is a level beyond that, which I'm hoping I'm introducing here. If you just do antibiotics, okay, you just do antibiotics. But if you think more holistically and do the things that I recommend, then you no longer will need to resort to antibiotics because you cover your system on so many other fronts. And with that you're not only treating Lyme disease but you're preventing cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease—you're preventing pretty much all the other things that we didn't know were associated with Lyme.
So by treating the mold, by getting electrosmog under control, by treating the infections, by treating insulin resistance, we are preparing the patient for a much happier, healthier, longer, and more productive life, which is of course what I'm hoping for…"
Again, Dr. Klinghardt provides free access to all his recipes on his web site, so to learn more about his treatment, please see www.KlinghardtAcademy.com.