by Dr. Bill Rawls Last updated 10/24/16
Part I: The Problem
We all have them.
Every time you’ve ever been bitten by a tick, mosquito, or flea, nipped or scratched by a dog or cat, scraped or cut your skin, picked your nose, put your fingers in your mouth, hugged another person, kissed another person, had sex with another person, used a public toilet just after someone else had been there, taken a breath just after someone sneezed, been swimming in a natural pond, lake, or river, consumed any food or beverage, given birth (or when you’re born), unwanted microbes enter your body.
I refer to them as the microbes in the margins.
They are not terrible pathogens (like Ebola or HIV), but they’re also not as benign as your normal flora either (the “friendly” microbes that inhabit your body).
What they want is vital nutrients and resources from your body; they cannot survive without a host like you.
Unlike the symbiotic relationship that you have with your normal flora, in which the microbes gain benefit, but also provide benefit in return…these microbes only take and never give anything back.
They are misfits and outliers… they live in the very margins of your microbiome (the total community of the microbes in your body).
To get what they want, these stealthy microbes must get past your immune system. Your immune system is very familiar with them, however, and makes every effort to to get rid of them. Therefore they must use stealth characteristics to evade immune functions.
They are VERY GOOD at persisting. They manipulate the immune system to stay one step ahead of immune functions. Often the immune system can’t dislodge them completely. Instead, a stalemate occurs in which the microbes become marginalized and potential for harm is minimized (their natural aggressiveness is kept in check)…but they are not eliminated.
Because of their outlaw status, these microbes behave very differently than normal flora. Normal flora are generally isolated to gut, skin, and other body cavities (unless immune function is disrupted, in which case they can become displaced and cause illness).
Microbes of questionable status seek out areas in the body where they are protected from the immune system (and antibiotics) – brain tissue, joint cartilage, biofilms, and inside cells.
Borrelia, the microbe commonly associated with Lyme Disease, is one of these types of microbes…but there are many others. Mycoplasma, Bartonella, Chlamydia, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Cytomegalovirus are a few other examples. Tick bites alone can be associated with hundreds of different possibilities.
The ones we know about may just be scratching the surface.
The immune system is constantly in pursuit, and therefore stealth microbes typically occur in low concentrations in the body and grow very slowly. (to achieve their purpose, that’s all they need). This makes finding them extraordinarily challenging and getting rid of them even more challenging. (Medical science has all eyes focused on microbes like Ebola and HIV…these types of microbes are still under their radar.)
As long as healthy immune function is maintained, stealth microbes remain marginalized and do not cause illness.
Let immune function falter for even for an instant, however, and illness can occur.
Your immune function can become compromised by the microbes alone, but generally it is a function of other factors adding up chronically to disrupt immune function.
I call them System Disruptors:
- Unnatural diet
- Toxin accumulation
- Chronic stress
- Artificial energy sources (computers and cell phones)
- Free radical damage to tissues
- Excessive or unnatural physical stress
These factors have become very prevalent in our modern world. They add up over time to disrupt immune function and set the stage for chronic illness to occur.
You can think of it as a covered pot boiling over on the stove. While you are not paying attention, a mild simmer gradually increases to a full boil and then very suddenly everything pours over the side. Symptoms occur because the immune system can no longer keep a lid on things.
I refer to the vicious cycle that results as: Chronic Immune Dysfunction.
Symptoms that result are caused by microbes manipulating the immune system, not by direct damage caused by the microbes. They do this to generate inflammation. Inflammation breaks down tissues and allows the microbes access to vital nutrients they need for survival.
Symptoms are vague and nonspecific: fatigue, brain fog, whole body migrating aches and pains, joint pain, bone pain, unusual skin rashes, muscle weakness, poor sleep, nerve symptoms, headaches, intestinal complaints, anxiety, depression, and feeling flu-like.
Chronic Lyme Disease is one possible variation of this scenario. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and related chronic illnesses are other possibilities. In fact, it is likely that most chronic illnesses have similar roots.
The type of illness that a person ends up with is dependent on the person’s:
- Genetic makeup
- Degree of exposure to System Disruptors and how those factors add up to cause Chronic Immune Dysfunction
- Degree of microbiome imbalance – specifically related to the variety types of stealth microbes being harbored in the margins of the microbiome (some microbes have more potential to disrupt immune function than others).
The common denominators are always Chronic Immune Dysfunction and Stealth Microbes.
Part II: The Solution
I divide options for overcoming illnesses associated with Chronic Immune Dysfunction and Stealth Microbes into Heroic Therapies and Restorative Therapies.
Restoring normal immune function with Restorative Therapies should always be the primary consideration. Recovery is not possible without rebound of normal immune function.
Heroic Therapies are focused primarily on killing microbes. While killing microbes might seem like an obvious first choice, this approach has significant limitations.
Because stealth microbes hide in protected niches in the body, occur in low concentrations in the body, and typically grow very slowly, they are extremely hard to eradicate with antibiotics (antibiotics are most effective for rapidly growing bacteria concentrated in tissues in an acute illness such as pneumonia, but not so much for stealth microbe illnesses).
In fact, keeping stealth microbes in check is just about impossible without restoring normal immune function. When people do get better with heroic therapies, it is only because microbes are suppressed enough to allow rebound of immune function to get a handle on things, not because the heroic therapy eradicate the microbes completely. Sometimes, however, heroic therapies can suppress immune function further and actually make the person more ill.
Heroic therapies include single agent chemical warfare (antibiotics), oxidative therapies (ozone, hyperbaric oxygen), rife machines, and any other therapies directed specifically at killing microbes.
To kill stealth microbes (such as borrelia) with antibiotics, high doses of antibiotics (intravenous) must be used for long periods of time (6-9 months). This has the effect of severely disrupting the balance of normal bacteria in the gut and generating unwanted antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It can disrupt immune function even further and can actually make a person more ill. At present, there is no evidence supporting long-term use of antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease or any similar illness.
Oxidative therapies are possibly the best heroic choice, but killing microbes with oxygen and oxygen free radicals (ozone) also kills tissues and adds stress to the body. It does nothing to directly restore normal immune function or homeostasis (hormonal balance in the body). It is also unlikely that oxidative therapies completely eradicate all offending stealth microbes from the body.
Rife machines are the least damaging of heroic therapies, but there is little evidence that rife machines offer a great deal of benefit either (reports of benefit are highly variable, though some people swear by them).
While there is a place for Heroic Therapies, use is limited because of inherent toxicities.
Ultimately, where you want to be is with a healthy immune system keeping all stealth microbes well marginalized, so harm is minimized. This allows for normal health and normal life.
Restorative Therapies are the best way to get you there.
Restorative therapies focus on optimizing immune function and restoring homeostasis (natural balance in hormone and healing systems in the body), as well as killing or suppressing microbes. The ability of the body to heal itself is restored, along with the ability of the immune system to control any threatening microbes in the margins.
Tapping into the magnificent healing capacity of the body is a matter of minimizing System Disruptors and enhancing healing systems of the body with herbal therapy.
Healing takes time and a restorative approach requires patience, but because the restorative approach has such low potential for harm, it can be followed for a lifetime.
It is a very different approach than using heroic therapies, but it is complementary to any heroic therapies. Under circumstances where additional heroic therapies may still be indicated, doses can be minimized and the potential for harm diminished.
A comprehensive restorative program includes:
- Healthy diet
- Minimize toxins
- Reduced stress environment
- Gentle restoring exercise
- Lots of antioxidants
- Synergistic herbal therapy
Herbal therapy is a natural fit.
Plants are threatened by every variety of microbe, free radicals, toxins, radiation, physical stress, and maybe even emotional stress…in other words, the same types of stress factors that threaten our health.
Over millions of years of evolution, plants have developed very sophisticated biochemical solutions to these threats – no pharmaceutical on earth comes close.
Medicinal herbs are plants that, over thousands of years, humans found mesh particularly well with human biochemistry. This means that herbs are inherently the safest possible choice – the potential for harm is extremely low. Why not start with the least toxic option first?
Evidence supporting herbal therapy includes historical information from traditional use by every culture on earth, population studies of current use, lab-based studies, animal studies, and human studies. All totaled, we know more about medicinal herbs than any other therapy currently available…including all drugs.
Modern herbal therapy is a synergy of all the herbal traditions the world has known balanced by current scientific investigation.
Benefits of natural herbal therapy:
- Supports normal immune function
- Reduces immune messengers stimulated by stealth microbes (causing inflammation)
- Balances the microbiome by suppressing stealth microbes and supporting normal flora
- Features plant-based antimicrobials (wide spectrum of biochemical substances that do not contribute resistant strains of bacteria)
- Restores homeostasis (balances hormones and supports healing systems in the body)
Herbal therapy is the cornerstone of any restorative approach. Like most people, you may have found that heroic therapies alone have limited ability to actually restore wellness. If wellness is your ultimate goal, natural restorative options are worth serious consideration.
Natural herbal therapy and simple restorative practices allow you to tap into the remarkable healing potential of the human body. Beyond suppressing microbes, herbs support immune function; both must occur simultaneously for wellness to happen. This essential property is unique to natural herbal therapy.
If you are ready to be well, your journey will be easier with advice from an expert. The best expert is always someone who has been there and figured things out. I have been there and I did figure it out. I have experienced every known symptom of chronic Lyme disease and every frustration. Early on I found that heroic therapies were not the answer.
It wasn’t until I embraced natural herbal therapies and began living in a way that enhanced the healing systems of my body that I began crawling out of the deep dark well of chronic illness. I then used everything I learned to create an herbal protocol that could help simplify this process for others. Learn more about my herbal protocol »
You can also learn the exact steps I took to recover through my book, Unlocking Lyme. This comprehensive, 400+ page book contains everything you need to know to regain control of your health—and your life. Birthed out of my own 10-year journey of experiencing setbacks in my recovery, I hope these resources can be a guiding light to those who need it.