by Dr. Bill Rawls
From grocery stores to general merchandise and online retailers, collagen supplements are everywhere! But if you have Lyme disease and coinfections, could taking them feed the spectrum of microbes you’re already dealing with? Listen as Dr. Rawls discusses the truth about taking collagen supplements and how they may actually help you. Read more about Lyme and collagen here.
Question: Do collagen supplements feed Lyme?
Jenny Buttaccio: So this one I see asked a lot on social media. It’s about collagen. And so, people have been asking if Lyme likes collagen in terms of its nutrients that it provides. Does supplementing with collagen then —
Dr. Rawls: Feed the Lyme?
Jenny Buttaccio: Yeah, exactly — fuel Lyme?
Dr. Rawls: That’s a really common question. And it doesn’t really work that way. You know, we’re talking about these bacteria, and I think people have in their mind that the bacteria is about the size of one of our cells, and they’re microscopic, but they’re still pretty big. And it’s not the case.
So, you know, it’s like borrelia is about 1/100th the size of our cells. It’s really small. And some bacteria, like one like mycoplasma, they’re less than 1/1000th times of our cells. So we’re not talking about high concentrations of the bacteria.
A lot of the symptoms, a lot of the damage that is occurring is actually — and this has been documented for Lyme arthritis, Lyme carditis — is that autoimmune reaction. It’s the reaction of the immune system to the presence of these intracellular bacteria and other microbes. And the immune system is attacking our tissues. And as it does that, it creates a lot of damage, and that’s what’s perpetuating the Lyme
So we’re not talking about high, high concentrations of bacteria. In fact, you know, if we did tissue biopsies on somebody who was really symptomatic with Lyme and biopsy their joints and muscles, we’d find pretty low concentrations of bacteria. Again, it’s the presence of the bacteria. So it’s not like they’re munching away on all of your collagen.
You’re not feeding the bacteria. The bacteria have got plenty of food in your tissues. You are their food, and there is plenty of collagen in you. So, yes, they’re munching away on your collagen, but they’re not making a dent.
But if you have that immune reaction, though, and the immune response with an autoimmune response is breaking down collagen, you need to rebuild new collagen. So taking collagen supplements gives your body the raw material to rebuild new collagen and turn collagen over that’s been damaged. So, collagen supplements, I think, are a very reasonable thing to do. And definitely, you’re not feeding the bacteria.