Lyme Disease and Nutritional Deficiencies
Lyme Disease and Vitamin Deficiency
Lyme disease and vitamin deficiency can look very similar. To illustrate, here is an example of a patient who thought she had Lyme disease but actually had a nutritional deficiency:
Alyssa, a 15-year-old female, came to our office. Among her complaints were a rash on her face, trouble getting up in the morning, and cracking joints. Although these problems were moderate, they were not resolving on their own and she and her parents were very concerned that she might have Lyme Disease. In addition, they knew multiple people who had been diagnosed with Lyme. They also lived in a Lyme endemic area.
The first thing Nutrition Response Testing revealed was low B-vitamins. Alyssa experienced considerable improvement in the whole food B vitamins. I did not do any laboratory testing for Alyssa. We could have run lab tests to diagnose this nutritional imbalance, but this would have added unnecessary time and expense. But we see with both lab tests and Nutrition Response Testing that B vitamin deficiency is one of the most common nutrient imbalances.
We also had to handle Alyssa’s immune system. But the issue was not Lyme, but general immune system stress. It makes sense that stress from a devitalized, processed food diet and our toxic environment allows chronic immune system issues to take hold for many of us. Then, after about one month, the rash on Alyssa’s face completely cleared and her energy was 50% better. And the cracking joints took two additional weeks to resolve.
Lyme Disease: Over-diagnosed and Under-diagnosed
The importance of this case study is to demonstrate how Lyme Disease is both over-diagnosed and under-diagnosed. For example, both Alyssa and her mother had heard that Alyssa might have Lyme Disease. But if she had gotten a Lyme diagnosis, Alyssa would have ended up on unnecessary antibiotics, which would have likely caused harm. In contrast, with the correct nutritional diagnosis and treatment, Alyssa not only recovered, but we handled issues that would have never been addressed with medical treatment. As a result, we were able to avert a potential disaster and downhill slide for this young lady. And she now has a good health foundation upon which to continue living her life.
Lyme Disease and Vitamin Deficiency Can Look the Same!
Let’s take a look at common symptoms of Lyme Disease side by side with different nutrient deficiencies:
|Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms||Water Deficiency (Dehydration)1,2||Vitamin D Deficiency3||Magnesium Deficiency4||B Vitamin Deficiency5|
|Fatigue||Fatigue||Fatigue||Fatigue, Lethargy||Weakness, Fatigue|
|Joint Pain||Bone and Back Pain|
|Muscle Pain||Back Pain||Muscle Pain||Muscle Cramps|
|Sleep Issues||Sleep Issues|
|Cognitive||Confusion||Memory Problems||Brain fog, confusion, and memory problems|
|Neuropathy||Neuropathy, Numbness and Tingling in Hands and Feet|
|Heart Related||Heart Related||Heart Related|
|Dizziness||Frequent sickness||Anorexia||Premature Aging|
|Extreme Thirst||Impaired Wound Healing||Loss of Appetite||Loss of Appetite and weight loss|
|Dark-Colored Urine||Bone Loss||Nausea, Vomiting||Constipation|
|Hair loss||Seizures||Trouble balancing|
|Irregular or Rapid Heartbeat|
Lots of similarities, huh?
So How Do You Find a Nutritional Deficiency?
There are two ways to rule out nutritional deficiencies: proper Functional Medicine laboratory testing and Nutrition Response Testing. It’s best to compare both sets of findings.
When using laboratory testing, here is a starting point for what to look at:
|Name of test||Standard Laboratory Range||Functional Range||Low Nutrient Status|
|25 OH-D (Vitamin D)||30-100 ng/mL||35-60 ng/mL||<35 ng/mL|
|Magnesium||1.6-2.6 mg/dL||2.0-2.6 mg/dL||<2.0 mg/dL|
|Homocysteine (B12/B9)||0-15 umol/L||<7 umol/L||>7 umol/L|
|Methymalonic Acid (B12)||0-378 nmol/L||<300 nmol/L||>300 nmol/L|
With Nutrition Response Testing, we test vitamins individually on the body and there are reflexes that correspond to different vitamins. In many cases, a nutritional deficiency will show up as an organ stress/weakness and will make the body more susceptible to stressors, toxins, and infections, such as Lyme.
So, as you can see, nutritional deficiencies clearly mimic Lyme Disease and must be properly ruled out in all cases of suspected Lyme.
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1. Stachenfeld NS, Leone CA, Mitchell ES, Freese E, Harkness L. Water intake reverses dehydration associated impaired executive function in healthy young women. Physiol Behav. 2018;185:103-111.
2. Dehydration. Mayo Clinic Web site. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086. Published on February 15, 2018. Accessed December 31.2018.