Lyme Disease and Nutritional Deficiencies
Alyssa, a 15-year-old female, came to our office. Among her complaints was 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. They knew multiple people who had been diagnosed with Lyme and they live 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 in her case), 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. Stress from a devitalized, processed food diet and our toxic environment allows chronic immune system issues to take hold for many of us. After about one month, the rash on Alyssa’s face completely cleared and her energy was 50% better. The cracking joints took two additional weeks to resolve.
The importance of this case study is to demonstrate how Lyme Disease is both over-diagnosed and under-diagnosed. Both Alyssa and her mother had been told that Alyssa might have Lyme Disease. If she had been diagnosed with Lyme medically, Alyssa would have ended up on antibiotics, which were not necessary and would have likely caused harm. With the correct nutritional diagnosis and treatment, Alyssa not only recovered, but we handled issues that would have never been addressed had she been treated medically. 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 live her life.
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?
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, vitamins can be tested 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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1Stachenfeld 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.
2Dehydration. Mayo Clinic Web site. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086. Published on February 15, 2018. Accessed December 31.2018.