What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks. The disease can cause a range of symptoms, including fever, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. If left untreated, it can lead to more severe complications affecting the heart, joints, and nervous system.
Traditional Treatment Approaches
Currently, the standard treatment for Lyme disease involves a course of antibiotics, typically doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime. These antibiotics are effective in killing the bacteria and reducing symptoms in most cases. However, some individuals may experience persistent symptoms even after completing the antibiotic treatment, leading to a condition known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). There are many practitioners across the world that are taking a much more comprehensive view of PLTDS, some of which are known as LLD or Lyme Literate Doctors. These practitioners will use a combination of comprehensive testing, IV therapy, ozone, ketamine therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and many others to help their patients.
Benefits of HBOT for Lyme Disease
HBOT has several potential benefits for individuals with Lyme disease:
- Enhanced Antibiotic Effectiveness: The increased oxygen levels in the body can enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics in killing the bacteria and addressing biofilms. Lyme is also a facultative anaerobe meaning it does not like high oxygen environments.
- Reduced Inflammation: Lyme disease can trigger an inflammatory response in the body. HBOT has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms.
- Improved Immune Function: HBOT stimulates the production of white blood cells, enhancing the immune system's ability to fight off infections.
- Pain Relief: Many individuals with Lyme disease experience chronic pain. HBOT has been shown to reduce pain levels and improve overall quality of life.
Several studies have investigated the use of HBOT for Lyme disease treatment. A study published in the journal Medical Gas Research in 2019 found that HBOT combined with antibiotics led to significant improvements in symptoms and quality of life in patients with chronic Lyme disease. Another study published in Frontiers in Medicine in 2020 reported similar positive outcomes.
It is important to note that while these studies show promising results, more research is needed to fully understand the effectiveness of HBOT for Lyme disease treatment. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before considering any new treatment approach.
HBOT protocols for Lyme Disease
The treatment protocols for Lyme are typically 2.0 to 2.4 ATA X 90 minute sessions for at least 40 total sessions, sometimes more. In general, these patients are under more stress and need significant detox support using antioxidants, binders, and other toxin-reducing methods such as sauna and IVs. In general, the best outcomes, at least anecdotally, seem to occur in Lyme patients that are already at least 50% better with other modalities before starting HBOT.
It is also important to be aware of any co-infections that may be ongoing as some such as Babesia and Bartonella are both oxygen liking bugs that may grow in a hyperbaric environment.
Finally, in some patients, it's more prudent to start at neurologic pressures for neuroinflammation related to Lyme and then, after several weeks, dive deeper to kill the lyme organism directly (or in combination with other therapies)
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy shows potential as an adjunctive treatment for Lyme disease. By increasing oxygen levels in the body, HBOT may enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics, reduce inflammation, improve immune function, and provide pain relief. While further research is necessary, individuals with Lyme disease may consider discussing HBOT with their healthcare provider as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Citation: Smith, J. et al. (2019). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Chronic Lyme Disease. Medical Gas Research, 9(3), 129-134.