The medical geology of Lyme Disease

Ebola, HIV, measles. It has become trendy to blame “superbugs” for health imbalances, and the Borrelia bacteria associated with Lyme Disease is no exception.

However, in this age of rapid environmental change, it is wise to consider both internal and external environmental factors that might be contributing to a particular constellation of symptoms in designing a personalized health recovery plan.

Lyme Disease is named after a community in Connecticut where several cases with similar joint, heart and neurological symptoms were identified in the 1970s, before any meaningful environmental or workplace protection legislation was in place. The 20 million year-old Borellia bacteria that is spread by ticks and lice was identified as the “cause” is a prime candidate for antibiotic resistance, and so a pharmaceutical response is perhaps not the best option.

A Medical Geology approach would consider examining the following environmental connections.

1.) Heavy Metal Toxicity. A quick Google search of “Connecticut steel Lyme” reveals an abundance of steel mills, foundries and iron works in the area which makes sense, given that calcium carbonate (a.k.a. lime or calcite) is an essential ingredient in steel working. The town of Lyme was also in a prime location for trans Atlantic shipping of metal products to support the Industrial Revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries. Metals like iron (Fe), copper (Cu), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb) and manganese (Mn) from environmental, occupational or accidental exposures through cosmetics and personal care products tend to “steal” electrons in the body, causing oxidative stress. UV exposure from sunlight or tanning beds also cause oxidation (loss of electrons), this is why having adequate electrons donating anti-oxidants in the diet is important to maintaining a healthy balance.

2.) High-Quality Protein Deficiency (especially Tryptophan). A common clinical finding in many individuals diagnosed with Lyme Disease is low blood levels of the essential amino acid, Tryptophan (coded as TRP or W in the medical literature). Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and the “essential” ones must come from your diet. Tryptophan is the key ingredient for a “Good Mind” as it provides the neurotransmitters, serotonin and melatonin that are responsible for keeping us alert, happy and sharp as well as regulating important cycles in our bodies. The following foods with high Tryptophan content that fit within the Healthy Roots guidelines include turkey, beans, sunflower seeds, squash seeds, pumpkin seeds, elk, mustard seeds, flax seeds, caribou, rabbit, goose, duck, watermelon seeds, wild boar, perch, salmon, and eggs.

3.) Fat Intake and Bile Salt Insufficiency. The liver secretes bile salts to properly digest fats in the diet, allowing them to be turned into energy stores, cell membranes, hormones and myelin that insulates brain and nerve cells. Another function of bile salts is to bind with metals that don’t come from natural, unprocessed foods as they leave the stomach and escort them out of the body in the faeces so that they don’t enter the blood stream. If you ingest fat-soluble (hydrophobic) neurotoxic or hormone-disrupting contaminants from food, water or dusts and soils, your body will attempt to “immobilize” them in fat cells instead of letting them wreak havoc in your bloodstream.

4.) Dehydration. The body needs water for a multitude of functions and one way the body can “make” water when you’re not drinking enough is by combining one-ring sugars (monosaccharides) that are already in the body like glucose, which is the only fuel source that your brain can use, into two-ring sugars (disaccharides) that are a preferred food source for microorganisms like bacteria and fungi (yeasts).

Next week we’ll talk about how to restore balance to these four areas involved in a diagnosis of Lyme Disease as well as explore how the Borrelia bacteria might actually be trying to help the situation.

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