Lyme disease is some-thing you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.
It's an infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria spread by a tick bite that can lead to a litany of debilitating symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, memory problems, confusion, difficulty sleeping, seizures, anxiety and depression. And if you don't catch it early enough, it can be a nightmare to treat-or even to diagnose.
For 38-year-old Wendy Anderson, though, Lyme disease has actually changed her life for the better. At least that's how she now views her four-year battle with the illness, after discovering several successful treatments-and a few things about herself along the way.
It was a beautiful sunny day in Ossett, West Yorkshire, in June 2011 when everything started to change for Wendy. The professional photographer and mum of three had just got back from a walk in the field behind her home with her dog, Charlie, when she noticed a crop of ticks on the chocolate Labrador's fur.
"I was so na"ive about ticks then," said Wendy. "I just combed them out and didn't think anything of it." It wasn't until later that Wendy discovered just how serious tick bites can be-and not just for dogs.
Two days after the tick incident, Wendy noticed a strange-looking rash on her calf. At first, Wendy didn't make the connection between the ticks she found on Charlie and the red patch on her skin, but a colleague at work had recently read an article on Lyme disease in a local magazine, and when he saw Wendy's rash, he raised the alarm bells.
"He told me my rash looked like the classic bull's-eye rash seen with Lyme disease, which begins at the site of a tick bite," said Wendy. "Once I'd read the article and seen the pictures of the rash myself, I realized I must have got bitten the same time as Charlie."
After piecing the puzzle together, Wendy made an appointment to see her GP, but he immediately dismissed her concerns. "It can't be Lyme disease because Lyme disease doesn't exist in this country," he told her. He simply put "insect bite" on Wendy's notes and sent her home, assuring her there was nothing to worry about.
Wendy's rash cleared up three weeks later and she didn't think much more of it. But after a few months, at around Christmas time, Wendy came down with what she thought was the flu.
"I felt absolutely shocking-with aches and pains and exhaustion. After that, my health just seemed to deteriorate."
Fast forward two years and Wendy was bedridden. "I was in so much pain I couldn't even lift my head off the pillow. I was basically a vegetable."
Wendy also suffered mentally. She found herself literally lost for words and could no longer read or write. Even just speaking was a struggle as her brain seemed to be in a constant state of confusion.
Eventually, she had to dissolve the previously successful commercial photography company she had set up with her husband, Simon, 11 years earlier. Wendy even contemplated suicide at one point. It was then she realized she had to take action and do something about her health.
Visits to other GPs had been fruitless, so on her "good days", when she could almost function as normal, Wendy started looking into her symptoms herself. She hadn't forgotten her Lyme disease concerns and after a bit of searching, she came across a comprehensive list of Lyme disease symptoms, put together by Dr Joseph J. Burrascano, Jr, one of the most recognized doctors in the field.
"I realized I had nearly every one of the symptoms," said Wendy.
She made an appointment with her current GP and went along, armed with Dr Burrascano's checklist, to request a Lyme disease test. But Wendy's doctor wasn't convinced by her self-diagnosis and refused her the test.
It was only after Wendy made an official complaint that the surgery relented and agreed to the test-just to "appease" her.
Wendy's blood was tested with an ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), an early-stage screening test for Lyme disease. To her disappointment, 10 days later the results came back negative.
From her research, Wendy knew the ELISA test was notoriously unreliable and may not detect up to half of Lyme cases, a situation well covered in the medical literature,1 but her doctor seemed ignorant of this possibility.
"Even though I had the rash and the symptoms, he said there was nothing they could do because of the test results," said Wendy.
She consulted a different doctor at a different surgery-and five others after that-but got the same response. No doctor would treat her for Lyme disease because the ELISA test had been negative, despite the fact that the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Clinical Knowledge Summaries state that testing is not required for people with the 'bull's-eye' rash (like Wendy's) because the rash itself is enough for a clinical diagnosis.2
Even the infectious diseases specialist at Leeds General Infirmary told her that, if the test is negative, it "categorically cannot be Lyme disease".
At this point, Wendy realized she had to take matters into her own hands. She began to look into alternative ways to treat Lyme disease, and discovered a diet plan that excluded all sugar, gluten, yeast and cow's milk, and focused on fresh, whole foods including plenty of fruits and vegetables. After a month of making these dietary changes, she noticed an improvement. "I could actually get out of bed in the morning," Wendy said.
In her research, Wendy also came across the Breakspear Medical Group, a Hertfordshire-based clinic specializing in the treatment of environmental illnesses, including Lyme disease. The clinic offers a range of different tests for the condition and, after a consultation, Wendy made an appointment to have a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which can detect the DNA of the Lyme disease bacteria.
Wendy's PCR test was sent off to IGeneX, a California-based laboratory specializing in state-of-the-art testing for Lyme-and the results came back positive.
Finally, four years after having the rash, Wendy had the answer she'd been looking for, although it still wasn't enough to convince her NHS doctors, who tend to ignore tests carried out privately.
Wendy then embarked on a personalized treatment protocol prescribed by Breakspear, comprising the drug artesunate and several supplements, including the herb cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa), and the antioxidants resveratrol, found in the skins of red grapes, and glutathione, a protein crucial for the body's detoxification system.
Artesunate, a derivative of artemisinin, the active component of the Chinese herb Artemisia annua, is commonly used to treat malaria, but some experts believe it can also effectively treat a wide range of other infections like Lyme disease.
In Wendy's case, a number of symptoms cleared up after she started taking the drug, particularly her night sweats, dizziness and disorientation, all symptoms associated with infection by Babesia-a protozoan malaria-like tick-borne parasite, which often accompanies Lyme disease.
One test-tube study found that artesunate effectively inhibited these parasites' growth, making it a potentially effective treatment for Babesia infections.3
Although much improved, Wendy was still suffering from aches and pains throughout her body. Eventually she sought the help of a neighbour-Olwen, an ex-NHS nurse-who owned a local pain clinic. Olwen treated Wendy with a Scalar Wave Laser, a device that claims to combine low-level ('cold') laser technology with frequency medicine. Miraculously, it seemed to do the trick.
"By the third day, all my pain was completely gone," Wendy said. "It was amazing."
Wendy also credits the treatment with resolving the palpitations and other heart problems she'd been experiencing. She'd been using a handheld electrocardiography (ECG) device to keep track of any irregularities, and noticed that her heart issues disappeared with the laser therapy.
After investing in her own Scalar Wave Laser, she now uses it in her own home to treat herself and her dog, Charlie, if any symptoms crop up (see page 62).
Through Olwen, Wendy also learned about bioresonance therapy, and began seeing a bioresonance practitioner once a month (see page 63).
"I'd sit in a chair hooked up to the bioresonance machine, and the therapist would be able to tell me which bacteria were lurking in my system and where, using electromagnetic frequencies. These frequencies are used to dissolve the bacteria; it's much more specific than the Scalar Wave Laser.
"Each month the therapist would work on a different organ, and I got better and better after each session."
Back in balance
But there's one more treatment Wendy believes played a big part in getting her health back: homeopathy. Although the other treatments did help her overcome the debilitating symptoms she'd been suffering from for years, she still had several systemic imbalances, she said, including Candida (yeast) overgrowth, and taking Rhus Tox and Bryonia, remedies specifically prescribed for her by a homeopath, helped to address them.
The results were so impressive that Wendy decided to train in homeopathy to help others as well as herself.
Wendy was referred to her homeopath by Professor Steve Green, of the Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield-the only helpful doctor she encountered during her four-year ordeal.
And besides introducing Wendy to homeopathy, Prof Green also came up with another unexpected find: her birth mother, who he tracked down as part of finding out more about Wendy's medical history. They'd never met before, and the two are now overjoyed to be part of each other's lives (see box, page 62).
Today, Wendy considers herself 99 per cent recovered from Lyme disease-and views her experience in a positive light. She's discovered she has a knack for research and investigation, and is currently training to be a private investigator, which she plans to do alongside homeopathy.
"It's been a rollercoaster of a journey, but I've found my birth mum, I've discovered new talents and I've embarked on a new career," she says.
It's amazing what a little detective work can do.
One of the good things to come out of Wendy's horrendous battle with Lyme disease was Wendy finding her birth mother, who was tracked down by her doctor after he discovered that Wendy, an adoptee, knew nothing of her familial medical history. This led to Wendy meeting her birth mother, as well as a sister she didn't know she had, for the first time-"the best experience of my life", she says.
Remarkably, Wendy then discovered that her birth mum had health problems that spookily mirrored her own. She'd also been bitten by a tick in her 30s and had suffered life-crippling symptoms for years. Doctors dismissed her suggestion of Lyme disease, just as they had with Wendy, and instead diagnosed her condition as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), or chronic fatigue system (CFS).
While the Medical Establishment's ignorance of Lyme disease doesn't appear to have improved over the last 20 years, current estimates suggest there could be up to 3,000 new cases of Lyme in the UK every year. According to the charity Lyme Disease Action, the true number of cases may be even higher.1
Meanwhile, Wendy's dog, Charlie, had a very different experience. After he developed seizures and other symptoms following several tick bites, Wendy took him her vet, who suspected Lyme disease and got him tested. Although the test came back negative, the vet-aware of the test's possible inaccuracy-prescribed antibiotics anyway, the conventional treatment for humans too.
"My dog actually got better treatment than me!" says Wendy. Although Charlie did improve, Wendy also treated him with homeopathy and her Scalar Wave Laser, which she says helped with some of the symptoms the antibiotics didn't clear up.
The Scalar Wave Laser is one alternative treatment that helped Wendy, especially with her pain symptoms. She even uses it on her dog, Charlie.
The Scalar Wave Laser is a handheld device approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for the temporary relief of minor muscle, joint and arthritic pain, as well as muscle spasm and stiffness. It relies on low-level laser technology (LLLT), using low-power lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to alter cellular function.
Exactly how LLLT works is still not known, although according to one review, it clearly has an analgesic effect. Several studies found it effective for a variety of chronic pain conditions and, while the results are mixed, the evidence suggests that LLLT "may be beneficial for many individuals suffering from pain, regardless of the condition that is causing it".1
1 Front Physiol, 2014; 5: 306
The right frequency
Wendy credits bioresonance-specifically, bioresonance practitioner Sarah Bainbridge, at the Life Waves Practice in Whitby, North Yorkshire-as being instrumental in her recovery.
Bioresonance is a type of energy medicine based on the idea that cells in the body communicate with each other through electromagnetic frequencies-an idea advanced by many respected biologists and physicists. After it was postulated that these frequencies might be used to diagnose disease, a number of machines were developed to detect and heal illnesses.
Bioresonance uses a machine that's said to measure the electrical output of the body to identify any 'abnormal' waves linked with disease. At the same time, it generates an equal and opposite wave form, sent back to the patient, that cancels out the 'disease' frequencies, so eliminating the problem.
Although bioresonance is often dismissed as 'pseudoscience', several studies suggest the method is effective for a variety of rheumatic and respiratory diseases as well as various pain syndromes.1 In one study from Russia, where the technique is widely used, bioresonance combined with conventional treatment had a 94 per cent success rate in knee osteoarthritis patients compared with only 58 per cent with conventional therapy alone.2
1 Forsch Komplementmed, 2014; 21: 239-45
2 Ter Arkh, 2000; 72: 50-3
Useful resources and contacts
Lyme Disease Action
Lyme Disease UK
www.lymediseaseuk.com & www.facebook.com/LymeDiseaseUK
Wood Lane, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire HP2 4FD
tel: 01442 261 33301442 261 333
795 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94303, USA
tel: (001) 650 424 1191(001) 650 424 1191
Life Waves Practice For Bioresonance Medicine
St Hilda's Business Centre, The Ropery, Whitby
tel: 07884 250 43007884 250 430
Scalar Wave Lasers
tel: (001) 877 429 8622(001) 877 429 8622 FREE
Dr Joseph J.Burrascano Jr's checklist of Lyme disease symptoms
1 Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis, 2011; 30: 1027-32
3 Parasitol Int, 2010; 59: 481-6