The field of tick-borne disease (TBD) is complex and ever-evolving. With recent research providing measurable evidence of how Herbal and Naturopathic medical interventions impact the initial infection and progression of TBD, functional medicine clinicians have a tremendous opportunity to change the course of a patient’s journey with Lyme disease and co-infections through individualized care in both the acute and chronic stages of illness. This lecture is an overview of the pathophysiology of Lyme disease causing species of Borrelia as well as Babesia. It includes a deep dive into the biochemical pathways involved in both acute and chronic infection, understanding the mechanism of action (MOA) of studied herbal interventions, a four-pronged approach to treatment, and naturopathic interventions to support healing at every step.
A complex network of functional deficiencies needs to be addressed to prepare each patient for an optimal therapeutic response to a tick-borne infection. Individual constitution, genetics, nutrient deficiencies, gastrointestinal dysbiosis, food sensitivities, heavy metal and toxin burden, immune imbalance, mycotoxin illness, endocrine dysfunction, as well as pre-existing biofilm status, contributes to an inflammatory milieu, which provides a safe harbor for infections. A major obstacle to achieving treatment success is the suppressive effect of inflammation on critical functions, including immunity. Research is providing a more in-depth understanding of the mechanisms driving chronic inflammation, pointing to new therapeutic targets and interventions.
Substantial evidence points to galectin-3 (Gal-3), a carbohydrate binding protein, as an important signaling molecule triggering proinflammatory and profibrotic pathways relevant in tick-borne illness. Though Gal-3 plays an essential role in the body’s initial recognition and response to infection, at elevated levels, it fuels chronic inflammation, fibrosis, and immune suppression. Gal-3 forms an adhesive framework for biofilm formation via its ability to form “lattice/scaffolding” structures by self-polymerizing and crosslinking to glycoproteins and glycolipids. It binds with immune cell surface receptors and antigenic sites on infectious agents, interrupting the communication and activation of critical immune responses and immune surveillance. Gal-3 also interacts with pathogenic organisms to enable adhesion and penetration within tissues to establish biofilms. Research shows that a natural Gal-3 inhibitor, modified citrus pectin, disables Gal-3-orchestrated immune suppression and stimulates NK cell production, enabling a robust immune response while controlling inflammation.
Successful antimicrobial interventions require preparation to strengthen and support the body’s innate detoxification systems, correct deficiencies, and create a pathogen-resistant environment, all of which promotes a balanced and robust immune response. Additionally, it is imperative to understand the pathophysiological process in which the organisms hijack the immune system allowing them not only to survive, but thrive while ravishing the human body. Once a practitioner has an understanding of this process, along with understanding the mechanism of action of each herb, it is easy to put together an intelligent treatment protocol to intervene at each pathophysiological process and begin to heal the body from TBD while killing the organisms. In this presentation, Myriah Hinchey, N.D., a recognized clinician with success in treating complex chronic tick-borne illnesses for over a decade, will present her multilayered approach to individualized treatment.
- Discuss common myths and symptom recognition of Lyme disease.
- Review the pathophysiology of Borrelia spp and Babesia spp.
- Demonstrate the MOA of commonly used herbs and supplements, elucidating how they block the movement of infection, normalize the immune system, and are used to heal the body.
- Illustrate how infections as well as lifestyle play a role in making the patient hospitable to infection and outline how to alter the body’s biochemistry to make the body inhospitable to infection.
- Present a comprehensive naturopathic protocol for healing from Lyme and Babesia.