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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Exploring the Lyme-Thyroid Connection

Lyme disease, a tick-borne malady that is especially prevalent in Georgia, is an ongoing, perennial problem that residents face. It is conservatively estimated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to infect 300,000 Americans annually, affecting any system of the body and causing a wide array of symptoms while mimicking conditions like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Although Lyme diagnoses commonly go unreported, the condition has increased its local presence in recent years, according to the Georgia Lyme Disease Association.

Dr. Burdette, Director of Education, Progressive Medical CentersDr. Cheryl Burdette, a naturopath and the education director at Progressive Medical Center, in Atlanta, says that anxiety often complicates effective diagnosis. “They may go to a primary care physician who might refer them to a psychiatrist who puts them on medications. But if the reason the anxiety is there is because the brain is inflamed, it’s not going to help that,” she says. “Once you begin working on the infection, you calm down the inflammation. And as you calm down the inflammation, the brain gets better.”

The thyroid gland in the neck that secretes hormones regulating growth and development through the metabolism, may also be implicated. Burdette notes the adrenal glands, which produce hormones and regulate stress, are impacted by both the mental stress of anxiety and the physical stress of infection, and then send a signal to the brain that decreases its effect on the thyroid. The result is production of less thyroid hormone that, in conjunction with imbalances in related hormone levels, nutritional deficiencies and inflammation, is commonly found in those with Lyme.

Some doctors like Burdette are going against the grain just by acknowledging a chronic or multi-systemic version of Lyme disease exists. The conventional approach, as represented by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, maintains Lyme is easily identified by its hallmark bullseye rash and easily wiped out by a few weeks of antibiotics. Such an approach fails to account for a number of complicating factors, including that Lyme sufferers commonly don’t notice such a rash or don’t get it, and can suffer widespread symptoms long after their antibiotic regimen has ended.

web_let-there-be-light-featured-imageAn innovative new therapy promises to enable providers like Burdette to treat the blood of affected patients without having to extract and reinfuse it into the body. A powerful new tool, the UVLrx Treatment System, currently under study by an institutional review board, is the first medical device to administer light therapy intravenously, directly within a blood vessel. Nearly 100 percent of a patient’s blood volume can receive a therapeutic dose of ultraviolet light within its natural environment, thereby maximizing the health benefits. “Part of the problem is that Lyme goes after the immune system, and if it can take out the immune system, it can take out the army that is going to defeat it,” explains Burdette. “The UVLrx helps ignite that army again, the white blood cells in your immune system, so it can begin to recognize the Lyme infection again.”

D. Amari Jackson is a freelance writer in Atlanta.

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