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True Lyme Disease can be devastating, but numerous people who don't even have it go down the quackery rabbit hole and fall right into dangerous alternative treatments. Don't be one of them!

Do you think that you are displaying signs you might have chronic Lyme Disease? Are you looking for answers and solutions around the internet or in alternative health circles?

Be careful! You might be at risk of falling for one of the many "alternative treatments for chronic Lyme Disease" being marketed or proselytized to desperate people. 

Taking Lyme Disease Seriously — Debunking 'Lyme Disease'

Lyme Disease is an all-too-real and potential devastating tick-borne bacterial infection that strikes around 25,000 people annually in the United States alone [1] — and taking it very seriously is beyond warranted.

You can do so by:

  • Taking the right steps to decrease your risk of developing Lyme Disease [2] — using a DEET-based bug repellent, and showering immediately and checking all your body's little crevices for the presence of ticks after spending time in nature (including using a mirror for places you might not otherwise see). 
  • Removing ticks swiftly and correctly if they have already latched, because you are extremely unlikely to end up with Lyme Disease if the tick has been present for less than 24 hours. You should firmly grab the tick with flat tweezers, as close to your skin as possible, and then pull straight up. No twisting! [3]
  • Watch out for the symptoms of early Lyme Disease both after a confirmed tick bite and in general if you have frequent contact with nature. Stage 1 Lyme Disease symptoms are flu-like; fever, chills, headaches, general malaise, and joint an muscle pain. [4]

All these steps are common-sense, and if you live smack-dab in the middle of nature or go hiking all the time, you may even ask your doctor about regular Lyme Disease tests. Tick-borne diseases are indeed scary as hell, and awareness can help prevent them as well as ensuring you get timely treatment if you do get Lyme Disease. 

What you don't want to do, however, is conjure so-called "chronic Lyme Disease" out of thin air. As one study explains [5]: 

"Some individuals with chronic illnesses or with medically unexplained symptoms attribute their condition to chronic infection with the tick-borne bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, the cause of Lyme disease. In many cases such individuals, regardless of whether they have evidence of the infection, seek treatments that depart from mainstream medical practices."

This may apply to individuals who have previously been diagnosed with Lyme Disease and then treated for it, but who still experience symptoms; something known as post-treatment Lyme Disease syndrome. Even people who suffer from a random but debilitating set of undiagnosed and unexplained symptoms can and do, however, convince themselves that they have chronic Lyme Disease [6] — in the complete absence of Borrelia burgdorferi. 

This is bad news both because focusing on treating something you don't have means you're not seeking diagnosis and treatment for what you do have, and because you run the danger of turning to treatments for a "condition" that doesn't even have a clinical definition. 

While your family doctor will hopefully not follow you down such a pseudo-scientific rabbit hole, plenty of other people will — primarily, those who make money off selling non-evidence-based and often downright dangerous alternative treatments for chronic Lyme Disease. 

From The Frying Pan To The Fire: Alternative Lyme Disease 'Treatments' That'll Make You Worse Off

Whether you were once diagnosed with Lyme Disease and continue to suffer its devastating effects in the form of post-treatment Lyme Disease syndrome or are suffering from so-called signs of chronic Lyme Disease without a previous diagnosis, the following "treatments" spell danger rather than healing [5]. 

1. Prolonged (intravenous) antibiotics for those who have symptoms of "chronic Lyme Disease" or post-treatment Lyme Disease syndrome have been found not to work; while some who have taken this route may report improved symptoms, scientific studies have found that this is not the norm, time and time again. What's more, prolonged courses of often intravenous antibiotics can lead to opportunistic bacterial infections as the antibiotics destroy your microbial flora, and can even be fatal. [7, 8]

2. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the one treatment that has been shown to be able to fight some strains of Borrelia burgdorferi (in a petri dish!). Despite that, it's pricey, extremely time-consuming, and prone to causing ear and eye complications [9]. No scientifically-supported human trials investigating whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy is effective in people suffering from Lyme Disease have taken place, either, making this something you do not want to experiment with. Similar therapies with hydrogen peroxide and ozone have no scientific backing at all, on the other hand. 

3. Energy and radiation-based therapies include things like UV lights, lasers, and so-called "photon therapy". Devices marketed for home use are incredibly expensive and sold by making false scientific claims. These things will not cure Lyme Disease.

4. Chelation and heavy metal therapy are designed to treat genuine heavy metal poisoning, for which purpose they do work. Alternative medicine proponents have advocated for the use of chelation to remove heavy metals they suspect are present for all sorts of conditions, from Alzheimer's to autism [10] — and also for so-called chronic Lyme Disease, which some people erroneously say puts you at risk of symptomatic mercury poisoning. If you're using Bismuth, this can even be fatal; the ultimate dangerous therapy, we'd say!

5. Dubious "biological and pharmacological" treatments marketed to gullible people looking for answers include bee venom, drinking your own urine, bleach, hormone treatments, cortisone, and Naltrexone, a medication used for alcohol and opioid addicts. Many of these are inherently dangerous, while others are dangerous unless correctly prescribed. None have been found to actually do anything for Lyme Disease.

In Conclusion

Conventional modern medicine doesn't yet have all the answers, something that holds true for Lyme Disease as well as just about anything else. When you've been suffering and your physician is unable to offer any solutions, it's hardly surprising that you're tempted to turn to alternative medicine. 

While some alternative treatments — defined, in this case, as anything outside of the realm of established science — are downright dangerous by themselves (bleach!? really!?), they all pose a definite risk. If you're caught up in unproven alternative treatments because you think they will work, you are probably not seeking diagnosis and treatment from a qualified doctor for the symptoms you have.

These symptoms are caused by something, Lyme or something else entirely, and you're better off trying to get to the bottom of them — with the help of a real doctor — than dabbling in quackery. 

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