Connection Between ALS & Lyme?

Is there a connection between ALS and Lyme Disease?

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By Tim Sandle     Jul 25, 2018 in Health
In the U.S. cases of Lyme Disease appear to be rising. Some researchers have drawn a link between the tick-transmitted bacterial infection and the neurodegenerative condition ALS. Jo Ann Simon explains more.
Screenshot_2018-09-21 Deer tick - Image - Digital Journal
Black legged Deer Tick – Jim Gathnany/CDC
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 376,000 cases of reported Lyme disease occur in the U.S. Lyme disease is a bacterial illness that can cause serious neurological problems. First discovered in the 1970s, Lyme disease draws its name from the Connecticut area, including the towns of Lyme and Old Lyme (see the Digital Journal article “Discoverer of Lyme disease dies”).

Lyme disease is difficult to detect until the symptoms, which arise in a person following the transfer of the pathogenic bacteria into the human blood stream as the result of a tick bite, appear.

The condition of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease, received considerable attention a couple of years ago through the awareness campaign ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’. There are 20,000 people living with ALS at a given time, with 6,000 more being diagnosed in the U.S. every year.

Jo Ann Simon has been examining the connection between ALS and Lyme Disease based on her medical experiences and relevant statistics.

According to Simon,

“ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. “A” means no. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “Trophic” means nourishment – “No muscle nourishment.”

She explains further:
“When a muscle has no nourishment, it “atrophies” or wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates, it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region.”
Digital Journal: Is there a connection between Lyme Disease and ALS?

Jo Ann Simon: The culprit can be the spirochete borrelia burgodorferi bacteria of Lyme Disease or the unnamed foreign invader of ALS in the brain that triggers motor neuron disease, or are they the same?”

Our research, testing and discovery brought us through a maze of doctors, hospitals, treatments and various results. We celebrated when we thought it might be MMN Multi Focal Motor Neurothopy or Guilliane Barre, both treatable motor neuron diseases, but further testing eliminated that glimmer of hope.

DJ: What are the research highlights?

Simon: There are five little known facts about ALS and Lyme Disease, which research draws out. First, ALS and Lyme Disease have common ground with the auto immune and the central nervous systems. Second, common symptoms range from fatigue, numbness, muscle weakness and twitches, speech impairment, and cramping.

Third, recent studies that show that a significant percentage of ALS diagnosed patients test positive for Lyme Disease. Fourth, in some cases, patients diagnosed with ALS actually had Lyme Disease instead. And fifth, Lou Gehrig, the namesake of ALS lived very close to Lyme, Connecticut, where the disease was born.

DJ: What can people do to reduce the chance of infection?

Simon: The most important take away from this experience is that everyone needs to protect themselves, their family, friends and pets from ticks. Prevention of a tick bite could save your life! Prevention is the best medicine.

Also, use bug spray that has DEET (Off or Repel products) or Picaridin (Sawyer, Fisherman, Skin So Soft products). These are effective to deter ticks and can be found online, or at your local pharmacy, or department store.

If you are walking in grassy wooded areas, tuck in your pants to socks and wear long sleeve shirts so that your skin is not exposed. They might still jump on you for a ride, but you can eliminate them by running your clothes in a hot dryer for 10 minutes so they turn into harmless toast.

DJ: Is there anything else?

Simon: Yes, you can treat your shoes and clothes with Permithrin, a synthetic pesticide that repels ticks from 5 to 70 washes, depending on the product. Insect Shield in North Carolina will treat your clothes for up to 70 washes, or you can treat yourself with different products such as Sawyer insect repellent which can be purchased on line or at your local pharmacy, grocery or department store. L.L. Bean and Cabela’s sell pretreated clothes and camping gear.

Protect your pet. If you stopped your pet’s tick preventive over the winter, get it started again now. Outdoor dogs and cats will likely be the first family members to find a tick and bring it home to you. There are two types of products to use. Products that kill ticks on contact – quick tick gone or kill ticks after their lunch – bite to die. Talk to your vet to decide the best product for your pet.

Also, get professional treatment for your property to eliminate the threat of ticks in your outside living areas. This does not stop the threat elsewhere, but at least you can sleep at night not worrying about the ticks on your doorstep. Do a tick check every day. This is especially important for your children and pets since they normally spend the most time outside.


For More:    She found that Lyme was likely the cause of her deterioration in health, got treated for it and stopped the progression of the ‘ALS’. She’s still alive now, although hardly after the damage the original documentary had done to her care plan. years of medical observations that some people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS — also suffer from a form of dementia. Conversely, some patients with dementia also have been observed developing crippling symptoms similar to those in ALS, where patients gradually lose control of their muscles.  This latest common protein discovery in a way adds another link in the chain of research into the major neurodegenerative diseases. Now, a faulty protein has been uncovered in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, among others. Each of these diseases remains incurable, but scientists believe discoveries such as this represent a major step forward in finding a cure.

A relationship between ALS / MND (motor neuron disease) and Lyme makes sense, looking at the findings of the 1990 research that was published in the article ‘Immunological Reactivity against in Borrelia burgdorferi in Patients with Motor Neuron Disease’ by Halperin et al.  This study showed that in almost 50% of the 19 people diagnosed with ALS, Lyme was the cause. Once treated, several of these patients improved. In that same year, 1990, the CDC published its first definition about Lyme and described the complex, systemic, multi-symptom and sometimes devastating chronic disease experienced by many Lyme patients – then and still today.

Did anyone ever do a follow-up on this promising research? No. It was simply hidden away and Halperin chose to become a co-author of the 2006 IDSA Lyme Guidelines instead, which maintain that ‘Lyme is a mild disease that is hard to get, easy to treat and hardly ever becomes a chronic condition’. Any possible connection with ALS or any other of the serious and previously acknowledged debilitating or even deadly conditions was no longer mentioned. Any long-term health issues are reasoned away, using semantics rather than ‘evidence based’ science.  Watch parts 1 & 4 to see how Lyme can masquerade as other neurodegenerative illnesses.

And lastly, if you want to see first-hand a doctor (Dr. Martz) diagnosed with ALS who got his life back after Lyme was discovered & treated, watch the excellent documentary, “Under Our Skin.”  Story here:

You can also read about Dr. Martz in “Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic,” by Pamela Weintraub.