Archive for the ‘Inflammation’ Category

How Underlying Conditions Affect Your Immune System

How Underlying Conditions Affect Your Immune System

By Holtdorf Medical Group


The immune system plays the crucial role of protecting the body and defending against pathogens, illness, and disease. As such, a decline in immune function often results in greater occurrence and increased severity of sickness. Unfortunately, chronic health conditions impact 6 out of every 10 American adults and these conditions often impair their underlying immune system and function.

Below are some of the most common chronic conditions and the ways in which they compromise the immune system.

Heart Disease

Heart disease affects 121.5 million adults in the United States. The term heart disease describes a range of conditions such as coronary artery disease, congenital heart defects, and issues that affect the heart’s muscle, valves, and rhythm. All of these conditions have the ability to negatively affect the immune system as the body perceives the cholesterol-containing plaque inside coronary blood vessels as a foreign invader and works to eliminate it, which results in inflammation. If the body continues to attack the coronary blockages, the prolonged state of inflammation strains the immune system as it is forced to continually stay in an active state and fight the plaque rather than potential foreign invaders.

Heart disease can also impact your lung function. Because a compromised heart struggles to effectively pump blood from the lungs to the rest of the body, blood can build up and raise the pressure in the pulmonary veins. This results in fluid being pushed into the lungs, making it harder to breathe. It is important to note this connection between the heart and lungs and the strain that results between the two with heart disease patients, as it makes them more vulnerable to respiratory infection when their lungs are weakened.

Chronic Lung Disease

The lungs are not only weakened by heart disease but also conditions such as severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, and chronic pneumonia. All of these diseases block airflow to the lungs, making it difficult to breathe and resulting in irritated lung cells and inflammation.

These inflamed lung cells also strain the immune system as they fuel an immune system cycle in which the body sends additional inflammatory immune cells to the lungs in an attempt to fight the chronic conditions. Long-term lung inflammation leads to both extensive lung damage and an impaired immune response to respiratory infections.

Diabetes and High Blood Sugar

With more than 100 million U.S. adults now estimated to have either diabetes or pre-diabetes and 47 million estimated to have metabolic syndrome, it is important to understand how this affects the body’s capacity to fight off illness.

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired resulting in elevated blood sugar levels, a state called hyperglycemia. Chronic hyperglycemia, which can occur in type 1 and type 2 diabetes, can damage the function of white blood cells such as neutrophils and T cells, which help fight off viruses, toxins, and bacteria.

High blood sugar compromises the body’s antioxidant system, which helps fight against free radicals and oxidative stress. Additionally, people with high blood sugar often have reduced blood flow because the sugar creates increased blood viscosity, which makes it more difficult for the blood to reach smaller blood vessels in the eyes, heart, nerves, feet, arms, and kidneys. The reduced internal blood flow makes the body less capable of mobilizing immune cells that are responsible for defending the body against infection.

Immunocompromised Conditions

There are many conditions that can result in someone being immunocompromised, or impaired or unable to fight against pathogens. Cancer, bone marrow or organ transplantation, HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of certain medications can all lead to someone being immunocompromised.

Regardless of the condition or cause, those who are immunocompromised produce fewer T cells, macrophages, and complement proteins, which are all key parts of the immune system. Therefore, when the immune system lacks these aspects of its defense response, its ability to combat illness is impaired.

Autoimmune Conditions

Unlike those that are immunocompromised and have an underactive immune system, the 24 million Americans with autoimmunity have an overactive immune system. Patients with conditions such as lupus, celiac disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, or rheumatoid arthritis may suffer from their immune system being overactive to the point of attacking its own healthy cells. Therefore, unlike the previously addressed conditions, those with autoimmune conditions do not necessarily have a weakened immune response rather, they are more likely to have complications from illnesses when their body overcompensates and begins to attack itself.

If you do have an underlying condition that puts you at a higher risk of developing a severe illness, the good news is that chronic health issues can be well managed through nutrition, lifestyle, and medications. At Holtorf Medical Group, our expert physicians utilize innovative treatments to strengthen your immune system. Give us a call at 844-844-2981 to learn about our immune-supporting therapies, and see how we can help you!

  1. Annals of the American Thoracic Society,
  2. “Autoimmune Diseases.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
  3. Bentley-Lewis, Rhonda, et al. “The Metabolic Syndrome in Women.” Nature Clinical Practice. Endocrinology & Metabolism, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2007,
  4. “Cardiovascular Diseases Affect Nearly Half of American Adults, Statistics Show.”,
  5. “Chronic Diseases in America.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 Sept. 2020,
  6. Forfia, Paul R, et al. “Pulmonary Heart Disease: The Heart-Lung Interaction and Its Impact on Patient Phenotypes.” Pulmonary Circulation, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, Jan. 2013,
  7. Kingwell, Bronwyn A., et al. “Type 2 Diabetic Individuals Have Impaired Leg Blood Flow Responses to Exercise.” Diabetes Care, American Diabetes Association, 1 Mar. 2003,
  8. “Metabolic Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Mar. 2019,
  9. “New CDC Report: More than 100 Million Americans Have Diabetes or Prediabetes.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 July 2017,
  10. “What Are Congenital Heart Defects?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 Nov. 2020,
  11. Zhou, Tong, et al. “Role of Adaptive and Innate Immunity in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.” Journal of Diabetes Research, Hindawi, 8 Nov. 2018,


For more:  

Opinion: Neurologic Problems in Lyme Disease Also Seen in COVID-19


neurologic lyme disease patient in hospital

Doctors have been describing neurologic problems in Lyme disease patients for decades. Thirty years ago, Lyme encephalopathy and Lyme neuropathy were discussed in the New England Journal of Medicine. Since then other neurologic problems in Lyme disease have been described including Neuropsychiatric Lyme disease and Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS). Now, patients with COVID-19 are reportedly experiencing neurologic problems.

In their study, “Frequent neurologic manifestations and encephalopathy‐associated morbidity in Covid‐19 patients,”Liotta and colleagues describe neurologic manifestations in 509 patients with confirmed COVID-19.¹ The authors sought to identify the incidence of neurologic complications in COVID-19 patients.

The study found:

  • More than 8 out of 10 COVID-19 patients suffered from neurologic complications.
  • Nearly 1 out of 3 COVID-19 patients suffered from headaches, encephalopathy, and dizziness, which are also common neurologic symptoms in Lyme disease.
  • Other symptoms included myalgia and fatigue, which occurred in 43% of patients at the onset of illness and in 79% of patients during COVID-19 disease.
  • COVID-19 patients with encephalopathy were less likely to have a good outcome.
  • COVID-19 patients with encephalopathy were hospitalized 3 times longer than COVID-19 patients who did not have encephalopathy.

Author’s Note: Encephalopathy typically refers to altered sensorium and central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction. There is no standardized test for encephalopathy. It appears the authors diagnosed their cases of encephalopathy using clinical judgment.

Encephalopathy has been associated with a poor outcome in other diseases. Some patients with Lyme encephalopathy have had a poor outcome. I have found that patients with this condition can be more challenging to treat.

The authors encourage further research and studies of encephalopathy in patients including those with “Covid-19 who complain of protracted inability to concentrate or decreased short-term memory (referred to as ‘brain fog’).”

READ MORE: Lyme disease manifesting as acute transverse myelitis

There are several potential causes of encephalopathy in this group of COVID-19 patients, which include: systemic disease and inflammation, coagulopathy, direct neuroinvasion by the virus, endotheliitis, post-infectious autoimmune mechanisms, intensive care unit delirium, sedation and analgesia doses, disruption of sleep/wake cycles, and infectious complications.

But due to limitations from the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors were unable to determine the exact cause of their patients’ encephalopathy.

Although I am unable to determine the cause of encephalopathy in Lyme disease patients, I encourage doctors to recognize the condition, so that prompt treatment may occur, improving the chances for a complete recovery.

Screening for encephalopathy

The authors advocate for broader recognition and targeted treatment of encephalopathy. “Broad recognition and screening for encephalopathy as a contributor to disease severity in Covid-19 may have utility in resource allocation and potential to improve patient outcomes,” writes Liotta.

“Prospective cognitive and neurologic-focused evaluations through specialized clinics dedicated to further diagnostic assessment and tailored rehabilitation needs could play a significant role in recovery from this pandemic,” the authors write.

Johnson and colleagues reported better outcomes in Lyme disease patients who were treated by doctors with expertise in treating Lyme disease.²

  1. Liotta EM, Batra A, Clark JR, et al. Frequent neurologic manifestations and encephalopathy-associated morbidity in Covid-19 patients. Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2020.
  2. Johnson L, Shapiro M, Stricker RB, Vendrow J, Haddock J, Needell D. Antibiotic Treatment Response in Chronic Lyme Disease: Why Do Some Patients Improve While Others Do Not? Healthcare (Basel). 2020;8(4).



The concern is people being misdiagnosed with COVID-19 when they have Lyme/MSIDS.

I was just contacted by a patient right here in Wisconsin who tested POSITIVE for Lyme THREE times but was told by the infectious disease doctor it was a “false negative.”  


Nothing has changed in Lyme-land.  Infectious disease doctors are typically the worst in my experience regarding tick-borne illness.  They still follow ancient unscientific advice from the CDC that Lyme/MSIDS is hard to catch and easy to treat.  Get to a Lyme literate doctor asap!

For more:

Mammography: The War on Women’s Breasts

Apologies for the tardiness of this, but PLEASE watch it while you can & share it widely.  The information contained within the documentary is not only eye-opening but imperative for women to understand for their health.  See documentary here.  FREE until Oct. 19


  • The documentary “Boobs: The War on Women’s Breasts” explores how mammography is causing more harm than good for many women
  • One of the harms of using mammography as a screening tool is that it can often lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment, including false-positive tests and unnecessary biopsies
  • Due to the introduction of mammography, breast cancer was overdiagnosed — meaning that tumors were detected that would never lead to clinical symptoms — in 1.3 million women over a 30-year period
  • Mammograms and their resulting biopsies may increase the spread of cancer, and up to 1 in 4 breast tissue biopsies may be incorrectly diagnosed by pathologists, with unnecessary mastectomies being performed as a result
  • There’s also the issue that mammograms use ionizing radiation at a relatively high dose, which in and of itself can contribute to the development of breast cancer
  • Other potentially safer options to mammography such as thermography and ultrasound are not widely available because the billion-dollar mammagoraphy industry prevents the widespread use of these beneficial tests

When asked how much radiation women are exposed to from mammograms, Dr. Ben Johnson, author of “No Ma’am-ograms,” says, “At least the amount of 100 chest X-rays.”

It’s a statement that would surprise many women who are advised to receive a mammogram as the standard of care for breast cancer prevention in the U.S. — and it’s just one of the eye-opening facts presented in the documentary “Boobs: The War on Women’s Breasts.”

The film begins with a written statement informing viewers that all of the information you’re about to hear is supported by scientific literature, even though much of it opposes the assertions made by conventional medicine. Doctors from across the United States and around the world — including California, Georgia, Switzerland, Virginia and Arizona — are interviewed, providing expert testimony on why you may want to rethink this controversial procedure.

The ‘Early Detection’ Myth and Biopsy Risks

One myth perpetuated by conventional medicine is that mammography is the most important screening test for breast cancer because it can detect breast cancer “up to two years before the tumor can be felt by you or your doctor.”1

However, the film points out that by the time you can feel a cancerous lump in your breast, the cancer has already been growing for two to five years. “Mammograms are not early detection,” Johnson says.

The myth that mammograms don’t spread cancer is also addressed, via the story of one woman who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and given only 1 year to live. She made significant changes to her lifestyle and many of the tumors disappeared. The cancer was stable years later, until she received a biopsy and subsequent mammograms, which she says made the cancer spread — and a tumor appeared in the area where the biopsy was done.

During a biopsy, a piece of tissue from a tumor or organ is removed so that it can be examined under a microscope, often to determine if it is cancerous. Needle biopsies, for instance, are widely used as part of the traditional allopathic approach to diagnosing breast cancer. But they may accidentally cause malignant cells to break away from a tumor, resulting in its spreading to other areas of your body.

One of the harms of using mammography as a screening tool is that it can often lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment, including false-positive tests and unnecessary biopsies.2

One study from the John Wayne Cancer Institute revealed that a needle biopsy may increase the spread of cancer compared to patients who receive excisional biopsies, also known as lumpectomies.3 They concluded, “Manipulation of an intact tumor by FNA [fine-needle aspiration] or large-gauge needle core biopsy is associated with an increase in the incidence of SN [sentinel node] metastases, perhaps due in part to the mechanical disruption of the tumor by the needle.”4

Johnson said he calls biopsies “the kiss of death,” describing how the needle gets driven through a billion cells, blows through the cancer and goes out the other side, dragging cells back through and spreading the cancer. Dr. Manfred Doepp, medical director of the Couros Center in Switzerland, agrees that biopsies can spread cancer, while the physical act of squeezing the breast during mammography may also trigger the cancer to spread.

The film cites a rapid response published in the BMJ, which states “robust scientific data, published in prestigious medical journals, have lent meaningful support to the concept” that the squeezing motion of mammography is in itself potentially harmful.5

Breast Cancer Overdiagnosed in 1.3 Million Women

The notion that mammography is an accurate screening tool is another myth busted in the film. Both false positives and false negatives occur, and even the skill of the radiologist in reading the mammogram is a factor in whether or not mammography is able to detect cancer.

Overall, when researchers examined trends in early-stage breast cancer and late-stage breast cancer from 1976 to 2008 among women 40 years and older, they found the introduction of mammography in the U.S. was linked to a doubling in the number of early-stage breast cancer cases detected each year.6

However, the rate at which women developed late-stage cancer decreased by 8% during that time, leading the researchers to suggest that only a small number of early-stage cancer diagnosed would progress into advanced disease:7

Despite substantial increases in the number of cases of early-stage breast cancer detected, screening mammography has only marginally reduced the rate at which women present with advanced cancer.

Although it is not certain which women have been affected, the imbalance suggests that there is substantial overdiagnosis, accounting for nearly a third of all newly diagnosed breast cancers, and that screening is having, at best, only a small effect on the rate of death from breast cancer.”

They concluded that due to the introduction of mammography, breast cancer was overdiagnosed — meaning that tumors were detected that would never lead to clinical symptoms — in 1.3 million women over a 30-year period.

Up to 80% of Breast Biopsies Are Benign

The overdiagnosis of breast cancer comes with serious risks, including needless treatments and unnecessary stress and anxiety. In another study cited in the film, it’s stated that more than 1 million breast biopsies are performed annually in the U.S., 75% to 80% of which turn out to be benign.8 Sometimes, the benign result isn’t uncovered until an unnecessary mastectomy has already occurred.

Up to 1 in 4 breast tissue biopsies may be incorrectly diagnosed by pathologists,9 and unnecessary mastectomies have been performed as a result. In a case that went to trial in 2020 in Israel, a woman was diagnosed with breast cancer after a biopsy tested at two medical centers came back positive.

She underwent six months of chemotherapy as a result, as well as a partial mastectomy to remove the growth. After the growth was removed, the lawsuit alleges, it turned out to be benign.10 In 2015, researchers with Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts revealed that false-positive mammograms and breast cancer overdiagnoses among women ages 40 to 59 cost the U.S. $4 billion each year.11

Mammograms May Not Work for Women With Dense Breasts

The story of Nancy Cappello is also covered in the film. Cappello was diagnosed with breast cancer after receiving two normal mammograms. The cancer was missed because she has dense breast tissue, and was only revealed when her doctor felt a ridge in her breast and prescribed an ultrasound test in addition to a mammogram.

Cappello was a pioneer in the movement to teach women about dense breast tissue and how using a mammogram to detect cancer in such tissue is “like finding a polar bear in a snowstorm.” She said:12

“So I went on a quest — for research — and I discovered for nearly a decade BEFORE my diagnosis, six major studies with over 42,000 women concluded that by supplementing a mammogram with an ultrasound increases detection from 48% to 97% for women with dense tissue.

I also learned that women with extremely dense tissue are 5x more likely to have breast cancer when compared with women with fatty breasts and that research on dense breast tissue as an independent risk factor for breast cancer has been studied since the mid 70s.

… I endured a mastectomy, reconstruction, 8 chemotherapy treatments and 24 radiation treatments. The pathology report confirmed — stage 3c cancer because the cancer had traveled outside of the breast to my lymph nodes. Eighteen lymph nodes were removed and thirteen contained cancer — AND REMEMBER — a “normal” mammogram just weeks before. Is that early detection?”

As a result of Cappello’s movement, 38 states have passed mandatory breast density reporting laws. The film states that up to 90% of women may have some degree of dense breast tissue that may affect a mammogram’s outcome and could benefit from whole breast ultrasound — a procedure that’s not widely available. Women are also interviewed that were told they had dense breast tissue, but not what that meant for the effectiveness of mammography.

‘Precancer’: Ductal Carcinoma in Situ

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) refers to the abnormal growth of cells within the milk ducts of the breast forming a lesion commonly between 1 to 1.5 centimeters (cm) in diameter. While the cells appear malignant under a microscope, they have not invaded surrounding tissue and are considered “precancer,” noninvasive or “stage zero breast cancer.” Some experts have also argued that DCIS should be considered noncancerous.

Despite this, the film tells the story of one woman who had both breasts removed due to a DCIS diagnosis. Such diagnoses now represent 20% to 25% of all “breast cancers,”13 and the standard of care is to treat all DCIS with mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery with radiotherapy. According to a review in the British Journal of Cancer:14

“In effect, women with DCIS are labelled as ‘cancer patients’, with concomitant anxiety and negative impact on their lives, despite the fact that most DCIS lesions will probably never progress to invasive breast cancer.

Owing to the uncertainty regarding which lesions run the risk of progression to invasive cancer, current risk perceptions are misleading and consequently bias the dialogue between clinicians and women diagnosed with DCIS, resulting in overtreatment for some, and potentially many, women.”

Is Radiation From Mammograms Dangerous?

There’s also the issue that mammograms use ionizing radiation at a relatively high dose, which in and of itself can contribute to the development of breast cancer. In a 2016 study, it’s stated, “ionizing radiation as used in low-dose X-ray mammography may be associated with a risk of radiation-induced carcinogenesis.”15

They point out that people who carry certain genetic variations or have an inherited disposition of breast cancer, in particular, should avoid ionizing radiation as much as possible — the latter group being one that conventional medicine often recommends for routine or even extra mammography screening. Again, they refer individuals to a different, safer, form of testing: ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).16

A “new and improved” type of mammogram called 3D tomosynthesis, which is basically a CT scan for your breasts, is particularly problematic, as your radiation exposure is even greater than from standard mammograms — and by a significant margin.

According to one study,17 annual screening using digital or screen-film mammography on women aged 40 to 80 years is associated with an induced cancer incidence and fatal breast cancer rate of 20 to 25 cases per 100,000 mammograms. Meaning, annual mammograms cause 20 to 25 cases of fatal cancer for every 100,000 women getting the test.

The 3D mammogram requires multiple views in order to achieve three-dimensionality, so it stands to reason your total radiation exposure would be considerably higher than from a standard 2D mammogram.

Thermography and Ultrasound Use No Radiation

In order to make informed decisions, women should be provided with all of their screening options, along with an explanation of their strengths and weaknesses, and be allowed to utilize the option of their choice.

Mammography is only one option, with considerable drawbacks. Other potentially safer options include self and clinical breast exams, thermography, ultrasound and MRI. Thermography and ultrasound use no radiation, and may detect abnormalities that mammograms miss, especially in women with dense breast tissue.

These are explained in detail toward the end of the film, but they can be difficult to access in the U.S., as the billion-dollar mammography industry prevents the widespread use of these beneficial tests.

It’s also important to understand that mammography doesn’t prevent breast cancer in any way. Breast cancer prevention involves a healthy lifestyle, avoidance of toxins and attention to certain nutritional factors, such as vitamin D. It is absolutely vital to know and optimize your vitamin D level as it can radically reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Ignoring these factors and simply getting an annual mammogram and believing you’re protected is the end result being foisted upon many women trusting the advice of conventional medicine. By leading a healthy lifestyle, and seeking to get informed about all of your breast cancer screening options, you can avoid this potentially deadly pitfall.

About the Director

Megan S. Smith, M.S.

I believe in bringing quality to my readers, which is why I would like to share some information about the filmmaker, Megan S. Smith, M.S., and what went in to making “bOObs: The War on Women’s Breasts.” Thank you, Megan, for sharing with us.

What was your inspiration for making this film?

My inspiration for making this film, as well as in making my next film on alternative cancer therapies, was the death of my husband 11 years ago from lung cancer. Specifically, for “bOObs,” my inspiration was emboldened by the death of my three dear friends in as many years after their breast cancer returned following 10-plus years in remission.

What was your favorite part of making the film?

My favorite part of making this film was interviewing the patients and doctors. I learned during my interviews of Drs. Ben Johnson and Galina Migalko about the detriments of mammograms and that we might instead be using thermography in conjunction with ultrasound. This nonradiation protocol made sense to me.

Also, my interview with The American Cancer Society’s Dr. Otis Brawley was an eye opener, as he disclosed, “Mammography is a suboptimal test” and “We need a better test.” All these doctors were spot on. More information on the film can be found here.

Order Boobs documentary

Bartonella: How to Protect Yourself From This Stealthy Intruder

Bartonella: How to Protect Yourself From This Stealthy Intruder

Jill C. Carnahan, MD

Founder, Medical Director, Flatiron Functional Medicine

A walk through the woods. Playing with your cat. Getting a spider bite. These things might all seem unrelated, but they have one important thing in common – they can all potentially expose you to a sneaky and possibly dangerous bacteria known as Bartonella. 

This stealthy intruder can be dangerous and is notoriously hard to treat. Today we’re going to dive into exactly what Bartonella is. And most importantly we’re going to cover practical and simple ways you can protect yourself from this foreign invader. 

What Is Bartonella?

Bartonella is a type of bacteria that infects your cells – causing a condition known as bartonellosis. It’s estimated that there are over 20 different strains of Bartonella, and that at least 14 of them have the ability to be transmitted to humans.1 Once contracted, Bartonella makes itself at home, particularly in the cells that line your blood vessels and within your red blood cells.

What makes Bartonella unique is its ability to evade your immune system’s defenses. You see, Bartonella has a stealthy infection strategy that goes something like this:2

  1. Adhesion: Once contracted, Bartonella adheres to your red blood cells.
  2. Deformation: After attaching to your red blood cells, Bartonella gets to work on deforming the surface of your cells by creating progressive indentations and invaginations.
  3. Invasion: As the integrity of the surface of your red blood weakens, Bartonella begins its invasion – essentially hijacking your red blood cells.
  4. Persistence: Once your red blood cells are hijacked, Bartonella is able to evade your body’s defenses – allowing this bacteria to thrive and replicate undetected by your immune system.
  5. Suppression: Protected by the camouflage of your red blood cells, Bartonella is able to manipulate your immune system – triggering the secretion of certain chemical messengers that suppress and dampen your immune response.

Bartonella’s deceptive and stealthy infection strategy makes this pathogen particularly skilled at not only persisting and hiding within its host’s body – but it also creates ideal conditions for transmission. Let’s dive into exactly how this deceptive microorganism is transmitted and contracted.

How Do You Contract Bartonella?

Bartonella can be carried by most mammals, including domestic animals like cats, dogs, horses, and cattle. Typically, if you’re exposed to Bartonella, it’s through transmission from an animal. This can occur if you’re scratched by a cat or bitten by a dog. But it’s most often spread through a number of insect vectors such as:3

  • Ticks
  • Fleas
  • Lice
  • Sandflies
  • Red ants
  • Spiders
  • Bed bugs

These blood-sucking insects are the perfect vehicle for Bartonella to spread from host to host. 

What Are the Symptoms of Bartonella?

Bartonella can cause several identifiable conditions such as:4

  • Cat scratch disease
  • Carrion’s disease
  • Trench fever
  • Encephalopathy
  • Pericarditis
  • Chronic bacteremia

But Bartonella can also cause a handful of vague symptoms that are much more difficult to pinpoint, such as:5

Exactly how a Bartonella infection manifests varies substantially depending on the status of your immune system. And what makes this pathogen even trickier, is the fact that it’s often seen as a co-infection with other vector-borne pathogens.

Bartonella as a Co-infection: Its Link to Lyme Disease

The problem with ticks and other insect vectors is that they often harbor multiple infectious organisms. Meaning if you get bitten by a tick or other insect vector, you’re likely to be exposed and potentially infected with more than one organism – such as Bartonella. When multiple pathogens are contracted simultaneously, they’re called co-infections.

In particular, Bartonella has been identified as a co-infection to Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne disease. A co-infection with Bartonella has been found to significantly exacerbate symptoms associated with Lyme disease and can make diagnosis and treatment challenging. 

So let’s take a look at exactly how Bartonella can be addressed and if treatment can eliminate this persistent pathogen.

Is Bartonella Curable?

Because Bartonella is so good at being deceptive and camouflaging itself among your own cells, curing Bartonella requires a multi-faceted approach. So far, our best efforts at eradicating a Bartonella infection involves:6

  • A combination of prescription and herbal antimicrobials that kill off not only actively replicating forms of Bartonella, but also target “persisters” that have set up camp within your cells. These persisters aren’t actively replicating, but are hiding out in your cells and have the potential to replicate later on. 
  • Herbal and/or prescription medications that can break down the protective barrier some bacteria and viruses create, known as a biofilm
  • Supplements to decrease inflammation and support a healthy balance of cytokines and other chemical messengers that modulate your immune response.
  • Steps to boost and support your entire immune system.

Oftentimes treatment can take anywhere from 4-6 months or longer to improve the symptoms of Bartonella. Because Bartonella and other tick-borne illnesses can be difficult and time-consuming to treat, it’s imperative to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. 

So, How Can I Protect Myself Against Bartonella and Other Tick-Borne Diseases?

The best way to protect yourself against Bartonella and other tick-borne diseases is to take a two-pronged approach. Firstly, you’ll want to take precautions to prevent and avoid tick and insect bites. And secondly, you’ll want to bolster your natural defenses by ensuring your immune system is firing on all cylinders. Here are the steps I recommend taking: 

Protect Yourself From Tick and Insect Bites

If you’re going somewhere that may put you at risk of insect bites, take steps to protect yourself in the following ways:7

  • Stay on trails and avoid walking in tall grass or through the woods where you’re likely to come into contact with ticks and insects
  • Wear long pants and closed shoes
  • Use insect repellent
  • Wear lightly-colored clothes so you can more easily spot ticks or other insects on you
  • Inspect your clothes and hair and immediately remove any ticks or other insects

But the truth is it’s impossible to entirely avoid the possibility of being bitten by an insect vector that could potentially be carrying Bartonella or other infectious microorganisms. So it’s important to take these precautions in conjunction with the next step – boosting your immune system.

Give Your Immune System a Boost

Your immune system is your most powerful weapon against any and all potentially harmful microorganisms. And the good news is, you have a lot of control over how well your immune system functions. Some of the easiest and most effective ways to support your immune system are:

  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet: The food you eat either promotes inflammation or fights inflammation. Basing your diet around anti-inflammatory foods minimizes inflammation – that way your immune system can direct all of its energy and resources at any potential threats. The basis of an anti-inflammatory diet is simply building most of your meals around real, whole foods and limiting processed foods. 
  • Take immune-boosting supplements: Supplements are a potent way to get a concentrated dose of immune-boosting nutrients and to fill in any nutritional gaps in your diet. Supplements like Gut Immune, Immune Booster, and Vitamin C help supercharge your immune system. If you want to learn more about how certain supplements boost your immunity, head over, and read my article covering the best immune-boosting supplements.   
  • Decrease your toxic burden: Our never-ending and ever-increasing exposure to environmental toxins can put a serious damper on your immune system. If toxins begin to accumulate in your body, it can overload your body’s detoxification mechanisms and essentially burn out your immune system. To learn exactly how you can begin decreasing your toxic burden and boost your immune system, check out my article How to Boost Your Immune System by Reducing Your Toxic Burden
  • Show your gut some love: The health of your gut and the status of your immune system are directly and intricately linked. If your gut is unhealthy, you’re guaranteed to have a weakened immune system. So taking steps to keep your gut healthy and happy is another surefire way to improve your immune system. To learn more about how your gut health impacts your immune system, you can read my article How to Heal Your Gut for a Stronger Immune System.

Your immune system truly is your best defense against any and all potentially harmful pathogens. Prioritizing the health of your immune system is hands-down one of the best things you can do for your overall health.

You Are Your Own Best Advocate

Bartonella is stealthy and deceptive – making it a particularly persistent and challenging infection to address. And the complications from this bacteria can be damaging and life-altering. So protecting yourself from this tricky microbe is crucial. 

And when it comes to protecting yourself from Bartonella, and other pathogens, you are your own best advocate. Following the steps outlined in this article is the best way to keep yourself safe and bolster your defenses. I always say that when it comes to your health, you are in the driver’s seat – and knowledge is your most powerful tool.

That’s why I’m dedicated to delivering the best and most up-to-date research to my patients and readers. If you want to access more empowering information about your health, my blogis chock-full of articles and resources. And if you want to take it even deeper, I encourage you to sign up for my newsletter. You’ll get all my best advice and resources delivered directly to your inbox. All you have to do is enter your name and email in the form below.


While mainstream entomologists often deny or downplay tick and insect/arachnid transmission of Bartonella:  
Considering the severity of Bartonella, I’ve never understood why ‘authorities’ do not err on the side of caution regarding transmission of Bartonella by all insects and arachnids that feed on blood.  In my opinion, anything that feeds on blood should be suspect until proven otherwise.
Regarding persistence, Dr. Ericson has shown Bartonella to survive in tissues where a PIC line was removed:
And mainstream medicine completely ignores the severe psychiatric manifestations that Bartonella can cause:

Study Shows DSM Works for Lyme – Reduces Inflammatory Markers & Antibody Titers

Repurposing Disulfiram (Tetraethylthiuram Disulfide) as a Potential Drug Candidate against Borrelia burgdorferi In Vitro and In Vivo

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Antibiotics 2020, 9(9), 633;
Received: 10 July 2020 / Revised: 17 September 2020 / Accepted: 21 September 2020 / Published: 22 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drugs Repurposing for the Treatment of Bacterial Infections)


Lyme disease caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb or B. burgdorferi) is the most common vector-borne, multi-systemic disease in the USA. Although most Lyme disease patients can be cured with a course of the first line of antibiotic treatment, some patients are intolerant to currently available antibiotics, necessitating the development of more effective therapeutics. We previously found several drugs, including disulfiram, that exhibited effective activity against B. burgdorferi. In the current study, we evaluated the potential of repurposing the FDA-approved drug, disulfiram for its borreliacidal activity.
  • Our results indicate disulfiram has excellent borreliacidal activity against both the log and stationary phase B. burgdorferi sensu stricto B31 MI. Treatment of mice with disulfiram eliminated the B. burgdorferi sensu stricto B31 MI completely from the hearts and urinary bladder by day 28 post infection.
  • Moreover, disulfiram-treated mice showed reduced expressions of inflammatory markers, and thus they were protected from histopathology and cardiac organ damage.
  • Furthermore, disulfiram-treated mice showed significantly lower amounts of total antibody titers (IgM and IgG) at day 21 and total IgG2b at day 28 post infection.
  • FACS analysis of lymph nodes revealed a decrease in the percentage of CD19+ B cells and an increase in total percentage of CD3+ T cells, CD3+ CD4+ T helpers, and naive and effector memory cells in disulfiram-treated mice.

Together, our findings suggest that disulfiram has the potential to be repurposed as an effective antibiotic for treating Lyme disease. View Full-Text


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