Archive for the ‘Inflammation’ Category

Why Therapy Isn’t Enough When You Have OCD and PANS/PANDAS

Why therapy isn’t enough when you have OCD and PANS/PANDAS

The following is written by a 22-year-old woman who writes the Dreaming Panda blog, about her experiences coping with Lyme disease and PANS/PANDAS. She has been dealing with these conditions for more than 10 years. PANS/PANDAS is an autoimmune condition that can be triggered by such infections as strep, Lyme disease, and others.

by Iris Ainsley

This week, I made the mistake of reading the PANDAS Wikipedia page, and now I’m boiling over:

“Treatment for children suspected of PANDAS is generally the same as standard treatments for [Tourette Syndrome] and OCD. These include therapy and medications…”

All the sources for the page are at least seven years old, and since then, research has evolved dramatically. Unfortunately, to the peril of those of us who have PANS/PANDAS, many doctors still subscribe to this misguided treatment “standard.”

And so, I present my own story as a living example of why you should never ever listen to this terrible advice—and certainly shouldn’t trust Wikipedia…


One fateful Saturday afternoon in my senior year of high school, I became inexplicably convinced that I was a terrible person going to Hell. My mind was suddenly consumed by unwanted obscene intrusive thoughts: words and images of explicit and blasphemous material that went against everything I believed.

Overnight, I’d developed a severe case of a lesser know type of OCD which revolved around moral and religious obsessions and invisible mental compulsions. The extreme anxiety I felt from my OCD turned me into a caged tiger, and I would pace the house for hours and hours and constantly fidget during class.

It was as if an outside force had completely taken over my mind and body. I had no idea what was happening to me. My parents took me to the doctor, and I was given medication and referred to a psychologist for therapy.

“What about PANS?” they asked my GP. My mom had read about the disease while researching OCD and immediately had a bad feeling that it explained my symptoms.

My doctor sighed:

“PANS is controversial. We don’t know much about it… But we do know that therapy helps the majority of people with OCD.”

And so, I began an eight-month course of intensive Exposure-Response Prevention therapy. I slowly got my life back and was freed from my severe OCD.

Because therapy seemed so effective, my family and I figured that even if PANS/PANDAS had caused my OCD, it didn’t matter anymore. We trusted the conventional treatment strategy for suspected PANDAS: that it should be treated no differently from “garden-variety” OCD.


There’s one big problem with the “mainstream” PANS treatment advice that, unfortunately, doctors don’t seem to grasp: PANS is an infection-triggered autoimmune disease that attacks the brain—not a mental illness. Although the syndrome manifests as severe, sudden-onset OCD, PANS can no more be cured by SSRI’s and therapy than can any other autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis or lupus.

Telling someone with PANS that therapy and psychotropic medication is the solution is like giving a cane to someone with rheumatoid arthritis and calling that a “cure.” Yes, mobility aids may be necessary to cope with symptoms, but they don’t address the underlying disease.

Similarly, therapy can help cope with the PANS symptom of OCD, but it doesn’t address the brain inflammation that causes it. Just like other autoimmune conditions, forgoing proper treatment for PANS can allow the illness to progress.


A sore throat at the beginning of my first year at university brought PANS back in a new form: I fell into a dream-like state for the next nine months, where I couldn’t tell when I was awake or asleep; I slept at least ten hours at night and constantly fell asleep all day long, no matter how much caffeine I had. I was soon misdiagnosed with narcolepsy.

As the months went on, my anxiety reached new extremes, and I started waking up in the middle of the night in panic attacks. I developed a hand tremor, and I noticed random muscles twitching at times, too. I would get so nauseous that I would go multiple days barely able to eat anything. I saw half a dozen specialists over the school year, but nothing seemed to help.

Any doctor who thinks PANS should always be treated the same as any case of OCD clearly knows nothing about PANS. Unless someone has a mild case or is “lucky” to get diagnosed quickly, you’ll find that most people with PANS, like me, have tried multiple psychotropic medications, seen numerous therapists and doctors, and have probably accrued an impressive list of diagnoses in addition to OCD—and they continue to suffer intensely.

I did my very best to comply with the therapy and medications my doctors suggested in the hopes of getting better, but instead…


Finally, that summer after my freshman year, when I was sure I couldn’t get any sicker, I woke up one day with wild involuntary movements all over my body. I suddenly couldn’t walk. I had trouble speaking. I hallucinated. I wrote the letters all out of order when I attempted my homework. I became suicidal and had outbursts of rage.

I literally told my parents I had “died,” because I felt like my entire personality and my very self had been wiped away over the course of a few days. It was like someone had kidnapped me from my own body.

Only treating PANS like “garden-variety” OCD is a complete misunderstanding of the very nature of the disorder. PANS isn’t just sudden-onset OCD—it’s an autoimmune condition that attacks the brain. The attack not only creates OCD, but it results in all sorts of other symptoms, such as the ones I later experienced (and plenty of others that I didn’t have). You cannot possibly fix the aforementioned problems by only treating PANS like “any other case of OCD.”


In July of 2014, almost two years after my extreme OCD began, my family schlepped across the country to a neurologist who specializes in PANS, because no one nearby knew how to help me. Other doctors had warned about seeing specialists like her, saying the treatments were “dangerous” and “unproven.”

But when a person is threatening to kill herself, not eating, and not responding to drugs and therapy anymore, what’s the real danger in the situation?

And so, a few days after I was diagnosed with PANS, I received an aggressive autoimmune treatment called IVIG: an IV infusion of antibodies from thousands of healthy donors. The idea was that the IVIG would reset my immune system and stop the autoimmune attack. If it stopped my own antibodies from attacking my brain, it would therefore stop the PANS symptoms.

Indeed, after a second round of IVIG a few months later, a year of antibiotics and steroids, and a tonsillectomy to get rid of an infection that was aggravating PANS, I fully recovered. By early 2016, I was left with only mild symptoms that had no impact on my life.


Although I developed new PANS symptoms in that first year of university, which later responded to IVIG and other treatments, I do believe there’s a good reason my OCD never got as bad as it once was: I learned coping techniques from my eight months in therapy. To this day, if I have a PANS flare-up, I might get the same sorts of constant, painful intrusive thoughts that I did in high school. However, I now have tools to avoid carrying out compulsions, so my OCD symptoms have never taken over my life again.

I’m not anti-therapy, anti-medication, or anti-psychiatry—I’m simply against only using these methods to treat a physical, brain-attacking autoimmune disease.
PANS is not a mental illness, but many of its symptoms, such as OCD, can be alleviated through therapy. In fact, I think most people with PANS could benefit from it. And sometimes, the right psychotropic medications (often in small doses) have been useful, too. This disease is harder than you can imagine to live with every day, and if there’s anything safe that might help, why not do it?

Nevertheless, even though PANS treatments like IVIG, plasmapheresis, and long-term antibiotics have significant risks, in moderate or severe cases like mine, it’s downright dangerous to use nothing but conventional OCD treatments like therapy and medication.

Other than the rare instances of PANS where a kid outgrows it, at best, someone with severe PANS who forgoes immune-based treatment might “manage” their OCD with psychiatric care for the rest of their life. At worst, that person will be permanently disabled by intractable symptoms… Or perhaps something even worse if they become suicidal.

My experience of PANS is not an anomaly—the only thing unusual is that I found a doctor willing to treat me properly. I shudder to think of how many thousands go without adequate care due to medical ignorance.

Until the textbooks (and Wikipedia page!) are rewritten to portray PANS/PANDAS as the serious autoimmune disease that it is, I will not stop speaking against the recklessness and inadequacy of the so-called conventional treatment strategy.

For scientific research showing why PANS/PANDAS is NOT controversial or hypothetical anymore, and why the Wikipedia page is wildly inaccurate, please refer to these credible sources:

PANDAS Physicians Network Research Library:

Moleculera Labs Research Library:

Iris Ainsley is the pen name of a young California woman who writes the Dreaming Panda blog:

She can be contacted here:



Yes, we all need to get the word about about the severity of PANDAS/PANS and educate folks that this is an infection triggered disease and that tick borne illness (TBI) is often the culprit.

Please notice the progression of symptoms and how nearly every body system is eventually affected – just like with TBI.  Dr. Jemsek’s famous quote, “You either have twenty diseases or you have Lyme/MSIDS,” demonstrates the pervasiveness.

Thankfully, more and more is coming out on this insidious disease but much of the information is not reaching doctors.  Do your part and educate as many as will listen.  Send them articles and blogs like Ms. Ainsley’s so they can read for themselves.

For more:   “According to a Wisconsin specialist, 80% of his PANS/PANDAS patients have Lyme and other coinfections. This is important to know and tell others about, remembering that tick borne illness testing is abysmal. Getting to a specialist who understands this complexity is paramount. Another helpful tip is printing out and going through checklists with the children as discussing symptoms is quite helpful. Children aren’t experienced in this type of verbal specificity, so be patient and listen.



Study Shows Mycobacterium Infected Animal Products Linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Genetically Predisposed

Study Finds Bacteria in Milk Linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis

Study Finds Bacteria in Milk Linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis

A strain of bacteria commonly found in milk and beef may be a trigger for developing rheumatoid arthritis in people who are genetically at risk, according to a new study from the University of Central Florida.

A team of UCF College of Medicine researchers has discovered a link between rheumatoid arthritis and Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, known as MAP, a bacteria found in about half the cows in the United States. The bacteria can be spread to humans through the consumption of infected milk, beef and produce fertilized by cow manure.

The UCF researchers are the first to report this connection between MAP and rheumatoid arthritis in a study published in the Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology journal this week. The study, funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the Florida Legislative, was a collaboration between Saleh Naser, UCF infectious disease specialist, Dr. Shazia Bég, rheumatologist at UCF’s physician practice, and Robert Sharp, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate at the medical school.

Naser had previously discovered a connection between MAP and Crohn’s disease and is involved in the first ever phase III-FDA approved clinical trial to treat Crohn’s patients with antibiotics. Crohn’s and rheumatoid arthritis share the same genetic predispositions and both are often treated using the same types of immunosuppressive drugs.  Those similarities led the team to investigate whether MAP could also be linked to rheumatoid arthritis.

“Here you have two inflammatory diseases, one affects the intestine and the other affects the joints, and both share the same genetic defect and treated with the same drugs. Do they have a common trigger? That was the question we raised and set out to investigate,” Naser said.

For the study, Bég recruited 100 of her patients who volunteered clinical samples for testing.  Seventy-eight percent of the patients with rheumatoid arthritis were found to have a mutation in the PTPN2/22 gene, the same genetic mutation found in Crohn’s patients, and 40 percent of that number tested positive for MAP.

“We believe that individuals born with this genetic mutation and who are later exposed to MAP through consuming contaminated milk or meat from infected cattle are at a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis,” Naser said.

About 1.3 million adults in the U.S. have rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that causes the immune system to attack a person’s joints, muscles, bones and organs. Patients suffer from pain and deformities mostly in the hands and feet. It can occur at any age but the most common onset is between 40 and 60 years old and is three times more prevalent in women.

Although case studies have reported that some RA patients suffer from Crohn’s disease and vice versa, the researchers say a national study needs to investigate the incidence of the two diseases in the same patients.

“We don’t know the cause of rheumatoid arthritis, so we’re excited that we have found this association,” Bég said. “But there is still a long way to go.  We need to find out why MAP is more predominant in these patientswhether it’s present because they have RA, or whether it caused RA in these patients. If we find that out, then we can target treatment toward the MAP bacteria.”

The team is conducting further studies to confirm findings and plan to study patients from different geographical and ethnic backgrounds.

“Understanding the role of MAP in rheumatoid arthritis means the disease could be treated more effectively,” Naser said.  “Ultimately, we may be able to administer a combined treatment to target both inflammation and bacterial infection.”

Naser holds a Ph.D in Medical Microbiology from New Mexico State University. He joined UCF in 1995. He has been investigating Crohn’s disease and other auto-immune diseases for more than 30 years. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and has presented his work at numerous conferences.  He has several patents including a licensed DNA technology for detecting MAP.

Bég, a board-certified rheumatologist, has been with UCF since 2011 after completing her fellowship in rheumatology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. In addition to practicing medicine at UCF Health, she is a full-time faculty member at the college. Her research and clinical interests include conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus and osteoporosis.



Lyme/MSIDS patients need to take note of this study as RA is often undiagnosed tick-borne infections – including Mycoplasma.  The genetic issue as well as consuming infected animal products should be a concern to us all; however, being infected with TBI’s is right up there on the list.

BTW:  Garth Nicholson has been sleuthing on the role of Mycoplasma and Lyme/MSIDS for years:

And previously to that, Dr. Brown way back in the 40’s and 50’s believed that RA was caused by mycoplasmas and used tetracycline rather than prednisone, the drug of choice. He eventually modified his treatment which included Minocycline and brought over 10,000 patients into remission.  (This demonstrates the importance of dealing with the infection)

I find it interesting that Minocycline was probably the drug that helped me the most:  This link also shows Nicholson’s discovery that 90% of evaluated ALS patients had Mycoplasma. 100% of ALS patients with Gulf War Syndrome had Mycoplasma and nearly all of those were specifically the weaponized M. fermentans incognitos.  One of the hallmark symptoms of Mycoplasma is fatigue.
And the bad news for us is that Nicholson’s experience has found Mycoplasma to be the number one Lyme coinfection, and similar to other coinfections in that it can be supposedly cleared for years only to reappear when conditions are right.

One other note is that immunosuppressive drugs for folks that have TBI’s are going to worsen their condition, so TBI’s must be ruled out before the administration of them, which is going to be tricky business as the tests for all of these pathogens is abysmal.  I highly recommend having patients fill out the Horowitz questionnaire along with testing and for doctors to make a clinical diagnosis not based on testing only:

This study also shows the dire need for medical professionals to be properly trained regarding TBI’s or they run the risk of putting patients on immunosuppressive drugs to their demise.  So far the education in med school on Tick borne infections is antiquated and brief, considering Lyme is the #1 vector borne disease in the U.S.  No one has accurate numbers on coinfections.  If you know of doctors who are willing to be trained in this area, please send them this: Betty Maloney, President, Partnership for Tick-borne Diseases Education created a website built specifically for the purpose of offering accredited, evidence-based continuing medical education (CME) modules on Lyme and other tick-borne diseases (TBD) for doctors and other healthcare professionals. Doctors will like the convenience of on-demand learning that’s available on PC and mobile devices. The modules I developed for LymeCME provide a concise review of the evidence, highlighting points that are especially relevant to patient care. And, they’re free!

More on Myco:  Dr. Rawls states:  “Borrelia, the microbe commonly associated with Lyme disease, could be a culprit. However, I would lay odds on mycoplasma and a closely related bacterium called ureaplasma. About 75% of chronic Lyme disease sufferers have been found to harbor at least one species of mycoplasma.

It fits. Mycoplasma and ureaplasma are the smallest of all bacteria. They are obligate intracellular microbes — which means they must live inside cells of a host to survive. They typically infect linings of the body — linings of lungs, intestines, joints, and the urinary tract.
Different species of mycoplasma and ureaplasma prefer certain areas of the body, but any species of these microbes can be found in different places the body. The most common species found in the urinary and reproductive tract are Ureaplasma urealyticum and Mycoplasma hominis. These microbes typically spread sexually, but they can be acquired by other routes. Mycoplasma pneumoniae, a frequent cause of respiratory infections, can also be found in the urinary tract.  Mycoplasma and ureaplasma are notoriously difficult to culture.”

But back to Mycobacterium…..Dr. Horowitz is finding that Mycobacterium drugs are working for his treatment resistant patients:    The case study has based on a woman with Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia hermsii, possible prior exposure to tularemia, exposure to Mycoplasma pneumonia, multiple viruses, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Under Dr. Horowitz’s care she improved from 30% to 50%, but with the addition of Dapsone had a sudden fourfold increase in tularemia titers as well as Bartonella titers turning positive.  While making continuous progress the patient had ongoing joint pain which interfered with sleep as well as ongoing severe blood-filled blisters, oral/genital ulcerations, and increased granulomas.
While a rheumatologist wanted to put her on an immunosuppressive, she and Dr. Horowitz chose to try 500mg (based on body weight) of PZA twice a day combined with rifampin and minocycline. Her liver was monitored every two weeks and was helped with alpha lipoid acid 600mg and milk thistle 250mg.  Two months later she reported up to 80% of normal functioning…

The fact that the addition of a mycobacterium drug that gave this woman 80% of normal functioning is something that needs to be noted.  It also leads to the conclusion that her prior diagnosis of RA is probably infectious in nature and improved with microbials.

Now if that isn’t a success story, I don’t know what is.  So something is going on here with Mycobacterium or a mycobacterium-like pathogen.  This needs to be hunted to ground.



Cluster of Lyme Cases Manifesting as Bannwarth Syndrome

A Cluster Of Startling Lyme Disease Cases In The Upper Midwest

There are thought to be approximately 300,000 cases of Lyme disease annually in the United States (although the actual number of cases reported to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is approximately 30,000 per year.)

Most of them consist of fever, headache and fatigue. They are frequently identified by the characteristic skin rash that looks like a bull’s eye called an erythema migrans – a telltale sign of the presence of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi. 

Rarely, Lyme disease manifests as a neuroinvasive condition called Garin-Bujadoux-Bannwarth syndrome or, more frequently, just Bannwarth syndrome. This complicated version of Lyme Disease is characterized by a few telltale signs. They are, painful meningoradiculoneuritis (inflammation of one or more roots of the spinal nerve) that leads to motor weakness, facial nerve palsy and neuropathy usually in the hands and feet. The other is lymphocytic pleocytosis (an abnormally large number of lymphocytes) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). 

Never heard of Bannwarth syndrome? Neither had we. So, when a cluster of five cases of Bannwarth syndrome were seen during three weeks of July and August last summer, all in the upper midwest, it raised some red flags. The patients were identified at Mayo Clinic campuses in Minnesota and Wisconsin. (1)

Bannwarth syndrome associated with Lyme Disease is not a reportable disease, so data regarding the numbers of cases is scant. This cluster, however, sparked the medical professionals who treated the cases to share the information about the cluster by publishing a case report in Open Forum Infectious Diseases. This way, if there are other clusters elsewhere, people may start drawing some links and uncovering the mystery.

In the paper, they report on the five cases of Bannwarth syndrome. A small snapshot of each person follows (taken from the paper).

Patient 1: 61-year-old male with daily tick exposure presented with progressive back pain, upper torso and extremity paresthesias, right-sided facial droop, and blurry vision in the right eye. Four weeks prior, the patient observed an erythema migrans (EM) rash, treated with 5 days of twice-daily doxycycline.

Patient 2: 62-year-old female presented with subacute onset of lower extremity weakness, progressing to flaccid paralysis over a 3-week period, alongside radiating low back and abdominal pain with associated numbness. 

Patient 3: 65-year-old female presented with subacute progressive ascending weakness and lower extremity paresthesias. 

Patient 4: 29-year-old male developed fever, myalgias, chills, headache, fatigue, and a transient erythematous rash on his trunk in mid-June 2017. Two weeks thereafter, he developed right foot drop, Trendeleberg gait, lower extremity radiculopathy, and painful L5-S1 paresthesias. 

Patient 5: 69-year-old male presented with low-grade fevers, nausea, vomiting, diffuse arthralgias, headache, loss of smell, and blurry vision in the right eye. These symptoms were accompanied by neck and right upper extremity pain in a radicular pattern. 

Because it is not a reportable disease, it is not well understood how much of the disease is popping up across the country. That said, five cases in the same few weeks seemed strange enough for these authors to report it. Is Bannwarth syndrome more prevalent than previously thought? Or, is there something going on in the midwest that could be leading to more Bannwarth syndrome? Now that it is on people’s radar, perhaps we will find out more answers to this strange occurrence.

Notes: (1) There were actually six patients identified with Lyme neuroborreliosis (LNB)

Source: Aditya Shah An Unusual Cluster of Neuroinvasive Lyme Disease Cases Presenting With Bannwarth Syndrome in the Midwest United States. Open Forum Infectious Diseases, Volume 5, Issue 1, 1 January 2018  ofx276,



This is a perfect example of the type of journalism that is propagating myths.  Busy doctors will quickly scan this and other articles like it and surmise that Bannwarth Syndrome is rare.  Embedded within the article the journalist even mentions it’s not a reportable illness.  How can they even know numbers?  She even reports it as “complicated form of Lyme Disease.”  

Everyone I deal with has a complicated form of Lyme Disease!  

Dr. Horowitz states Lyme’s been around Europe since the late 1800’s (if not before) and was diagnosed as “acrodermatitis chronic atrophicans” or Bannwarth Syndrome accompanied by painful radiculitis (pain along a nerve), which often had an accompanying skin lesion, Bell’s Palsy, and meningitis.  


So, this is not new.

While the symptoms in Europe varied somewhat from the 1970’s outbreak in Lyme, Connecticut, they are in fact the one and same disease.  Steere’s myopic vision only allowed him to see rheumatologic manifestations and we’ve been stuck in that paradigm since.

To see the wild and varied symptoms:  When you throw the numerous coinfections in the mix, it’s a smorgasbord of symptoms.





Study Shows 630% More Aerosolized Flu Virus Particles Emitted by Flu-Vaccinated – A Message to Ethical MD’s

Infectious virus in exhaled breath of symptomatic seasonal influenza cases from a college community

Jing YanMichael GranthamJovan PantelicP. Jacob Bueno de MesquitaBarbara AlbertFengjie LiuSheryl EhrmanDonald K. Milton and EMIT Consortium
  1. Edited by Peter Palese, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, and approved December 15, 2017 (received for review September 19, 2017)


Lack of human data on influenza virus aerosol shedding fuels debate over the importance of airborne transmission. We provide overwhelming evidence that humans generate infectious aerosols and quantitative data to improve mathematical models of transmission and public health interventions. We show that sneezing is rare and not important for—and that coughing is not required for—influenza virus aerosolization. Our findings, that upper and lower airway infection are independent and that fine-particle exhaled aerosols reflect infection in the lung, opened a pathway for a deeper understanding of the human biology of influenza infection and transmission. Our observation of an association between repeated vaccination and increased viral aerosol generation demonstrated the power of our method, but needs confirmation.


Little is known about the amount and infectiousness of influenza virus shed into exhaled breath. This contributes to uncertainty about the importance of airborne influenza transmission. We screened 355 symptomatic volunteers with acute respiratory illness and report 142 cases with confirmed influenza infection who provided 218 paired nasopharyngeal (NP) and 30-minute breath samples (coarse >5-µm and fine ≤5-µm fractions) on days 1–3 after symptom onset. We assessed viral RNA copy number for all samples and cultured NP swabs and fine aerosols. We recovered infectious virus from 52 (39%) of the fine aerosols and 150 (89%) of the NP swabs with valid cultures. The geometric mean RNA copy numbers were 3.8 × 104/30-minutes fine-, 1.2 × 104/30-minutes coarse-aerosol sample, and 8.2 × 108 per NP swab. Fine- and coarse-aerosol viral RNA were positively associated with body mass index and number of coughs and negatively associated with increasing days since symptom onset in adjusted models. Fine-aerosol viral RNA was also positively associated with having influenza vaccination for both the current and prior season. NP swab viral RNA was positively associated with upper respiratory symptoms and negatively associated with age but was not significantly associated with fine- or coarse-aerosol viral RNA or their predictors. Sneezing was rare, and sneezing and coughing were not necessary for infectious aerosol generation. Our observations suggest that influenza infection in the upper and lower airways are compartmentalized and independent.

The association of current and prior year vaccination with increased shedding of influenza A might lead one to speculate that certain types of prior immunity promote lung inflammation, airway closure, and aerosol generation. This first observation of the phenomenon needs confirmation. If confirmed, this observation, together with recent literature suggesting reduced protection with annual vaccination, would have implications for influenza vaccination recommendations and policies.

___________  (Please read entire article here by James Lyons Weiler)

Letter to ethical MD’s (snippets below):

The last time the flu vaccine was 60-70% effective was eight years ago.


“This is the CDC’s data  Clearly, Gupta’s “Years” is, in immunological memory, a singular “Year”. Only once out of the last 14 years was the flu vaccine above 59% – that the value was not 60-70%, it was 60%.

This type of misrepresentation is a consistent penchant within the media and of course from the CDC to exaggerate and highly emphasize only positive views and diminish, dismiss, or ignore any negative views on the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

The Jury is In: The Flu Vaccine Reduces its Own Efficacy

Too many studies now exist that have independently come to the same conclusion: increases in the uptake of flu vaccine reduces that vaccine’s effectiveness in the following year – and some studies show the negative effects of mass influenza vaccination last two years.

The studies reporting those results are reviewed in my article, “Diseases with Unknown Etiology Trace Back to Mass Vaccination Against Influenza in 1976“, and they are extensive and damning.

Patients have a right to know the specific nature of their infections, and survivors in families of those who die from respiratory infections deserve an accurate cause of death. Coroners should certainly be required to provide an accurate cause of death in so-called “flu” mortalities. Health departments should be required to count only deaths due to confirmed influenza infection as “flu” – otherwise their numbers perpetuate misperception on the risk of influenza infection, and cause fear leading to increased vaccination. How is this seen as a good thing? The population deserves good and honest doctors and stewards of public health.

HHS could demand swab results for all suspected cases of “flu deaths” with a press release and enforce them with random audits. This annual ritual of fear-mongering over “flu-deaths” hides the fact that as long as thimerosal is injected into patients, they are at increased risk of other infections. And due to heterologous immunity, even without thimerosal, flu vaccines can confuse the immune system and muddle up ineffective immune response by trying to re-purpose B-cells trained on the wrong virus, hobbling the immune system making it unresponsive to similar viruses. Such as next year’s flu strain.

We do need objectivity to arise immediately throughout the public health system in the US, starting with HHS, then to CDC and to all Health Departments around the country. Many studies have also found problems with Tamiflu. But no emergency epidemiological study is addressing the question – why are so many young people dying from “flu”? Many of the reports I’ve seen include mention that they person had not only been vaccinated, they also had taken Tamiflu. And many had taken Tylenol. It’s time to ask the tough questions. The science is there on problems with Tylenol for vaccine-induced fever, and it must be taken into consideration. Fever due to respiratory infections after flu vaccination is still vaccine-induced.

A look at the issues with Tamiflu (see primary scientific literature reviewed here) shows that we cannot ignore the possibility that the human immune system is not infinitely resilient, and that medicine’s approaches to tackling “the flu” is imprecise, not evidence-based, and self-defeating. I’m not talking about the number of antigens the human body can take; I’m talking about the amount of tweaking it can tolerate, especially given the aluminum-dense childhood vaccination schedule. The allopathic medical community would do very well to heed the studies that show that Vitamin D helps alleviate both vaccine injury and severity of viral infections. It helps resolve the unfolded protein response without killing the cells. And the science of ER stress (endoplasmic reticulum stress) shows that Thimerosal is, after all, not safe for human use. Same for aluminum.

Real Reform is Coming – It’s a Mathematical Certainty

Vaccines injure people every day, and kill people every week. Each injury and death informs family members, co-workers, and schoolmates. The flaws in vaccines, combined with misinformation campaigns on safety, fuel the fire and build the vaccine risk aware army. It’s a peaceful army, filled with individuals who are hurt so badly, they do not want others to suffer the same fate. They are altruistic. And under informed, ethical and distributed leadership, they are finding their momentum.

Vaccine safety science reform means removing those in the CDC and HHS that perpetuated the debacle as it grew to proportions that even they could no longer easily deny it. And that’s fine. Let them go. There are many excellent professionals capable of replacing them – people who have not been involved in cooking studies to alter the public’s perception of vaccine risk. People who have withstood unwarranted and unfair criticism by those who live in cowardice of reality. People who now no longer afraid to publish their views. An important question is who among my colleagues in Academic Public Health, and which doctors in Pediatric medicine are willing to #bebrave and take on a debacle as huge as a failed national immunization program? Who will stand up to the AAP and tell them they are wrong?

If you are that type of doctor, it will be easier if you trust those who have worked at this for years. Read Dr. Paul Thomas’ book, The Vaccine Friendly Plan. After the resignations, have him come and teach the entire CDC and HHS what he knows. Consider Dr. Alvin Moss’s wisdom – ask him to create a Conflicts of Interest Policy for CDC and HHS, as he has done for the rest of academic medicine. Bring in Dr. Bob Sears from California, who was willing to stare down threats of the loss of his license to practice medicine because he dared to continue to practice medicine in the face of wanton misinformation and pressure from the AAP. Consider Dr. Richard Frye, and Dr. Chris Exley from the UK, who care first and foremost about the truths that impact total health. Dr. Frye would be great as the new NIH Director, in my opinion. Let these people form a new national public health direction that overrides existing contracts. There are others. Like Dr. Judy Mikovits whose character stands much taller than those who tried – and failed – to silence her – on the issue of adventitious agents in viral vaccines (specifically and quite problematic: retroviruses). Ask Dr. Ted Fogarty about Ethical Vaccinomics, and testing for vaccine injuries. Bring in Dr. John Piesse from Australia and end his persecution there, and put his good will toward safety to work here. We would be lucky to have him.

Create a Manhattan Project focused on reducing vaccine injuries, not on making currently licensed vaccines safer. They are old, and stale, and tired, and they, too, need to go. Bring in exciting new developments in artificial immunization like microneedle patches. Bring in Dr. Kanduc to screen epitopes that are unsafe. Drop aluminum, as many have now called for, and bring in calcium carbonate – if needed at all. Let those pharmaceutical companies who created the disaster make good on their promises to stop making their vaccines. Then we will see new approaches to artificial immunization that compete on the platform of safety.

Don’t just end COIs at ACIP: End ACIP. Create a Vaccine Safety Commission that enforces Science Integrity. Open up the markets. Let ideas thrive. Let consumers choose. Let the FDA do its job. Let the people’s experiences be heard. Establish a paradigm in which the end consumer has a say in the quality of the product. Strip the CDC of the ability to hold patents. End the CDC Foundation. End the differences between drugs and biologics and require randomized clinical trials – with proper placebos, not aluminum hydroxide – for vaccines. Repeal the 1986 Act that protects drug companies from liability for faulty vaccines. Perform random spot checks of vaccines in practices for contamination. The total sum of policies in the National Immunization Program, and the burden of morbidity on the population is a serious threat to our National Security.

Let some new faces and voices drive this reform. Bring in Dr. Dan Neides who had to escape the Cleveland Clinic after speaking his conscience. Let him oversee the transition. Bring in Dr. Brian Hooker to personally issue the pink slips to those who must now go from the CDC. Let all of those named here share his or her experience with Congress. Have Dr. Thompson testify. We need truth and reconciliation. And we need it 42 years ago.

There are MDs who sit in the shadows, silent, and afraid of job loss, sanction, ridicule. Step up. Let your views be known to the current Administration. Join Physicians for Informed Consent. You are not alone. You can help be part of the solution. Attend Health Department meetings and speak up for Informed Consent. Speak up for vaccine exclusions for kids in homes with high lead levels. Speak up for spacing out vaccines and skipping them. Speak up for tolerance and understanding of the pain and anguish parents of kids with autism experience when they are told it’s genetic, they know it’s environmental, and they are told they have to vaccinate their other babies. Speak up against calling CPS for parents who want to take the time they have under the law to consider vaccinations. And, of course, do right by your patients. Listen to their concerns. Inform them of both risks and benefits, as required by Federal Regulations. Let them know they are enrolling themselves or their children (and unborn baby) in post-licensure vaccine safety clinical trials (as required by Federal Regulations). Provide medical and philosophical exemptions for school waivers as required by the laws of your state and the rule of your own conscience. The AAP does not represent the rights and will of the people of the United States of America. Our legislation does.

Let’s aim to not make 2020 vaccination look anything like 2019. We have solutions. We’re now aiming for Healthy People 2050, and the current vaccines have very little to do with our vision. By the way, these ideas don’t come (exclusively) from me. They are shared by hundreds of thousands of American citizens, many of whom have been made sick or lost loved ones to vaccines. #werenotgoingaway #releasetheothermemos #hearthiswell #notmine #Vaxxed #cdctruth #saveourbabies #bebrave #ipak #cdcwhistleblower #rfkcommission #educatebeforeyouvaccinate #vaxxed #learntherisk #wedid #cdclied #stopmandatoryvaccination #learntherisk.”



More just keeps popping out of Pandora’s Box regarding vaccines.

This recent talk shows how vaccines are causing Lyme/MSIDS patients to relapse as well as worsen:  Scottish doctor treating a number of young women who fell ill after their HPV vaccination, which seems to have stimulated a latent Lyme infection to reactivate.  Asymptomatic girls after receiving Gardasil activated dormant Bartonella which was confirmed by testing.

Great video on the flu vaccine’s ineffectiveness:

I could go on and on to infinity.  Something must be done.  Be a part of the solution.







Headaches and Lyme/MSIDS


By Jennifer Crystal

Skiing has always been part of my life. I went to a college in Vermont that had its own ski run. After graduation, I moved to Colorado to teach high school, and to become a ski instructor. It was supposed to be the high point of my life, and in many ways it was, but there were also some very low points because I was wrestling with undiagnosed tick-borne illnesses.

One such low found me on the bathroom floor, writhing in pain from an excruciating migraine. The throbbing started over my left eye, working its way up over that side of my head and around the back to my neck. I felt as if my brain was going to explode out of my skull.

“It’s probably from the altitude,” a doctor later told me. In the years since I had started developing strange symptoms—fever, joint aches, exhaustion, hand tremors, hives—I grew accustomed to doctors writing them off with a simple explanation.

But altitude was not causing my migraines. In fact, I was suffering from Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and Babesia, the last being a tick-borne parasite that consumes oxygen in red blood cells. Due to these infections, a scan would later show that I was not getting enough oxygen to the left side of my brain. Living at a high altitude certainly didn’t help this situation, but the root cause was the fact that my oxygen levels were already compromised by infection.

Babesia is not the only tick-borne disease that can cause headaches; so can Ehrlichia and relapsing fevers. But with or without co-infections, the vast majority of Lyme disease patients complain of headaches as a chief symptom, with pain ranging from moderate to severe. Many patients, myself included, have encountered migraines so debilitating they’re relegated to bed in a dark room due to pain, light sensitivity and nausea. Though tick-borne diseases can cause pain throughout the cranium, migraines are usually focused to one side. As a child, I had four surgeries to correct weak muscles in my eyes, especially on the left, leaving scar tissue over that eye. I later learned that Lyme bacteria, spirochetes, like to hide out in scar tissue, which may explain why my migraines always started over that eye.

So why are headaches so common for Lyme patients? Spirochetes can enter the central nervous system by crossing the blood-brain barrier. This barrier is supposed to protect the brain from infection, but spirochetes are tricky and swift and can coil their way across, causing headaches for their victims.

Lyme is an inflammatory disease, so once spirochetes enter the central nervous system, they cause swelling there. In his book Why Can’t I Get Better? Solving the Mystery of Lyme & Chronic Disease, Dr. Richard Horowitz equates this inflammation to a fire that ignites heat, redness, pain, and loss of function.[1] Feeling like my brain was going to explode out of my skull was not really hyperbole; my head was indeed swollen, but I just couldn’t see it the way I would be able to if  I’d had a swollen ankle or knee.

At my lowest points of illness, I got migraines several times a week. I tried to try to push through the pain. I wanted to be living my life, teaching and skiing. But I always paid a high price for not listening to my body—or in this case, to my brain. Ignoring the headache only increased the pain, sometimes sending me to bed for two or three days at a time. I got prescription medication, which I learned to take as soon as I felt a headache coming on, rather than trying to wait it out. I also found that staying hydrated, eating foods rich in iron, and stretching gently—to help increase blood flow—sometimes helped alleviate my headaches.

The best treatment, however, was rest. If you have a swollen ankle or knee, you stay off that joint, giving it time to heal. The same is true for your brain. Your head needs time to recover from inflammation, and nothing has helped that process more for me than sleep. Though I rarely get migraines these days, I still get pressure on the left side of my head when I get tired or neurologically overwhelmed. I never want to spend a day in bed, but one is better than being there for several days—and it’s certainly better than writhing on the bathroom floor. A day spent recuperating means more days on the slopes, and I’ll take as many of those as I can get.

[1] Horowitz, Richard I. Why Can’t I Get Better? Solving the Mystery of Lyme & Chronic Disease. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 2013. (186)

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.

Jennifer Crystal is a writer and educator in Boston. She is working on a memoir about her journey with chronic tick-borne illness. Do you have a question for Jennifer? Email her at



Infection driven inflammation is the name of the game here and anything you can do to lower both will help the headaches.

Since this was a major thorn for me my quest for relief has led me to numerous modalities.  One is systemic enzymes:

My husband nearly destroyed his liver taking Ibuprofen for Lyme/MSIDS pain.  

The other is ruling out Chiari and/or any other physical causes:  Normally Chiari is thought of as a congenital abnormality; however, within 1 week I met 3 people with a MSIDS diagnosis who also have Chiari. Coincidence?  Brain infections can cause it.

Next down the rabbit hole is MSM (a derivative of DMSO – without the smell):  MSM stands for Methylsulfonylmethane and is 34% sulfur by weight. Sulfur plays a crucial role in detoxification and is an important antioxidant for producing glutathione.  It has been used for decades for pain and inflammation.  

There are also MSM creams – but beware and do your reading.  Many have toxic additives and perfumes.  

And then of course, DMSO:

I promised I would write an in-depth article on both DMSO and its derivative MSM but there’s a lot to read!  I have personally tried both with excellent results.  MSM is as safe as water but please read about it in the link above as the process in which it’s made is important.  

As to DMSO, it’s safe as well but since it’s a solvent (penetrating agent) it demands scrupulous attention to detail, plus you may not enjoy the garlic/oyster smell it gives.  You also need to find pure DMSO. 100,000 articles have been written about medical DMSO uses. In 1963, when the FDA approved human testing, all studies showed it to be safe and non-toxic. One study revealed changes in the lens of the eye in specific lab animals; however, when a number of human studies were done around the world in the late sixties, no human eye damage was found.

After two human studies done on human volunteers in prison, Dr. Richard Brobyn stated: “A very extensive study of DMSO use was conducted at three to 30 times the usual treatment dosage in humans for three months. DMSO appears to be a very safe drug for human administration, and, in particular, the lens changes that occur in certain mammalian species do not occur in man under this very high, prolonged treatment regimen. I am very glad to be able to present these data at this time, so that we can permanently dispel the myth that DMSO is in any way a toxic or dangerous drug.”

So far I’m taking 1/2 tsp of MSM crystals in water twice a day.  All pain gone.  POOF!  If there is any pain ever, I use a DMSO gel topically on the specific area of pain – typically the base of my skull.  Within minutes, pain gone.  POOF!

Please read about DMSO before trying as it burns and itches for a spell.  Do not itch it.  You also need to read about concentrations as some are too strong for topical application.  I use the 70% DMSO gel.  Some are more sensitive and need a lower percentage.   It also has a lovely smell to it – but hey, I’ll smell like an oyster any day than deal with the pain!  Also, hands and anything DMSO touches has to be scrupulously clean.  It must dry (takes about 20-30 min) before putting any clothing on it as the dyes, etc will go into your body.  

I’ve called numerous places to find out what the ingredient (such as rose smell) is in certain DMSO creams.  I’m not getting straight answers so I’m not using it.  I’d rather deal with the smell than introduce yet another foreign substance into my body.

Of course the question begs to be asked, “Would taking liquid DMSO internally aid with getting antimicrobials/antivirals deeper into the body?”  My hunch is yes, if you can stand the smell.

Stay tuned.  More to come.


Depression Not Caused by Chemical Imbalance

Depression Not Caused by Chemical Imbalance  


January 18, 2018

Story at-a-glance

  • Many people believe depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain; this chemical imbalance theory has been widely promoted by drug companies and psychiatrists alike — without evidence to back it up
  • Pharmaceutical companies were instrumental in bringing the chemical imbalance theory to the mainstream, heavily promoting it as a marketing gimmick to sell antidepressant drugs
  • Studies have repeatedly shown antidepressants work no better than placebo for mild to moderate depression, yet carry a significant risk of side effects
  • Depression is likely the result of multiple environmental and biological factors, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, nutrition, medications and medical problems, among others

By Dr. Mercola

Do you know what causes depression? Many people would respond that it’s due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. This chemical imbalance theory has been widely promoted by drug companies and psychiatrists alike, to the extent that it’s accepted as fact. The glaring problem is that the chemical imbalance theory is just that — a theory — and worse still, it’s a theory that has been largely discredited.

The theory was first proposed by scientists in the 1960s after it appeared certain antidepressant drugs worked by altering brain chemicals, but it was stated that “the findings are inconclusive.”1 Yet, the theory was proposed at a time when treating mental illness via psychoanalysis was falling out of favor while viewing it as tied to a physical or biological mechanism was in vogue.

The idea quickly spread, becoming the medical dogma for depression, despite concrete evidence proving its worth. “The fact that practicing physicians and leaders of science bought that idea, to me, is so disturbing,” Steve Hyman, director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, told Quartz.2 The news outlet continued:

“It’s not hard to see why the theory caught on: It suited psychiatrists’ newfound attempt to create a system of mental health that mirrored diagnostic models used in other fields of medicine. The focus on a clear biological cause for depression gave practicing physicians an easily understandable theory to tell patients about how their disease was being treated.”3

Prozac, Zoloft Bring Chemical Imbalance Theory for Depression to the Mainstream

The release of the antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine) in the late 1980s was a game changer for depression treatment in that the drug’s maker, Eli Lilly, heavily promoted the chemical balance theory as a marketing gimmick to sell the drug. With fewer side effects than some of the earlier antidepressants, Prozac became a blockbuster drug and the poster child for the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressants, which target the neurotransmitter serotonin.

“There was, of course, no demonstrable evidence showing that depressed patients had any imbalance, but Lilly ran with it,” Psychology Today noted. “Before long, psychiatrists and psychiatric patients alike came to identify with the idea that mental disorders are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.”4

Zoloft (sertraline), another SSRI, was another major player in spreading and perpetuating the chemical balance theory, with their television ads going so far as to say, “While the causes are unknown, depression may be related to an imbalance of natural chemicals between nerve cells in the brain. Prescription Zoloft works to correct this imbalance.”5

It’s important to note that in the time since Prozac flooded the market, depression still remains poorly treated, despite a plethora of new antidepressant options to choose from. SSRIs work by preventing the reuptake (movement back into the nerve endings) of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

This makes more serotonin available for use in your brain, which is thought to improve your mood since low serotonin levels are said to lead to depression. Yet, as written in the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, it’s a largely disproven theory:6

“Antidepressants are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance, specifically, a lack of serotonin in the brain. Indeed their supposed effectiveness is the primary evidence for the chemical imbalance theory. But analyses of the published data and the unpublished data that were hidden by the drug companies reveal that most (if not all) of the benefits are due to the placebo effect.

Some antidepressants increase serotonin levels, some decrease it, and some have no effect at all on serotonin … The serotonin theory is as close to any theory in the history of science having been proved wrong.”

Harvard: Depression ‘More Complex’ Than a Brain Chemical Imbalance

It’s quite possible that people who are depressed may have an imbalance of certain chemicals in their brain. But to speculate that that imbalance is the cause of their symptoms is overly simplistic. For instance, it’s known that psychological stress can cause biological changes in the brain, including a reduction in the size of the hippocampus, which is used for learning and memory.7 In turn, it’s known that some people with depression have a smaller-than-average hippocampus.8

“Evidence of biological changes correlating with environmental stressors is vastly different from evidence that mental illnesses are ‘caused’ by biological deficits,” scientists wrote in a 2008 report on the chemical imbalance theory,9 and this is an important point. Even Harvard Medical School acknowledges that while brain chemicals may play a role in your mood, it is not accurate to suggest that one being too high or too low is at the root of depression. They state:10

“Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems.

It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression … There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.”

One theory posits, for instance, that stress could be a major contributor to depression because it suppresses the production of new neurons in the hippocampus. In order to feel better, people with depression may need to increase neurogenesis (the generation of new neurons), which takes weeks.

This would explain why many people who take antidepressants don’t notice any improvement for several weeks.11 If the action was really on neurotransmitters, the patient should feel better right away when levels increase. Instead, triggering the growth of neurons could be the secret, which is a process that can be triggered naturally via exercise.

Believing Depression Is Caused by Chemical Imbalance Worsens Outcomes

Aside from the serious implications of prescribing drugs under a false premise, the chemical balance theory is also dangerous in that it takes away ownership from the patient. If a person feels a chemical imbalance in their brain is to blame for their depression, they may believe taking medications is the only option to feel better. According to Todd Kashdan, professor of psychology at George Mason University in Virginia, upon “buying into a biomedical explanation for their depression:”12

“They become pessimistic that recovery is possible. They become less confident that they can manage and regulate negative moods that arise (and they always do). The notion that depression is their brain’s fault does not lessen the stigma or self-blame one bit.

And they no longer believe that psychotherapy is a credible or useful strategy for treating their depression and instead, are ready to be dispensed a pill cure. Essentially, they become less flexible in their options for treating depression and less confident that they will escape its clutches.”

Indeed, a 2014 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy revealed just that — attributing depressive symptoms to a chemical imbalance made people more pessimistic about their prognosis and led them to believe that drugs would be more effective than psychotherapy.13 At the same time, they still felt the same amount of self-blame. It’s important to note that –

feeling depressed is not anyone’s fault, nor should they feel blamed for or ashamed of their feelings.

However, pinning its cause on a chemical imbalance is likely to worsen outcomes rather than improve them. It’s a vicious cycle as well, because the chemical imbalance theory makes people assume that medications are the best course of treatment. But here again research has shown that people with depression who are treated with medication have poorer long-term outcomes compared to those who are not.14

Antidepressants Work No Better Than Placebo

Nearly 7 percent of U.S adults suffered from a depressive episode in the past year15 while, worldwide, 350 million people suffer from depression, making it a leading cause of disability.16 Despite this, only about one-third of Americans with depression get treated,17 which puts the remaining two-thirds left untreated at increased risk of suicide and with a lower quality of life.

That said, the antidepressant drugs that are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance in the brain are largely ineffective, which means that even when some people attempt to get treatment, they’re left suffering. Studies have repeatedly shown antidepressants work no better than placebo for mild to moderate depression.18

Irving Kirsch, associate director of the Program in Placebo Studies at Harvard Medical School, has conducted meta-analyses of antidepressants in comparison to placebo and has concluded that there’s virtually no difference in their effectiveness, noting, “The difference is so small, it’s not of any clinical importance.”19 What is different, however, is the potential for side effects, which is far greater among antidepressants than placebos.

For instance, antidepressant users have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes,20 even after adjusting for other risk factors, like body mass index (BMI).21 Antidepressant use has also been linked to thicker arteries, which could contribute to the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The results of a study of 513 twin veterans, presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans in 2011, found that antidepressant use resulted in greater carotid intima-media thickness (the lining of the main arteries in your neck that feed blood to your brain).22

This was true both for SSRIs and antidepressants that affect other brain chemicals. Further, the use of antidepressants is also associated with an increased risk of heart attack, specifically for users of tricyclic antidepressants, who have a 36 percent increased risk of heart attack.23

Meanwhile, the drugs are also linked to dementia, with researchers noting “treatment with SSRIs, MAOIs, heterocyclic antidepressants, and other antidepressants was associated with an increased risk of dementia,” and as the dose increased, so too did the risk.24

The drugs are also known to deplete various nutrients from your body, including coenzyme Q10 and vitamin B12 — in the case of tricyclic antidepressants — which are needed for proper mitochondrial function. SSRIs may deplete iodine and folate,25 and you’re even more likely to relapse if you’re treated with antidepressants than if you’re treated via other methods, including placebo or exercise.26,27Given the lack of effectiveness and the risks involved, Kirsch and colleagues concluded:28

“When different treatments are equally effective, choice should be based on risk and harm, and of all of these treatments, antidepressant drugs are the riskiest and most harmful. If they are to be used at all, it should be as a last resort, when depression is extremely severe and all other treatment alternatives have been tried and failed.”

Alternative Treatments for Depression

If the chemical imbalance theory is false, the case for choosing antidepressants as a first-line treatment for depression is incredibly weak. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to drugs for treating depression, including nutritional interventions, light therapy, exercise and more. If you’re struggling with depression, you needn’t suffer in silence. Seek help, from a counselor, a holistic psychiatrist or another natural health practitioner to start the journey toward healing.

That said, if you are feeling desperate or have any thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a toll-free number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), call 911, or simply go to your nearest hospital emergency department. You cannot make long-term plans for lifestyle changes when you are in the middle of a crisis. If you’re in a place where you feel you can begin to make positive changes, here are some of the top alternative treatments for depression to consider:

Exercise. Those who didn’t exercise were 44 percent more likely to become depressed compared to those who did so for at least one to two hours a week.29
Light therapy. Light therapy alone and placebo were both more effective than Prozac for the treatment of moderate to severe depression in an eight-week-long study.30
Omega-3 fats, which have been shown to lead to improvements in major depressive disorder.31 Make sure you’re getting enough omega-3s in your diet, either from wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies, or a high-quality animal-based omega-3 supplement.
Optimize your vitamin D levels, another factor linked to depression32
Magnesium. Magnesium supplements led to improvements in mild-to-moderate depression in adults, with beneficial effects occurring within two weeks of treatment.33
B vitamins. Low levels of B vitamins are common in patients with depression, while vitamin B supplements have been shown to improve symptoms.34
Mindfulness meditation35 and the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). In a study of 30 moderately to severely depressed college students, the depressed students were given four 90-minute EFT sessions. Students who received EFT showed significantly less depression than the control group when evaluated three weeks later.36
Cognitive behavioral therapy, which works as well as antidepressants and may reduce your risk of relapse even after it’s stopped.37
Limit sugar. Men consuming more than 67 grams of sugar per day were 23 percent more likely to develop anxiety or depression over the course of five years than those whose sugar consumption was less than 40 grams per day.38
A very helpful article for Lyme/MSIDS patients as we nearly always at some point suffer with depression.  
Some of you might be on antidepressants and this article has left you floundering.  Take a deep breath and decide you are going to take this information, study it, and talk to your practitioner before deciding upon any course of action.
Please seek help if you need it.  If possible find at least a “Lyme friendly” practitioner as the last thing you need is to be abused by another health professional when you are at your lowest.  Hopefully the word is getting out on the psychiatric manifestations of Lyme/MSIDS.  Start by going to your local Lyme support group and ask around for a good, reputable, understanding, and hopefully experienced practitioner.
For those of you in the trenches, I want to encourage you that this too shall pass.  I found my depression while in treatment for Lyme/MSIDS was directly aligned to how I felt physically.  The worse I felt physically the worse I felt emotionally.  I’ve said this before, but the best advice I ever received from someone who made it to the other side of health was, “Don’t get depressed about feeling depressed.”  Give yourself permission to feel lousy.  Your body is in a battle of epic proportions – you’re bound to feel like crap.
Treating for Lyme/MSIDS is unlike most other treatments that have linear improvement.  You are going to have starts and stops, good days and bad, and down right horribly miserable days.  You are going to have days where you beg to have it all end.
Persevere.  Don’t quit.  Better days are coming.  Do not give in to the moment.  
When I got really low I read books where others had it worse than me.  I watched cartoons, anything to get my mind off the pain and hopelessness.  For a long time I didn’t read anything about treatment outcomes, because frankly I couldn’t have handled the truth.  That’s OK.  You don’t need to know how the watch works when you are at your lowest.  There will come a day when you can handle all that information, but for today, take a nice bath.  Listen to your favorite music.  Read your favorite books.  Call an understanding friend.  Whatever it takes to get through this day, minute, and second.

There has been researching showing that probiotics help with depression as well: scientists found that when mice in the study were put under stress, they developed a reduction in Lactobacillus through the metabolite kynurenine, which is somehow involved with inflammation and was linked to depressed behavior.  Feeding them Lactobacillus almost completely stopped their depressive behaviors.  

All Lyme/MSIDS patients should be on good pro and prebiotics and doing all they can to lower inflammation.  Read here about the microbiome and MSM’s ability to lower inflammation & help heal the gut:

If the depression hangs on, seek help.  Also, if you need to take medication short-term – so be it.  No judgement here.  We are all different and take different things to make it to the other side of health.  But, I encourage you to get to the bottom of things rather than mask it with a pill.  

My experience has shown me that treatment for pathogens is just one prong of our healing journey, and while important, isn’t the end-all.  We must detox.  We must address diet and sleep.  We must learn everything we can about our personal imbalances and weaknesses and seriously address them.  We must address our mental health and all that entails – from lowering our stress to ditching harmful relationships.
Thank you to all the mental health practitioners and patients out there writing about your experiences with Lyme/MSIDS psychiatric issues.  We need to hear what you have to say!

The Invisible Universe Of The Human Microbiome & MSM

 NPR 2013

The next time you look in a mirror, think about this: In many ways you’re more microbe than human. There are 10 times more cells from microorganisms like bacteria and fungi in and on our bodies than there are human cells. But these tiny compatriots are invisible to the naked eye. Artist Ben Arthur gives us a guided tour of the rich universe of the human microbiome.  Dr. Mercola Jan., 2018

Story at-a-glance

  • Because 70 to 80 percent of your immune system resides within your gastrointestinal tract, optimizing your gut microbiome is a worthwhile pursuit that will have far-reaching effects on your physical health and emotional well-being
  • A vital first step toward balancing your gut flora is to eliminate sugar from your diet, especially sugars found in processed foods
  • Eating fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut, as well as consuming prebiotic foods like garlic, leeks and onions, can help create an optimal environment for beneficial gut bacteria, while decreasing disease-causing bacteria, fungi and yeast
  • Taking a probiotic or sporebiotic supplement can also be beneficial, especially during and following antibiotic treatment, because it helps restore and promote healthy gut flora
  • Your gut bacteria can influence your behavior and gene expression, and has also been shown to play a role with respect to autism, diabetes and obesity


All Lyme/MSIDS patients should be on a good pro and prebiotic as well as lowering or avoiding sugars, eating a whole-food based diet, and avoiding processed food.  Some will do well eliminating gluten and/or dairy.  We are all so different – what works for one may not work for another, but all are worth trying.

In my quest, I’ve been studying DMSO and MSM recently and plan on writing a lengthy article on them; however, I can whole-heartedly recommend trying MSM to anyone.  It’s as safe as water.  

Briefly, MSM stands for Methylsulfonylmethane and is 34% sulfur by weight.  Sulfur plays a crucial role in detoxification and is an important antioxidant for producing glutathione.  If you aren’t getting enough sulfur, glutathione can not work.  Even if you have a diet rich in sulfur (think cabbage, onions, garlic, broccoli, etc – essentially the stinky veggies – and many other food items as well) your body still could use supplementation.

For me it was a game-changer. By Lyn-Genet Recitas, NMT, Sports Nutritionist, Holistic Health Pracitioner, RYT

Recitas, author of “The Plan,” calls MSM the wonder supplement for your gut.  It can alleviate allergy symptoms, helps with detoxification, eliminates free radicals, and improves cell permeability.  She states that with given time, MSM will start to actually repair damage caused by leaky gut – a common problem with Lyme/MSIDS patients.  It can also help the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food.  Many Lyme patients struggle with paralysis of the gut where the muscles of the stomach and intestines stop being efficient.  MSM helps this muscle tone as well.

Since I plan on writing a lengthy article, I’m not going to go into MSM’s anti-inflammatory & pain reducing capabilities – but this is exactly what it is most commonly used for.

My personal observation after starting MSM:

I started out with 1/4 tsp of distilled crystals in about 2 oz of water, since it has a bitter taste.  After studying it, I learned the distillation process is the best one and if you want to find sources easily go here: You should see the OptiMSM patent on the product.  I happened to get the 16 oz tub of crystals at the Vitamin Shoppe but as you can see there are many brands available. (As always, I don’t make a dime on any of this and have no connection what so ever to any product line)

Within three days I noticed my nails growing faster.  Within a week, about 50% of my pain was gone.  Now this is a big deal as this pain has been resistant to nearly everything I’ve tried over the years.

After this reduction in pain, I increased the dose to 1/4 tsp twice a day and then ultimately to my final dose of 1/2 tsp twice a day in 2 oz of water.

I have to report that my pain is completely gone on some days with a fraction returning on other days.

For a great MSM guide:  This article gives a current 2017 review of MSM as well as studies and 195 references.  MSM has been studied for decades.

It is recommended to start at a low initial dose and allow the body to acclimate.  You can slowly increase the dose after a week.  It is also stated that those with chronic conditions may take up to 6 or more months to notice a difference.

You can also get MSM in creams, gels, and lotions for topical application – as well as pills.  Make sure you read about the other ingredients and if the MSM is made from distillation.  Like any other supplement, the devil’s in the details.

Many take MSM internally as well as use it topically in specific areas for pain relief.  It has been so effective internally for me I haven’t even tried topical MSM.