How Lyme Disease Impairs Brain Health

How Lyme Disease Impairs Brain Health

As the Lyme epidemic continues to grow, conventional medicine is gradually coming to recognize chronic Lyme disease as a valid condition requiring strategic intervention. Also known as Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), chronic Lyme involves ongoing inflammation and continued/increasing Lyme symptoms, after undergoing standard antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease.

Patients struggling with PTLDS often endure a multitude of persistent symptoms, including:

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Brain fog Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Digestive issues
  • Immune suppression

In recent years, physicians and researchers have acknowledged that PTLDS patients may have high levels of inflammation. However, the specific location and nature of the inflammation were unknown, until recently.

Thanks to a relatively new brain imaging technique, researchers at Johns Hopkins discovered that PTLDS patients have significant brain inflammation, compared to healthy controls. Using a specialized form of PET scan imaging, the researchers found that levels of a specific marker of brain inflammation—TSPO (translocator protein)— were elevated in PTLDS patients. This marker was active across multiple regions of the brains of PTLDS patients, indicating widespread inflammation rather than one specific area.

PTLDS Symptoms can Persist for Decades

These findings, published December 2018 in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, are important because they help to substantiate and clarify the processes behind the ongoing symptoms PTLDS patients may experience, sometimes for decades, after treating an infection.

Addressing neuro-inflammation with targeted therapies is a critical strategy for reducing chronic Lyme symptoms, and represents a fundamental cornerstone in integrative Lyme treatment. Symptoms such as brain fog, depression, sleep disturbances, and even musculoskeletal pain, may benefit from a significant reduction in neuroinflammation.

As researchers continue to study post-treatment Lyme disease, we can expect novel new therapies to emerge, along with greater recognition of this increasingly common condition.

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Source: Coughlin JM, et al. J Neuroinflammation. 2018 Dec 19;15(1):346.