Book Excerpt: “The Impact of Lyme Disease on Your Brain and How to Reclaim Your Smarts” Chapter 3: What actually causes Lyme brain?

By Nicola McFadzean Ducharme, ND


lyme brain
B efore we discuss specific causes of Lyme Brain, let’s get clear on two underlying premises. The first is that Lyme disease is a chronic infectious process, and that bacteria can and do persist in the body beyond the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s “standard of care,” which is a 14 to 21 day course of antibiotics. I’m not going to get into all the research supporting that general premise (for more detailed information, I refer you to my book The Beginner’s Guide to Lyme Disease, which states the evidence clearly). The second premise is that the Borrelia spirochetes (and co-infections) can and do get into the brain itself. Therefore, a chronic infectious process can give rise to long-term exposure of brain tissue to spirochetes and other pathogens, which can have far-reaching consequences.

Evidence of spirochetes in the brain is not new. It is well established that the spirochetal bacteria that is behind syphilis, Treponema pallidum, causes progressive dementia and brain atrophy in the late stages of that disease.¹ Although Treponema and Borrelia are different pathogens, both are spirochetes, so we can draw some conclusions about the activity of one and how that might relate to the other. As one of my patients once said to me, “Dr. Nicola, Lyme disease is the new syphilis.”

Some of the research that indicated that Borrelia spirochetes could get into the brain was done on Alzheimer’s patients. Researcher Alan MacDonald was one of the first to find spirochetes in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients on autopsy.² Examination confirmed that the spirochetes were B. burgdorferi sensu stricto (one of the strains responsible for Lyme disease). In two cases, postmortem studies showed positive serology (on blood and cerebrospinal fluid) by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) standards. Neurofibrillary tangles were reactive with specific B. burgdorferi antibodies, and Borrelia antigens were found. ……. <spanclass=”jointxt”><ahref=”https://www.lymedisease.org/members/join/”>Join or login below to continue reading.

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