There will never be a silver bullet for Lyme disease. The reason is that Lyme disease throws the body way out of whack in many ways. There are hormonal imbalances, immune system problems, nutritional deficiencies, toxicities, individual genetic factors, and many more items to consider. The closest thing to a cure for Lyme disease would probably be complete annihilation of all infections followed by effective stem cell therapy to regenerate all tissues. Can this be accomplished? Maybe, I don’t know. But in the meantime, we still need to move forward, to fight, to win.
In my own fight with Lyme disease, I’ve always been too heavily obsessed with “killing” therapies, rather than “rebuilding” therapies. But we need both. I’m very excited that the top doctors seem to be more and more getting on the bus of teaching us about rebuilding therapies. Lots to talk about here, and we will be talking.
But for now, I’ll start with just one. L-Arginine. L-Arginine is an amino acid, and amino acids are the building blocks in protein. Lyme sufferers should be consuming lots of protein, because our body’s battle with the disease depletes protein. Protein is needed for detoxification and for proper immune function. Underconsuming protein will have dire consequences, which no “killing” treatment can make up for.
Sometimes, eating high-protein foods and even protein food supplements isn’t enough. Sometimes, our body benefits from eating specific amino acids in larger quantities. Why? Because our body may need more of particular amino acids, and it may also not have the strength to break down larger protein molecules to get them.
This is a fascinating topic. The arena of exploring individual amino acid supplementation is a huge area of medicine and individual amino acids can influence all kinds of things in the body, including gut health, brain function and mood, athletic performance and recovery, and many more.
Today’s amino acid, the supplement of the month for January, is L-Arginine. In my research over the years, this particular amino acid has come up many times in relation to Lyme disease and Lyme-related problems. Recently, I was alerted to this very fascinating medical abstract. Please read it in its entirety:
The normal immune system has local and systemic components which are influenced by a variety of alterations. Impaired host immunity is associated with neoplasia, protein calorie malnutrition, and the administration of immunosuppressive drugs. It is well accepted that protein calorie malnutrition impairs host immunity with particular detrimental effects on the T-cell system, resulting in increased opportunistic infection and increased morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients. Individual nutrient substrates may also have a major influence on the immune system. Individual amino acids are often described as essential, based on requirements for optimal growth and maintenance of positive N balance. Arginine has been demonstrated to be essential to the traumatized host and may have tissue-specific properties which influence components of the immune system. Thus, arginine may be of value in clinical situations where the immune system is compromised. In a series of experiments in normal animals, arginine was demonstrated to enhance cellular immune mechanisms, in particular T-cell function. It also has a marked immunopreserving effect in the face of immunosuppression induced by protein malnutrition and increases in tumor burden. In postoperative surgical patients, arginine supplementation results in enhanced T-lymphocyte response and augmented T-helper cell numbers, with a rapid return to normal of T-cell function postoperatively compared with control patients. These data suggest that arginine supplementation may enhance or preserve immune function in high-risk surgical patients and theoretically improve the host’s capacity to resist infection.
Department of Surgery, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia
This abstract alone would convince me to take a closer look at Arginine, but there’s more. Some people also believe that L-Arginine works by increasing nitric oxide in the body, which is one way that hyperbaric oxygen works. So could this be hyperbaric oxygen in a bottle? Not quite that good. But it may have some similar, subtle effects.
There are MANY studies on L-Arginine and it’s function in immunity. It is a very powerful immune system component. But be aware, also, that all of Arginine’s effects may not be beneficial. It is a bit of a controversial supplement. For example, some people say that Arginine is bad to take if you have viral infections, while other research shows that Arginine actually inhibits viruses.
So how do you decide whether to use it? Well, like all things with chronic Lyme disease, we are each individuals, with separate and unique biochemistry. You could probably spend $1,000,000 on individual biochemistry testing, to determine if Arginine is right for you. Or you could spend $10 bucks on the supplement and do some trial and error. I personally prefer the latter approach, but if you are wealthy, be my guest on the former 🙂
If you decide to use L-Arginine or have used it, please share your experience and wisdom in the comments below. And don’t forget to eat good sources of protein – see the above-linked free chapter excerpt from my book. Some of my favorites include eggs, lean poultry, whey protein, greek yogurt, and whole food protein bars.
PS – Some of you may be wondering about my battle with tetanus. See previous blog posts for this story. At the present time, I am making progress, though slow. More on that later.