The Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine Discusses Lyme Disease and Co Infections from the Lyme Bacterium Borrelia Burgdorferi

Published May 9, 2023
Charleston, South Carolina -

The Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine, a functional, integrative, and environmental medicine clinic is educating patients on the causes, symptoms, and treatments of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is an infection caused by Borrelia Burgdorferi, a spirochete bacterium carried by deer ticks and transmitted to humans through a bite. When the bacterium invades the bloodstream, it causes inflammation in various bodily systems starting with the skin and later spreading to the joints, nervous system, and even other organs of the body. According to Dr. Stephen Elliott, from COEM, in the later stages, Lyme can adversely impact the heart, short-circuiting the heart’s electrical system (atrioventricular block) and causing a variety of symptoms including lightheadedness, palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

One of the most common illnesses in the United States, it can cause several long-term effects including arthritis and complications such as Meningitis, Encephalitis, Cranial Neuritis, Radiculoneuritis, Encephalopathy, and Neuropsychiatric Lyme disease.

Many Lyme-related symptoms (e.g, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, neuropathy, rashes) can be caused by so many other things, because of which it has come to be called “The Great Imposter.” As a result, Lyme is frequently missed — or mis-diagnosed — early on, resulting in further progression of the disease and wider dissemination throughout the body.

Patients experience symptoms in three stages. In the localized early (acute) stage, patients may complain of solid red or bull’s-eye rash, usually at the site of the bite, swelling of lymph glands near the tick bite, generalized achiness, and headaches.

During the early disseminated stage, symptoms include two or more rashes not at the site of the bite, migrating pains in joints/tendons, headaches, stiff, aching neck, facial palsy (facial paralysis similar to bell’s palsy), tingling or numbness in extremities, multiple enlarged lymph glands, abnormal pulse, sore throat, changes in vision, fever of 100 to 102 F, and severe fatigue.

Finally, during the late stage of a Lyme disease infection, patients report conditions such as arthritis (pain/swelling) of one or two large joints, disabling neurological disorders (disorientation; confusion; dizziness; short-term memory loss; inability to concentrate, finish sentences or follow conversations; mental “fog”), and numbness in arms/hands or legs/feet.

Dr. William Weirs from COEM talks about the several options available for treating Lyme disease by saying, “Here at COEM, we believe in providing holistic treatments that combine the use of conventional allopathic treatments along with the best environmental, functional, and integrative therapies available right now. So, we may recommend the accepted pharmaceutical treatments for LD including Doxycycline, Tetracycline, penicillin, intravenous antibiotics, and NSAIDs. Along with these medications, we also recommend probiotic supplements, friendly bacteria that reduce the side effects of the aforementioned antibiotics, and beta-glucan, a fiber that stimulates the immune system. We also suggest a combination of herbs including garlic and Essaic.”

In its blog post on the topic, COEM warns readers that many of the conventional tests for Lyme disease miss detection in a large percentage of cases. For example, the Elisa test misses 35 percent of culture-proven Lyme disease and tests for none of the co-infections while the Western Blot often misses 20 to 30 percent of culture-proven Lyme disease. While more accurate tests are available, none are completely accurate and it often comes down to the physician’s clinical judgment to begin treatment.

At COEM, the clinicians have found that no one treatment protocol works best for everyone. Each person has unique symptoms and requires a very specific treatment plan. Some patients do not want to use antibiotics and one approach can be the Cowden Protocol, which is a comprehensive program using powerful, sequentially applied herbal remedies is highly effective in treating Lyme disease. The program eliminates not only the Borrelia organism but also the equally troublesome co-infections from other organisms.

The conventional approach simply using antibiotics may work work well if Lyme is caught early, but Lyme is rarely caught in early. Once established, the conventional antibiotic approach may be helpful, but is rarely sufficient. Used alone, it frequently triggers a variety of unintended complications and adverse reactions.

Dr. Weirs talks about the clinic’s preferred Lyme disease treatment by saying, “At most medical providers, patients who have tested positive for Lyme disease are put on a regimen of multiple antibiotics for an extended period. From our experience, though it is an effective treatment option, we have found that the Cowden herbal regimen can be a better match for environmentally sensitive patients. The non-drug program is more tolerable to patients who might experience a slew of side effects from the conventional treatment methodology. Since our focus has always been on examining the genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that influence a patient’s health, for a holistic recovery, we strongly recommend an integrative approach for treating Lyme disease.” There is no quick fix. Treating Lyme takes time.

Get in touch with COEM at (843) 572-1600 to schedule an appointment. Readers are also urged to check out the blog post by visiting


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