Treating Lyme Disease with Homeopathy

Amongst the various treatment methods that have proliferated in response to the ongoing epidemic of Lyme Disease, homeopathy has a unique and valuable place.  It is distinguished by a number of attributes, chief amongst them being flexibility, individuality and, to coin a term, 'constitutionality'.

People afflicted with Lyme present in various stages of the disease.  The homeopathic practitioner has at his or her disposal a vast array of medicines that allow for a great deal of flexibility in prescribing the most appropriate remedy for each stage.  

As an example, at the initial onset of the disease when symptoms such as the bulls eye rash, fever, headache or joint points are just beginning to appear, the remedy Ledum Palustre can nip the infection in the bud.    Ledum is a plant related to rhododendron, mountain laurel and wintergreen, all being in the Heath or Ericaceae family, and has traditionally been used for puncture wounds in general as well as insect bites or stings specifically.   

Just as important, is its use as a prophylactic medicine either in a situation where a tick bite or an embedded tick has been discovered and symptoms have yet to manifest, or even before exposure to ticks when a person wants to ward off the disease should he or she be exposed.

The key to using Ledum in these acute situations is to be sufficiently aggressive in prescribing the remedy in the right potencies and frequencies.  

Although it was once touted as a specific for Lyme- meaning that it would be effective in all cases, this has turned out not to be the case.  In different stages and different symptom presentations, different remedies will be called for.  The practitioner needs to take advantage of the flexibility inherent in homeopathic prescribing accordingly.  

Aside from prescribing for the prophylactic and acute stages, there are basically three other categories that dictate the remedy choice.

In more developed or chronic situations, the practitioners needs to evaluate the case according to the history of the disease and patient as well as the specific symptoms that are presenting and the general characteristics of the patient state beyond the disease itself, including the life circumstances of the patient around the time they contracted Lyme.  This is generally what is referred to as constitutional prescribing.  

In certain situations, the presenting symptoms of the patient may be so acute as to overshadow the constitutional state and a specific remedy is called for to address those particular symptoms in the moment.   While this may afford a great deal of relief, it usually will not stand on its own for an extended period of time as the underlying state needs to be addressed by a constitutional remedy at some point in the treatment.   

Another approach is known as 'miasmatic prescribing'. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, introduced the term ‘miasm’ two centuries ago after years of research into the personal and family histories of his unsuccessful cases.   He discovered in these patients an underlying, intrinsic disposition toward various disease states brought on by an exposure to a specific infectious disease. 

Since that time the concept and its clinical applicability has engendered a great amounts of discussion, controversy and confusion.  What is clear is that Hahnemann described three types of miasms as a result of exposure to scabies, gonorrhea or syphilis. This exposure, which could be either during the life of the patient or inherited from family members, gives rise to a susceptibility toward specific forms of illness. Additional miasms were added by later generations of homeopaths, though they have not met with universal acceptance.

The theory of miasms was for Hahnemann not merely an insightful concept, but, more importantly, it became an essential tool in clinical practice.  Instead of focusing exclusively on the presenting symptoms of a case, he could discern the traits of a particular miasm in a patient and by prescribing specific remedies related to that miasm bring about cures that were once not possible.

These specific remedies fall into two categories: (1) remedies derived from disease tissue or discharges related to the specific infectious disease which are known as 'nosodes', and (2) non-disease or 'regular' remedies that are curative of the most common manifestations of that miasm.   Thus, for the syphilis miasm, there is a nosode known as Syphilinum created from scrapings of a syphilitic ulcer.  In addition, non-nosode remedies made from mercury and gold salts have a strong affinity in treating persons manifesting syphilitic symptoms.

The significance of this approach in the treatment of Lyme is two-fold. First, with the pervasive, apparently endemic nature of the disease, it is reasonable to consider Lyme itself as a miasm and treat it thus.    Thinking along these lines suggests using a remedy made from the micro-organism that causes the disease,  that is a nosode of the spirochete Borrelia Burgdorferai .    

But, different than the traditional miasmatic diseases, chronic lyme disease is almost always accompanied by coinfections by other organisms such as babesia, baronella and ehrlichia.    Thus a nosode of Borrelia would not address the entire condition. 

Another concept, first advanced by the German homeopath Peter Alex in his book 'Homeopathic Treatment of Lyme Disease'1 is to consider lyme disease as a syphilitic condition, meaning that it is part of the syphilitic miasm.   This is in great part because both Borrelia and Treponema pallidum, the organism that causes syphilis, are spirochetes belonging to the same family. 

As miasmatic treatment for Lyme, instead of a nosode, Alex puts forward the homeopathic preparation of the gold salt Aurum-arsenicum - the arseniate of gold - as the most similar to the disease.  He gives several examples of cases that responded well to this treatment, either using Aur-ar as the sole remedy prescribed or as part of an extended treatment using a number of remedies sequentially over time.

While there are those who promote homeopathy as a simple formulaic method - 'for Lyme take this remedy, if that doesn't work, take that remedy', this runs counter to the basic homeopathic principal of individualization which is critical to successful case analysis and management.   Approaching each case as a unique situation and choosing amongst various treatment strategies based on the characteristics of the person  and the case history is the foundation for favorable outcomes. 

Alex, Peter.  'The Homeopathic Treatment of Lyme Disease.  translated by Doug Smith, PhD;  HomeopathyWest Publishing, El Cerrito, CA.  2005.