MERCK MANUAL

Note: No content on this website should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from a doctor or other qualified clinician.

It is suffice to say that the Lyme spirochete is a corkscrew shaped bacteria that bores its way through the body in its search for food. It, in all its nastiness, can be seen here.

It has much in common with syphilis, which can be seen here, and I can’t help but wonder if they are one-in-the-same, with just a bit of a twist (pun intended). Though Penicillin is the preferred drug of choice for treating syphilis, Doxycycline has been shown to be the best alternative for treating early and latent syphilis. Doxycycline is also the first choice doctors turn to when treating Lyme disease.

Named in honor of the scientist credited with discovering the bacteria, Wilhelm “Willy” Burgdorfer, Borrelia burgdorferi “is a bacterial species of the spirochete class of the genus Borrelia.” Basically, it “is a corkscrew shaped bacteria that bores its way through the body in its search for food.”

Borrelial bacteria are parasites that require a host body to harvest all of the substances they need to survive. The majority of the nutrients they require are harvested from collagen-like tissues throughout the body, and the host body provides the conditions they need to survive. And wherever the bacteria are found feeding is where symptoms occur. If they are in the skin then the host (i.e., the victim) will develop issues with the skin. If they make their way to the heart then there will be heart disease. If they find their way into the nervous system or into the brain, neurological symptoms (e.g., seizures) will develop.

And this is where my daughter, Kathleen, comes in. On 12/12/2015 Kathleen experienced her first grand mal seizure. Our local children’s hospital diagnosed the problem as adolescent onset epilepsy, but my wife, Amy, and I later learned otherwise. Sadly, the bacteria had made it past Kathleen’s blood brain barrier — an area of the body meant to protect against circulating toxins or pathogens which can cause brain infections — and then taken-up residence inside her brain.

Once inside the brain the bacteria break-down the myelin sheaths that are, in effect, an insulating layer that forms around nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The sheaths are similar to the insulation that surround household electrical wiring and essentially allow electrical impulses to transmit quickly and efficiently along the nerve cells. Once the sheaths have been damaged the electrical impulses can become erratic and, thus, create that which is similar to an electrical storm inside the brain. When that happens, patients lose control of their bodies, which can result in injuries if the person loses control and falls. In some some cases it can even cause a patient to die from suffocation. And for those operating machinery or who find themselves behind the wheel of a motor vehicle when the seizure occurs, the consequences not only be can devastating for themselves but for others as well.

The video at the beginning of this post is brief but I believe does a good job of reflecting just how undamaged nerve cells work. For those who suffer neurological damage from Lyme disease, as in the case of my daughter, the myelin sheaths around the never cells are broken down by the bacteria for food which then disrupts the electrical impulses.

When Kathleen was first diagnosed with Lyme disease she was initially treated with Doxycycline, but she was later prescribed Minocycline by her Lyme specialist, Dr. Thomas Moorcroft. Dr. Tom was not the first physician to treat Kathleen, which is an important distinction to make given that the Minocycline came later in her treatments. And, as a layman, and an extremely concerned parent, I can’t help but wonder if she had been prescribed Minocycline sooner if she would have been spared the extent of neurological damage that seems to have occurred to her brain.

over the now six-plus years that we have been dealing with these life altering issues — for everyone in our family — I have learned that:

Minocycline is 2 times more lipid soluble than doxycycline, thereby making it a potential alternative for treatment of Lyme neuroborreliosis. [Link]

Essentially, that means that Minocycline may be better at penetrating the blood-brain barrier so that it can kill the nasty bugs. That said, however, as with anything in life, there are other issues to consider:

Although serum levels of doxycycline and minocycline are comparable at any given dose, there are important differences in CSF and/or CNS concentrations. The high lipid solubility of minocycline may cause vestibular side effects in some patients. This side effect limits the administration of minocycline to 100 mg q12h rather than 200 mg q12h. Because of this, doxycycline (400 mg daily) remains the preferred oral antibiotic for treatment of Lyme neuroborreliosis in most patients. For patients for whom treatment fails (those with persistent symptoms and/or active CNS disease), minocycline may be a therapeutic option. [Same Link]

Other studies have pointed to the fact that “Minocycline has also emerged as the most effective tetracycline derivative regarding neuroprotection…” In other words: Not everyone will experience “vestibular side effects” and there are a number of studies which show that patients suffering with brain injuries or diseases “…with with an inflammatory basis, including rosacea, bullous dermatoses, neutrophilic diseases, pyoderma gangrenosum, sarcoidosis, aortic aneurysms, cancer metastasis, periodontitis and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma…” may very well benefit from the use of Minocycline. 

Bottom Line: If you or someone you love is suffering from neurological issues due to Lyme disease, it is worth your time to ask your doctor questions (and lots of them) about Minocycline or other alternatives to Doxycycline.

As I have learned — the hard way — unlike common electrical wiring in a home or automobile, myelin sheaths, or the protective coverings around nerve cells, can not be replaced. Therefore, the best way to protect the brain’s wiring is to mitigate the damage, or to make certain that the damage never occurs in the first place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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