Lyme Disease and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through an infected tick and is most often caused by the bacterium, borrelia burgdorfern (Bb spirochete). In the United States the black legged tick (Ixodes Scapularis) and the western black legged tick (Ixodes pacificans) are the most common ticks to infect humans. Other ticks that have been found to be infected with the Bb spirochete bacteria are the wood rat tick (Ixodes neotomae) and the rabbit tick (Haemaphysolis porispalastris).

The first symptom of Lyme disease is a local rash (erythema migrans) but it is not always present and it can be overlooked. In the EARLY PHASE (inflammatory phase) flu-like symptoms, headaches, stiff neck, mild fever, chills, muscles aches and fatigue are seen. These symptoms are very non-specific and mimic other diseases. Lyme disease needs to be considered as a possibility if the flu-like symptoms persist over weeks. The LATE PHASE (intracellular phase) of Lyme disease occurs when the bacterium is in the organ (skin, muscles, eyes, heart, brain, etc.). Symptoms in this phase might include neurological dysfunction, cognitive disorders, sleep abnormalities, muscles aches, cardiac problems, etc. These late symptoms also imitate other illness such as fibromyalgia. These characteristics of Lyme disease have given rise to the term “great imitator” to describe this disease process.

HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY works by driving oxygen into infected cells, thereby creating a rich environment of oxygen that is not suitable to the Bb spirochete. While at the Texas A&M University, William Fife, Ph.D., treated Lyme disease with HBOT at 2.36ATA (atmospheres absolute). Of 91 patients with Lyme disease, 85% of those treated showed significant improvement. A Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction during hyperbaric oxygen therapy and/or while on antibiotics is a sign that the Bb spirochete is being killed. As with all patients facing a serious illness, Lyme disease patients have learned that they need to be informed about treatment options. Especially if standard antibiotic treatment has not helped sufficiently, patients should explore alternative options.