Sixth Installment: Nutritional Supplements
For patients with chronic illness such as Lyme and Chronic Fatigue, studies have shown that some symptoms are “related to cellular damage and deficiencies in certain essential nutrients.” What this means is that this opens the pathway to other forms of treatment to reduce and eliminate chronic Lyme disease symptoms! Dr. Burascanno reports that these studies we conducted double-blinded and placebo controlled and in one case with direct examination of biopsy specimens. These studies have given us a grounded understanding of supplements which may be helpful.
Use a pill organizer!
With multiple medications and supplements that need to be taken at different times of the day it is critical to organize to promote compliance.
Use Quality Supplements
What this means is that you are urged to get what is called “pharmaceutical grade” supplements so you can be sure of getting active, regulated amounts of the active ingredients that you seek. Among others, Dr. Burrascano has found that Pharmanex, Researched Nutritionals and Nature Made products fit this criteria. See Dr. Burascanno’s website for specifics as to how to order from these companies on line.
Basic Daily Regimen
In order of importance:
• Probiotics (required)
Products such as kefir, acidophilis and bifidis (the refrigerated ones tend to maintain high potency) and yogurt are recommended. These healthy bacteria repopulate the intestinal tract to make up for the mass killing-off of biological organisms from the anti-biotics used to treat the spirochetes.
• Multi-vitamin (required)
Dr. Burascanno recommends a product called Life Pac through Pharmanex. This product is pharmaceutical grade and USP certified and has been rigorously tested. They have developed specific protocols depending on your age and sex.
• CO-Q10 (required, but do not take when on atovaquone (which is Mepron,Malarone).
Deficiencies in this enzyme have been shown to relate to poor function of the heart, limitations of stamina, gum disease and poor resistance to infections. Heart biopsy studies actually indicate that many Lyme patients should take between 300 to 400 daily. Dr. Burascanno recommends this product from Researched Nutritionals.
• Alpha-Lipoic Acid (required)
This facilitates the entry of CoQ10 into the mitochondria. This is so important, otherwise CoQ10 is not as effective. Dose is 300 mg twice daily.
• Vitamin B (required)
Clinical studies have demonstrated that supplemental vitamin B in infections with Borellia help heal neurological symptoms. The recommendation is to take one 50 mg B-complex daily, or if neuropathy is severe, a second one can be taken later in the day.
• Magnesium (required)
This supplement is very important as a muscle relaxant: it is very helpful for tremors, twitches, cramps, muscle soreness, heart skips and weakness. It may also help with energy level and cognition. Dr. Burascanno specifically recommends magnesium L-lactate dehydrate (Mag-tab SR sold by Niche Pharmaceuticals – 1800-677-0355 and is available at Wal-mart). Isn’t it helpful to know that we can take charge of parts of our care to enhance the support provided by our medical team!
• Essential Fatty Acids (required)
When taken regularly studies have shown that EFA’s statistically improve fatigue, aches, weakness, vertigo, dizziness, memory, concentration and depression.
There are two broad classes of essential fatty acids:
One: GLA – Omega-6 oils derived from plants:
It is recommended that you use a refrigerated liquid product of mixed omega oils obtained from the local health food store. Take one to two tablespoons daily or it can be mixed with food or put on salads.
Two: EPA (Omega-3 oils) which are derived from fish. Dr. Burascanno recommends Marine Omega by Pharmanex; take 4 daily on a full stomach. This is recommended because it is made from krill- the plankton which fish eat – (not from the fish itself) and is certified to be free of any measurable amounts of heavy metals and organic toxins.
This is a product that addresses the mitochondrial damage thought to underlie the metabolic dysfunction associated with chronic diseases which manifest as fatigue and neurologic dysfunction! This is huge, if it works. the amazing thing is that Dr. Burascanno touts this as “the single most reliable agent I have found that can give noticeably increased energy levels.” Effects may be noted within two weeks, especially if combined with supplements known to support neurological function (below.)
Optional Supplements for special Circumstances:
A. For Neurologic Symptoms
Dr. Burascanno has three goals here: 1. Supply the metabolic needs, 2. replenish what has become depleted and 3. protect the neurons and their supportive cells.
• Acetyl-L Carnitine is taken along with SAM-e. This combo can result in noticeable gains in short term memory, mood and cognition. This is good news for chronic Lyme patients suffering from these symptoms. Doses: 1500-2000 mg. Positive results may appear in as little as two to three weeks.
• Methylcobalamin (methyl B-12)
This a prescription drug derived from vitamin B-12 and can help heal the central and peripheral nervous system, improve immune function and help to restore more normal sleeping patterns. It must be taken by injection for absorption and the dose in usually 25 mg (l c.c.) daily for 3 to 6 months. Long term studies have not shown any side-effects. There are special directives that apply to this prescription so go to Dr. Burascanno’s site for details. It must be ordered from a special compounding pharmacy.
• Green Tea
You do not need a prescription for this product! Green teas is very high in anti-oxidants. For anyone with “degenerative changes to the central nervous system” this is a must. At least four cups daily are needed to reap the benefit. Dr. Burascanno recommends decaffeinated green tea of good quality.
This herb is from Tibet and it has been studied clinically; results have shown that it improves stamina, fatigue, and enhances lung and antioxidant function. It does something else that is so important in cases of neurological Lyme: it raises the “superoxide dismutase levels.” In effect this prevents lesions in the central nervous system. Dr. Burascanno raves: “The positive effects can be dramatic.” It is recommended that the product should be used long term to maintain progress and that it should be USP (as in the Pharmanex product CordyMax.”)
This supplement has been well studied and the studies support its use for improving cognition, especially memory when used long term. Dose is 500 to 1000 twice a day.
B. For Immune Support
• This product is made from the Reishi mushroom and in clinical studies it has been shown to augment the function of what is called the Natural Killer Cells and macrophages. If your CD-57 count is less than 60 it is recommended that you take four a day (available only at Phamanex.)
• Transfer Factors are the body’s natural signals meant to activate the pathogen-killing effects of the cellular immune system. This little-heard-of treatment was personally put on a limited trial in what Dr. Burascanno refers to as “personal experience.” He says he is a “believer” and has found these supplements to be surprisingly effective in making the very ill respond better to treatment. He recommends Transfer Factor Multi-Immune and Transfer Factor Lyme-Plus produced by Researched Nutritionals.
C. For Joint Symptoms
• Glucosamine can be of long term benefit to the joints. Dr. Burascanno does not believe that adding chondroitin adds anything except expense. He recommends Cartilage Formula by Pharmanex.
• Vitamin C is important in maintaining healthy connective tissue. High doses are recommended – 1000 to 6000 mg a day as tolerated. Ester-C is non-acid and longer acting or C-salts are also well tolerated. Start low and increase.
• Flex Cream is an “amazing liniment-like products that “really works”. Spread it on thick for body pain - do not rub in. It takes 30 to 60 minutes to work, then lasts for many hours. A Pharmanex exclusive.
If this is getting to sound like a Phamanex commercial, so be it. I would be interested in feedback about the use of these products or others that serve the same purpose. Obviously Dr. Burascanno has had exceptional success with their products. Tell me what you think.
Other Optional Supplements:
• Vitamin D deficiency can cause Lyme patients diffuse body aches and cramps that are not responsive to magnesium or calcium supplements. It may assist with normal immune and hormone function as well. It is urged that you have a fasting blood level drawn; levels should be in the upper half of the range. If it is not, 2000 to 4000 units daily are needed for several weeks, then a lower maintenance dose based on repeated blood level monitoring.
• Creatine has been shown to benefit in neuromuscular degenerative diseases such as Lou Gherig’s Disease and can help in supporting low blood pressure. It may also help with strength, stamina, and heart function. To take this safely you must hydrate regularly.. Details on his website.
• Milk Thistle for liver function – 175 mg daily.
Well, that’s it. It is an exhaustive, if not exhausting list. Hopefully you will approach this all one step at a time. Do not allow this all to overwhelm you. These are all options. My recommendation is to prioritize your symptoms, then to add a short list of supplements to try one at a time so you can see what works for you. The good news is that there are breadcrumbs ahead so you aren’t blazing the path alone!
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