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What is Lyme Coiling Season?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Several people have asked me about the seasonal nature of Lyme Disease. Mostly, I read about it in various books before I finally experienced it in 2011. From the perspective of a person with Lyme Disease, the symptoms tend to get worse in February, and stay worse until sometime in the beginning of the summer (say late June or sometime in July).  Then the symptoms get less intense for a few weeks, even up to 2 months. Around the middle of August or beginning of September, the symptoms flare up again, and stay bad until late November or sometime in December.

People who have a very high infection load and overwhelming symptoms might not notice a reprieve any time of the year. Thus, their symptoms don’t seem seasonal. People who are on bactericidal doses of antibiotics can send the Lyme Disease into a semi-dormant state at whatever time of year they take the drugs, so the seasonal nature of the disease is masked. In such instances, it may be more obvious that there is a 4-week period in which short flares occur, at the moment that the bacteria are reproducing and increasing the infection load. Some experience these not as flares but that there symptoms seem to be getting worse every month.

There is one other category: people whose main infection is another tick-borne microbe, but have Lyme Disease as well. (There is controversy here.) Lyme bacteria (B. bergdorferi)  have been shown to emit biochemical signals that suppress the activity of other microbes. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective because B. bergdorferi reproduce relatively slowly, and in order to compete with other microorganisms in a host, they need to prevent the competition from using up all the resources. So people whose symptoms come from another infection, such as Bartonella or Mycoplasma, will experience a remission in symptoms at the beginning of Lyme season, as the activity of the Lyme infection suppresses the activities of the other infections.

What is Lyme Coiling Season?

The way the coil machine works is that it only kills active B. bergdorferi. If a person has had Lyme Disease for a while (more than a month or two) the bacteria will have reproduced enough to put some of themselves into storage…just in case. The dormant form of Lyme Disease exists as cysts, which, to those who have taken high school biology, can be envisioned as similar to spores produced by fungi. The cysts are durable, not easily affected by toxicity in the host environment, toxicity including antibiotics, the host immune system, even the electromagnetic field generated by the coil machine.

If a person has taken a lot of antibiotics (like me, 3 years), then lots of cysts have been produced in response. How do we kill them? Well there are some antibiotics that force the cysts to convert back to the active form of the bacteria, such as Flagyl and Tindamax.

Otherwise the approach I’ve taken is to wait for the cysts to become active, as they naturally do twice a year, then I kill the active bacteria with the coil machine. Coiling season lasts until there are no more Herx reactions, indicating that I’ve killed all or almost all of the active bacteria in my body. My first coiling season lasted until the first week in January (past my desired December date). The second one just started and will last until I have two weeks in a row with no Herx. I’ve heard that each subsequent coiling season will be shorter as the number of cysts is reduced…as long as I avoid doing things that will cause any active bacteria to encyst (and persist!).

Why is Lyme Disease Seasonal?

From the perspective of evolution and ecology, the seasonal nature of Lyme Disease makes sense as an adaptive technique in the natural reservoir hosts which are not damaged by the bacteria. In a field mouse or a deer, the active infection doesn’t normally impede the life cycle of the host (the way it does with a human being or a dog).

The bacteria is able to exist in several forms in the host animal, dormant as a cyst or active. When it is active, it must use the resources of the host. Otherwise it can wait around for a long time until it receives signals that it has a possible opportunity to spread to another host and preserve the species in a new location. The main mechanism for transmission from one host to another is via tick bite. Thus, the only times a colony in a host needs to be active in the blood of a host is when a tick is likely to be feeding on the host.

Ticks have two primary feeding seasons in which the Lyme bacteria are able to hitch a ride to another host. Tick larvae feed in the second half of the summer into the early fall, during which time they can become infected and still have a chance to pass on the bacteria during their next feeding. Nymphal ticks feed in late winter and through the spring. These, too, can pass on the bacteria during their last, adult feeding, which occurs the following autumn.

I don’t know how B. bergorferi know what the seasons are. I’ve read several hypotheses, ranging from temperature (but I don’t get how they could know that in human hosts that spend winter indoors) to the angle of the sunlight that the host organism sees. What I do know is that the times of the year when the Lyme bacteria are active in their natural reservoir hosts, they are active in their human hosts.

(My apologies for the unreferenced, hand-waving approximations in this essay, especially to my sister, an actual evolutionary biologist.)

Coiling

Week 1 of Lyme coiling is complete as of this evening.

  • Candida, chest, 2 minutes; abdomen, 10 minutes
  • Bartonella, chest, 2 minutes; abdomen, 5 minutes
  • Lyme, crown of head, 3 minutes; back of head, 3 minutes; sides of head, 3 minutes each; sacrum, 2 minutes

Detox

I went to my second yoga class this week. I wasn’t sure I would make it, given the condition I was in yesterday. I had a little trouble with the lunges. My hips are weak and painful. But it was a good way to oxygenate my tissue and build up my bones.

  • skin brushing
  • yoga
  • nap (<1 hour)
  • biomat (~2 hours)
  • kombucha
  • diatomaceous earth

Body

A day of rest occasionally works magic. I slept reasonably well last night, as though I had rested enough to allow my body and mind to let go. There was only one break when I got really hot (and relieved a very full bladder). I wasn’t too sweaty, but a little damp.

I had enough energy to get up this morning and go to yoga. Yoga wore me out, but not as badly as it did on Monday. I managed to go out after my nap to get food for dinner.

Yoga is still difficult. I can do many of the poses, but I find my hips are still very weak. I lose my balance in lunges and other poses that require hip strength as well as core strength. I’m super careful not to fall and break one of these fragile bones I’m trying to rebuild (like my wrists…) I got a temporary headache at the end. I haven’t figured out a way to prevent them. When my teacher does a little reiki on me during shivasana, the headaches are reduced but not eliminated.

Both before and after yoga, I had some pain in my sacrum (continuing from yesterday, on the right side especially) and in my knees and feet.

This evening, I’m suffering from a very bad headache. It started by eating something that I think was contaminated with either cornstarch or wheat flour. I could see it but not remove it. Oh well. That’s what I get for eating it anyway. The headache has been a little worse, accompanied by floaters in my vision and eye pain, since I coiled my head for Lyme earlier this evening.

This day was slow. I did a few things that knocked me out for a bit after each one. I have to remind myself that my days of disability are not quite over yet, and adjust my expectations accordingly.

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