Making Sense of Lyme Disease – the Great Imitator

To say that Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose, would be like saying that McDonald’s has sold a few hamburgers over the years. Besides being called the great imitator, it has also been called an “invisible illness” as those who have it can still appear healthy, and so can their bloodwork.

Consider the shocking difference between these two statistics. In 2013, federal health departments reported that there were 27, 203 confirmed cases of Lyme disease. While the CDC that same year reported that there were 300,000 cases of the disease. What may be even more problematic, is that it appears to be on the rise.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne infectious disease in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. The disease was first identified in Lyme, Connecticut in 1975, which is how Lyme disease got its name.

It’s actually a bacterial disease. The corkscrew shape of the bacteria responsible allows them to burrow into body tissues and even cells, where the bacteria can then hide. This is why different parts of the body can be affected and why those who are infected can exhibit a wide range of symptoms.

What Causes Lyme Disease?

Of the four bacteria responsible for causing Lyme disease, Borrellia burgdorferi and Borrelliamiyamotoiare the two most common in the U.S., while Borrelliagarinii and Borrelliaafzelii are common in Asia and Europe.

The bacteria enter the body through the bite of a tick. However, according to Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, one of the top Lyme disease experts, other blood-sucking insects can also spread the disease.

A tick will usually attach itself to areas of the body where it will go unnoticed, like the scalp, groin, and armpits. It must be attached for around 24 hours before the bacteria are transmitted. And it’s usually the immature ticks that are most responsible, as adult ticks are bigger and easier to notice.

Research shows that within the first 15 minutes, as the tick attaches itself to the host, it injects a salivary content with numbing substances, so we don’t feel the invader as it feeds on our blood for hours. Up to 75 percent of a tick’s salivary secretion has a “soup” of pathogens, including Borrelia and other co-infections.

What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

The biggest problem with Lyme disease is that, for your best chances of a complete recovery, early detection is both critical and difficult.

Common symptoms of Lyme disease mirror those of several other conditions including:

• Multiple sclerosis
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
• Arthritis
• Fibromyalgia
• Alzheimer’s disease

symptoms from lyme disease include rash
First Warning Signs

In about half of all Lyme disease cases, the infected person will notice a growing red rash at the site of the bite that can grow up to 12 inches in diameter. The rash isn’t itchy or painful and is usually accompanied by other symptoms that may include:

• Chills
• Fever
• Headaches
• Body aches
• Fatigue

Chronic Symptoms

The longer the disease goes untreated, other signs and symptoms may come and go, such as brain fog, severe fatigue, muscle and joint problems, and an irregular heartbeat. The longer it persists, the more difficult it is to treat. And if left untreated long enough, it can cause problems with many organs and systems in the body, including the heart, digestive system, nervous system, brain, and reproductive system.

How is Lyme Disease Diagnosed?

Blood tests are the most common method to detect Lyme disease. However, it may take a few weeks after infection for detection to be possible.

The tests are looking to confirm the presence of antibodies to the Lyme-causing bacteria. Antibodies are created by the immune system to combat pathogens, but the body needs a certain amount of time to make them.

The CDC recommends a two-step process when attempting to diagnose Lyme disease. The first test is an enzyme immunosorbent assay which checks for any and all antibodies. If results are positive, the second test – an immunoblot test – will check for two specific antibodies that the body produces due to the presence of the Lyme bacteria.

If both tests are positive, the presence of Lyme disease is a practical certainty. But again, problems persist. Proper results of these testing methods rely on the proper functioning of the body’s white blood cells. So, there is still a chance that tests can be negative and Lyme disease present.

There is some good news, though. A brand-new testing method has been developed that can detect Lyme DNA, rather than the antibodies the body produces to combat the Lyme bacteria. This should allow for detection weeks sooner. And since time is the most critical factor in treating Lyme disease, this early detection is a very positive development.

It should be noted that diagnosing and treating Lyme disease can become quite pricey and that a patient will often see five to seven physicians before the disease is even properly diagnosed.

How to Treat Lyme Disease?

Unfortunately, the conventional treatment for Lyme disease – short courses of antibiotics – is often unsuccessful, particularly if the disease has been present for a longer time. For most patients, symptoms continue, and the disease worsens.

A natural health approach may be the better option, as in a rotation of herbal antimicrobials. The advantages are two-fold. There’s no chance of a resistance developing, the way it might with antibiotics. And there are no adverse side effects, such as the disturbance to your delicate microbiome that antibiotics use can cause.

Renowned natural health expert, Dr. Joseph Mercola, recommends taking a functional nutrition approach by using a number of herbs, foods, and other supplements to fight the Lyme infection, including astaxanthin, curcumin, krill oil, probiotics, resveratrol, grapefruit seed extract, and others.

Don’t underestimate the role of diet and functional nutrition when it comes to fighting Lyme disease. Naturopath and author of “The Lyme Diet: Nutritional Strategies for Healing from Lyme Disease”, Dr. Nicola McFadzean, has this to say on the subject:

“The role of nutrition is central not so much in the actual bug-killing, but in the underlying strength and resilience of your health. Immune support, inflammation management, hormone regulation, and detoxification functions can all be vitally influenced by your nutritional intake.”

If you’re concerned that you may have Lyme disease, the first step is to find a functional medicine practitioner who can properly diagnose and treat the disease.  Remember that with Lyme disease, time is critical. As is getting the proper treatment.

Call our office and learn about an affordable way to get care from Lyme-literate practitioners certified in integrative medicine and natural therapies with our Access Membership plan. Call today – (212)-696-HEAL(4325).


Mysterious Symptoms? Biotoxins Could Be to Blame

Mysterious Symptoms? Biotoxins Could Be to Blame

If you’ve been struggling with mysterious symptoms and having a hard time pinpointing the root cause of seemingly unrelated health issues, you should consider biotoxins. Biotoxins can come from insect bites, mold growing in your home, and many other sources. I’ve noticed an increasing number of biotoxin-related illnesses in my practice, especially in younger individuals and I believe this rise is happening across the country.

You see, biotoxins cause widespread chronic inflammation, which in turn causes symptoms throughout the body’s systems. This can cause nonspecific symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, general malaise, vertigo, and headaches. Symptoms such as these can be confusing, even for your doctor, which is how biotoxin illness has largely gone mis– and underdiagnosed.

One biotoxin illness, chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS), up until recently wasn’t taken very seriously (unfortunately, it still isn’t taken seriously by some medical professionals). As a result, many patients end up defeatedly going from doctor’s office to doctor’s office, at a loss for what’s happening to their body. We now know CIRS is a very real condition, and it is caused by biotoxins. CIRS is considered a subtype of biotoxin illness.

So how do you know if you’ve been exposed to a biotoxin? What are some of the signs, and what can you do? Let’s take closer look at what biotoxins are and how they affect your health.

What are biotoxins?

Biotoxins are a group of substances that are toxic to humans and biological in nature. They can be made by plants, bacteria, fungi or animals. Biotoxins are usually a defense mechanism for the creator, though not always.

Biotoxins have a wide range of negative effects on the human body, targeting different systems – such as neurotoxins, which impact the nervous system and cytotoxins, which impact individual cells.

The two biotoxins I’ve seen impacting my patients most in the past decade, are:

  1. Mold biotoxins  – mycotoxins
  2. Biotoxins created by the tick borne microbes, like Lyme disease causing microbe – Borrelia Burgdorferi

Mycotoxins and Lyme biotoxins are both proving to be a silent crisis and the medical community is only just now realizing how bad they are.

Why are these biotoxin-related illnesses on the rise?

Both mold related illnesses and Lyme disease are on the rise in America. With mold, it’s mostly due to the fact that we now build our houses out of paper and wood, which when combined with moisture is a perfect breeding ground for mold. An estimated 50 percent of American homes now contain toxic mold and an estimated 80 percent of all CIRS cases are caused by water damaged homes.

And when it comes to Lyme disease, it’s thought that the rise is due to many factors. One of which is  climate change and the elimination of predators of carriers (mostly rodents), due to deforestation and habitat damage. Lyme disease is most prevalent in New England, and I’ve personally seen a significant increase in my own patients who hardly leave urban area of New York City.

Effects of biotoxins

Once you are exposed to a biotoxin, the immune system flags the invader and works to have it broken down and removed. If someone is exposed repeatedly or in sufficient levels (living in a moldy home, for example), the biotoxin can’t fully be removed and sets off a series of inflammatory responses throughout the body.

It’s much like digging a hole in sand. If the there’s too much, can be impossible to get very far as sand continuously fills the hole while you’re digging. With your body, if you don’t remove the assaulting toxin it wears your immune systems down.

Then there are some individuals who have genetic predisposition to CIRS that is HLA gene determined. These individuals are much more sensitive to this whole process because their immune system doesn’t properly ‘flag’ the invading biotoxin or have harder time to remove them from the body.  In this case, the biotoxins are free to wreak havoc throughout the body because they are never fully removed.

This sets off a cascade of inflammatory events. Firstly, through binding to receptors throughout the body. Then, the body begins to recognize the biotoxin, which causes a cyclical upregulation of numerous inflammation causing pathways.

Essentially, biotoxins cause a vicious cycle of inflammation that requires intervention, especially if you have the HLA-DR gene. An estimated 25 percent of the population has this genetic mutation, which makes it difficult for your body to rid itself of toxins.

How do you know if you’ve been exposed to biotoxins?

When you’ve been exposed to a biotoxin, your symptoms could be acute or chronic depending on the biotoxin, potency, length of exposure, your genetic status, and more. One thing is certain though – you want to address it earlier rather than later. The longer you go untreated (especially if you’re still being exposed to the toxin), the more complex your symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment will become.

Symptoms of biotoxin illness include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Sinus problems
  • Memory difficulties
  • Headaches
  • Numbness
  • Muscle cramping
  • Metallic taste
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Nerve pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Weight gain
  • Night sweats
  • Excessive thirst
  • Gastrointestinal related issues
  • The inability to distinguish between subtle differences in color

If you suspect you’ve been exposed to biotoxins you can request an appointment here. If you’re not in the New York area, I recommend finding a functional medicine doctor who has experience in biotoxin illnesses.

Biotoxin related medical conditions

Biotoxins themselves can cause medical conditions and their inflammatory hijacking of the immune system can cause serious illnesses. Biotoxin related medical conditions include:

  • Chronic inflammatory response syndrome
  • Lyme disease
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Alzheimer’s disease

It’s quite possible we are only beginning to fully realize how harmful biotoxins are. Only recently a subset of Alzheimer’s disease was identified as being caused by mycotoxins.

The Visual Contrast Sensitivity test is a good place to start

The Visual Contrast Sensitivity (VCS) test checks your ability to differentiate details, which is an indicator of neuroinflammation. A major cause of neuroinflammation is exposure to biotoxins – Mold and Lyme are some of the most common. There are other causes of neuroinflammation besides biotoxins, this is just one common cause.

The VCS test is a good place to start if you think you’ve been exposed to biotoxins because you can do it at home, it only takes 10 minutes, and it’s only $10.  If you test positive for neuroinflammation, you should request an appointment immediately. In 2015, over 95 percent of all new Lyme disease cases occurred in only 14 states – New York was one of those states.

When you’ve been exposed to biotoxins, it’s important to seek out a doctor experienced in these illnesses because they are confusing and frequently misdiagnosed. I regularly have patients who come see me that have been searching for the cause of their mysterious illness for years. If you have been struggling with mysterious symptoms, I urge you to check for biotoxin exposure.


Detoxification – Path to Greater Health – Part 2

Detoxification – Path to Greater Health – Part 2

Detoxing Boosts Your Health

Following a detox program suited to your personal needs supports the body’s natural cleansing process and boosts your health in many ways:

Allows digestive organs to rest

Stimulates the liver to process toxins more efficiently

Promotes movement of bowels

Improves circulation

Enhances sweating, which facilitates release of impurities

Restores vital nutrients and energy to the body

6 Things to Know Before You Detox

Before you begin a detox, prepare mentally and physically. Plan your dates a few weeks in advance. Inform the people closest to you about the time you’ve set aside to take care of yourself. Clear your schedule of routine obligations that may create stress. Stock up on inspirational music and reading material.

Gather Herbal Support. Herbal and nutritional supplements such as burdock, milk thistle, dandelion (see our post on delicious recipe), and vitamins C and B protect and support the body’s Detox Team, especially the liver. They also have antioxidant effects that benefit the whole body.

Hydrate! Without enough water, toxins will not be sufficiently flushed from the body. Aim to drink at least 2 quarts of water per day with lemon/lime during a detox.

Dry Brush Your Skin. Look for a brush with soft natural bristles. Begin with light, gentle brushing over the skin (don’t make the skin red). Always brush towards the heart. Shower immediately after to rinse off exfoliated skin.

Get Wet. Therapeutic use of water also supports detoxification. A steam or sauna can accelerate the release of toxins. Hydrotherapy provides support to the muscles and promotes relaxation. Mineral bath salts(Epson salt) also help release toxins.

Sweat it Out-Gently. Exercise facilitates digestion, circulation, metabolism and hormone balancing. During a detox, decrease the intensity of your usual exercise routine, but do break a moderate sweat. Get outdoors for fresh air and natural sunlight. Good exercise options are easy hiking, dancing, walking, yoga, or tai chi.

Rest. For your mind and body to fully assimilate the benefits of detoxing, you need good quality sleep. Plan your least stimulating activities (reading, meditation, bathing) for right before bed.

How to Detox?

There are many ways to approach detoxing, from fruit and vegetable juice fasts to herbal tea cleanses. A typical approach is a short period of fasting with proper fluid intake followed by whole or raw foods and beverages before resuming your usual daily routine. There are people who must be under the care of a health practitioner, such as people diagnosed with certain conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. In general, it’s important to work with your doctor to select a program that matches your health needs. Call our office if you would like a consultation or guidance how to improve your health. Here, at Healthy Wealthy & Wise Medical, P.C. we evaluate our patients through holistic and functional medicine understanding of health and balance of vital organs and system and prescribe a comprehensive treatment plan.

Food for Thought. . .

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha

References- Detoxification part 1 and 2
The following as cited in Pizzorno, Joseph E. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine. St. Louis, MO Elsevier. Jones, D.S., Quinn, S, et al. “Functional Medicine” (chapter 2), 10, 14-15 Lyon, M. “Functional Toxicology” (chapter 53), 483-484.Bland J.S., Barrager E., Reedy R.G., et al.”A medical food-supplemented detoxification program in the management of chronic health problems.” Altern Ther Health Med. (1995) 1:62-71.Cline, J.C., “Nutritional Aspects of Detoxification in Clinical Practice.” Altern Ther Health & Med. (2015) May-Jun, 21(3), p 54-62. PMID: 26026145., L. “Detox for Life: The Three Crucial Steps of the Detox Program.” Natural Accessed on January 11, 2016., K. “Liver Detox Tea as Part of Your DIY New Year’s Detox Cleanse.” Natural Health Advisory Institute Online. Updated 1/1/2015. Accessed on January 11, 2016., Holly. “Do You Have a Toxic Workplace?” American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website. Accessed on January 11, 2016. Clinic. “Detox Cleansing to Remove Body Toxins.” Accessed on January 10, 2016., D. “Dry Brushing to Detoxify Your Body.” Natural Accessed on January 11, 2016., John. “Top Five Daily Detox Tips that Work” Huffington Post. Accessed on January 6, 2016., K. “Do Detox Diets Offer Any Health Benefits?” Mayo Clinic Online. Last updated March 2015. Accessed on January 11, 2016.
Detoxing: Strengthening Your Body's Defense Team – Part 1

Detoxing: Strengthening Your Body’s Defense Team – Part 1

Detoxification is a natural healing process that incorporates resting, cleansing, and nourishing the body from the inside out. By eliminating toxins, then fueling your body with healthy nutrients, a planned period of detox can strengthen your body’s natural “Detox Team” and help maintain optimum health.

Holistic physicians and proponents of detoxing suggest following a detox plan at least once per year, with spring and fall being the ideal approach. You may have heard critics argue the human body is designed with just the right physiological processes necessary to clear the body of impurities and maintain health. Unfortunately for many people, lifestyle habits and the environments where we live, work, eat and play often expose us to toxins that our bodies don’t efficiently eliminate.

Every day we are exposed to various toxins:

  • heavy metals in the food and water supply
  • environmental pollution
  • chemical food additives
  • smoking; overuse of alcohol or drugs
  • use/overuse of Rx medication
  • prolonged high stress
  • poor quality diet and lifestyle habits
  • frequent infections

Your Body’s Natural Detox Team

We are lucky that our bodies have naturally detoxifying mechanisms via “Detox Team” of organs that work synergistically to neutralize and eliminate toxins. We are self-cleaning system that provides removal of impurities from blood and cells. The liver leads the Detox Team by processing toxins for elimination mainly through gastrointestinal tract. The supporting detox defense players are the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymph, and skin. When your body’s natural Detox Team becomes compromised or overwhelmed, impurities aren’t properly filtered out. This makes it a real challenge for the Detox Team to maintain or restore health and well-being. This means acceleration of aging and development of preventable diseases.


Call our office 212-696-HEAL if you want to receive a medical consultation and guidance how to improve your health. Here, at Healthy Wealthy & Wise Medical, P.C. we evaluate our patients through holistic and functional medicine understanding of health and balance of vital organs and system and prescribe a comprehensive treatment plan.
Toxins in Cosmetics

Toxins in Cosmetics

Did you know that on average, American women uses 12 personal care products a day and men average 6 products daily? Overall, an adult is likely to be exposed to 126 unique chemical ingredients in personal care products alone every single day. That means that throughout a year (365 days) we are exposed to almost 46,000 unique chemical ingredients just from personal care!

That is outrages statistics, considering that we can add to it other chemicals from food, air, water and medications.

Skin is one of the most important organs and average adult carries 8 pounds of it or 22 sq.foot. Skin is our first line of defense against foreign invaders and environmental factors. It is also permits substances like water and oxygen to pass through. You don’t have to be a biology professor to understand, how important to avoid “toxins” from impure cosmetic products.

Here is a list of ‘topical junk food’ that you will find in the many of the products you may have at home.

Parabens are used as preservative in cosmetics. This can actually have hormone-disrupting effects.

Silicones are used to make lotions ‘silky smooth’. These can block the skin’s ability to absorb, excrete, regulate, and breath. A popular silicon Dimethicone acts like a saran wrap over your face and suffocates your skin. I actually found Dimethicone in 5 of my products at home.

Sulfates are what makes our skin care products and cleansers foam and bubble so we really feel like we are getting a good cleanse.Actually, sulfates are not necessary make your skin cleaner, but they are carcinogenic.

DEA (diethanolamine) and TEA (Triethanolamine ) are also foaming agents, but both are carcinogenic and hormone disruptors.

Fragrances which are usually synthetic and added to almost everything nowadays disrupt hormones as well, so say good buy to smelling like a tangerine heaven, I’ll take my health over PCOS, infertility or diabetes.

Artificial colors which are also added to almost everything is another carcinogenic.A re you aware that MANY times companies artificially bleach their products to get that off-white, cream color that we have come so accustomed to seeing? They believe that this is what consumers want, so they add carcinogens into our product to achieve it.

And lastly our products typically contain Diazolidinyl, a preservative that is closely related to formaldehyde (kind of creepy, huh?). Again, this is another carcinogen.

Triclosan – one of the phthalates – is present in many antibacterial soaps and gels is strongly linked to behavioral disorders in children and is also carcinogenic.

Cosmetics are the least regulated products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). So, it become your own responsibility to protect yourself, your families and children from toxic exposure through cosmetics and personal care products.

In June of 2010 the European Union bans more than 1,400 chemicals from personal care products while the US only banned only 10 ingredients.

What ingredients does Europe ban that the US allows?

I challenge you to go home and look at your products and see how many you find that contain ingredients currently BANNED in Europe.

Stop by our office today and get a free wallet size card with a list of chemicals to avoid in your cosmetic products.

You Are What You Eat, Drink, Breathe, Touch & Don't Eliminate

You Are What You Eat, Drink, Breathe, Touch & Don’t Eliminate

Residents in New York City are exposed to a number of harmful and toxic elements on a daily basis – the average being over 120 different toxins before you reach your office by 9:00 am! Whether from pollution, car exhaustion, construction sites, industrial waste, unpurified water, or exposed foods, your body can become inundated with toxic and detrimental substances. It is important for your health and overall wellbeing to have a safe method of detoxifying your body.

Toxic elements appear in all facets of your modern lifestyle. From cosmetics and skin care products to processed foods and even perfume and cologne, your body is constantly absorbing these toxins into your skin, blood, and internal organs. As the body becomes more overwhelmed with the absorption of these contaminants, it begins to take a negative toll on major biological functions. Many feel brain fog, lack of concentration, memory loss, and a sluggishness of cognitive functions. Additionally, many begin to feel higher levels of anxiety and stress, which can ripple into other physical manifestations.

While the exposure to the environmental toxins in inevitable, we must support our body to detoxify daily to maintain healthy body. An integrative medical approach to detoxification provides an effective way to refresh and revitalize your body. Utilizing both advanced and traditional practices, an integrative medicine specialist will guide you to detoxify your body’s internal organs of the harmful environmental toxins. Purge your body of detrimental pollutants and restore your body’s natural vitality with an holistic approach!

Elena Klimenko, MD, NYC’s leading integrative medicine doctor, specializes in a homeopathic and functional medical approach to detoxification, facilitating and improving your body’s natural healing processes.