Lyme Disease Causing Spirochetes As Shape Shifters: Implications For Treatment

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Many people with Lyme disease have had to contend with those who do not believe that chronic Lyme disease exists, and doctors who will not treat them further after the unfortunately standard course of treatment (typically 3-4 weeks of doxycycline), even if their symptoms persist.

What is mind-boggling is that the Lyme disease causing spirochetes are one of the most advanced bacteria known to man, and have evolved into a highly complex infectious agent as a survival mechanism, able to outsmart the immune system.  When they are hit with antibiotics or when the immune system recognizes them and tries to go after them, they simply change their form – darn crafty shape shifters! Here are the many forms of Borrelia burgdorferi (that they know of)…

1. Spirochete form – the squiggly, spiral-shaped form most people are familiar with
2. Cyst – this is when the spirochete goes inside out, so it’s outer surface protein is on the inside of the cyst – a hard outer shell
3. Granular – this is highly resistant to all antibiotics
4. Pleomorphic – 5 or 6 pleomorphic forms that they know of which can reside inside our cells
5. L-form – like the spirochete form but without cell walls (cell wall deficient)
6. Biofilm – here they have found safety in numbers!  The spirochetes can form biofilms -a colony of spirochetes organized in a matrix that is impenetrable by antiobiotics.  Within the biofilm can be all the other forms of the spirochete: cyst, granule, L-form and spirochete.  Drs. Eva Sapi and Alan MacDonald are at the forefront of the research into Lyme disease and were the ones to discover that they do indeed form biofilms.

Blebs: pay attention, because this is very very interesting; it seems right out of a science fiction novel, but it’s real! When spirochetes encounter stress in their environment – from either the antibiotics going after them or our immune system – they will pinch off little bits of their DNA and release them into the host as a decoy (these little DNA packages are called Blebs); our immune system goes after the blebs and not the actual spirochete! And they can do this from within our cells which is what often causes the autoimmune problems that so many with Lyme disease have, as our body starts attacking our own cells. Many people who are being properly treated for chronic Lyme disease by pulsing antibiotics and also using different combinations of antibiotics (meaning something like 4 weeks on antibiotics, 2-3 weeks off, etc.) will notice that they are having a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction (an increase in symptoms from killing off some of the bad guys) much of the time or even the entire time they are on the medication, even though they most likely are not killing many of the spirochetes. This is often because your body is constantly reacting to the blebs being released by the spirochetes. Typically this increase in symptoms will stop 3-5 days out from when you go off the medicine.

Now, the spirochetes will convert back to active spirochetes (coil-shaped form) when the environment is once again safe.  Given this, is it really a stretch to see that Borrelia can often be resistant to conventional antibiotic treatment? You will find tons of information on here: photos, links and Power Point Presentations on the many forms of spirochetes, put together by Dr. Alan MacDonald Here is a brief video of Eva Sapi, PhD, a highly respected Lyme disease researcher, discussing the many forms of Borrelia.