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Neurological Manifestations of Tick-Borne Illness

There are many neurological manifestations of tick-borne illness. Spirochetes, the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease, have a particular affinity for the brain because they feed on the fats located in the myelin sheath, as well as sugars. These substances are found in abundance in brain tissue, and therefore, it should come as no surprise, that spirochetes take up long-term residence in the brain.

Spirochetes often live within the myelin sheath which cloaks neurons in the brain. Many patients with MS, who actually have neuroborreliosis (Lyme Disease in the brain) show marked white matter lesions on an MRI. These lesions are actually places along the myelin sheath that become damaged as the result of indwelling spirochetes. Many times when MS patients are treated with antibiotics, the lesions disappear.

Known as the “great imitator,” Lyme Disease effectively masquerades as many other neurological manifestations. Below is a list of conditions where Lyme Disease needs to be ruled out as a potential etiology.

  • Charcot Marie Toothe Syndrome
  • Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • Encephalopathy
  • Epilepsy
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Meningitis
  • Migraine headaches
  • Mood Disorders
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuropathy
  • OCD
  • Parkinson Disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sensory Processing Deficits
    • Tourettes Syndrome
      • Transverse Myelitis

Patients frequently ask, “How is it that spirochetes can cause all these different diseases?” The answer is really quite simple. The infection. The infection is the sum total of all bacteria that are affected by the microbiome and the genome. As intracellular organisms; spirochetes enjoy the fruits of living inside the cell, which renders them to be in close proximity to the nucleus that houses chromosomes and DNA. The backbone of DNA is “deoxyribose nucleic acid” (a sugar), and I believe that one of the ways that spirochetes give rise to such variable disease manifestations is by feeding on this sugar which causes the DNA to become frayed or denatured, leaving genes particularly vulnerable to the effects of microbes, toxins, and oxidative stress. I do not have research to support my hypothesis, however, clearly, there is a relationship between spirochetes and genes which contributes to the myriad of neurological diseases that we see in association with tick-borne illnesses.