For this month’s guest blog, Oliver Barnett, ND, Dip Nut, MIFM, MNNA from the London Clinic of Nutrition gives an insight into how he treats patients with Lyme disease and other complex chronic illnesses.
At LDUK, we don’t recommend or endorse any particular clinic or treatment but we aim to highlight all options available so that people can make informed choices.
Whether you have a chronic health problem such as Lyme, ME, Fibromyalgia or CFS or some other autoimmune condition, the diagnosis is not particularly relevant. In our experience, having these conditions is a sign of a sick host and in order to get better we need to understand what has caused the health of the individual to deteriorate to the point where these conditions take over.
Hippocrates said many years ago ‘it is better to know what type of person has a disease than to know what disease a person has’. It is this naturopathic and functional medicine philosophy that underpins our work at The London Clinic of Nutrition and actually formed the foundations of medicine for thousands of years until the very recent introduction of the modern system of medicine.
Key to this and to our approach is to form a therapeutic partnership with the patient in order to get them to tell you their ‘story’. This relationship is fundamental to the process of restoring health as it is vital to find the root and triggering factors that pushed the patient from a healthy state into a diseased state. This can only be done through a connexion transpersonal dimension that bonds physician and patient to a sensation of wholeness. Therapeutic contact involves the building of an alliance facilitated by empathy, warmth and genuine care.
The change from expert-doer to servant-accompanier requires that practitioners attend to how they are with patients as much as to what they do for them. Empathic connection is not simply a nice relational attribute but it has a physiologic and an epigenetic impact too. The chronically ill and their families need significant support and so the physician-healer becomes a morale catalyst. Physician-healers both cure disease and heal the sick. They use science to treat disease but draw on themselves to explore the meanings patients attribute to their illness experience and to guide their healing. As evidence-based medicine guru David Sackett observed, ‘the most powerful therapeutic tool you’ll ever have is your own personality.’
It has been our experience that the pharmaceutical silver bullet approach for treating disease is usually not effective when disease happens as a consequence of a multi-factorial breakdown in the body’s various systems and the immune system’s inability to respond appropriately…
Our bodies house all sorts of pathogens and these viruses and bacteria usually live harmoniously with us under regulated immune surveillance. It is when this immune response becomes dysregulated that these pathogens such as EBV and the Borrelia bacteria take over. In the case of the bacteria Borrelia, it is our opinion that most people have come into contact with it at some point in their life and it is only when the person experiences a stressful event or a series of stressful events that the pathogens begin to take hold and symptoms start to manifest.
The cumulative effect of stressors on the immune system cannot be underestimated.The body secretes key hormones in response to stress that bind to specific receptors on white blood cells that have diverse regulatory effects on their distribution and function. Secondly, an individual’s effort to manage the demands of stressful experiences sometimes lead them to engage in behaviours, such as alcohol use or changes in sleeping patterns, which may also modify immune system processes. Thus, behaviour represents a potentially important pathway linking stress with the immune system.
Depending on what study you look at, up to 85% of the immune system is located in the gut with the gut providing the largest interface between our self and our environment.The digestive lining has a system made up of two barriers; a superficial barrier within the gut lining that prevents bacteria from adhering and regulates the passage of elements to the surrounding tissues and a deep barrier that distinguishes between beneficial bacteria and non-beneficial germs. This barrier is involved with keeping the immune system stable. There are key players in this barrier system, including gut flora, mucous, epithelial cells and innate and adaptive immune tissues, also known as Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT). GALT forms the part of the immune system responsible for allergies and immune responses. It is essential that this barrier be supported so that the immune system fires correctly.
Unfortunately many physicians or practitioners are too focused on ‘zapping bugs’ by using conventional anti-microbial or herbal products. These should only be employed once they have attended to the foundations and pillars of health. These fundamentals are crucial to the healing process and involve dealing with emotional issues (such as healing relationships and dealing with adverse childhood events) systematic detoxification (including mould) and rigorously improving our immune system.
At The London Clinic of Nutrition we see many Lyme diagnosed patients each week, who have had failed experiences with bug zapping and once they start improving their health systematically they then become symptom free. A case example is Caroline who initially came to see us with 3 autoimmune conditions and after a year of working together we got her 100% better. It was only after her recovery that she informed us that a tick bit her some 20 years ago when her autoimmune conditions started. She had actually had Lyme disease all along but we supported and restored her health without treating one bug.
It is this multi-faceted strategy together with our unique therapeutic partnership that ensures that our patients get better from Lyme, co-infections and other associated complicated and unexplained illness. Taking the words of American Bob Rakowski we check our patients ‘eat right, drink right, sleep right, think right, talk right, poop right and move right’ by using the functional medicine approach to health restoration.
Oliver Barnett, ND, Dip Nut, MIFM, MNNA runs the largest and only collaborative functional medicine practice in Europe with a team of 10 including 6 practitioners, 3 of which specialise in helping people with Lyme. In December of this year he will be opening the UK’s first integrated treatment centre for Lyme disease which will have a team of 15 practitioners covering every discipline from functional medicine and cranial sacral therapy to breath-work and Chinese medicine. The unique nature of this practice is that patients’ cases will be reviewed by the whole team on a weekly basis to ensure quicker and better outcomes and the centre will offer patients a one-stop-shop for all their health needs for a reasonable monthly fee. Further info can be found at www.londonclinicofnutrition.co.uk