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Hyperthermia treatment…not really a treatment that is often talked about in the United States, is it? Similar to Lyme disease, this treatment has been around for a while, though it has not received the recognition that it deserves. We are at the cusp of acknowledging the immense impact Lyme disease has on our society and the complexity of tick-borne illnesses in general. I like to think of tick-borne illnesses as a puzzle – like those puzzles called Impossibles where all of the pieces look the same, yet they are not; there are no edges or corner pieces, and there are a few extra pieces in the package just, you know, for the fun of it, to make it more challenging!
There are so many different pieces to the Lyme disease puzzle when trying to recover, and unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Lyme disease affects people differently because it attacks whatever is genetically weak in their system. While the US offers many different treatments for Lyme disease, sometimes the disease has progressed so far that sufferers have a difficult time responding to the treatments.
I personally suffered the devastating consequences of tick-borne diseases. While I tried many treatments that are offered in the States, my body was not responding to them. The tick that bit me not only infected me with Lyme disease but also the co-infections Bartonella, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Protomyxzoa rheumatica, and Powassan virus. My illness progressed to the point where I became so debilitated that my doctors did not know if I would ever recover.
I could not recognize my family, my friends, or even myself. Processing information was nearly impossible. I had severe light, noise, smell, temperature, and food sensitivities. I did not have function over my neck, which developed into cervical dystonia. I had 70% nerve damage in my left inner ear, which caused nonstop vertigo, imbalance issues, and persistent ear pain. To top it off, I was suffering from an unimaginable amount of head pressure, fatigue, and brain fog.
However, I think the most challenging symptoms were the impending anxiety and depression that clouded over me. I never experienced anxiety or depression prior to being ill, and I could not understand why my brain was thinking the way that it was. I no longer felt control over my thoughts. I was too ill to understand that this was not me, and that the inflammation, pathogens, and toxicity in my brain were behind these thoughts.
During this time, a very reputable Lyme-literate medical doctor was treating me. He recommended that I travel to Germany to receive hyperthermia treatment: "Hyperthermia treatment uses whole-body infrared-A-irradiation to carefully increase the core temperature of the body."1 The goal is to bring the patient's body temperature to at least 105.8° F (41 ° C), which is the temperature believed to affect many strains of Borreliosis:
If the patient is able to tolerate higher temperatures, it is preferable to try and reach 107° F (41.67° C) and above. Reaching a higher temperature is more beneficial, as there is a better chance of eradicating more strains of Borreliosis and other pathogens that are likely causing illness.2
The clinic where I received treatments is an in-patient facility that offers a two to three week Lyme disease package. The package includes room, meals, labs, and treatments. On the first day, I met my team of physicians. They looked over additional medical records that I had brought, informed me more about my schedule, and then took me to receive further tests.
They kept me very busy the first few days preparing me for hyperthermia treatment. The treatments consisted of various detoxification, immune boosting, and antimicrobial therapies such as IV infusions of vitamin C, glutathione, EDTA, selenium, L-carnitine, magnesium, calcium, ozone, laser therapy, and the antibiotic Rocephin. Other adjunct therapies included colonics and enemas, pulsing magnetic field treatment in combination with singlet oxygen therapy, oral medication and supplements, and ionizing footbaths.3
After a few days of detoxification and adjunct therapies, I received my first whole-body hyperthermia treatment (WBHT). The clinic has a special unit that is well equipped and staffed. The WBHT lasts approximately five hours, and I was given a sedative so I didn't remember anything until the procedure was finished. A rectal thermometer and catheter were used to monitor my body temperature and kidney function. My body temperature slowly rose and was held until my body reached close to 107° F (41.67° C). This peak temperature was held for around 60-90 minutes and then my temperature was slowly decreased.During the treatment, I received Rocephin, which is effective against extracellular forms of Lyme, though in conjunction with WBHT it becomes effective inside the cell, as well. In addition to Rocephin, patients are now given Flagyl during the WBHT and for the two-week stay at the clinic to attack the cyst form of Lyme.2
The day after the WBHT, I received the same antimicrobial, detox, and immune boosting therapies. These were also given throughout the days leading up to the second hyperthermia treatment. During the second hyperthermia treatment, I was able to get my body temperature a little bit higher, which is usually standard during the second round. A few more days of supportive treatments followed before I was discharged.
In addition to Lyme disease, the clinic also focuses on integrated oncology. It combines conventional therapy with science-based complementary treatments. The main focus of their protocol is whole-body hyperthermia treatment and local hyperthermia treatment in combination with detoxification and an immune biological support program to treat cancers. WBHT is particularly favorable in late-stage cancers with advanced solid tumors, advanced refractory or recurrent cancers, mesothelioma, advanced metastatic sarcoma, and advanced metastatic cancers. It is also beneficial for a host of other late-stage chemo-resistant metastatic cancers.1
"Local hyperthermia treatment is used as well by overheating tumor tissues from the outside, while leaving healthy tissues unaffected if the temperature is kept below 107.6° F (42° C)."2 Essentially, temperatures above 102.2° F (39.5° C) impair tumor cells by either destroying them or hindering their growth. This process of overheating the cells results in oxygen deficiency, which causes a lack of nutrients in the tumor. The cell metabolism is damaged through this process and the cell death of the tumor follows.4
The immune system is incapable of identifying tumor cells. However, once the cells are heated, they change. Certain proteins, known as shock proteins, form on the outside of the degenerated cell. The immune system is now able to detect these proteins as extraneous cells, directing the immune system to fight the cancer cells.5 As for healthy cells; they do not create shock proteins and therefore remain unharmed.
Another benefit to heat therapy is that using hyperthermia in conjunction with chemotherapy allows dosages of chemotherapy to be reduced, decreasing damage to the healthy tissues.6 In addition, hyperthermia can boost the immune system, which can help make chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy more successful. Isolated cases have shown that previously ineffective chemotherapy or radiation therapy can successfully damage cancer cells when combined with hyperthermia.7 Also, in several clinical phase III trials, there have been improvements of both local control and survival rates from adding local/regional hyperthermia to radiotherapy for patients with locally advanced or recurrent superficial and pelvic tumors.8
While hyperthermia treatment is a significant part of the clinics' recovery program, the doctors also tailor the treatment protocol to strengthening each individual's body – physically and psychologically. These physicians modify the protocol on a regular basis throughout the recovery process as the body changes. The effectiveness of these treatments is achieved through this in-patient clinic approach and by establishing a foundation for a long-term recovery program to follow at home, which ultimately provides a healthier quality of life.9
The clinic where I received treatment initially opened with a focus on oncology. Clinic staff discovered that some of their patients with cancer also had Lyme disease. Upon returning home from treatment, many of these patients' Lyme symptoms subsided. As the staff further looked into the effects of heat therapy on Borreliosis, they decided to open their doors to patients with Lyme disease as well.
Since returning home from treatment, I too noticed significant improvements from WBHT. Though, to notice these improvements, it was vital for me to continue with an aggressive detoxification protocol. When Lyme bacteria and co-infections are killed, they release toxins, which can cause a Herxheimer reaction aggravating symptoms until the toxins are expelled from the body. To aid my body in eliminating these toxins, I received three IV infusions every week. Not only did these IV infusions help rid my body of toxins, but they also helped repair the cell membrane damage that was caused by the neurotoxicity in my brain. These IVs are part of the Patricia Kane protocol, which were crucial in my recovery.
I noticed the more I detoxed, the better I felt. Though, because I was so debilitated before I left for Germany, I still had a long road ahead of me when I returned. I observed little improvements every day, and I held onto those changes because they grew more substantial as I continued detoxing. I decided to introduce additional detoxification therapies to my recovery program that included infrared saunas, detox baths, coffee enemas, colonics, and herbal tinctures that helped detox the liver, colon, and lymphatic system. I also took a toxin binder before these therapies, which helped my body detox more efficiently.
The herbalist that provided these tinctures also used herbs from the Stephen Buhner protocol. While hyperthermia is very effective in killing a large number of pathogens, I do not believe that it kills everything. Therefore, I took additional antimicrobial herbs to help fight any strains that were still left in my system. I found success with these herbs, as they are potent, and unlike antibiotics they were able to travel through biofilms to fight the pathogens. "Biofilms are organic material in the body that builds itself around bacteria, protecting it from various environmental stresses and from becoming eradicated."10 Finding therapies that were able to get into biofilms was essential for my improvement, as is the case for many chronic Lyme sufferers.
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