“Unlocking Lyme” by William Rawls, MD

Unlocking Lyme

Unlocking Lyme

William Rawls, MD

I am reviewing this book somewhat prematurely, since I haven’t actually tried out most of the things in it yet. However, each person’s reaction to treatment is so individual that my success or failure probably won’t mean much either way. What is more of interest to me about this book is that it lays out some of the important issues surrounding the treatment of Lyme disease in an accessible way, and suggests some common-sense approaches that it claims (and I’ve heard the same thing from others) often help.

The fundamental concept behind Dr. Rawls’s approach is that Lyme disease and many of its common coinfections are not virulent, highly aggressive, quickly lethal disease agents, but rather what he calls “stealth microbes.” People rarely die from an acute infection of Lyme disease. This is, of course, nice, but the problem is that modern medicine and its tools are largely aimed at acute, obvious problems. Western medicine is not set up to handle something like Lyme disease, and has responded by pretending it isn’t happening. Unfortunately, though, pretending a disease isn’t real doesn’t make it disappear, and it turns out that just because Lyme disease probably won’t kill you quickly, doesn’t mean it won’t leave you completely debilitated, and with no one to turn to, since most doctors will tell you it’s “all in your head.” (Which is true, in that spirochetes may be munching on your brain, but that’s not what they mean).

Rawls describes the way Lyme and its common coinfections work in very simple, accessible language, with bullet points and end-of-chapter summaries. He then discusses the problems with what he calls “heroic therapies”: antibiotics, oxygen therapy, and so on, and argues for the use of herbal therapies instead.

I have to say I have always been rather skeptical of herbal therapies, but Rawls makes a convincing case for at least trying them, and I have to agree that there are major problems with long-term antibiotic use, and oxygen therapy is completely experimental, not to mention expensive. The main point Rawls makes in favor of herbs is that most of them are, while slower-acting than synthetic antibiotics, also less toxic, making it possible to take them for extended periods of time. He advocates for a slow and steady approach to getting the stealth microbes under control and returning to health, using antibiotics and other aggressive treatments only for short periods of time, in particularly severe or acute cases.

I’m still somewhat skeptical of herbal therapies, just as I am of anything promising a cure, but after reading “Unlocking Lyme” I am at least willing to give them a try. And the overview of the different infections and how they act on the body is very useful. A worthwhile read for anyone trying to figure out what to do about a stubborn case of chronic Lyme.

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