When spring comes and the first flowers bloom, many people want to walk outside. Unfortunately, the small, only a few millimeters away, arachnid intruder drowns out the joy of many nature lovers. We are talking about the common tree mite (Ixodes ricinus), a common mite in temperate climates.
The common tree mite feeds on the blood of both humans and other mammals. In the process of sucking blood, it can transmit various pathogens. These include viruses that cause TBE (early summer meningoencephalitis), a potentially life-threatening encephalitis, and bacteria of the genus Borrelia burgdorferi. These bacteria can cause Lyme disease.
When people talk about Lyme disease, they usually mean Lyme disease, named after the city of Lyme in the US state of Connecticut. The clinical picture was first described here in the mid-1970s. Unlike tick-borne encephalitis, there is no vaccination against Lyme borreliosis. According to the Robert Koch Institute, depending on the region, up to 30% of ticks in Germany are infected with these borrelia, which they can transmit when they suck blood. After a tick bite, infection occurs in 2.6–5.6% of cases. 0.3 to 1.4% of infections lead to disease. There are similar findings in Austria and Switzerland.
Borreliosis is not a new disease, even if it has spread relatively recently to the point that it is now more or less a part of daily life across much of the European continent. During a medical examination of the 5,300-year-old Ötzi glacial mummy, traces of bacteria of the species Borrelia burgdorferi were found.
Prevention, the best defense against Lyme disease.
Because Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose and therefore difficult to control effectively, it is recommended that you do your best to avoid contracting it in the first place. There are some precautions that, while not 100% preventing tick bites, can significantly reduce the chances of a tick bite. Protection against ticks is ensured by wearing well-fitting clothing, especially on the legs, and by avoiding bushes and undergrowth, as well as meadows with tall grass.
After visiting the forest or anywhere else in the wild, you should definitely check your body and clothing for mites, especially those parts of the body where the skin is especially thin, such as armpits, knees or groin. In the case of children, the head and neck are also at particular risk.
Since the common tree mite is very small and therefore very light, you usually only notice it when it has already bitten your skin. It is then important to remove the tick as quickly as possible. This is best done with fine tweezers, which you can use to grab them directly over your skin and then pull them out. Be careful not to rip off the tick’s head. Otherwise, there is a risk of an extra portion of pathogens entering the bloodstream.
The course and clinical picture of Lyme borreliosis.
Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose because there are no overt symptoms. The only sure sign is actually traveling redness, an annular spread of skin inflammation around the bite site.
Lyme disease usually has three stages:
- Early stage.
- Late stage.
In the early stages, up to about 30 days after infection, the already mentioned redness appears, which is often accompanied by fever, body aches and similar symptoms. But be careful: a wandering blush may appear, but not necessarily. For this reason, Lyme disease often goes unnoticed. At this early stage, Lyme borreliosis can still be treated fairly well, even if only with massive antibiotics for up to 30 days.
At this early stage, cannabis can help slow the spread of bacteria by helping the immune system develop antibodies against the pathogen.
If Lyme disease is not treated early, it will spread. If antibiotics are not administered now at the latest, there is a risk of permanent organ damage. Once Lyme borreliosis develops into neuroborreliosis, the central and peripheral nervous systems can be damaged, as well as muscles, joints, and internal organs such as the heart.
Pain that goes from one joint to the next is typical at this stage, but symptoms such as high fever or excessive sweating may become noticeable. It becomes especially inconvenient when neuroborreliosis becomes chronic. Nervous pain can then occur, which patients often find unbearable. There is also paralysis of the facial nerve.
After a few months, without adequate treatment, the last stage of Lyme disease occurs. The most severe symptoms develop, such as chronic arthritis, polyneuropathy, or encephalitis. Even now, in the later stages of Lyme disease, cannabis can help relieve pain as well as relieve the psychological stress associated with Lyme disease.
The only therapeutic option in traditional medicine is the massive use of antibiotics over a long period of time, including all the unpleasant side effects associated with it. A prerequisite for Lyme borreliosis can actually be cured is an appropriate diagnosis in the early stages of the disease.
Because the only truly typical symptom — wandering redness — doesn’t always appear, Lyme disease often goes unnoticed. This can have serious consequences. The later you start antibiotic therapy, the longer it will last, the more serious the side effects will be, and the less chance of success.
At later stages, it is almost impossible to effectively fight pathogens, including because they are very flexible and extremely adaptable, they can change their appearance in a very short time and, under certain circumstances, have already established themselves in the central nervous system, where antibiotics are nothing can. Another problem is increasing the resistance of borreliosis pathogens to the antibiotics used.
Systemic hyperthermia of the whole body (SGHT), which is based on an artificially created increase in the temperature of the whole body, except for the head, and has already proven itself in the fight against cancer, promises greater success here. Borreliosis bacteria die at temperatures of 41.6 degrees or more within two hours, and the activity of the body’s own immune cells increases, so that the immune system can control the causative agent of Lyme disease.
Does cannabis help Lyme disease?
Cannabis can make a significant contribution to reducing the symptoms associated with Lyme disease at all stages of the disease, from infection to subsequent treatment.
First of all, a well-functioning immune system is the best prerequisite for preventing infection with the borreliosis pathogen. Once the borreliosis bacteria have settled in the body, the medicinal properties of cannabis come into play. Pain relief, especially chronic and neuropathic pain relief, is probably the oldest field of medical cannabis use.
The interactions of the various ingredients in cannabis, which have been precisely balanced over the course of evolution, show its healing potential here as in almost no other field. THC is known to have analgesic effects by activating CB1 receptors, especially in nerve pain. CBD complements the effects of THC by reducing inflammation in addition to reducing neuropathic pain. As if that weren’t enough, cannabigerol or CBG, the most abundant cannabinoid after THC and CBD, also has analgesic effects, and even more so than THC. According to the current state of research, the combination of different cannabinoids is especially effective for severe pain.
Cannabis also has a therapeutic effect in the subsequent treatment of Lyme disease, successfully treated with antibiotics, by supporting the immune system to combat damage caused by the massive use of antibiotics, for example, to the intestinal flora.
In addition, cannabis prevents the serious side effects of neuropathic pain that cause psychological stress, such as depression and insomnia. No wonder the Canadian doctor E. Murakami, one of the world’s leading experts in the field of Lyme disease, pointed out the massive psychological stress among the victims: “The most common cause of death in Lyme disease is suicide — depression is so terrible”.
The degree to which one can trust the online reports of experience that cannabis, especially CBD, can completely cure Lyme borreliosis should not be definitively judged at this stage. However, it is possible that cannabis has antibiotic potential that goes far beyond what has been researched to date. In this context, just think of the recently discovered ability of the CBG cannabinoid to fight multi-resistant microbes.