Is this the Lyme treatment breakthrough we’ve been hoping for?

Over ten years of suffering; being bounced from doctor to doctor; trial after trial of treatment; glimmers of hope followed by crushing disappointment. This is what many who suffer from chronic Lyme disease go through.

This was the all-to-familiar story of three patients of Dr Leigner, an experienced Lyme physician – until things dramatically changed.

After nearly a decade of treatment with the all-to-familiar story of disappointment a patient of Dr Leigner’s came to him with a proposal. He had recently seen a YouTube video. He was desperate and wanted to try something.

The patient requested a trial of treatment with disulfiram. After a full discussion, which included the risks of disulfiram use and its uncertain benefits in the treatment of Lyme disease in patients, amoxicillin, minocycline, atovaquone/proguanil, and metronidazole were discontinued, and a 90-day course of disulfiram (500 mg/day) was started, in March 2017. Periodic surveillance labs were obtained and were satisfactory throughout. The patient reported on his status by letter every few weeks and tolerated treatment well.

The patient left a telephone message, 13 July 2017, canceling his scheduled follow-up and declaring, “I’m cured”. He remains well after 23 months of follow up.

Two more patients followed suit. And reliable sources suggest that Dr Leigner has dozens more successful cases since then.

What is Disulfuram?

Disulfiram was first utilized as an industrial chemical for the vulcanization of rubber. Factory workers exposed to the chemical were noted to have unpleasant reactions following the ingestion of alcohol. Subsequent studies confirmed this, and the agent was ‘repurposed’ to facilitate sobriety in persons with chronic alcoholism by aversive conditioning. Although its effectiveness has been questioned, it has been in clinical use for some 60 years, and prescribed for extended periods of time in certain cases.

Disulfiram has demonstrated antimicrobial properties in the past. Recently in March 2017, reports from a microbiology conference it was reported that in vitro, disulfiram was the most highly active agent against B. burgdorferi, bar none. The speaker cited previously published data by Pothineni et al., which showed that disulfiram can eliminate B. burgdorferi very effectively at a minimum inhibitory concentration MIC of 0.625 micromoles (μM).

How to use it.

Since it may cause a herxheimer reaction, it is suggested to start dosing at about 1/8 of the full treatment dose. So, starting at 1/4 of the 250 mg tablet is a proposed idea. Take 62.5 mg for about 3 days. Double the dose every three days until you reach the 500 mg adult daily dose.

Baseline liver function tests, a metabolic panel, blood counts and a urine test are done. These are repeated every couple of weeks since impaired liver function is a rare but serious side effect of this medication. And of course, no alcohol.

Could this be the breakthrough we’ve been praying for? I am hopeful. We shall see.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627205/ https://www.lymedisease.org/disulfiram-kinderlehrer/

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