How Lyme Hides

Why do we suffer for so long with chronic Lyme? 

Spirochetes have many different forms, but in their spiral form they drill through tissue to find places to colonize and sustain their growth cycle. They invade every part of the body from the skin to the brain, and although at the onset of an infection the body produces antibodies to fight the infection, after a time, the immune system will weaken and the infection finds places to evade treatment protocols as well as the immune system. 


Biofilms: A Hideout for Borrelia burgdorferi? 

The first time most people heard about “biofilms” was in the movie “Under Our Skin” produced by Kris Newby and Directed by Andy Abrahams Wilson. The movie swept millions of influential people who had little to no understanding of the fastest growing epidemic in the country – Lyme Disease.  

At the end of filming the movie, Dr. Sapi at the University of New Haven had just released her discovery (in conjunction with Pathologist Dr. Alan MacDonald) of the unusual interaction between Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes and clusters of massive colonies protected by “fibrin” essentially the same composition of scar tissue (a huge oversimplification but perhaps the easiest way to describe them).  

Thankfully the director added this discovery with a short interview of Eva Sapi, Dr. Alan Mac Donald and David Lueke a researcher on Dr. Sapi’s team at UNH who discussing the nature of biofilms and how they likely explain a major part of how Lyme hides from the immune system and evades antibiotics thus causing a chronic disease. Watch a short clip from the movie here of and interview:  

From You Tube’s description: This video demonstrates the normative biological state of Borrelia Burgdorferi, a biofilm community. David Luecke at UNH points out the different lifeforms of this wily gram-negative bacteria that cause chronic Lyme disease. The green fragments on the screen are DNA from Borrelia burgdorferi strain B31, fluorescently tagged to glow under a dark field microscope. 

What is biofilm? 

"Biofilm is a self-made protective environment for one or more bacteria to grow in a synergistic relationship. In a “Lyme” biofilm, single or multiple types of organisms surround themselves in a watery slime which in studies maintain viability even after being soaked in bleach. 

The main purpose of the biofilm structure is to protect the bacteria from the immune system, antibiotics and various environmental stresses, while allowing them to communicate without hindrance and create pathogenic “cities.”  

The reason antibiotics can’t penetrate these biofilms is that they are designed to effect free-floating bacteria while Borrelia has a very small percentage of its population free-floating, and it is essentially ineffective once the bacteria has formed biofilms.  It is believed that biofilm colonies are up to 1,000-times more resistant to antibiotics. 

Furthermore, even if a biofilm-related infection appears to respond to antibiotics, it could relapse weeks or even months later and turn into a very difficult to treat chronic infection. That is because the treatment could destroy every possible bacteria but as soon as the threat is gone, the biofilms eject fully mobile spirochetes into the surrounding area to re-infect the body.   

Although Borrelia is slow growing, it begins to develop biofilms almost immediately in every place in the body it goes.  So over time, the number of biofilms that are created in the body are innumerable.  Some very large which may indicate a particularly painful symptom, and some that are small and hidden deep in tendons and ligaments, and in every organ and any soft tissue. 

The National Institutes of Health estimate that nearly 80 percent of chronic microbial infections in the human body are due to biofilms, such as chronic lung infection in cystic fibrosis patients, catheter infections, chronic urinary and middle ear infections, gingivitis, sinusitis and even fatal endocarditis. 

In fact according to Dr. Bill Costerton, 14 million people per year are affected by biofilm infections. 

Biofilms start as just a few microorganisms adhering to each other or to a surface, and then begin to communicate3-4. This communication will initiate a change in gene expression and cells start to produce an exopolysaccharide, which will become the protective matrix 3. 

The colonies then can develop into complex, three dimensional structures housing millions of individual microbes. Like cities, they have towers, columns, bridges and channels for the flow of nutrients. A mature biofilm is usually composed of three layers: an inside film layer that binds the biofilm to the surface; another film made up of colonies of single or multiple species of bacterial and/or fungal organisms; and the surface film from which free-floating microorganisms can be released as individual cells that can colonizing other places. 

So what are the mechanisms by which bacteria can evade the therapeutic interventions in biofilm? The first studies suggested that the bacteria deep within the biofilm live in an environment where diffusion of antibiotics might be difficult. There are major differences in the chemical composition of the biofilm such as low pH and anaerobic condition etc., which can either inactivate the antibiotics or render bacteria inactive so the antibiotics cannot kill them. 

However, recent publications suggested that the main reason for antibiotics resistance is the changes in the gene expression profile of microbial cells harboring in biofilms. For example, researchers identified mutant bacteria that are capable of forming biofilm but are not resistant to antibiotics. The differential expression of a large number of genes is known to occur in the initial steps of biofilm formation, such as the up regulation of exopolysaccharide synthesis. 

We have monitored several environmental conditions for the initiation of biofilm structure and found that that cell density is one of the most important factors. When Borrelia burgdorferi reach a certain density, they started to stick to each other and start to form an organized structure. 

It was previously demonstrated that organisms within biofilms could withstand nutrient deprivation better than free-floating counterparts. They saw similar changes after exposure of Borrelia burgdorferi to penicillin. In the penicillin treated samples, as early as 24 hours, they observed formation of a cystic form covered by a biofilm-like substance. 

So how about the immune system? Why can’t our complex and powerful immune systems recognize and destroy the biofilm? Multiple studies demonstrate that phagocytes can be found attached to biofilm but they are not able to eliminate it.  

To answer this very puzzling question German scientists used marine bacteria as a model and studied the defensive mechanism against their environmental enemy, which is a phagocyte (called amoebae). They identified that this marine bacterial biofilm can release a paralyzing agent that deactivates and even kills the amoeba. So clearly biofilm is not just a defensive fortress, it can also fight back. 

So how about chronic Lyme disease? Can it be explained by a biofilm formation of Borrelia burgdorferi? If yes, the possibility that Borrelia burgdorferi is capable of forming a biofilm can change the way we think about Lyme disease, especially in patients where it seems to be a persistent disease, despite long term antibiotic treatment.  

And what do we know about treating biofilm?  

Since this hypothesis was first proposed, many thousands of hours have been spent proving the theory, discovering actual biofilms loaded with spirochetes in a human heart that was donated to Dr. Sapi’s lab. 

UNH has monitored several environmental conditions for the initiation of biofilm structure and found that that cell density is one of the most important factors. When Borrelia burgdorferi reach a certain density, they started to stick to each other and start to form an organized structure. 

So literally hundreds of natural and man-made products from chemicals to herbal compounds have been tested to find the most powerful agent to break down the density, dissolve and then destroy the biofilms not just in vitro but in vivo (the human body). This exposes all forms of Borrelia (spirochete, cell-wall deficient, L-form, blebs, and cyst forms – the latter being arguably the most difficult to destroy. 

Initially, Dr. Sapi published her favored approach to eliminating biofilms in The Townsend Letter in 2010, using Samento and Banderol, tinctures made from natural compounds found in South America and developed by Dr. Cowden and manufactured by Nutramedix for his Lyme protocol (link to treatment and products). Read here: 

UNH is currently preparing an announcement with exciting new approaches for fighting Borrelia biofilm.  However, meanwhile, we know that there are three particular enzymes that are extremely effective: Serrapeptase, Lumbrokinase and Nattokinase. (link to Prohealth products)  

Hopefully, the clear understanding of these interactions will eventually be discovered, the actual molecular mechanisms responsible for the switch from individual bacteria to a biofilm, and how to overcome the antibiotic resistance and expose the bacteria to a full functioning immune system will provide advanced treatment for chronic Lyme disease. 

Prohealth will keep you posted on the release of Dr. Sapi’s most recent studies as they become available. 

Watch these fascinating videos that support and expound on biofilms: 

Dr. Bill Costerton - The "Father" of Biofims, Dr. "Bill" Costerton  studied biofilms for more than 40 years. Up until his death on May 12, 2012, Dr. Costerton continued his biofilm research and prolific publishing through the decades covers many fields: medical microbiology, microbial ecology, industrial microbiology and bioremediation. For many, he was a hero for revealing a profound truism: bacteria (et al) infect two ways, in their planktonic or by biofilm state. His research led to many medical breakthroughs, confirming that biofilms cause myriad chronic conditions: middle ear infections, kidney stones, gum disease and unfortunately many more that affect millions of people. Yet, his work also led to beneficial treatments of sewerage, industrial waste and polluted soil. Watch : "Diagnosing and Treating Biofilms” 


Dr. Alan Macdonald - considered the man who first discovered the role of biofilms in chronic Lyme disease. For the past 30 years Dr. Alan MacDonald has worked to revive the Model of Syphilis and draw attention to clinical and laboratory parallels between Treponema pallidum infection and Lyme Borreliosis. Dr. MacDonald hypothesized that Alzheimer's disease might be the late neural borreliosis equivalent of General paresis of the insane. He further hypothesized that syphilitic Tabes Dorsalis might have a "spinal cord only" neurodegenerative equivalent In borreliosis, namely Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease). 


He hypothesized that syphilitic Temporal arteritis might have a Borrelia equivalent in Temporal arteritis of unknown cause. In addition to the ongoing Alzheimer's studies, which would occupy the remainder of his research career, Alan made basic new observations in pathobiology. He was the first to publish evidence for a cystic form of Bb, granular forms of Bb, and cell wall deficient forms. Although officially retired now, Dr. MacDonald began the original research collaboration with Dr. Eva Sapi of University of New Haven, although he now participates as a consultant while he continues to research the role of Borrelia in Alzheimers, Autism and Multiple Sclerosis.  Dr. MacDonald has also developed a number of inventions that allow researchers to see the small bacteria clearly with the use of special probes. See article: 

August 2013 The Biology of Lyme Disease: An Expert's Perspective – In 3 Parts:   

·      Part I - v=r8tESJVvM88    

·      Part II - v=2RATCS-3v9Q 

·      Part III - v=FEjNMlNM3l8 



Dr. Eva Sapi - Dr. Eva Sapi, professor of cellular and molecular biology and director of the Lyme Disease Research Group at the University of New Haven (UNH), continues to be awarded each year with various grants to continue this exciting research to help complete the final steps in this project that could lead to significant improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.  


As seen, previous research by Dr. Sapi and UNH’s Lyme Disease Research Group has demonstrated that the bacteria that causes the disease,  Borrelia burgdorferi, is capable of resisting antibiotic treatment by “hiding” in a self-made protective layer called biofilm.  


This discovery could explain why some people infected with Lyme disease continue to have symptoms even after treatment with traditional antibiotic therapy. According to a report previously released by Sapi and the UNH researchers, “While conventional antibiotic therapy is usually effective against free-floating bacteria, it is frequently ineffective once pathogens have formed biofilms, because biofilm colonies can be up to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics.” 


This latest project is aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms taking place during biofilm development, in order to be better able to prevent and destroy it. Without the protection of the biofilm, the hope is that diagnostic tests and antibiotic treatments for Lyme disease can be made much more effective. 

This video is a 10 minute clip, part of a 70 minute interview with Dr. Sapi from the University of New Haven. 


She is credited with being the first researcher to demonstrate that Lyme spirochetes can actually create their own complex biofilm community to survive indefinitely within their hosts; both human and animal. -    

Recent: "Biofilm Discovery in Lyme Disease":  


Dr. Vince Fischetti studies how gram-positive bacteria interact with human tissues and cause disease. His lab produces lysins that kill major gram-positive pathogens aE" Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis and Bacillus anthracis. Using phage lytic enzymes as a tool, Dr. Fischettis lab has developed and patented methods of eradicating biofilms which contribute to chronic bacterial diseases -  


Dr. Randy Wolcott has been practicing medicine for almost thirty years and focusing on treating "unhealable" wounds the last twelve. His personal research at the Wound Care Center's Research and Testing Laboratories and his collaboration with biofilm experts in the wound care field have earned him international recognition.  

Recent: Dr. Randy Wolcott on Molecular Validation of Biofilm Infection:  


Dr. Scot Dowd, PhD - work experience with the USDA, diagnostics, bioinformatics and wound care has led to some remarkable discoveries. This knowledge is practiced daily within PathoGenius, his new company, and seems to help patients with chronic bacterial infections get properly diagnosed and treated.  


Dr. Ehrlich fields questions from a range of patient-centric topics: what has been learned collectively in 20 years of biofilm-specific research, the bacteria-biofilm life cycle, how patients with prosthetics could be at higher risk for biofilm-related health conditions and more.  



In chronic Lyme and associated diseases, Banderol and Samento extract (homeopathy) have proven very effective for killing spirochetes and breaking down the biofilms:   Also,  Lumbrokinase breaks apart biofilms, improves blood flow to the tissues by decreasing sticky blood (hyper coagulation), decreases cramps, muscle pain, and improves supplement or prescription medicine delivery deep into the tissues: 


Future of Biofilm Research: Dr. Bonnie Bassler on Quorum Sensing Bacteria Communicating in a cell and/or in a Biofilm: 




Tumors – Bartonella Complications 

Bartonella is one of the most common infections in the world.  

Most people who are infected with it are completely unaware of the infection, and when it causes symptoms, doctors and medical facilities are not trained to look for it as a culprit.  Even if they were trained to consider Bartonella as the underlying cause of the vast array of symptoms it causes (all and even more than Lyme disease), the diagnosis is even harder due to lack of reliable testing. Labs look for two strains out of hundreds which is absurd due to the evidence that Bartonella can “turn off” the antibodies our bodies create thus masking the infection from antibody tests. It can only be diagnosed by looking at the blood under a microscope and knowing what to look for. 

Many Lyme experts consider Bartonella far more than just a co-infection, in fact some, like Dr. James Schaller, author of Bartonella: Diagnosis and Treatment says,  

“Calling it (Bartonella) a "co-infection" is nonsense; if anything, Lyme is the "co-infection." It is found in vast numbers of common vectors, including dust mites, fleas, flea feces, pet saliva, and ticks.  

“Amazingly, it can turn off or lower antibodies to Lyme disease, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, and even itself. Bartonella floats in blood and also enters all blood vessel walls without causing a fatal fever, and indeed actually lowers fevers. It is the ultimate stealth infection.  

The problem goes far beyond the Bartonella infection itself.  Although researchers are working hard to determine the exact process, it is clear that a synergy exists between the two diseases that make each much worse and harder to cure.  

Another thing that Bartonella does is to cause tumor growth. I have not seen the ability of Bartonella to create tumors and it’s importance in treating Lyme disease discussed before. These tumors act as fortresses and sequester the infection making it very difficult to get complete resolution. 

But I did figure out why………………’s transgenic! 

“Bartonella are the only bacteria able to produce angiogenic tumors in humans, very much like the Agrobacterium species that produce tumors in plants” 

​Angiogenisis is when a tumor creates it’s own blood supply by growing blood vessels. These newly formed blood vessels are a result of a genetically induced growth caused by Bartonella changing human DNA. 

“Conjugative DNA transfer into human cells by the VirB/VirD4 type IV secretion system of the bacterial pathogen Bartonella henselae.” 




Another way Lyme hides from the immune system and treatments (prescription antibiotics, herbal, essential oils and any other kind of alternative treatment is by hiding inside parasites. 

Parasites live just about everywhere, and are easily passed on and ingested by humans in many ways, such as insect bites, walking barefoot, handling objects, human contact, animal contact, drinking water (a mouthful swimming in a lake or in the ocean, eating raw fruits & vegetables, and eating under-cooked meats.  

Do you eat sushi? You have parasites.   

Most parasites don’t harm humans, and can live and multiply without doing any harm.  Some are even helpful, similar to the healthy bacteria in probiotics that help keep our intestinal tract clean and healthy. Microscopic parasites can even enter your skin.  That’s another good reason to keep your hands clean and shower regularly. 

Believe it or not,  the US has a tremendous parasite problem right here, although you would never know it from talking to your doctor or watching the news:  

"Other prominent physicians agree with me; that in human history, the parasite challenge is likely the most unrecognized of all endemic problems. Because they cannot be seen and rarely present immediate symptoms, they remain invisible as a cause or contributing factor to what can be a serious disorder."
- Dr. Ross Andersen, N.D. 

"We have a tremendous parasite problem right here in the U.S. It is just not being addressed."
- Dr. Peter Wina, Chief of the Patho-Biology in the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in 1991. 

"In terms of numbers there are more parasitic infections acquired in this country than in Africa."
- Dr. Frank Nova, Chief of the Laboratory for Parasitic Diseases of the National Institute of Health. 

The following information is reported by “Humaworm”, a company that makes an herbal parasitic cleanse: There are four classifications of parasites. 30% live in our digestive systems while the other 70% live all over our bodies including, the blood, and all organs including the brain and even in our eyes and sinus cavities. There are over 1,000 types of parasites that can live in the human body.

70% of all parasites that can live in the human body are MICROSCOPIC - only 30% are visible to the naked eye, mostly in the worm category. One single tape worm lays 1000 eggs daily! So the necessity to treat parasites before trying to eradicate Borrelia is imperative.

The "worm" parasites can range from ¼ inch to 33 feet long! Here is a partial list to give you an idea: Ringworm, tapeworms, pinworms, candida albicans (yeast infections) and plasmodia (which is the malaria causing parasite), roundworms including ascaris , hookworms, whipworms, flukes including the blood fluke the anisakid worm and microscopic parasites and all parasitic larvae and eggs. All microscopic protoza (including blastocystis hominis ) , tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis), cholera, scabies, viruses, bacteria and fungi including, pseudomonas aeruginosa, all species of shigella, staph (staph aureus) and strep (Streptococcus), bacteria, fungal infections (ie: yeast infections),  threadworms and skin parasites (including scabies).
Cryptococcus neoformans, Aspergillus, Saprolegnia, and Zygorhynchus species. Salmonella typhimurium, and other bacterial species (including sixty + types of fungi and twenty + types of bacteria, including some of the most potent viruses known to man), B. subtilis, P. mirabilis, Salmonella typhi, methicillin-resistant Staph aureus, Staph faecalis, salmonella enteritidis, and V. cholerae , Escherichia, Proteus, Providencia, Citrobacter, Klebsiella, Hafnia, Aeromonas, Vibrio and Bacillus genera, Microsporum, Epidermophyton, Trichophyton, Rhodotorula, Torulopsis, Trichosporon, Cryptococcus neoformans, Entamoeba histolytica and Paramecium caudatum, the herpes simplex virus, and viral infections.
Also cystitis, prostatitis, gonorrhea, and syphilis, cholera, giardia, salmonella, and Eschorichia Coli.

Malaria is a blood parasite very much like Babesia. 

Babesia is far worse than Malaria for the Lyme patient because of the way the two infections interact. Babesia is the second most common co-infection of Lyme disease, and rapidly gaining on Borrelia in the tick populations that are studied on a regular basis by research groups who are trying to evaluate methods of vaccinating humans. Babesia is known by doctors who are Lyme experts to be a significant culprit in treatment failure, and yet there is the same if not worse problems with the antibody tests to diagnose Babesia, and for two species when there are many, many more (see Co-infections.) 

So what can we do? 

First it is imperative to do a major parasite detox and repeat every 30 day over 90 days to eliminate any eggs that hatch after the treatment. Some parasite treatments are better than others.  How can we detect if we have parasites, or at the very least, Babesia? 

There is one medical trick to detect stealth Babesia, a simple "trick".  

A patient is given at least two Babesia-killing medications such as Mepron, artesunate at a high useful dose, or Malarone (for the proguanil). These medications are used for ten days at a dose you and your physician think is worth the risk, and usually at least one will kill a few Babesia parasites.  

Approximately 10 to 14 days later, a second ECP (eosinophil cationic protein) level is taken to compare with baseline. If the ECP pops up significantly, it is usually a sign of Babesia die-off. Eosinophils are releasing ECP, possibly injecting Babesia debris.  ECP is meant to kill parasites.  

Another way my doctor used was just prescribing Mepron. He said if the drenching sweats and chills went away then it was working – and it worked!  Dramatically so.  Four months of Mepron and no more Babesia (lucky me). It might be more complicated for someone else. 

An alternative or added option is to wait five weeks and have the patient tested for antibodies to B. microti or duncani. One young patient with profound illness was finally diagnosed in this manner, and after three weeks of triple Babesia treatment, had significant clinical improvement for the first time in six years. Stealthy low-volume Babesia is a common problem in tick and flea infection treatment. Talented health-care workers commonly miss these red blood cell parasites, but this trick usually causes them to show up and can save someone from years of failed treatment. 

To ensure that your body is clear of parasites, Dr. Cowden recommends 1 teaspoon of food grade Diatomaceous Earth mixed in a cup of water (make sure to mix away from face as breathing DE will damage tender lung tissue if inhaled.) Take a couple bites of food before drinking the entire cup of DE at breakfast and the same amount at dinner. Additionally take Artemesinin 3 caps two times per day and 50 drops of Enula by Nutramedix twice each day.  These 3 treatments are to be done for 5 days in a row with 2 days off for 6 weeks before starting any killing protocol for Borrelia. 



Sapi E, Bastian SL, Mpoy CM, et al. Characterization of biofilm formation by Borrelia burgdorferi in vitro. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(10):e48277. 

Bartonella changing human DNA:  Schröder G, Schuelein R, Quebatte M, Dehio C. Conjugative DNA transfer into human cells by the VirB/VirD4 type IV secretion system of the bacterial pathogen Bartonella henselae. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011;108(35):14643-8. 

Bartonella causing tumors: 

·  Pulliainen AT, Dehio C. Persistence of Bartonella spp. stealth pathogens: from subclinical infections to vasoproliferative tumor formation. FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2012;36(3):563-99. 

· F, Brown LF, Bravo F, Ihler GM, Kouadio P, Arbiser JL. Infectious angiogenesis: Bartonella bacilliformis infection results in endothelial production of angiopoetin-2 and epidermal production of vascular endothelial growth factor. Am J Pathol. 2003;163(4):1321-7. 

·  Kirby JE. In vitro model of Bartonella henselae-induced angiogenesis. Infect Immun. 2004;72(12):7315-7. 



Jenna Seaver author of lyme disease resource

Jenna in Maui



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