Dr. Bill Rawl's book, Unlocking Lyme: Myths, Truths, & Practical Solutions for Chronic Lyme Disease, comes from an interesting perspective because Dr. Rawls himself was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I appreciate a doctor who is willing to use the term "chronic Lyme disease" in the title of his book.
Because Dr. Rawls has chronic Lyme himself, there is a strong sense of empathy for the patient in the book. This description of the Lyme experience especially resonated with me:
"Just when you think everything is turning around, you have a setback for seemingly no reason. On top of that comes the fear of slipping back into a cycle of never-ending misery. How long will this last? Will it ever get better, or will I have to live this way for the rest of my life?"
In the beginning of the book, Dr. Rawls discusses why he believes it has been so difficult for chronic Lyme patients to get recognition, funding for research, accurate testing, and better treatment:
"The status quo is the accepted norm that most everyone follows. While it isn't always correct, it's assumed to be correct, and most people never veer from it their entire lives. When it happens not to be correct, changing it is like swimming against a stiff current.
People typically don't voluntarily choose to swim against the current because it's difficult and sometimes hazardous -- the choice is often made for them by life's situations."
For Dr. Rawls, it was being diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. His life situation forced him to critically evaluate his practice as a conventional medicine doctor. He educated himself and learned all he could about alternative therapies, and the result is this comprehensive book.
Unlocking Lyme has good readability. It seems Dr. Rawls took into account it would be read by Lyme patients who need larger print and short paragraphs. It is complete without being overwhelming.
One thing this book helped clarify for me was how I could've been bitten by a tick so long ago, only to have symptoms show up years later. Dr. Rawls has a very similar story. It turns out, my body was in a stalemate the borrelia microbe. Some people can remain in this state for the rest of their lives, but in my case a stress and a breakdown of my immune system caused me to become symptomatic. The microbe broke the stalemate and was beginning to win the battle.
Along these same lines, Dr. Rawls asks an interesting question: "Are people getting sicker from Borrelia today more than they were in the past?"
He speculates that it is not an increase in tick bites or borrelia infections, but an increase in immune dysfunction is causing our simmering pots to boil over. The increase in immune dysfunction is caused by artificial foods, stress, and toxins in the environment. He calls these factors, "system disruptors." He comments, "Once chronic immune dysfunction becomes established, the misery can last a lifetime."
Dr. Rawls encourages the Lyme patient to start with a self-assessment of personal system disruptors and make the ultimate goal of increasing wellness, not eradicating disease. He gives detailed insight into how to minimize system disruptors in all areas, dedicating a chapter to each.
To treat chronic Lyme disease, Dr. Rawls recommends a holistic approach. He believes in primarily treating with herbal therapies, specifically the Buhner protocol. If this is your treatment of choice, it will be extremely helpful in determining your herbal and supplement regimen. I was grateful to learn that houttuynia herb (the herbal treatment I currently take) is recommended for Lyme and Babesia.
I have a couple of criticisms of the book. One, Dr. Rawls states that antibiotics have a place in Lyme treatment, but that there are serious concerns about long-term antibiotic use. He recommends very restricted use of antibiotics citing lack of research. While I respect his preference for — and expertise in — herbal protocols, I think there's an opportunity for a more broad-minded perspective on the vast range of treatments for Lyme.
My second criticism is not of Dr. Rawls specifically, but about discourse on Lyme treatment in general. Dr. Rawls does not discuss cost, which is one of the most challenging aspects of supplementation and protocols for Lyme patients. Dr. Rawl's list of recommended herbals and supplements isn't excessive; however, it is significant, and wouldn't be covered by insurance. The cost of high quality supplements and herbal protocols, especially when regimens are constantly changing, is a burden on Lyme patients. I feel in a comprehensive book about Lyme, addressing ways to minimize the cost would've been a refreshing addition.
For me, the most useful sections of this book were the thorough lists of types of medical providers, laboratory testing, and symptoms for each type of microbe. Unlocking Lyme will stay on my shelf next to my other Lyme books as a great reference, and I would recommend you check it out.
"Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is a wonderful moment." - Thich Nhat Hanh
I'm Kerry and I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in 2016. This is a positive space for those of us coping with Lyme disease and other invisible illnesses.