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Do You Have Low Magnesium And Lyme Disease? Here Are The Consequences

Inflammation Circuit

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Carrie Lam, MD; Jeremy Lam, MD

When talking about magnesium and Lyme disease, you first need to know what each is and how they work. Magnesium, for example, is a readily available mineral that tends to have a relaxing effect on your body. Lyme disease is an illness resulting from the bite of deer ticks, but more studies are showing that it can be transferred by other vectors or even sexually transmitted.

Magnesium and Lyme disease tend to have a complicated relationship. We will be taking a look at this relationship.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease, a condition caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi, is transmitted to people when a deer tick or black-legged tick bites them. These ticks usually pick up the infection from biting animals such as deer. Acutely infected people usually start showing symptoms between three and 30 days after being bitten. The symptoms differ depending on the stage of infection. You lessen the likelihood of contracting Lyme disease if the tick is removed within 48 hours.

Lyme Disease Symptoms

An image of a doctor removing a tick from a personInitial Lyme disease symptoms closely correspond to those of the flu: fever, headache, joint pain, sore muscles, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, and chills. Unlike the flu, however, up to 80% of those infected show a specific, target-like rash during the initial stages.

If left untreated, symptoms may progress and include:

  • Stiffness in your neck
  • Severe headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • A rash targeting different areas on your body
  • Severe joint pain and swelling
  • Pain, numbness, or tingling of the hands and/or feet
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Loss of muscle tone in the face leading to one or both sides of the face drooping

According to statistics, approximately 300,000 people are infected with Lyme disease in the United States each year.

Identifying Lyme Disease

Accurately identifying Lyme is based on your symptoms, whether you were in an area where you were exposed to ticks, and via two-step blood tests. Your tests may, however, come back negative if done within the first few weeks of infection because antibodies take a while to develop. A later test may then come back positive.

The problem with Lyme disease is that some people only show symptoms years later as it becomes chronic Lyme. These symptoms may include vertigo, severe fatigue, arthritis, mental confusion, severe headaches, neurological deficits, and sleep issues.

Conventional care of the condition is with oral antibiotics. In more severe cases where people develop heart issues, meningitis, or inflammation of the spinal cord and brain lining, intravenous antibiotics are chosen.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral compound. But while most mineral compounds have a stimulating effect on the body, magnesium is different. Instead, it opposes the stimulatory effect of most mineral compounds and has a relaxing effect on most people. It is also a great muscle relaxant. Many people also use Epsom salts, or magnesium sulfate, for bathing to help them relax.

The Importance of Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that can be found everywhere around you. It is in the earth beneath your feet, the sea, animals, plants, and of course, humans. In humans, up to 60% of your magnesium is in your bones. The rest is dispersed throughout the body in the blood, muscles, soft tissues, and in every cell in the body because of its vital importance for proper cellular function.

Amongst the many reactions the mineral is involved in throughout your body, it also:

    An image of foods high in magnesium displayed in small piles

  • Helps with the creation of new proteins from amino acids
  • Plays a role in muscle contraction and relaxation
  • Helps with neurotransmitter regulation, i.e. sending chemical messages from the brain to your nervous system
  • Is involved in DNA and RNA creation and repair

Magnesium Deficiency

It is estimated that about 2% of the American population suffers from magnesium deficiency, while approximately 80% do not meet the recommended intake. This may be due to several factors including diet and loss of magnesium from the body due to health issues. Another reason for the imbalance is that many foods nowadays are fortified with calcium, throwing off the calcium-magnesium balance in the body. Many people, however, may have lower magnesium levels not due to diet, but from not getting enough magnesium from the healthy foods they eat due to agricultural practices where the soil magnesium reserves have been nearly depleted.

Signs of a magnesium deficiency include the following:

  • Muscle cramps and twitching
  • Mental disorders such as anxiety and depression
  • Osteoporosis
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Arrhythmia, i.e. irregular heartbeat

If you have some of these symptoms and think they may be the result of a magnesium deficiency, you can ask your healthcare professional to have your magnesium levels tested by doing an intracellular red blood cell magnesium count. This test will determine your magnesium serum count as well as your intracellular magnesium. The latter is your real magnesium count. Up to 80% of people do not meet the magnesium count criteria, especially women.

Magnesium and Lyme Disease

Research shows a lack of magnesium and Lyme disease tend to go hand in hand. While low magnesium may be quite common in today’s society, if you start out with low magnesium and Lyme disease hits you, your symptoms may intensify. Besides this, while most bacteria need iron to complete their lifecycle, Lyme disease is different. The bacteria causing this health issue needs magnesium. Because of this, Lyme disease may cause a magnesium deficiency.

Inflammation Due to a Deficiency in Magnesium and Lyme Disease

Inflammation is also one of the symptoms of Lyme disease, especially in the brain lining and nervous system. This means that if you have a deficiency in magnesium and Lyme disease, the cause could firstly be that you had a deficiency to start with, while the action of the bacteria causing the disease depletes your magnesium resources.

Stress, Magnesium, and Lyme Disease

Inflammation, to a large extent, results from stress. But not only from mental stress. Physical factors like disease also put stress on your body. When this happens, your body goes into a survival mode that increases stress hormone production. This process, directed by your body’s automatic NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response, affects all body systems, including your adrenals. Inflammation is one of your body’s coping mechanisms as it is an effort to overcome whatever is causing the issue.

In conjunction with the cascade of events in your body caused by Lyme disease, it depletes your magnesium reserves. This results in an imbalance at a cellular level that, in turn, results in even more health issues. Hormonal imbalance in the brain may result in dysfunction between the brain’s Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis and other organ systems. Rampant inflammation may result in the brain, the adrenals, the nervous system, and throughout the body.

An image of wood blocks spelling out magnesium with blue and white capsules around itThe inflammatory health issues associated with Lyme disease may cause a disruption to the Inflammation circuit. This is one of the major components of your NEM. Magnesium is an anti-inflammatory agent. This is why the combination of magnesium deficiency and Lyme disease is so damaging to your health, both in the short-term and in the long-term.

As an additional point of information, it is worth mentioning that healthy magnesium levels mean healthy serotonin levels. Dopamine synthesis also needs magnesium. Low serotonin and dopamine levels may affect your brain’s neurotransmitter function and result in a variety of mental health issues.

Many of the symptoms associated with low magnesium and Lyme disease are very similar to those of adrenal fatigue. A shortage of magnesium and Lyme disease could further negatively affect adrenal health in those suffering from adrenal fatigue and even cause an adrenal crash. The role of magnesium also impacts your inflammation levels and brain and neurotransmitter health when you have adrenal fatigue.

Managing Low Magnesium and Lyme Disease

Currently, conventional Lyme disease management sees healthcare practitioners recommending the use of antibiotics. Although effective, this practice does not address your body’s low magnesium levels.

In natural medicine, healthcare professionals may advise the use of a magnesium supplement. The two forms of magnesium mostly easily utilized by the human body are magnesium citrate and magnesium malate. However, in exceptional cases, such as if you have severe symptoms of the condition, they may recommend intravenous magnesium administration.

Precautions

While upping your magnesium intake could help you cope with Lyme disease and address many of the symptoms associated with the condition, there is a possible down-side.

In most people, magnesium shows a calming effect that makes it great for sleep issues and relaxation. But in a few people, especially sensitive adrenal fatigue sufferers, the opposite occurs.

In other words, magnesium may have an excitatory effect on some people. Instead of relaxing and sleeping soundly, they may find that they develop insomnia.

The reason for this is that the body processes magnesium differently in different cells. In the same way, people process the mineral differently as well. This means that a few people may not experience magnesium’s calmative effects.

Because there are different forms of magnesium and each has its own area of focus (for example, one type may focus on the gastrointestinal tract and others may help with neurological issues) talking to a professional healthcare professional before self-medicating is the best advice. This person would best be able to determine the type and dosage of magnesium best suited for you.

The above is especially important to those suffering from Lyme disease because taking too much magnesium may result in an accumulation of metabolites. Your body could end up crashing if this is the case because your body may not be able to detoxify them. They could end up accumulating in your body and cause a new set of symptoms to deal with.

In Closing

Low magnesium levels may negatively impact your Lyme disease by making your symptoms worse. Upping your magnesium intake may help with the situation.

If you are suffering from low magnesium and Lyme disease, here are a few things you can do to help alleviate the situation.An image of a tick on a person's skin

  1. Take note of your symptoms and see a healthcare professional to have a blood test done.
  2. Explore the use of a magnesium supplement to help alleviate the symptoms of the condition.
  3. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine which type of magnesium is best suited for you.

Whatever you decide to do with regards to supplementation, please do so with the guidance of your healthcare practitioner. Remember, magnesium supplements may not have the calming effect on you that it has on most people. Your healthcare provider is best suited to help you with this.

If you would like to know more about or need assistance with low magnesium and Lyme disease, the team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help. We offer a free** no-obligation phone consultation at +1-626-571-1234 where we will privately discuss your symptoms and various options. You can also send us a question through the Ask The Doctor system by clicking here.

 
© Copyright 2020 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam's Key Question

Yes, low magnesium and Lyme disease does worsen the condition. Lyme disease puts extra stress on your adrenal function, while low magnesium levels impact all body systems, even at a cellular level. It could thus intensify adrenal fatigue symptoms and if left unchecked cause an adrenal crash.

© Copyright 2001-2021 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
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