Thursday, October 08, 2015

Can Music Cure Lyme Disease?

Kyle Morton was bitten by a tick as a child, contracting a case of Lyme disease that went undiagnosed for years, even as it wreaked havoc on his body.  Morton nearly lost his life to the disease - he had multiple organ failures and had to have a kidney transplanted from his father. As an adult, Morton now feels like he is living on borrowed time and is past his expiration date. 

Perhaps that's why Morton has overachieved in a way, forming the folk-rock orchestra Typhoon, a Portland-based, dozen-or-so-member band that favors orchestral instruments and precise, complicated arrangements. 

In writing lyrics for Typhoon’s music, Morton thinks a lot about his own impermanence. The songs may have uplifting melodies, but underneath the melodies are much darker lyrics. It is through his music that one can find Morton’s sincere appreciation for the gift of life.

"It obliterated any sense of these monumental truths that I had as a kid," Morton told NPR.  "That I would grow up, that I would be strong and tall. That's something, on a personal level, I've been trying to come to terms with, this regret, or this feeling of loss, over a person I never became." Morton says, "So that's the only thing I find worthwhile to write about, because not only is it important to me, I think it's a feeling a lot of people can relate to — a sense of wanting to be something and not being able to achieve it."

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Is the Cure for Lyme Disease Also the Cure for Schizophrenia?

Lyme disease can cause a variety of psychiatric maladies. Published research has shown a higher incidence of Borrelia burgdorferi, the tick-borne bacteria that cause Lyme disease, in psychiatric patients than in healthy subjects.  There is also a geographic correlation of schizophrenia with ticks and Lyme outbreaks, and peer-reviewed literature showing an association of Lyme disease with schizophrenia.

Dr Brian Fallon has linked Lyme disease to paranoia, thought disorders, delusions, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anorexia, violent outbursts, mania, personality changes, catatonia, dementia, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and intermittent explosive disorders. 

Minocycline, as well as other tetracycline antibiotics, are well known treatments for Lyme disease, but a controlled clinical trial showed that minocycline is also effective in treating early-phase schizophrenia. While minocycline could be affecting the central nervous system, blocking neurotoxicity, or inhibiting inflammation in the brain, it is an antibiotic that may also be treating the Lyme disease that manifests as schizophrenia.  So is the antibiotic treating the symptom or the cause?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Does Meditation Cure Lyme's Disease?

This is now a blog about Lyme disease.

Dr. Brian Fallon is the director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center, director of the Center for Neuroinflammatory Disorders and Biobehavioral Medicine, and professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.  Dr. Charles Alexander is an assistant professor of psychiatry in the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University.  He is also co-founder of the Aquarian Path Holistic Health Center in Southport, Connecticut and a certified teacher of Kundalini Yoga.

According to an article in the Wilton (Connecticut) Bulletin (Connecticut is "ground zero" for Lyme's disease), the two doctors have developed a pilot study to see if Lyme patients following a daily course of meditation for eight to 12 weeks show any improvement.  Their studies have shown that meditation may reduce inflammation and that immune response may be improved by meditation.

The CDC estimates that 10-20% of patients with Lyme disease will go on to have chronic symptoms despite having had appropriate treatment, a condition known as “Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome” (PTLDS). While there is currently no known cure, various therapies have been investigated. One promising approach is the practice of meditation and yoga which have been shown to help pain and fatigue associated with other chronic illnesses as well as to improve overall physical, mental, and emotional health.

According to Dr. Alexander, the effect of meditation as a complementary treatment in chronic Lyme or post-treatment Lyme disease is primarily within the brain.  There are 100 billion cells in the brain, each making 10,000 connections to other nerve cells. The brain changes with age and although the brain cannot build new neurons, meditation has been shown to increase synapses within the brain. Meditation can also slow down the loss of neurons with age.

Dr. Alexander claims that meditation can also increase cortical thickness, a measure of the layers of the cerebral cortex. It roughly relates to the number of neurons.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Does Meditation Cure Lyme's Disease?

According to some random, semi-anonymous post on the internet (so it must be true), there is proof that meditation builds up the immune system, helps folks manage pain, improves mood and sleep, and can help the afflicted overcome Lyme's disease.  

Try to set aside 30 minutes a day to sit in a chair or on the floor and concentrate on just your breathing. Your mind will wonder. Thoughts like "My knees are hurting me right now!" and "How exactly does this help with Lyme's disease?" will cross your mind, but that is okay.  Don't try to suppress your thoughts but just let them go and then let go of them, and bring your attention back to your breathing.

Counting your breath helps. For example, count breath in 1, breath out 1. Breath in 2, breath out 2. Breath in 3, breath out 3, etc, until you get to 10.  Again, your mind will wonder and when it does don't get frustrated.  Just simply start the count over again. If you forget which breath you're on or if you blow past 10 and realize this is breath 23 or something, just start over again at one.  

But anyway, this is now a blog about Lyme's disease.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Another benefit of baking practice, in addition to the mindfulness necessary for the baking itself, is the deepening of charity and compassion from giving the baked goods away.

I can't eat all these banana breads and crumb cakes myself, so I've been bringing them into the office for my co-workers to eat, and have enjoyed seeing them enjoy the products.  As a matter of fact, the act of bringing treats into the office has made me feel closer and more affectionate for those I work with, and I find myself thinking how much they might enjoy the goods even as I'm baking.

Last week's chocolate-chocolate chip bread was so well received that I was asked to bake it again, and even though it was my preference to move on to the next koan in the cookbook, out of compassion I repeated the recipe and practiced kindness for others rather than work on my own mindfulness.

I'll spare you, gentle reader, another picture of another brown loaf this time around.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

SR 3/US 41/Northside Drive Between I-75 and Collier Road during Snowpocalypse 2011
ATLANTA – Motorists traveling on or near SR 3/ US 41/ Northside Drive are advised to seek alternate routes due to a non-construction related sinkhole on SR 3/US 41/ Northside Drive. The sinkhole is located between I-75 and Collier Road in the northbound lane.
Sure.  Right.  "Non-Construction related."  Just like the non-construction related leak from the sewer next to the work site that contaminated the creek across the road from my home, a sinkhole just happened to open up next to the road construction work because "stuff happens" (to quote Jeb! Bush). 

Ladies and gentlemen, the Georgia Department of Trasportation - putting the "gd" in GDOT. 

Friday, October 02, 2015


So can we all agree to use John Barth's term to refer to what Zen Master Dogen called impermanence, and call it The Destroyer of Delights and The Severer of Societies?  Can we at least agree on that much?