Hyperthermia

As antibiotics and oxygen attack borrelia in the body spirochetes may start to drill deeper into connective tissue or joints and become much harder to reach for antimicrobials.  According to some research borrelia are very temperature sensitive and are not able to survive temperatures above 106 - 107 deg F. On the other hand some doctors claim cyst forms of borrelia may be able to survive even higher temperatures, so the final verdict on this is still out. Correct or not, what is clear is that increasing body temperature provides an additional mechanism to stimulate the body’s own immune system, which will kill off borellia and also fight other intruders.

Whole Body Hyperthermia treatment or artificially induced fever was "invented" by Austrian psychiatrist Julius Wagner-Jauregg in 1917 as as a treatment for neuro-syphilis. In 1927 he won a noble price in medicine for his invention but he never became well known (At the time there was only room for one famous psychiatrist from Vienna and that was Sigmund Freud). In actuality his invention was not really that "new", as American Indians had been conducting sweat lodges for centuries prior to Columbus arrival to deal with Syphilis - also a spirochete bacteria - along with herbs such as tinctures made from the guaiacum tree. Withe the advent of antibiotics hyperthermia therapy was forgotten as a treatment for syphilis. Today hyperthermia is pursued by clinics in Germany, Austria and Switzerland mostly as an alternative treatment method for cancer along with other therapies.

During a whole body hyperthermia session the body is gradually, over a period of about 3-4 hours, heated up to a temperature of 103 to 104 deg F under medical supervision. In some clinics temperatures are driven up even higher up to max 107 deg but that is typically done under anesthesia as it would be simply too hot to do endure.  While Wagner-Jauregg would infect his patients with malaria to achieve the fever (yes, that is true, malaria for syphilis seems quite the trade off!) these days elevated temperatures are achieved by infrared lamps and heat chambers.

Hyperthermia Treatment in an "open" bed where heat comes from lamps below
the body shining through a "hammock" (Dr. Kleef, Vienna, Austria)

From what I have seen so far there seem to be two schools of thought when applying hyperthermia to Lyme. Some clinics in Germany (e.g. St George) perform two high temperature (106-107 F) sessions within a period of 10 days combined with IV antibiotics and detoxifiction. The argument is that borrelia are killed by the high temperature jointly with the ABX IVs. I do not have personal experience with this treatment method but I have talked to people who have gone through the treatment and have achieved considerable improvements after their return to the US. I have been told that a treatment series of 10 days, during which one stays at the hospital, runs for about 12,000 Euros. During the time of the treatment the patient is slightly sedated because temperatures are too high to endure.  Because of the anesthesia  the procedure  involves the use of a catheter. A user report on this method can be found here.

The second treatment approach includes a series of lower temperature treatments up to 103 or 104 deg F (8-10 treatments) over a longer period of time. The argument is that the borrelia are not just killed by the high temperature but a fever activated immune system.  A few months after the initial treatment series a second and third shorter sequence (2-4 treatments) can be performed  and one can keep doing 1-2 treatments per years for “maintenance” purposes.

My Personal Hyperthermia Experience

I did not want to go through anesthesia and having a catheter inserted plus I had enough time for a longer treatment series and so I opted for the second method practiced by Dr. Kleef's in his day Clinic in Vienna, Austria. During the heat treatment one is placed into a bed, which is heated by watercooled infrared lamps coming either from the top or from below. A session lasts about 5-6 hours during which the body is slowly heated up to the desired temperature while being hooked up to IVs, typically Vitamin C and Alpha Lipoic Acid. Once the temperature has been reached the heat is reduced and the body stays at the high temperature on its own. Its only then that the temperature stress is reduced and one can start to relax and even sleep a bit. I got up to about 40 deg C (104 deg F), but not in each session. It actually quite varied. In some sessions I felt stronger and could make it up to 103 or 104 and in some sessions I could only get up to 102 deg F.

It is quite strenuous to get up to those temperatures and it does take some strength. After  the sessions I felt a bit dizzy, had to sit a bit, then took a shower, rested again, and then drove home and basically went to bed.

During my initial treatment phase, which lasted 5 weeks in total,  I had 2 sessions per week. During the first 2-3 weeks I was herxing a bit, felt very exhausted and some of my symptoms got worse. But after 2-3 weeks things gradually improved and I started feeling almost "normal" again. Muscle pain started to recede, fatigue lifted and I stated to feel better. The cost of the treatment was 400 Euro per session plus initial consultation fees. Depending how much time one has for the treatment and the chosen hotel accommodations a multiple treatment, day clinic option could run considerably cheaper than a full service hospital option.

In between hyperthermia sessions I had ozone treatments and colonics in Dr. Kleef's clinic to help clear the body of toxins. I was really busy with my healing program.

In my experience hyperthermia treatment acts as a catalyst or accelerator in curing Lyme, it supercharges the immune system, helps excrete toxins through sweating, kills spirochetes directly and generates healing impulses. At the time I entered hyperthermia treatment I had plateaued on oral ABX and was not making any progress. Hyperthermia along with IV Doxycycline, oral Rifampin and Tinidazole, Ozone and essentials oils plus biofilm breakers did create the breakthrough for me.

Even after hypethermia treatments were completed I continued home heat treatments with a small portable infrared sauna on biweekly basis. As I got better and got my energy back I started Bikram Yoga to continue the heat practice. I am planning to continue with hyperthermia once or twice a year for maintenance purposes.

IR Sauna for Home Use

Hyperthermia is currently not available as medical treatment in the US so one has to travel either to Europe or get creative at home to achieve at least some higher body temperatures. See my blog post for more info.

Hyperthermia Therapy Resources

  • Dr. Kleef Hyperthermia Day Clinic in Vienna, Austria; my top recommendation if you are serious about using hyperthermia
  • St. George Clinic in Germany; shorter stay in clinic (2 weeks) with higher temperatures, but more expensive. This link has a report from Michelle McKeo, a Lyme sufferer who went through the treatment in St. George
  • Home use Hyperthermia Dome sold by TrulyHeal in the US; gets temperatures up to 38 C and above, though not as high as professional systems in Europe
  • Far infrared ray lie down sauna, not a bad option for a price just under $1,000. This may be a better option than the portable "sit in" saunas, since it is more relaxing to lie during treatment than to sit
  • This may not bee for everybody but I have heard some anecdotal reports that people were able to combat Lyme at Harbin Hot Springs in Northern California. The hot pool at Harbin goes up to 108F - I personally can't handle water that hot though.

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