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 Post subject: Pain weakens the immune system is herxing worth it?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:43 pm 
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Pain weakens the immune system is herxing worth it?

Find help with pain:

"There is no justification fo saying that opioids don't work and should not be given to FMS patients. That is not evidence based medicine, it is peer-pressure based medicine!" - Robert Bennett MD, FMS researcher, Oregon Health Services University, Portland OR

More helpful links about pain &/or herxing:


My pain management Md, said something interesting one day when I mentioned that my LD and viral blood tests titers returned worse than they ever had, after almost a year of being in treatment. He informed me that getting your pain under control will help your immune system strengthen, chronic pain weakens the immune system. My pain levels have hit levels they haven't invented a scale for, the 1-10 smiley/sad face scale used by most doctor's is a joke. How about 100 - I want to die I hurt so bad!

Since I didn't really know what to make of the comment, I studied the subject. I came across a story in the New York Times magazine that indeed said pain does weaken the immune system.

I also came across Lyme pain specifically:

In the June 17, 2007 issue of the New York Times Magazine and article was written regarding an Md thrown in jail for managing his patients pain (insanity!) and in the article it states "high-dose prescription opiates can be safer than taking high doses of aspirin, Tylenol or Advil" it also states "Pain can also consume so much of the body’s energy that the immune system degrades" see article here: If Md's are going to be thrown in jail or lose their license for trying to help us, from LLMD's to pain management Md's, how will we ever get through this and get well?

Well, after treatment for one year & without having the progress I had hoped, I had now learned part of the reason may be because my pain levels were not being managed consistently and brought to a tolerable level. My doctor's are willing, I have been the one to insist on "toughing it out", taking something only if I was in agony. I have found this not to be healthful or helpful in my quest for wellness. I now understand that pain medications should be taken on a schedule, to stay ahead of the pain. You don't want to wait until you are in agony to start managing it, you manage it before the "agony" point.

Whether you are pro or con regarding the proper use of pain medications you may want to consider some way of getting your pain under control as much as possible to help your immune system. I became very quickly "pro" regarding pain management medications when I found myself in agony and near suicide due to the relentless, non-stop pain. I understood fully why the number one cause of Lyme death is suicide. Thankfully, I held on and accepted that I needed help, I needed my pain to be much lower. I was no longer living life, I was battling a disease and existing, dreading each day. What a difference, when I allowed my pain management Md to actually take charge of my pain and manage it.

But I had been told over and over again that pain was a good sign, the spirochete were dying, creating a toxin, creating more pain, it was a good thing and I should remember that! No, this was not functional, livable pain. It was not a good thing & truthfully I couldn't care less why or what was causing the pain, I just wanted it and needed it to stop before I went insane from it. I had tried different methods of detoxing, much of it made me feel sicker and caused even more pain, I had tried alternatives that were "binders" and bound all the good and bad and swept it out my system making me critically vitamin D deficient.

Since pain in itself is as real of a medical condition as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Lyme Disease itself, you might know that medications are usually required to control these conditions.

The problem. I found that patients at forums, family members, even Md's could be as illiterate to managing pain as most people were to Lyme Disease. So many "worried" of the possibility of addiction, even some will criticize those on pain medications. As I lived in agony 24/7, the least of my worries are addiction, I needed relief. As far as I am concerned nothing could be harder than battling this disease, I will cross the bridge that bridge of getting off pain medications, when and if I ever get to that bridge. For now I have a disease to beat, my focus is there. Survival is first and pain medications can take the edge off (never am I totally pain free) and make this slightly less miserable.

Our society,including many pain-illiterate doctors have developed a stigma attached to the use of pain meds (which is absurd & ridiculous) for fear of addiction. As stated in the following link: Most people who take their pain medicine as directed by their doctor do not become addicted, even if they take the medicine for a long time. More at this link: ... -addiction

Here is another interesting link regarding pain definition, and control using all different methods:

Of course we have heard that pain medications can also weaken the immune system. As a Lyme patient it really is starting to look like everything we do weakens the immune system, including taking antibiotics (which an ILADS LLMD in San Fran commented recently to me, "That is a common misconception, antibiotics actually help the immune system").

There are actual bio-chemical changes that take place when someone is in pain. Neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain) begin to change and deplete, making us depressed or our pain worse. Dopamine levels deplete. That is why they have medications like Cymbalta. Cymbalta manufacturer claims it will help pain, depression etc., by obviously replenishing the neurotransmitters in the brain. One neurotransmitter, Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that releases when you are in pain, you cannot replace lost dopamine when it is depleted, except if you use medications (or apparently by eating dark chocolate - yes, for real! Check this link on the benefits of dark chocolate : and ) Cortisol also releases when you are in pain or under stress. High cortisol can be as dangerous as cortisone to a Lyme patient and make things worse.

Obviously, it makes sense that a relaxed body & mind , is one that has a better chance of healing, whether it be through prescribed medications, meditation or physical therapy.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with the chronic pain specialist, a pioneer in the treatment of pain in California, He has been a doctor over 50 years and is responsible for changing laws in California for those in pain, enacting the " Intractable Pain Act" for patients in pain, so they would not have to suffer.

I asked, "Does pain weaken the immune system?" This is how he answered, "Oh yes! As soon as you have "chronic" pain you must get it under control as fast and as soon as possible, because it effects every bodily system. Our cells communicate with each other constantly. When we are in pain over long periods of time, it tells our immune system there is no reason to waste the energy to fight the disease. Pain must be controlled at least to tolerable levels quickly. Some say pain medications weaken the immune system, that is absolutely false and the opposite has been proven". We talked further. He then gave the example of emotional pain, (many of us feel with this disease is emotional pain) he used the common story of when a couple has been married many years, how often it occurs that when one spouse dies, the other spouse will in many cases die within 6 months or a year. I nodded and listened, knowing this was true. He went on speaking, " a loss can create stress on the body similar to chronic pain, emotional pain, which also weakens the immune system and our cells will convey there is no reason to respond, no reason to fight".

He is an amazing Md in California, I am really honored to know him and all the laws he changed in the 80's regarding chronic pain and the use of medications. Just like LD doctors, true pain management Md's are considered 'rogue', not in with other doctors, they choose what they believe will save your life and don't run with the pack, so to speak.

My LLMD (that is non-Ilads) but very good and he is alternative/pharmaceutical in the treatment of LD, agrees with this. I have had such insane pain levels that my LLMD has said he doesn't believe in "hitting hard and heavy" as many LLMD's do and that "herxing" beyond being tolerable is not good at all. He believes LD can die slow and steady without living with intolerable pain (herx) levels.

I wonder really how good it could be to flood our bodies with toxins that create pain so fast that our own God-given detox system cannot eliminate it fast enough. It just doesn't make sense.

The other LLMD I have seen, a bonafide expert, will actually smile when I have told him how horrible my herxing has been, he really loves the idea that you are killing the bacteria no matter how bad the pain is, to me, that is almost sadistic. He couldn't possibly understand the level of pain I am talking about. I doubt, he could live a day with the pain I have experienced.

After all I have lived through and the pain & all the opinion's of others I have heard from LD patients and their LLMD's. I have had to come to my own conclusion simply for survival, Lyme can and should be killed slow and steady, it may take longer, but at least you aren't living with intolerable symptoms. I believe I am giving my immune system a reason to fight. I know this "conclusion" goes against many LLMD's & chronic Lyme patients beliefs, but it makes sense to me.

So at the end of the day when someone tells you it is ok to take pills to kill a disease and not ok to treat the "whole" person, the painful symptoms, they haven't experienced this disease at all, or the worst it has to offer. Pain medication save lives. How can one worry about addiction when surviving Lyme is much more important.

You need to decide for yourself as well and discuss with your doctor your level of pain and the derogatory effect it could be having on your recovery and what steps should be taken to eliminate as much pain as possible.

If you choose narcotic pain meds and are ever lucky enough to be pain free and want off pain medications, their is help available in a prescription called suboxone. Dr. Schaller has a book called Suboxone that may be of interest to you.

(This article dedicated to Dr. Rose who died 1/1/08 - an Md who fought and won for his patients (against all odds) by committing his life to help humans suffering pain. He was responsible for enacting pain management laws in California and Oregon. - Dr. Rose is sorely missed by the thousands who knew him and that he helped in his 50 years of practice)

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