There is some good and some not so good information on this thread. Steroids are a huge issue. I don't even know where to start.
You will die without certain steroids, and you will suffer terribly or maybe die if you misuse other steroids. There is a happy and desirable middle ground that benefits lyme sufferers, if they can obtain it.
Your adrenals produce cortisol which is absolutely necessary for glucose metabolism and energy production. It also has important immune functions. Your adrenal glands produces elevated cortisol levels in response to stress on your body- whether emotional, physical, or infectious. If a person has sustained stress on his body, then his cortisol will be elevated for a sustained period of time. A person with lyme will usually have elevated cortisol levels until the infection is brought under control. Elevated cortisol may be unhealthy and can cause a lot of damage in the body. When the infection goes on beyond a certain point, then the adrenals may shut down and produce little or no cortisol. This is also very unhealthy and can even be life threatening.
Steroids have gotten a very bad name for several reasons. We all know about
anabolic steroids- because of the abuse in bodybuilding, professional sports, Lance Armstrong, etc. Anabolic steroids must not be confused with the "catabolic steroids" such as cortisol. Catabolic steroids do not build up muscle. They tear down muscle tissue and collagen to use it for energy production when there is an excess of cortisol in the body.
There is a certain group of catabolic steroids which are known as corticosteroids. They are produced by the adrenal glands. Within this group are the glucocosteroids and the mineralcosteroids. The glucocosteroid is cortisol, which I already described. The mineralcosteroid is aldosterone which regulates electrolytes and fluid balance in the body. The most important steroid in the body is the cortisol, and you cannot live without it.
The man that discovered and synthesized cortisol won a Nobel prize. It was viewed as a miracle drug. Initially physicians cured a lot of illness and saved many lives because of their usage of cortisol. Then, eventually patients started to become very ill and many died. It appeared that cortisol was not the panacea that it first appeared to be. Consequently, cortisol was ostracized and got a very bad name among physicians and in the medical literature. That situation exists to this very day.
There have been a few physicians and researchers that have had a different experience with cortisol. They have used it safely on many thousands of patients without any bad side effects. The physicians whose patients experienced dangerous or deadly side effects used "pharmacological" (high) doses of cortisol. The physicians whose patients received beneficial or life-saving results used "physiological" (low) does of cortisol. Acknowledging and maintaining this distinction makes a universe of difference in the patient experience when treated with the cortisol.
A patient's cortisol levels should almost always be tested before cortisol is prescribed. A lyme patient who is early in the illness cycle may (probably) has elevated cortisol that is already damaging his body and suppressing aspects of his immune system. He is already above the physiologically normal range. It would be very dangerous to administer any amount of any corticostesteroid such as cortisol. The problem with cortisol is when there is more free cortisol in your system than your body is utilizing for constructive purposes. That is when the symptoms arise.
A lyme patient who is in the latter chronic stage may have very low cortisol production levels. He should also be tested to see whether this is the case, and to get an idea of how large the deficiency is. The saliva and urine tests are best, and the blood test may also be useful to an extent. Cortisol doses are determined by symptomology. There are well known symptoms for low cortisol levels, and there are other symptoms for elevated levels. It took accurate knowledge, honestly, communication, and discerning scrutiny to get the dosage levels right. Heather has experienced a degree of symptoms from both having suppressed and elevated levels of cortisol. We have gotten it right, and it has been revolutionary for her. The use of physiological, replacement, low dose, bioidentical cortisol is not at all dangerous for the properly vetted patients. It would have been unhealthy and maybe eventually dangerous for her not to have received it. I have to give Dr. Jernigan credit for referring Heather to a knowledgeable LLMD who is licensed to prescribe the hydrocortisone.
I have to give some latitude and tolerance to the several comments on this thread with which I strongly disagree. They have made their negative statements about
steroids because of their knowledge of very bad patient experiences, and they are partially correct. When cortisol levels are above normal parameters, then unhealthy effects can be expected, just as they have enumerated here. Very few people-even many doctors- have knowledge of the entirely safe usage of low dose hydrocortisone for low cortisol level patients. The goal is to bring the cortisol level up to normal levels, but not to err by going beyond it. The result has been revolutionary for many people with serious illnesses. I would advise AGAINST any other usage of steroids outside of the parameters that I have stated.
One of the major proponents of the low-dose cortisol approach is William McKnight Jefferies M.D., P.H.D. who wrote the book "Safe uses of Cortisol". I strongly recommend reading the book. It is not inexpensive however.
We are older parents and Heather is our only child. She became so sick and debilitated that we thought that she was going to die, and everything looked so hopeless and bleak. However, God answered our prayers, and used the healing hands of Dr. J. at the Hansa Center to more than restore the health of our precious daughter. I have a moral obligation to help others that are likewise suffering!
Post Edited (Heathersdad) : 2/19/2013 12:43:45 AM (GMT-7)