Posted 9/2/2015 7:55 AM (GMT -7)
By Scott Forsgren
Bartonella targets erythrocytes (red blood cells), endothelial cells, microglial cells, macrophages, and CD34 progenitor cells.1 Once the infection is in the body, it commonly resides in red blood cells and in the endothelial and pericyte cells lining the blood vessels throughout the body. Bartonella may use these cells and various tissues in the body to hide from the immune system and to establish a chronic, persistent infection.
Human infection with Bartonella may be the result of arthropod vectors, including fleas (and flea feces), biting flies such as sand flies and horn flies, the human body louse, mosquitoes, and ticks; through bites or scratches of reservoir hosts; and potentially from needles and syringes in those who are drug addicted. Needle stick transmission to veterinarians has been reported.
Animals that are exposed to fleas and ticks have a high likelihood of being infected with Bartonella. about half of all cats may be infected with Bartonella, as high as 80% of feral cats and near 40% of domestic cats.
The more common symptoms of Bartonella include swollen lymph nodes, gastritis, sore soles of the feet most noticeable in the morning, fasciculations (muscle twitching), headaches, abdominal pain, striae (irregular areas of skin that look like stretch marks), skin rashes, tender subcutaneous nodules in the extremities, fevers, anxiety, depression, anger, and obsessive-compulsive thoughts or behaviors.
bartonellosis is primarily an infection of the blood vessels, the blood components, and the bone marrow. While Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent in Lyme disease, can be found in the blood and as well as outside the vascular system, Bartonella species primarily congregate within red blood cells, endothelial cells, and bone marrow cells. It may also be found in cysts, having been isolated from an otherwise "benign" breast cyst in one patient.
As bartonellosis is principally an infection of the vascular system, it leads to inflammation and endothelial proliferation, disrupting blood flow at the small vessel level, such as in the capillaries and arterioles. The end result is compromised microcirculation throughout the body which can lead to the appearance of fluctuating and migrating symptoms. The manifestation of symptoms is largely associated with where in the body the blood flow compromise happens to be located.
Pain in the soles of the feet upon waking, for example, is likely due to inflammation of the blood vessels in an area that endures ongoing microvascular trauma as a result of regular weight-bearing activity; the pain is then exacerbated by the presence of Bartonella and small vessel inflammatory disease.
Patients may present with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) or other forms of dysautonomia wherein the autonomic nervous system is affected; this is another manifestation of small vessel disease. The nerves of both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system are compromised in their function due to changes in microcirculation and interruption in blood flow.
In every patient, Bartonella is infecting the vascular system throughout the body. Endothelial infection with Bartonella can damage veins and the valves of veins. Endothelial cells also line the heart valves. However, such infection can progress to infiltrate the deeper connective tissue of the heart in rare cases. This type of deeper heart valve infection with Bartonella is usually detected too late and almost always leads to heart valve replacement surgery.
Bartonella patients often describe a number of psychoemotional manifestations of the infection. These may include anxiety, depression, anger, obsessive-compulsive thoughts or behaviors, rage, and even suicidal thoughts.
Mozayeni shared that small vessel disease manifests in the central nervous system and the brain and affects executive function, often leading to mild or moderate cognitive impairment. As people become increasingly unable to process information, anxiety may develop. While there is generally no dementia or long-term memory impairment, short-term working memory and reaction time are often affected.
Alternative Treatment Approaches
While pharmaceutical options for Bartonella treatment are often very helpful, those with chronic Bartonella infection may benefit from looking at natural solutions. These may be combined with pharmaceutical options or used alone.
Mozayeni has an interest in allicin, an extract from garlic, and sulforaphane, a compound derived from cruciferous vegetables. Sulforaphane has broad spectrum antimicrobial properties against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria while also being anti-inflammatory, supporting detoxification, and serving as a powerful antioxidant.
Stephen Harrod Buhner is a one of America's preeminent herbalists and wrote Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections: Complementary and Holistic Treatments for Bartonella and Mycoplasma in 2013.43 It contains some of the most current information on herbal and holistic treatment of Bartonella. In the book, Buhner goes into extensive detail on Bartonella characteristics, symptom presentation, cytokine shifts that may occur, and natural treatment options based on his own clinical experience and literature reviews.
Buhner has created a protocol that is outlined in his book and consists of therapeutic options such as Sida acuta, Isatis, Houttuynia, Alchornea cordifolia, Japanese knotweed, EGCG, hawthorn, cordyceps, L-arginine, milk thistle, and others. He further outlines interventions that may be helpful based on specific symptom presentations. The book is a very detailed resource on Bartonella and is highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn more.
Many other natural products or formulations are available that some practitioners have found helpful. These include Beyond Balance MC-BAR-1 and MC-BAR-2; BioPure Quintessence, O3 Oil Gamma, Lyme and Co-Infection Nosode Drops, Cryptolepis, and Czaga (chaga); Byron White Formulas A-BART; Maypa Herbals Formula Bart; Jernigan Nutraceuticals Lymogen, NutraMedix Samento, Banderol, Quina, Cumanda, and Houttuynia; Researched Nutritionals BLt Microbial Balancer #1, CryptoPlus Microbial Balancer #2, and LymPlus Transfer Factor; Deseret Biologicals Bartonella Series Therapy; Woodland Essence C.S.A. Formula; Mountain States Health Products Bartonella Nosode; Professional Formulas Tick Pathogen Nosode Drops; Dr. Zhang's HH and HH-2; freeze-dried garlic, and others. Injectable artesunate administered by a doctor has been found to be of clinical benefit. Some practitioners have found essential oils of clove, thyme, marjoram, melaleuca, cypress, rosemary, and cinnamon to be helpful.
Pharmaceutical approaches are also discussed.
This is a long article, I have only highlighted a portion.
13 yo daughter:
2010 - Dx ADHD, Tourette’s, Aspergers, motor delay, PANS/PANDAS
June 2011 - Igenex PCR positive bartonella, IND lyme. CD57 18. Positive ANA (speckled type), heterozygous A1298C MTHFR. Multiple Abx, herbals/homeopathics
April 2013 - ANA titers negative. Weaned abx. Start Buhner bartonella protocol, methylation/detox protocols, organic PerfectHealthDiet gf/cf/sf. Minimize EMF exposure
Nov 2013 – Clinical babesia diagnosis. Start Buhner babesia protocol
Sept 2014 – Symptoms 99% resolved