What is Lyme Disease? A Mess of Things

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Dis-ease in a Lyme disease treatment image from Marty Ross MD

Lyme is a Dis-ease with Many Possible Causes

Chronic Lyme dis-ease is a total load illness. This means there are many different things that add up to create the disease. That is why for most, treating Lyme infection (borrelia) and the co-infections (babesia, bartonella, ehrlicia, and anaplasma) is not enough to regain health.

Another way to look at this is to think of chronic Lyme dis-ease as a rain barrel that is overflowing. An overflowing rain barrel represents disease. There are two factors that determine if the barrel overflows.

  • One is the amount and number of drops added. Is it sprinkling out or is there a rain storm?
  • The other is the opening of the rain barrel spigot. Is this valve set closed or wide open or in between?

There are many rain drops that add to the water in a rain barrel. Eventually the rain barrel will overflow if enough drops are added. Each of the green blocks in the diagram above represents the rain drops that can fill the rain barrel.

Everyone has a valve that drains his or her rain barrel. The amount the valve is open and drains the barrel depends on a lot of factors including our genetics and lifestyle. This means that many or even most with Lyme infection, for instance, do not develop Lyme disease because their valves are open enough to keep up with the rain coming in.

Limit the rain and open the spigot

To recover from chronic Lyme dis-ease does not require addressing every single one of the problems identified in the green boxes above. For most,  following the first 12 steps of The Ross Lyme Support Protocol is enough to limit the rain and open the valve. At the extreme end of things, you or you and your physician will need to address each of the green boxes.

For your recovery

You can recover from this illness to live your life full. Through the Treat Lyme Online Lyme Guide in the top navigation menu above, there are many guides addressing the rain barrel. If you need more information participate in my Lyme Q&A webinar Conversations with Marty Ross MD.


The ideas and recommendations on this website and in this article are for informational purposes only. For more information about this, see the sitewide Terms & Conditions.


View Citations

Horowitz RI, Freeman PR. Precision Medicine: The Role of the MSIDS Model in Defining, Diagnosing, and Treating Chronic Lyme Disease/Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome and Other Chronic Illness: Part 2. Healthcare (Basel). 2018;6(4):129. Published 2018 Nov 5. doi:10.3390/healthcare6040129 (View)

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About The Author

Marty Ross, MD is a passionate Lyme disease educator and clinical expert. He helps Lyme sufferers and their physicians see what really works based on his review of the science and extensive real-world experience. Dr. Ross is licensed to practice medicine in Washington State (License: MD00033296) where he has treated thousands of Lyme disease patients in his Seattle practice.

Marty Ross, MD is a graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine and Georgetown University Family Medicine Residency. He is a member of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The Institute for Functional Medicine, and The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M).

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