The comparison in terms of efficacy between Zithromax and other antibiotics such as amoxicillin is complicated by the possibility of Borrelia spirochaetes turning into a cyst form which may not respond to the antibiotic over a short course. Some patients may be given both Zithromax and hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), an anti-inflammatory and anti-malarial drug which is sometimes used in Lyme arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and Sjögren’s syndrome. Hydroxychloroquine also has an anti-spirochaete action. Flagyl (metronidazole) may also be prescribed alongside Zithromax as a medication to treat anaerobic bacteria that may co-exist with Lyme disease bacteria.
Cyst-Busting Drugs for Lyme Disease
There is some speculation that Borrelia spirochaetes, when presented with a hostile environment such as a lack of nutrients, or the presence of certain antibiotics, can change into a cyst form which lacks the surface markers detected on diagnostic tests such as ELISA and Western blot tests for Lyme disease. Thus, an infection may appear cured when it is in fact dormant in cystic form. When the growth conditions become more favorable an intact spirochaete may emerge from the cyst and infection symptoms may then flare up again. There is little research done into this aspect of Lyme disease making it hard for doctors to know what treatment to prescribe. Some favor longer-term antibiotic treatment with Zithromax and a medication such as Flagyl to attempt to treat both the spirochaetal stage of infection and any cystic form which may arise.
Conventional Lyme disease antibiotics such as the cephalosporins and penicillin do not kill the cystic form of Borrelia bacteria as Flagyl appears to. However, Flagyl does not appear to affect spirochaetes making it necessary to use it in combination with another antibiotic which does. To further complicate the issue, tetracycline medications appear to inhibit the effects of Flagyl, making Zithromax a better prospect perhaps for patients with resistant infections.
Lyme Disease Cure – Is Zithromax Enough?
Zithromycin alone may be effective in the early stages of Lyme disease infection, as are amoxicillin and doxycycline, but Zithromycin is more expensive and possibly less effective at clearing the infection than the more commonly prescribed Lyme disease antibiotics. The behavior of Zithromax may differ between the test tube and the human body too, which can make it difficult to extrapolate laboratory findings to likely effects in patients. Zithromax may need a certain medium-pH to effectively kill Borrelia bacteria, and this is the reasoning behind the combined prescriptions of Zithromax and Plaquenil, or amantadine which do appear to alter cellular acidity. There is no official consensus on such an approach however, and further research is required to substantiate this hypothesis regarding the correct use of Zithromax to treat Lyme disease.
Continue Reading –> Side-Effects of Zithromax
Bradford RW, Allen HW. Lyme Disease, Potential Plague of the Twenty-First Century. Chula Vista, California: Bradford Research Institute; 2004.