Dr. Mischa Grieder received his medical training at Bastyr University in Seattle, one of the worlds leading academic institutions for education, research and clinical service in the natural health sciences. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in General and Premedical Sciences with an emphasis in Biochemistry. Dr. Grieder is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the California Naturopathic Doctor Association. In addition to practicing medicine he is an adjunct professor for Western Medicine at The American College for Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco. As a naturopathic medical doctor, Dr. Grieder’s expertise lies in recognizing and gently modifying the complex and subtle interactions of different body systems. He carefully investigates the underlying causes of symptoms that are often found to be a combination of factors, such as nutritional or biochemical dysfunctions, genetics, life style, environmental influences, as well as the mind, emotions, attitudes and beliefs. Lyme disease is a primary interest and specialty of Dr. Grieder, an area in which he was trained by Lyme Literate Physicians such as Dr. Stricker, MD, and where he collaborates closely with Drs. Green, and Harris in the Bay Area. He regularly participates in conferences on the rapidly emerging findings and evolving treatments in Lyme disease and associated complex chronic diseases. Dr. Grieder closely works with each patient to create a treatment plan that draws from a variety of modalities, including herbal compounding medicine, oral and intravenous micronutrient therapy, homeopathy, life style counseling, and necessary prescription medications. The plan includes setting goals to alleviate pressing symptoms, and addressing the underlying dysfunctions and the restoration of the body’s inherent self-regulating balance. Born and raised in a large and lively family on an organic farm near Zurich, Switzerland, Dr. Grieder was early on exposed to natural medicine and a holistic lifestyle. He speaks fluent German and French and his regular travels to Switzerland allow him to investigate and draw from a wealth of European research and cutting expertise in health care.
My name is Mischa Griever, I'm a naturopathic doctor. Was born and raised in Switzerland and I moved to the United States about 20 years ago. That was when I decided that I was going to go back to school. Wanted to go into medicine and I had t-various options. One of them was regular medical school and then there was an option of what is call a naturopathic medical school. I was very interested in it because it allowed me to look at health and the person in a more holistic way. So, I went and did my undergrad in premed with a focus in biochemical sciences. And then I got a degree as a doctorate in naturopathic medicine at Bestir University in Seattle. Naturopathic medical school is a five year graduate program. We had the same or very comparable hours of the basic clinical sciences that a medical doctor gets. In addition to that we have 1500 hours of other holistic approaches of modalities that we would integrate into the medical training. I was fortunate enough to get asked to join a practice in focusing on tick borne diseases and complex chronic disease. And that was for me the boot camp over five years that was my residency before I then went into my own private practice.
Physicians or medical doctors are trained and focus mostly or honing on a pathology on pis-specific diagnosis of a condition, a particular disease process. And then try to find ways with several options to have surgery, medications, to alter that course to basically stop the course or suppress the symptoms but it is mainly focused on that disease process, on the pathology. On the other hand naturopathic doctors focus more on the whole person, on the integrated whole of the body with the disease process but also the mental, the emotional, and the spiritual part of what makes up a whole human being. That is one aspect, the other aspect is that naturopathic doctors focus on trying to find the cause of a disease, so there's a more functional approach in naturopathic medicine, between physicians and or medical doctors and naturopathic doctors there medical doctors that actually practice more what we call integrative medicine. We can practice the same disease focus process like a medical doctor does, so what is commonly understood is that lyme disease is caused by borrelia burgdorferi an infection that has been around for a long time but was only recently discovered about, uh, 30, 40 years ago. We also noticed that this was transmitted by a tick, so far what we know is that the tick is the only way that it can be transmitted.
However there have been cases being reported that actually other ways of transmissions are possible. There's a study in Germany that has shown mosquitoes can carry borrelia burgdorferi. There are some studies that have shown that bodily fluids contain borrelia burgdorferi however and this is very important to remember or look at when we look at how the bacteria has the capability to enter a rogue territory which is the host or a human being or an animal is that the interaction between the tick and the borrelia, they really are leaning on each other. They're helping each other, so that the borrelia can go through the skin and hide from the immune system and basically hide so long and then eventually develop residency in the body. Just because we find the borrelia in other insects or in bodily fluids that does not mean automatically that the borrelia bacteria can survive say jumping from one body to the next or that the borrelia can survive from an insect bite into the human body.
There are some case studies that actually present that entire families seem to be afflicted with lyme disease or with a lyme disease like organism it may be that, that family as a whole has a form of immune dysfunction or that their immune system is not functioning as well as it should. And then they're more vulnerable to the infection and then they can pass it on to each other. So, that maybe a possibility that, that's happened. When we talk about lyme disease we need to differentiate between early lyme disease which is a tick bit, the infection, and a course of antibiotics, and then 90 percent of the people result or symptoms, right. That leaves 10 percent where the antibiotics is not enough, where it's not working as it's supposed to. And then there are those who may get a tick and indeed they're so small in the spring and in the summer the nems-that it is very difficult to actually catch them. And it's very possible that somebody picked them up at some point in their life a long time ago.
When it goes into what we call the chronic stage, when it goes into a persistent state. We are talking about no longer what is considered an acute infection. All the medical communities pretty much agree on the acute form of lyme disease. Where we start to disagree and where it be gets much more complicated and amorous is when it's in the chronic state. One of the reasons is because the symptoms can be just nerve pain, or fatigue, or brain fog, there can be joint pain that is wondering, there can be night sweats, there can be heart palpitations. Many of these symptoms can be diagnosed with peripheral nephropathy with some form of heart disease, roomatoryarthritis, or just a joint pain. So, many patients go see specialists, they go see a neurologist, and then from a neurologist to cardiologist, and then to a rheumatologist, and then to a endocrinologist, and each person say well there's something wrong or maybe we can't find really what's going on but what we do know in chronic stages of various infections including lyme disease is that over time the body can slow down producing those antibodies. And so get a false negative and then there's a missed diagnoses of missed lyme disease.
The science is actually starting to become evident that lyme disease behaves not like an acute infection, it behaves more like one of those persister bacteria such as tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is well established that as a persistent chronic infection. And that the immune system may do very funny things not producing adequate antibodies, creating inflammatory responses, trying to pack away the infections. There is some very good research coming from John's Hopkins North Eastern, we're starting to understand that this is a much more complex, complicated bacteria then we used to think of. Most of my patients have gone through the standard medical system and it just did not help overall. So, when a patient comes to see me first is to do the work up. I gather all the data that we have, I listen to all the symptoms and I'm listening to history. It's very important to listen to every aspect of the person's history that will give me clues to how it has lead to this moment where the person is as sick as they are. And I do a number of other tests, I'm trying to hone in to see if this is really truly an infectious process.
Currently the most common used test is called a Western Blot and the standard approach to do testing for lyme disease is that the practitioner tests first for what we call an ELISA test. It will look at any antibodies that are in the body that are even remotely close to being designed as tags to find borrelia. If that one comes back positive then we do a follow up test and the follow up test is called a Western Blot. A Western Blot also looks at antibodies but will fan out into-do all the different types of antibodies against this bacteria. However it is very common that these tests come back negative. Either the ELISA test doesn't show up positive then we don't follow up with the Western Blot. That is what medical doctors around the country are being taught, right? However the Western Blot is much more specific and hopefully sometimes might actually give us clues that this first test hasn't given us. So, it's important that we do both tests, but it's not very reliable and when we look at studies that were done by universities over time, just one recently again that shows the overall accuracy of these tests are somewhere around between 55 to 68 percent. That's not very good when you think about it that we want, like an H-I-V test today has a 98 percent sensitivity and specificity. 68 percent is just not good enough for a condition, for an infection that inflicts 300,000 people a year.
Then there is a handful of indirect tests that looks at inflammation markers in the body that maybe off and so, we make a diagnosis ultimately on a set of tests and we're going to see if there's a pattern in there along with the history together and that's very important to repeat that because these tests are not very accurate. We are relaying on making a diagnosis ultimately on a clinical history. So, when a patient comes in with 20, 30 different symptoms, um, the first thing is we need to listen to all of them. We need to really kind of take the whole picture in, right. What we need to do as practitioners in that moment is really harness in, focus on grouping these symptoms, and start to address them more from a functional perspective.
First and foremost of course treating the infection which then may start to calm down all the symptoms overall and then also doing a lot of supportive treatments of these various different symptoms, in the type of medicine that I practice we're trying our best to really address all the symptoms in a comprehensive and in a harnessed way. And I do explain to my patients that when they come in with all these symptoms that there is no single pill that will resolve that. The way that I approach lyme disease is I'm looking at it from a perspective as an infection. And in that area I will use antimicrobials, they can be pharmaceutical antimicrobials such as antibiotics, they can be oral, the can be intramuscular, they can be infusions. There is an entire world of botanical medicine, plants that over the millennia, over the eons have developed their own defense system against bacteria, and viruses, and parasites. And we harness them by concentrating these extracts, so if the person has fatigue, nephropathies, pain that we actually have particular products, and extracts that help to mitigate or modulate these symptoms. And then lastly there's the part of caring for the human being, because these people are sick. Many of them have had, you know, full time jobs, lives, families, and everything is falling apart.
When we treat lyme disease there is a possibility, not for everyone but for some people that people will have a flare at first. So, when immune system has been relatively quiet and then we are starting to kill bacteria what can happen is that the immune system all of a sudden sees this stuff like dead carcass floating in the blood stream and then it will start to mount a response to it. And that's what we're going to feel an increased set of symptoms. We have to be very careful and judicious to identify and separate a hersome reaction from adverse affects of the treatment, right. So, I do agree that often this term when I see online what people exchange to each other say well if it makes you feel worse then it's good for you. And I'm, uh, we have to be very careful with that because it may just really be an adverse affect even if it's just a plant extract they can be very powerful and we have to be really understanding if it is the path way that we expected to do or if this is a side effect of what we're doing.
What I'm seeing with lyme disease is that while there needs to be a tremendous increase in research, in dollars going into that area, it is growing, it is happening, the awareness is rising, and there is every day new research coming out that we can read and learn from. We need to focus on how we can target a bacteria by itself to take it out of the circulation, right. And that is something that in general science is trying to figure out. Just a few days ago came the news that today we starting to treat leukemia, it was just F-D-A approved or agreed upon that it is going to be, um, approved a gene therapy where we take a person's white blood cells and we change the D-N-A'd information enough so that new receptors can build on the surface, we inject millions of them back into the body and they will go after these cancer cells. This is the type of medicine that will come up and I am convinced that we'll find the way to target bacteria then there is another stream or direction to go and that is that we're s-understanding that chronic inflammatory conditions as a general is also increasing. And that we need to understand the immune system better and understand better why there is so much immune dis-regulation going on. Why there is so much more autoimmune conditions and allergies going on. That information, that data, that research that will come back over the next few years also will help us in addressing lyme disease.
As we go into the future and as we are treating lyme disease and gathering all this information we are getting better at understanding how the bacteria behaves. This is very powerful information because it give us, um, research tools and eventually tools to find ways to treat this chronic infection. Anyone who has a condition that is un-explainable, you are sick. And so therefore there is something going on with you. And if it's lyme disease then its lyme, let's try to find it. If it's not lyme disease that doesn't mean you're not sick, so let's try to find an answer. That is what the goal is and I do believe that over time we are getting better and better with the data that we have to identify more specifically what exactly these that makes the person sick. And so in that sense I do believe and I'm very hopeful that over the next few years and decades we're going to get a lot better in treating chronic infectious disease, lyme disease, and other very difficult to treat conditions.