Treatment Of The 'TIC-SIBS' Syndrome Of Tick-Bourne Diseases
By Virginia T. Sherr, MD (2000)
Objectives: There are geographic areas in which Lyme spirochetes, ehrlichiosis rickettsii, viruses, and the parasite, babesia, form a family of pathogens which are injected into people by a tick-bite. These vicious "siblings" create a kind of internal comradeship that apparently allows them to intensify the efforts of one another inside the victim's body and mind. In addition to the "more typical" flu-like symptoms, bull's eye rashes, cognitive, cardiac, and neurological symptoms, there is a cluster of symptoms of chronic tick-borne disease which seldom is addressed but which literally drives people to distraction and then on to psychiatrists. With these symptoms, patients then become further confused, unfocused, and irritable. Definition and treatment were sought.
Method: Working with a series of approximately 100 infected people in my private practice of general psychiatry in Pennsylvania, I coined the acronym, TIC-SIBS syndrome, which described: tightening of muscles, Itching, Clumsiness, Chilliness, Sweating, Sensitivity to sound and touch, Irritability, Blurring of vision, Burning and Stinging pain. These came on in waves, often at the same times of day or occurring when the patient relaxed, perhaps attempting to eat and drink.
Rationale: It is postulated that the tick "sibs" strategize together biochemically to terrorize the area, in this case the body's neighborhood of organs. These infectors are thought to emit waves of toxins on cue to produce the TIC-SIBS symptoms named above as well as many other symptoms affecting any of the host's organ systems. Effective treatment of the actual infections consists of the use of correct antimicrobial medications in combination with educational efforts relating to all aspects of recovery from chronic Lyme disease and its siblings. However, this does nothing immediately to deliver patients from the above distressing syndrome. A safe, rapid remedy was discovered via investigating new uses of an antidote-like, hypnotic.
Results: It was observed that tiny doses of a sleeping pill, zolpidem (Ambien) 5 mg tablets, broken into 1/6 tabs and with 1/6th to 1/3rd tab offered per dose when the TIC-SIBS struck, given up to a total of one tab per day could offer complete relief for hours per dose. These small doses were sufficient to allow some patients a return to model cognitive ability. People then resumed whatever task or pleasure was at hand. Patients were grateful and amazed at such surprising relief. Previous to this, the use of benzodiazepines and a wide variety of pain medications had offered them very little surcease from TIC-SIBS' symptoms.
While one-sixth of a 5 mg Ambien (zolpidem) tablet was prescribed 1-6 times daily as indicated, a few TIC-SIBS patients also needed and gradually were given up to two full 10 mg tablets during the night for relief from insomnia. In three years' experience with novel uses of Ambien, no one has become dependent on the drug. No one, while up and active, became sleepy on a daytime dose of 1/3rd of a 5 mg tablet. In fact, such patients tended to become remarkably alert. In spite of extensive experience with this new, benign and often-mind enhancing use of the drug, however, it was necessary for legal reasons to warn against its use in any dose if planning to engage in potentially risky endeavors, for example, driving a car.
Conclusion: It was found that the use of minute daytime doses of Ambien can be an important device in eliminating TIC-SIBS (sweating, itching, etc) misery of some patients who are chronically afflicted with the deer tick's gang of pathogens.