Wellness: Preventing And Healing Lyme

Spring in the Hudson Valley means getting to spend more time enjoying the outdoors. We are so lucky to be surrounded by such picturesque water, sky, and land.  Unfortunately we share this land with ticks... ticks carrying diseases like Lyme. HFFC stocks a variety of products aimed at preventing and treating Lyme disease. We also enjoy the good fortune of having Accord Acupuncture & Herb Shoppe as a neighbor in High Falls. We asked them to give us some guidance on preventing and treating Lyme naturally.

High Falls Food Co-op: What can one do to prevent Lyme?

Accord Acupuncture: Well, there are a few ways to avoid getting bitten by ticks, short of staying inside, which isn’t really a very healthy option. Choose what’s best for you!

-Wear lightweight, long-sleeve shirts and long pants tucked into socks when gardening or hiking in known tick-infested places.

-Wear light colored clothing so you are more likely to see a tick crawling on your clothes.

-Pay attention to minor itches and crawling sensations on your skin – check it out to make sure it’s not a tick.

-Wear natural insect repellants, the co-op has some great local options. Apply it frequently, as in every couple of hours, if you are outside for an extended period of time. Also, clove essential oil is great for preventing ticks bites. Wear it behind your ears and around your ankles or even soak a pair of shoe strings or old socks.

-Once inside, remove all clothing and put them into the wash, and more importantly, dry them on high heat to kill any ticks that may be attached to them. Then take a shower if possible.

-Check your body for ticks twice per day, especially the groin area, within the hairline of the head, and all around the torso where the body heat is higher.

-Teach your children (by the age of 3 or 4 at the latest) how to identify a tick so that if they see one on their body or yours, they know to seek an adults’ assistance to remove it safely and swiftly.

HFFC: What should a person do when they find a tick attached to them?

AA: Many people follow all of the best practices to avoid getting bit by a tick, and still discover ticks on them in the act of latching on, or at some point in the feeding process. Yuck! So, what to do when you find a tick on your body?

Tick removal—

-Keep handy – in your medicine cabinet, car, camping gear, purse, etc. – a good pair of tick removal tweezers, we love ones that have a small magnifying glass attached to them, so you can see what you’re doing when trying to remove even the tiny nymph ticks, and the heads, which brings us to the next point.

-The key to successful, safe tick removal is removing the tick by its head, which is where it has embedded itself into your skin. The trick is to grab hold of the head of the tick, not the body, as you might pull off the body and leave the head behind, which may be strongly attached into the skin. Slide one side of the tweezers under the head of the tick, and peel the head and body of the tick up and away.

-If the tick body is engorged and you were able to remove it in one piece, you may want to send it to a lab to find out if the tick was carrying the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that causes Lyme disease, in which case you’ll want to preserve the tick in a plastic Ziploc (keep these handy with your tweezers).

Treatment of the bite to prevent Lyme disease—

-After removing the tick, unless it was barely attached to the skin at all, you’ll want to put clove essential oil directly onto the skin, and all around the surrounding area, well beyond the circle of redness at the bite.

If the Borellia spirochete enters your body, it remains initially superficial in the tissue layers of the skin at first. The clove oil is absorbed into the layers of the skin and is a powerful antibiotic and anti-spirochete agent. This is much more effective than washing the bite with soap or alcohol, as is often recommended.

Based on my personal and clinical experience, the prompt use of clove oil is the #1 way to reduce incidence of Lyme disease from a tick bite, even one that looks very angry and infected. Within 12-24 hours, the redness, swelling, itching, and rash is greatly diminished. Our patients have used this technique 100’s of times, and we’ve never known a tick bite that was treated with clove oil to lead to Lyme disease. Be sure to continue applying the clove oil twice per day until all signs of infection and irritation from the bite have cleared.

Other Natural Prophylactic Measures—

-Take an immune system booster such as Echinacea tincture, which activates your acute immune response against pathogenic invaders such as bacteria and viruses (including Borrelia spirochetes).

-Take an Anti-Lyme Herbal Formula. If you do get bit by a tick and it was on you long enough to carry a threat of Lyme disease, then getting herbs into your bloodstream that kill the spirochete and make your body inhospitable ahead of time is a smart way to head off the potential for infection to develop.

-Take extra measures to alkalize your blood (like drinking water with lemon, and green vegetable juices), strengthen your immune system (by getting enough rest, for example) and minimize intake of bacteria-feeding sugar, white flours, and alcohol.

HFFC: What should a person take after being diagnosed with Lyme?

AA: Colloidal silver (available at the co-op,) an acute Lyme tincture which may contain herbs such as artemisia, Japanese knotweed, Andrographis, cat’s claw, bupleurum, gardenia, forsythia, echinacea, astragalus, white peony and cinnamon twig or taking a combination of these herbs. Fights Lyme infection within approximately 3 months of the tick bite. Addresses the fever, aches and pains, mental fog, general malaise, skin rash, and other symptoms typical of the Lyme infection. Ok to take with current antibiotic treatment.

HFFC: What should someone with chronic Lyme be taking that can improve their day to day?

AA: Ok, here are our recommendations in five parts.

1. Detoxify

This word gets tossed around like a pizza pie, but many detox strategies don’t really work.

You have to take this one deep and wide.

Detox practices include things like becoming fully hydrated with quality water, juicing and other nutrient-dense food routines, colon cleansing, sweating, and more.

2. Heal the Gut

I know, I know – you’ve heard all about it!  But doing it right is an art form, a dance in which you must learn to partner with your body, sources of nourishment, and the forces of health generation (such as probiotics).

Lyme is a disease of toxicity, and it’s a disease of inflammation. Both of these health problems can be rooted in the gut, then further exacerbated and triggered by the Borreliosis and other infections.

The 4R’s of gut repair sum up the process: Remove inflammatory, toxic, and allergenic food; Repair the gut lining; Restore a healthy gut flora; Replace enzymes, bile salts, or hydrochloric acid temporarily to strengthen digestion if they are low.

The more your gut is obviously disturbed (with symptoms of frequent diarrhea or constipation, gas, bloating, pain, etc.), the more central this piece becomes to your recovery from Lyme disease.

3. Regulate Immunity

In response to infection, the immune system kicks into high gear, inflammation spikes, and thus lots of symptoms are generated within the body. Ideally, the immune system then works to diminish the inflammation, and complete the cycle.

Yet when infection persists, as it often does with Lyme disease, and this inflammation becomes chronic, you won’t feel better until you effectively manage and reduce the inflammation.

From the holistic perspective, it’s also crucial to support and strengthen the immune system’s ability to protect, defend, and eliminate the disease-causing bacteria.

Inflammation reduction and immune system stabilization can be done at the same time.

The good news is, effective cleansing and healing the gut (our first 2 non-negotiables) both support this process, that’s why we put them into place first.

In addition, herbal formulas that contain herbs such as turmeric, astragalus, ashwaganda, Siberian ginseng, Japanese knotweed (to name a few) work to successfully regulate inflammation and immune function.

4. Natural Anti-Microbials

Strong pharmaceutical antibiotics are a necessary part of many people’s recovery process. As powerful as they are, they alone are often not enough to actually heal and recover. In addition, there are downsides such as liver toxicity, damage to gut flora and function, immune system overload, intolerable Herx reactions, and others.

Natural anti-microbials, of which there are many, have numerous advantages.

They are gentler and more harmonious with the body, rarely causing side-effects. They are more complex, broad-spectrum, and do not induce bacterial antibiotic resistance. They have additional beneficial properties, such as reducing inflammation, strengthening the immune system, and helping the body to repair certain body tissues.

They are ideal for all phases of Lyme disease and should be employed throughout the recovery process, helping to minimize the use of the big-gun pharmaceutical antibiotics.

5. Energy Management

Have you ever been feeling better, then something stressful happens, and your symptoms flare?

How about feeling stuck in your healing process – you know all the things you ”should” do for yourself but don’t – because you’re continually overwhelmed by life?

Or perhaps you’re stuck in your head – and it’s not a happy positive place – with anxiety, depression, mood swings, or anger a dominant part of your days.

We often say, your suffering does not make you unique – but how you handle it does. And that’s what energy management is all about.

In order to successfully heal from Lyme and its associated diseases, you need to strengthen every part of you – not just your immune system, your gut and detox pathways. You also need to strengthen your spirit, and your muscles of hope, forgiveness, praise, acceptance, and love.

Energy management practices build the muscle of your spiritual, emotional, and mental strengths so that these aspects of your being can come into alignment to support and accelerate your healing process.

6. Hormonal Balance

With all the attention paid to issues of infection and immunity, toxins and inflammation in Lyme disease, we find the hormonal layer of body function is often a forgotten piece of the puzzle.

Yet adrenal and thyroid hormones are commonly out of balance in people with persistent Lyme, and this can be the underlying cause of many of Lyme’s common symptoms, such as immune dysfunction, temperature de-regulation, insomnia, fatigue, and more.

It’s best to have your cortisol levels checked with a 24-hour saliva test. Your thyroid hormone levels can be checked as part of blood work through your doctor, but make sure the full panel is ordered to look at TSH as well as free T3, free T4, and reverse T3.

If these hormonal systems prove to be mal-effected by the chronic stress of life, illness, and Lyme disease, there are several good options for natural treatment, including glandulars and adaptogenic herbs such as ginseng, ashwaganda, holy basil, and others.

We thank Accord Acupuncture for giving us this lesson in Lyme. Additionally, we’d like to let our members and shoppers dealing with chronic Lyme to know that Accord Acupuncture, lead by the incomparable Hillary Thing, is offering a special opportunity to sign up to be a patient in their Uprooting Lyme Holistic Teaching Clinic. Information posted below. We hope you all have a healthy, tick-free spring and summer.