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It’s Lyme disease awareness month and I’m sharing everything you need to know to heal. So far I’ve covered the basics of Lyme disease, testing and diagnosis, and the methods I use to treat Lyme disease.
This blog post is a little different from the others. Instead of giving you more medical information, I want to talk to you about why emotional healing is essential for Lyme recovery.
While the emotions and energetics aren’t typically addressed in more conventional treatments, I think it’s essential if you truly want to heal from Lyme disease or any other chronic illness.
A Lyme disease diagnosis can be devastating since the journey from diagnosis to treatment is often long and complicated. Many times, when patients are diagnosed with Lyme disease, they’ve already been struggling and suffering for several years. They’ve seen doctor after doctor with no significant change in their symptoms. It is disheartening and many times, the patients I see with Lyme disease are not in the best place emotionally (understandably so).
For this reason, one of the most important components in healing Lyme disease is to have emotional support – friends, family, or a community of people that will help you get through this lengthy and complicated process – no matter how long it takes.
It’s also important to be aware of your thoughts as you move toward healing, especially when it comes to your identity. It’s common to want to identify with your disease, but I encourage you not to let it define you.
Instead of referring to yourself as a Lyme patient, say “I have Lyme disease“. Consciously separate yourself from the disease.
It’s difficult to do, but instead of letting the disease own you, remember your power. Remember who you are and who you were before this disease. Try to find the silver lining. Often there are gifts where we least expect them. What can having this diagnosis teach you? Are there any gifts or lessons hidden in your diagnosis?
What if you can’t find the gifts or lessons? What if it’s feeling altogether too hard, too frustrating? Try starting with gratitude.
Practice gratitude daily. This could look like writing 5 things you’re grateful for in a journal each morning. It could look like you standing in front of a mirror and recounting all the ways you showed up for yourself that day. There are even gratitude apps. Gratitude is a key step in emotional healing (as well as physical healing).
Find gratitude for the things you are able to do and experience throughout your healing journey. With gratitude comes acceptance. Knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can heal from Lyme disease, can actually help your body heal. While difficult, it’s ok to let go of the fear associated with this diagnosis.
If you are in a constant state of fear and negativity, it is much harder for the body to function optimally and heal from chronic disease.
Additionally, I often find that patients living with Lyme disease have unresolved trauma. They’ve repressed emotions, like anger, frustration, and sadness. This trauma and repressed emotion can, over time, weaken the immune system, making it difficult to heal.
To help release some of the fear and resolve past trauma, I recommend seeking support in the form of energetic healing. Therapies such as acupuncture, EMDR, and EFT can be beneficial in helping you release emotional distress, past and present. There is also a 10-week self-guided program called “The Presence Process” that can help you integrate past trauma and clear negative energy, creating more space for wellness, joy, and balance.
Addressing these emotional issues is just as important as getting the proper tests and taking the herbs and supplements that are prescribed. Complete Lyme recovery comes from addressing the emotional and energetic aspects of yourself as well as the disease.
In the words of Carolyn Myss:
“When an illness is a part of your spiritual journey, no medical intervention can heal you until your spirit has begun to make the changes that the illness was designed to inspire.”
(from the book Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can)
Look at your diagnosis as a time for spiritual and emotional growth; an opportunity to look within and create significant changes in your life. In times of illness and disease, the body is calling out for attention. Slow down and listen; find the deeper meaning.
This is the third in a series of four blog posts on Lyme disease, in honor of Lyme disease awareness month. If you missed the first two blogs of the series, you can check them out here and here. The first blog post offers an overview of Lyme disease and its symptoms while the second provides information on testing.
Now that we’ve established symptoms and diagnosis, the next step is to discuss Lyme disease treatment. In this post, I’m sharing methods I have used to successfully treat hundreds of patients with Lyme disease for the past ten years.
Before we dive in, I think it’s important to note that there is no one size fits all treatment. There are many different forms of therapies and treatments for Lyme.
Everyone promises to have the latest cure, but the most successful treatments are those that assess and consider all the ways in which Lyme disease is affecting your unique body.
It’s also important to note that there is no quick-fix cure. In fact, quick fix Lyme disease treatments result in a relapse in up to 40% of patients with Lyme disease (1). It’s not something that you can heal in a month or two. It takes some of my patients 2-4 years before they are no longer symptomatic.
Treatment time varies depending on genetics, immune strength, the number of co-infections that are present, stress levels, how long you’ve had Lyme disease, how your body responds to treatment, and access to treatment. Treatment for Lyme disease can be a long process and thus, quite expensive.
That said, there are 6 elements that I utilize when working with patients who have Lyme disease to help them move toward healing.
Boosting and Restoring Vitality
Your body possesses a natural ability and desire to heal, so the first steps of Lyme disease treatment involve supporting it in that process. We begin by checking vitamin and mineral levels as well as hormones. If there are deficiencies we work to restore balance through supplementation, vitamin and mineral injections, and/or intravenous therapies. Therapies such as these help restore your strength and energy, so you can begin your healing journey. They also increase the chances of successful treatment.
In order to heal, your detoxification pathways have to be open, so your body can release the toxins that are adversely affecting your health. With Lyme disease the immune system is compromised, so the detoxification process I recommend is gentle. I encourage my patients to try saunas, hydrotherapy, and colonics to support gentle cleansing and support the bodies natural ability to release toxins through sweat, urination, and the bowels.
Along with this, I also recommend genetic testing to ensure that your body is able to produce glutathione, an antioxidant that is essential for detoxification.
Many patients with Lyme disease also have severe internal inflammation. This inflammation can typically be reduced using food and nutrition, however. I often encourage my patients to consider a paleo diet when they have Lyme disease. With minimal amounts of grains, no refined sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, or genetically modified foods, this diet reduces internal acidity and supports the body in creating a more alkaline environment; reducing the ability for disease to grow.
Sleep and Stress Management
Insomnia is a common symptom of Lyme disease, but without sleep, it is impossible to heal. During sleep, we create white blood cells which increase our ability to fight infection. We also support this process when we are actively and consciously managing our stress levels. In my clinic, we can support both of these processes through herbs that help your body produce the hormones it needs for restful sleep and proper adrenal function.
Reduce Mold and Parasite Exposure
Parasites and mold stress the immune system, which can contribute to the persistence of Lyme disease symptoms (2). Exposure to mold can be decreased by reducing contact with mold spores. Some ways to do this are: limiting outdoor activities when the mold counts are high, using a HEPA filter in your air conditioner and vacuum, and keeping indoor humidity low. Parasites can be treated naturally using herbal supplements that contain the following: wormwood, black walnut, oregano, garlic and/or grapefruit seed extract.
Antibiotics and Herbal Supplementation
As I mentioned in the second blog post of this series, Lyme disease is a complicated infection. As such, treatment requires more than dietary and lifestyle modifications. In order to heal from Lyme disease, measures have to be taken to rid the body of the bacteria that causes Lyme and any bacteria, viruses, or fungi that are contributing to co-infections. These co-infections include: babesia, bartonella, ehrlichia, mycoplasma, rocky mountain spotted fever, anaplasma, and tularemia.
The first step in ridding the body of these infections is to break down the protective coating that surrounds the bacteria, viruses, and fungi, called biofilm. This biofilm makes the bacteria associated with Lyme disease highly resistant to antibiotics and herbal treatments, so I suggest taking enzymes, or biofilm breakers, to break down the slimy, glue-like covering, as the first step in ridding the body of infection.
Once the biofilm has been broken down, we can then begin to directly target the bacteria, viruses, and fungi. I do this through the use of homeopathic remedies, herbal supplements, and antibiotics when needed.
As you can see, the priority in Lyme disease treatment is all about restoring balance to the body, strengthening the immune system, and supporting the body in fighting the infection.
It’s a slow, gentle process, but one that I am proud to say has helped many of my clients heal from this complicated condition.
Lyme disease is a complicated infection caused by bacteria that is typically transmitted from a tick or insect bite. Its symptoms vary based on the health of your immune system, so two people could be bitten by the same insect carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, a corkscrew-shaped bacterium known to cause the disease, and respond very differently. For this reason, proper and accurate testing is essential.
If you feel as though you may have Lyme based on the symptoms listed in my last blog post, and you’re struggling with your health, the next step is to find a practitioner that is familiar with testing, diagnosing, and managing the disease. This is VERY important.
A doctor who hasn’t been trained to treat Lyme may not be aware of all the testing and treatment options available.
As a general rule, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a two-step blood testing process for Lyme disease. The first test is ELISA, or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test. This test can detect antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi. But because it misses 35% of Lyme cases (1) and can sometimes provide false positives, the CDC also recommends the Western Blot test.
The Western Blot test detects two types of antibodies to several proteins of Borrelia burgdorferi, IgG, and IgM. These antibodies are your body’s protection against harmful bacteria. The presence of IgM can be an indication of early-stage Lyme disease, while IgG could be indicative of longer term, chronic exposure. It is important to test for the presence of both.
While the two-step process can help with accuracy, neither test considers the uniqueness of Lyme disease and the various strands of bacteria that can cause it, so many cases of Lyme disease go undiagnosed and untreated.
Fortunately, there is another option.
Instead of having blood work sent to a conventional lab, I recommend a company called IGeneX. This company has been around for decades and is at the forefront of testing and treating the disease. They are able to test for 13 different strains of bacteria that can cause Lyme disease and look at the specifics of each one.
Also, instead of just testing for Lyme disease, I recommend testing for co-infections. Ticks can carry many different strains of bacteria, viruses, and fungi all at the same time and transmit them in a single bite. The most common of these are: babesia, bartonella, ehrlichiosis, relapsing fever, tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). Diseases acquired together like this are called co-infections.
Since Lyme disease weakens the immune system, it’s not uncommon for individuals with Lyme disease to have at least one co-infection.
In fact, a study conducted in 2014 with 3,000 patients with Lyme disease found that over 50% had co-infections; 30% reporting two or more (2)
Co-infections can be tested using the Western Blot test. If this test comes back with a negative result, however, I recommend confirming the results with a urinalysis test called PCR, or polarized chain reaction. This test examines the DNA to look for traces of bacteria that could cause co-infections.
Finally, the last thing I recommend when attempting to diagnose this disease is checking a marker called CD57. This marker assesses the strength of the immunes system and shows whether or not your body is actively fighting the bacteria associated with Lyme disease or any coinfections.
Testing for and diagnosing Lyme disease is not easy, nor is it black and white.
If you’ve been told that you’re negative after more conventional testing, but you’re experiencing symptoms that indicate you may have it, I recommend requesting a second round of testing, blood tests as well as DNA and urine testing so your doctor or healthcare practitioner has a full scope view of what is happening in your body.
Having the right testing makes a huge difference and working with someone who knows how to order and read these tests is essential in order to provide proper treatment.
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in the United States (1), with more than 300,000 cases reported each year and thousands more unreported or undiagnosed. With such staggering numbers and warmer weather on the way, it’s important that we discuss what you need to know about Lyme Disease. Including: how to prevent it and what to do if you think you’ve contracted it.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection most commonly passed through tick bites, especially deer ticks and black-legged ticks (2). These ticks carry a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called borrelia burgdorferi. When the tick bites, bacteria is transmitted into the bloodstream, causing autoimmune symptoms, like fever, headaches, fatigue, and sometimes a rash that resembles a bullseye. However, these symptoms are not always experienced right away. It can take days, weeks, and even months after a tick bite for the condition to spread throughout the body and for symptoms to occur.
While deer ticks and black-legged ticks are the most commonly known source of transmission, not all of these ticks are infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. Not everyone who gets bitten by a tick has the same reaction.
If you are bitten by a tick and suspect that you may have Lyme Disease, it’s important to see your healthcare provider for proper testing. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warns that Lyme Disease poses the greatest risk when left untreated.
Untreated Lyme Disease can cause serious complications that affect blood vessels, the immune system, and vital organs. It can also lead to chronic infections, degeneration of joints, nerve damage, and various endocrine and nervous system complications (3).
If caught early, Lyme Disease is treatable with a 3-month course of antibiotics. When left undiagnosed and untreated, Lyme Disease sometimes becomes harder to diagnose as its symptoms begin to mimic those of other diseases and disorders, like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and psychiatric illnesses, including depression and anxiety. It is often misdiagnosed for this reason, with chronic fatigue syndrome being the most common misdiagnosis.
To prevent tick bites and Lyme Disease, I recommend using an essential oil called Thieves or the Fighting Five, a combination of cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary, clove, and lemon that acts as a bug and insect repellent when applied to the arms and legs. It’s also best to wear long pants and socks as well as high top hiking boots when spending time in wooded areas.
Even if you’ve protected your skin, you’ll want to check yourself for ticks after hiking or camping. Some ticks can be as small as poppy seeds. And they might still find their way onto your body even if you’ve taken precautions.
Lyme Disease is one of the most complex conditions I’ve ever encountered as a physician. I want to make sure that you have all the information you need to prevent it when possible, and also understand treatment and testing in the event that you are affected.
Please follow along as I continue this conversation in a series of blog posts throughout the month of May (which is Lyme Disease awareness month).
Detox + Immune System | 1 Comment
Four years ago, I discovered through blood testing that my liver was inflamed and irritated. As someone who makes every effort to avoid chemicals in foods, cleaning products, and the environment, I was confused. The doctors I saw at that time were confused as well; no one could figure out what was wrong with me.
This forced me to take a closer look at my life and consider other ways I might be allowing toxins into my body. I discovered that the toxins weren’t coming from the food I was eating or the products I was using. They were coming from my emotions. Specifically, the anger and resentment I was feeling around a very difficult divorce. It wasn’t until I made an effort to process these emotions, learn to forgive myself, accept the situation, and be grateful for the lessons learned, that my liver enzyme levels returned to normal.
Why am I telling you this?
Because I think it’s important for you to know that I’m human. I experience many of the same emotions and challenges that you experience. I also think it’s important for you to know that your emotions affect your physiology. They can shift the balance of your hormones, create inflammation, and affect your liver’s ability to remove chemicals and toxins from your body.
Toxins don’t just come from what you eat, breathe, clean with, and put on your skin. Toxins also come from experiences, beliefs, and relationships.
Everything you experience is felt by your body. Your emotions begin as sensations that are later processed and given meaning by the brain. Sweaty palms, for example, may be interpreted as nervousness, an increase in body temperature may be indicative of anger, and an increased heart rate could be interpreted as fear. These are physiological responses to an experience. As such, they have the ability to affect the internal environment of your body just as any toxin would, especially when we experience emotions like anger, frustration, and resentment.
According to Chinese medicine, these emotions are processed in the liver; it holds the energy needed to process and digest anger, resentment, irritability, and frustration. If these emotions are not felt and dealt with, they can overload the liver, making the natural detoxification process less efficient.
This is true for toxic thoughts as well. The negative thoughts that you have about yourself and your body also affect your physiology. Thinking you’re not good enough, or hearing negative things about yourself, creates toxic energy that can affect your liver and overall well-being if they are not managed, processed, and digested.
Your body cannot thrive in an environment where there is an absence of feelings of kindness, love, compassion, and gratitude. Make an effort to cultivate these feelings for yourself and surround yourself with people who have these qualities.
Also, if there are people in your life, past or present, that you are feeling anger or resentment toward, make an effort to forgive them. It can feel challenging, but it’s important to remember that forgiveness is not about the other person, it’s about you. It gives you the opportunity to release toxic energy from your body so it’s no longer affecting you physically, mentally, or emotionally. It also makes it possible for your liver to function efficiently, and for you to truly be well.
In the spirit of optimum liver function and detoxification, here are some steps you can take to recognize and partake inventory of any emotions that may be negatively affecting your body and find ways to process those emotions, instead of allowing them to fester and affect your health:
- Start by identifying the any strong emotions you may be feeling.
- Once you’ve identified the emotion, scan your body from head to toe, notice whether there are any sensations present in your body that are associated with the emotion that you’re feeling.
- Try your best not to judge or become attached to the emotion. Instead, place your hand wherever the sensation is present and give the emotion a voice. You can do this by saying things like, “I feel anger here,” or “I feel hurt here.”
- Notice how this feels in your body and write down any thoughts or insights that arise.
- If you need to breathe, make a sound, or move your body to help you to release the sensation or emotion that you’re feeling, give yourself permission to do so.
Remember, there are no bad or wrong emotions. Give yourself permission to feel, and celebrate when you are able to release those feelings. With release comes growth and good health.
Detox + Immune System | 0 Comments
Now that you know the basics of detoxification as well as the signs and symptoms to look for if you think you think toxins might be affecting your health, it’s time to talk about support and prevention, specifically, what nutrients you can use to help your body detoxify naturally.`
There are many nutrients that are essential to the process, but the most important of all is called glutathione. Not only is it essential for detoxification, it is also one of the most important antioxidants in the body. I call it “the boss of detox and the king of antioxidants.”
Glutathione is a peptide that contains three essential amino acids – L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid, and glycine.
Every cell in your body produces glutathione, which makes it pivotal to our health. It is responsible for:
- Helping the liver detoxify before bile is omitted
- Reducing natural bleaching agents that are harmful to your body, like peroxides.
- Helping your body neutralize free radicals, pesticides, and other toxic compounds that our bodies create and are exposed to daily
It cleans out your entire body and is also very important for immune and nervous system support.
So how can you ensure that your body is producing enough glutathione?
You can start by adding sulfur-rich, cruciferous vegetables to your diet, like arugula, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, turnip, and watercress. Without these vegetables, the amount of glutathione produced in the liver and lungs will decrease. I, personally, have three servings each day of cruciferous vegetables. I have kale in morning, avocados at lunch, and broccoli, cauliflower, or brussel sprouts at dinner. It’s just part of my daily routine and this is how I keep my system balanced and maintain optimum health.
If you’re unable to maintain healthy glutathione levels from the food you’re eating, however, you can supplement with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), or Alpha-lipoic acid – both are precursors to glutathione and help to boost its production. You can also supplement with glutathione itself. I recommend taking it in liquid form, if possible, and finding supplements that are lypo-spheric, or fat soluble.
In addition to diet and supplementation, exercise also helps to increase glutathione levels, especially high-intensity exercise that lasts for 20 minutes or more (1). Exercise induces sweating which signals the immune system, lymphatic cells, and liver to increase production of glutathione.
To keep your glutathione production at healthy levels, it’s best to avoid alcohol and manage your stress levels, since high cortisol levels deplete glutathione.
Before you try supplementing or making major changes to your diet, be sure to check with your doctor or a trusted healthcare professional. Glutathione levels can be tested with a simple blood test.
Genetic testing is also available and will help you discover whether or not you have the genes needed to produce adequate amounts of glutathione. Knowing your levels and making the necessary adjustments is essential for your overall health and well-being.
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