Healing from Lyme Disease: A Natural Journey to Recovery
The CDC estimates that up to 300,000 Americans are infected with Lyme disease each year. The most common tick-borne illness in North America and Europe, Lyme is a multi-stage disease that causes symptoms ranging from rash, fever, chills, and body aches to joint swelling, weakness, and temporary paralysis.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi, which is very closely related to the bacteria that causes syphilis and is transmitted mainly by deer ticks. The CDC has said that Lyme is the fastest-growing vector-borne infectious disease in the U.S. today. Lyme can also promote cancer growth, by inhibiting the immune system, promoting inflammation, and causing DNA mutations.
Lyme can be devastating for those infected, in part because it is often accompanied by other tick-borne infections. Complete recovery IS POSSIBLE if patients receive the correct diagnosis and suitable treatment as early as possible during the infection. However, some people have reported joint pain and swelling, shooting pains or tingling in their arms and legs, fatigue, and memory problems many months to years after the original infection, even after undergoing treatment.
In fact, some health experts strongly feel that Lyme is a chronic and persistent disease for which the word “cure” is not realistic. A chronic version of Lyme – which typically occurs when a patient has been infected for more than a year before seeking treatment – is known to cause continuous, low-grade symptom flare-ups, and can last for years or even longer.
There are several things you can do to protect yourself, including checking for ticks and identifying early symptoms. But, for many people infected with Lyme disease, the battle is ongoing. Fatigue and joint pain can significantly change their lifestyle habits, and depression can set in. Finding a way to treat and heal from the disease is paramount.
Lyme is considered a multi-stage disease, and conventional treatment usually calls for antibiotics. In later stages or in more severe cases, this can include intravenous antibiotics. But there are two problems with this treatment…
The Problem with Traditional Lyme Treatments
First, heavy rounds of antibiotics can lower white blood count and can devastate the immune system. Because patients with Lyme often have coinfections (or even multiple strains of Lyme), these antibiotics can leave the body susceptible to more severe secondary illness. With the growing threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria on the rise, this is NOT an ideal situation.
Second, antibiotics just aren’t that effective when it comes to Lyme disease. Up to 35% of those infected will not respond or will relapse. Further, new research shows that the Lyme germ can survive a 28-day course of antibiotic treatment for up to four months after the original infection!
Despite testing negative for Lyme, some of these test subjects still had the germ in their heart, brain, and other organs. Borrelia burgdorferi has the ability to change its shape to protect itself, become more mobile, more invasive, and so on – all of which help it evade the immune system and resist antibiotic therapy.
Patients with chronic Lyme disease consistently report significantly lower health quality, more difficult mental & physical health days, and greater limitations on their activity levels and ability to work, relative even to patients with other chronic diseases. Fortunately, we’ve put together some effective, natural therapies to help you heal from Lyme disease.
Healing After Lyme
Even if you choose to use antibiotics, your body will need additional support. Lyme infections spread through your body and suppress your immune system. Since Lyme disease can be hard to diagnose, many patients suffer for years before being properly diagnosed.
As the disease proliferates unchecked, symptoms get worse. Chronic inflammation and autoimmune disorders are common, and it can take months or even years to get your body back to full health. Antibiotics can be effective in dealing with Lyme initially, but without a holistic approach, patients may never fully recover.
Lyme disease wreaks havoc on the body, pumping toxins into your bloodstream and handcuffing your immune response. Like cancer and other chronic disease, Lyme flourishes in favorable conditions. If you can make your body inhospitable to the disease, you can truly begin to heal.
Looking for a lyme disease natural treatment? Check out the list below! Putting these things into practice is a great first step to healing your body. Although this list is not exhaustive, it’s a great start on your road to recovery.
A heavy toxic load can make it even harder for the body to heal. In order to support your body’s ability to eliminate toxins and properly absorb nutrients, you need to detox. Eliminating your exposure is an important step, but there are several ways to eliminate the toxic build up that you’re likely experiencing with chronic Lyme disease.
Chelation – Lyme disease has been linked to the presence of heavy metals, although more research is needed. Even so, the presence of heavy metals can severely inhibit your body’s ability to heal. Chelation therapy uses a compound that binds to metals in the bloodstream, allowing them to be eliminated through the urine. Always consult with a professional when considering chelation.
Activated Charcoal – After a major bacteria purge (like with heavy antibiotics or the elimination of Lyme bacteria), many people experience the Herxheimer reaction. This is basically an inflammatory reaction to the bacteria being killed off. It can occur with antibiotics and herbal therapies alike. Activated charcoal works by binding to the toxins and helping you body properly eliminate them.
Skin Brushing – Did you know that your skin is your largest organ? Skin brushing involves using a long-handled brush made with natural bristles to brush the skin. It can help unclog pores – a major detoxification pathway – as well as improving vascular and lymphatic circulation. This is a simple and affordable way to kickstart your body’s healing process.
Nutrition – The best way to eliminate toxins and keep them away for good is through your diet. In fact, diet is so important to healing from Lyme disease that we’ve given it its own section.
#2. Nutrition & Supplementation
Anyone who’s been following TTAC knows that nutrition is a building block that affects every aspect of our health. We are what we eat; a toxic diet results in a toxic body and a toxic mind. Removing the bad stuff like processed foods and sugar and incorporating more protein, healthy fats, and plenty of anti-inflammatory omega 3-rich foods will give your body the proper fuel it needs to heal, while stripping the disease of a conducive environment.
Certain nutrients are especially effective at combating Lyme disease and its symptoms, so we’ve included a few recommendations for supplementing your diet. It’s also important to remember that much of the food we see at the grocery store is laden with chemicals and preservatives or lacking any real nutrition. Be sure to always choose organic, non-GMO food for you and your family.
Mushrooms – Mushrooms are extremely effective at bolstering the immune system and offer many additional benefits. Cordyceps and reishi mushrooms also help to kill harmful bacteria, making them a must-have for Lyme patients.
Healthy Fats – Like cancer, Lyme disease thrives on sugar. Cutting back the amount of glucose the body has and relying on healthy fats instead can help weaken the disease. But not all fats are created equal. Stick with things like avocado oil, coconut oil, and organic animal protein.
Vegetables – These super greens offer some of the highest nutrient density and can be juiced for maximum nutrition. Broccoli, kale, spinach, garlic, and watercress are just a few of our favorites. These veggies provide many of the important vitamins and minerals that your body needs, like vitamins D, C, and K.
Supplements – Everybody is different, and it’s always best to work with an Integrative practitioner to find your specific dietary needs. But when you’re healing from Lyme disease, it can be hard to get enough of the vitamins you need from diet alone. Consider supplementing your vitamin D for extra immune support and adding curcumin (from turmeric) to your diet to fight inflammation.
IV Vitamin C – Most of us are aware that vitamin C can help to fend off the occasional cold, but high-dose, intravenous vitamin C treatments have been shown to be even more powerful when it comes to chronic disease. Vitamin C has been used to treat many diseases, including Lyme and cancer. The dose required can’t be obtained by oral consumption, which is why treatments are administered intravenously.
Water – Water is easily the most important nutrient you can get. Every cell in your body requires it to thrive. Lyme patients naturally accumulate an excessive amount of bodily toxins. Water is the easiest and most essential way to help purge those toxins. It’s recommended to consume half your body weight in ounces each day.
According to our friend Dr. Frank King,
Homeopathy offers solutions to you that nothing else will address… because homeopathy is very detailed in getting to the underlying causes with any type of symptom, weakness, or ailment that you might have. And whenever you’re very specific in addressing the underlying cause, you will also need to be very individualized. The key to the great success of homeopathy is finding the right remedies.”
So, before we continue, I cannot stress enough that it is crucial to work with a qualified health practitioner. Your treatment plan may vary from the suggestions below. This is meant to be a starting point, a guide, to get started.
According to Elena Upton, Ph.D., a classically trained Homeopath, author, and lecturer, the following is an added emergency treatment (above and beyond removing the tick correctly) using homeopathic medicine:
Arnica 30c or 200c – Dispensed every 15 minutes initially to assist with swelling and pain. Ledum Palustre 200C – After all and any type of bite or puncture to the skin this remedy should be dispensed. (It is our go-to as a preventative for tetanus.) Best to be taken every three hours the first day, then continued twice daily for the first few days. This is followed by continued treatment of one dose two times weekly for one month, then one time weekly for another month. Pyrogenium 30c or 200c – Administered if there is an infection that arises (sepsis). One dose every 15 minutes and seek medical attention when necessary.”
The next few remedies are often used for continued treatment of Lyme after the initial trauma.
Rhus Tox 30C + Bryonia Alba 200 – 2 times daily for joint pain until resolved. Aurum Arsenicum 200C – Suggested dosage, especially if you feel you’ve been affected for some time, is one dose twice daily for at least a month. Then reduce to one dose, once per week for a number of weeks until symptoms subside. This remedy has been found to help to relieve headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea. It can also help to uproot the pathogenic invasion in the stomach and intestines, and can help with anxiety and depression. Calcarea Carbonicum 30c – If you develop chemical sensitivities as a result of your ordeal you can take one dose, once per week for many weeks (or months) to help uproot the disturbance. Ignatia 200c – If there is brain fog and/or emotional issues, add one dose twice daily for as long as you feel is necessary. Cantharis 30c – For urinary issues that may arise, add one dose twice daily.”
Many of us underestimate the power of sleep, but it’s one of the most crucial elements of the healing process. Everything comes down to energy. When we are sick, our body springs into action, launching an immune response designed to destroy and eliminate any harmful invaders.
But this requires lots of energy.
Disrupted sleep is common with Lyme disease, despite a feeling of chronic fatigue. Not getting enough sleep can reduce production of the hormone serotonin, which can lead to depression. Lack of sleep also weakens the immune system, which needs to be operating at full throttle to get rid of Lyme once and for all.
#5. Essential Oils
Essential oils are another natural way to heal from Lyme disease that is both popular and effective. There are many essential oils that have antibacterial properties, which is ideal when it comes to beating borrelia burgdorferi. These Lyme-causing bacteria create antibiotic-resistant “biofilms” or colonies wherever there is moisture and a surface, including inner surfaces in our body.
While that’s bad news for antibiotic drugs, science says that essential oils may be just what the (holistic) doctor ordered. A 2017 study studied more than 30 essential oils to see if they were effective against borrelia burgdorferi. Cinnamon bark, clove, and oregano oils were extremely effective, killing virtually all of the bacteria with no regrowth.
A year later, another study came to similar conclusions about the power of essential oils in combating the bacteria. The research team found 10 essential oils that effectively destroyed borrelia burgdorferi, including garlic, myrrh, thyme, allspice, and cumin. Always consult with a professional about proper application and dilution before using topical or ingested essential oils.
Exercising has more benefits than I can count, both physical and mental. Regular physical activity should be a part of everyone’s routine, but especially those with Lyme disease. Like most chronic diseases, Lyme doesn’t do well in high-temperature and high-oxygen environments. Exercise provides both.
Exercise also improves circulation, improves lymphatic movement, and helps to release toxins. It can also help alleviate the symptoms of Lyme, including joint pain and muscle stiffness. If you don’t have a fever or any heart problems, try to get as much light to moderate exercise as you can handle.
Although acupuncture has not been directly shown to treat Lyme disease, it is an effective way to relieve symptoms. There’s also research supporting acupuncture an immune booster, which can help to combat the disease directly. Especially for those with chronic or undiagnosed Lyme disease, pain is a daily part of life. Unfortunately, too many doctors recommend dangerous drugs that mask the pain, damage the liver, and in some cases can cause fatal addiction.
But acupuncture is different. Research shows acupuncture to be especially effective in treating headaches, back and neck pain, and pain from osteoarthritis (all symptoms similar to Lyme). The needles push the brain to release endorphins and serotonin, the hormones responsible for reducing pain and improving mood.
#8. Emotional Support
Depression is a hallmark symptom for those with chronic or undiagnosed Lyme disease. Often, they don’t know what the problem is, or have been told that a round of antibiotics should do the trick. But chronic fatigue and constant pain take their toll. Patients can’t enjoy the activities they normally do, and sleep becomes harder to come by, despite feeling constantly tired.
To get through the treatment and recovery process, it’s essential that you have emotional support. There are many things you can do to improve your mood and boost your morale (many of which are mentioned above), but nothing beats the power of human interaction.
It’s important to have supportive people around you. Those who understand your struggles and respect your boundaries. Conversely, you may need to distance yourself from those who minimize your symptoms or don’t believe that you’re sick. This includes doctors, who often misdiagnose Lyme disease. If you feel unheard, seek a second opinion. The journey to healing from Lyme can be a long one, and you’ll need reliable companions to travel it with you.
The power of the mind in healing is tremendous – if you believe that you can’t heal, you probably won’t. Surround yourself with encouragement, positivity, and understanding to ensure that you come out of the healing journey a happier, healthier you.