Featured as my Holistic Outlook column in the Times Herald Record and recordonline.com
Spring traditionally marks the beginning of Lyme season, but the unhappy truth is that milder winters make ticks a year-round scourge. Still, ticks are proliferating now, so be wary.
Lyme is often considered synonymous with Borellia burgdorferi, but that is merely one infection contributing to this complex illness. My medical mentor of many years, Dietrich Klinghardt MD, describes Lyme as “multiple infections against the background of a toxic body.”
So what is Lyme Disease? Usually a combination of bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections, all of which must be addressed. But the holistic approach always goes beyond targeting infections, to making the “terrain” of the body healthier.
This can include looking at heavy metals, food, environmental and chemical sensitivities, electromagnetic fields, cognitive issues, trauma and emotional stress, hormonal imbalances, detox capacity, improving lymphatic drainage (see April’s Holistic Outlook column), anti-inflammatory nutrition, and more.
It means rebuilding the immune system, calming the inflammatory response, opening detox pathways (kidney, liver, bowels, skin, lymph), healing the gut, improving sleep quality, and decreasing overall toxic burden.
Is this more complicated than simply taking an antibiotic? Indeed, but it comprehensively supports and protects health.
Don’t misunderstand: I am not against antibiotics. They have their place, although personally I recovered fully from many years of chronic Lyme without them. Studies from Europe show that those who combined antibiotic and complementary treatment were far more likely to have no symptoms four years after treatment. Another study showed that of those who did antibiotics only, two-thirds were worse three years later.
Based on both research and 20 years of clinical experience with Lyme, I strongly recommend a skillful combination of the best of both worlds: conventional and holistic.
For prevention, be ruled by caution rather than fear. I hate hearing that people are afraid to garden, or walk outside. While there are no guarantees, I recommend a combination of daily cistus tea, using an oil spray (you can find many natural repellent formulas online but consider eucalyptus, geranium, cedarwood, and/or lemongrass essential oils and cold pressed neem oil), knee-high boots, and careful daily inspection.
If you do find a tick, remove it carefully! Leaving part of the head embedded is dangerous. If you have a reaction, such as rash, swelling or flu-like symptoms, it’s a good idea to get doxycycline immediately. Using the herb astragalus both topically and orally also can be helpful. But many people never know when or how they were infected, and I see people regularly who have suffered with Lyme – sometimes for decades – without a definitive diagnosis, or are misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, arthritis or psychiatric disorders. The most common lab tests have a very high false negative rate, making diagnoses even more difficult.
Despite all this bad news, do not despair! We are resilient beyond measure; healing is possible. You can achieve a healthy, pain-free life, with a fully functioning brain and body. Please don’t settle for anything less!
Disclaimer: information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace individual consultation with a qualified health practitioner.