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Diet & herbs in healing Lyme

When you want to know what to eat (and drink!) when healing Lyme, ask an expert.

rebecca-snow
My recent guest—nutritionist, herbalist, Lyme expert, and educator Rebecca Snow, MS—shares a lot of fascinating facts about foods, herbs, and how to start thinking about using nutrition to really get the most out of your healing protocol.

Rebecca’s clients often come to see her for diet and lifestyle support, particularly those who are already seeing a Lyme literate doctor and may also be taking antibiotics.

I wanted to get her opinion on herbal protocols and their role in healing Lyme.

Unlike some of the more conventional Lyme experts I’ve interviewed, Rebecca thinks “there’s probably too much focus on antibiotics in the Lyme-literate community.”

She has a good point.

“There is evidence that chronic symptoms of Lyme may be infection,” she adds, “but they may also be related to an auto-inflammatory response.”

A more effective approach than one that simply applies antibiotics to healing Lyme would include diet, nutrition, and the use of herbal and homeopathic supplements.

Lifestyle factors play an important role as well. And one of the most important of these is sleep. Are you getting enough shut-eye?

Hippocrates, as Rebecca reminds us, is considered the father of modern medicine. Sleep was his go-to prescription for illness. Many of us today go without enough of this precious healing resource.

Rebecca says that because Lyme is an infection-triggered illness, it is more complex than simply the infection itself.

And because of that complexity, looking farther afield than simple antibiotics is a good idea.

"In my experience, herbs and antimicrobials, or antibiotics, are not as strong as prescriptions antibiotics.

However, because I think Lyme is more complex, I mean, it’s an infection-triggered disease process, and I think that disease process is more complex than just the infection itself, that herbs have a lot to offer,” she adds.

Read the full article

Listen to the interview with Rebecca Snow, MS.


Rebecca Snow, MS, CNS, LDN, RH(AHG) is an herbalist, nutritionist, educator, and Lyme expert. Based in Maryland, she sees clients via phone/Skype as well as teaches workshops and mentors new practitioners.

Rebecca has a Master of Science in Herbal Medicine, and takes an integral approach to helping her clients heal from Lyme and other chronic diseases.



http://rebeccasnow.com

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Patience — flip side of courage

A reader asks, how did I recover from Lyme disease?

I’ll tell you what I told him. It was the first thing that popped into my head, and it might not be what you expect.


Superman vs Clark Kent

Courage makes the headlines.

We all love to hear about daring, noble feats of everyday superheroes. Regular people doing unselfish acts.

It’s little wonder that feats like this restore our faith in humanity —

The man diving into the freezing pond to save an 11-year-old child.

The mother lifting a two-ton car off of a boy.

Your spouse refusing Ben & Jerry’s because they know you can’t eat sugar.

Courage is easy to admire because it’s easy to spot.

When it comes to battling Lyme, courage is as necessary as light is to life. Especially when you feel like you have to convince the doctor that you’re actually sick.

There’s no question we have to persevere, do our own research, and get a second opinion when necessary. Or a third, fourth, or fifth until we get the help we need. And it takes courage to question your doctor.

So this is where it helps to see that courage has a flip side. And that is patience, the unsung virtue.

If courage is Superman, patience is Clark Kent with his nose in a book. Granted, boring to watch. But he’s doing the work on the ground.

So that was my first response to the reader who asked what worked for me. Patience.

Patience and courage, because they’re really two sides of the same coin.


Patience and perseverance

Writer Amy Tan said when she had Lyme disease, she couldn’t remember the paragraph she had just read.

Has that ever happened to you?

It takes patience to start again, and again. You have to believe in your own body’s healing power.

Like Sisyphus pushing the boulder uphill. That’s perseverance. Never give up.

There is always something you can do. It begins with understanding what the Lyme bacterial complex is doing in your system. We’re talking about the mind-brain-body connection here.


Lyme bacteria in the brain

Science shows that the Lyme bacterial complex can cross over the blood-brain barrier. Not every bacteria can do that.

Think of the mind as the cloud. The brain is the device, the hardware. And science also tells us that the mind is located in our guts as well as in our heads.

Which is why there is such an important connection between the health of our guts, or intestines, and our mind-health. Feeding your body means also feeding your mind.

Lyme disease, when it affects your mind, threatens to erase your memories. It can delete your ability to put together a simple sentence. You can’t think of a word when you reach for it.


This is one of those tricky Lyme symptoms that is hard to explain to your friends. That’s because cognitive problems tend not to show up on the exterior.

Your interior

Inside, it’s as if your interior being — your mind, your faith, your thoughts, beliefs, memories, everything that makes you you — has been shredded to bits and dragged over rocks and tossed off cliffs into a deep mud pool far below.

With all that going on, it can be tempting to give in to despair. Who could blame you?

I’ve been there, looking down the barrel of mortality. I had to decide whether to keep fighting or give in.

I almost gave in because the pain was unbearable.

Who knows why, but after a while of not dying, I chose courage.

What I didn’t know was that I’d have to be patient — more patient than I thought was possible — before I could really express that courage.

So I patiently proceeded (along with my doctor’s help) to do everything in my power to get back to health.

Especially eating right and keeping my mind sharp.


Foods & activities for brain health

Fighting Lyme from every angle was what worked for me. Antibiotics, herbal supplements, homeopathics, exercise, positive thinking, prayer (without ceasing), and good friends. Yep, a huge dose of good old fashioned love thrown into the mix.

I sought the company of friends, community and laughter. My husband helped by renting funny movies for us both to watch—since he sorely needed to escape the drag of Lyme disease as well.

And getting my butt out of bed to walk around the block even when I felt like I was dying.

My naturopathic doctor and I also found a diet that would support my brain and body.

What did I do?

I ate foods rich in Omega-3, lean proteins, and a rainbow of vegetables which are high in antioxidants and key vitamins. Colorful veggies are also detoxifying and will help your immune system by supporting your elimination organs, the kidneys, liver, and skin.

Nourish your body with whole foods. Avoid refined foods, sugar, and white flour. Avoid alcohol and coffee.

Reach for scrumptious red and blue fruits, such as organic strawberries and blueberries.


Keep your mind fit

Exercise and stretch whenever possible, and by all means rest.

Sleep is the key to healing. Good sleep.

Exercise your brain.

It’s important to help keep your mind fit. Try new things, keep learning. You can learn almost anything online.

Play games such as crossword puzzles or Sudoku. Play games online. Check out lumosity.com or brainmetrix.com.

Teach yourself another language by playing an online game or challenging a friend through duolingo.com.

If you played an instrument before you got Lyme, take it down off the shelf. Sit down at the piano and tinker.

Music is healing, especially when you make it yourself. Play music with friends. Let it take you away.

What kind of art do you like? You can take virtual museum tours online.

Make your own art. Craft something. Learn how to make an origami crane — so beautiful. Paint, write, draw, color in a coloring book.

Read a book. Read a series.

Keep your mind active and fit. Nourish your brain with vital, healthy foods that make you feel good.

Diet and nutrition are only part of the whole picture, but they were crucial to my recovery and now maintenance of good health.

Above all, be patient and kind to yourself. There is no more precious thing than your life.

Then you can tell your own superhuman story about healing from Lyme.

I bet that our double-sided virtue, patience and courage, will both play have played a big part.
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Diatomaceous Earth--Guard against tick bites

Prevent tick bites
While I was researching ways to guard against tick bites, such as rubbing your skin with clove, tea tree, peppermint oil or other essential oils, a reader wrote to tell me about food-grade Diatomaceous Earth.

This is not the same Diatomaceous Earth that we used to mix into the pool filter. That DE is laden with chemicals.

I had never heard of “food-grade” DE, which is said to be safe to consume. I’m skeptical, because in anecdotal research it is referred to as something of a panacea, curing everything from hot flashes to cancer.

Obviously, not one, single supplement can do everything.

DE kills fleas and gnats
But what can it do?
Is it all hype?

Not all of it.
My friend Stephanie uses it to kill fleas. If you’ve ever experienced the hell of a flea infestation, that’s worth a whole lot.

And I’ve used it successfully myself to kill gnats when they threatened to overtake my house. Mixed a tablespoon or two into the topsoil of the houseplants.

So I’ve seen it kill off gnats and fleas without harming pets and children. That’s a good sign. It can be rubbed into your pet's skin to help guard against tick and flea bites.
Caveat: DE is not fit for breathing. Take care that your pet's nose, mouth and respiratory passages are protected during application, and apply it when outside in fresh air.

85% Silica
Diatomaceous Earth is mostly silica. 85% and up. The rest is made up of additional minerals.

The way it kills tiny insects is by tearing into their exoskeleton and dehydrating them.
Drying them to death.

You’ve seen those tiny packets of silica that are used in packaged goods such as dried foods, clothing, toys, and all sorts of consumer goods. The reason silica is effective is because of its dehydrating ability.

It sucks the moisture out of whatever it’s packed into.

When consumed, it is said, DE offers the benefit of nourishing the body with silica and cleansing the colon of parasites, molds, bacteria and other scum in general that is contributing to a lack of energy and all manner of illness.

Why should silica matter to Lyme patients?

First, silica is what the body needs to generate collagen.

Second, Lyme bacteria are famous for eating the collagen out of our joints and skin. Our knees, Dr. Cowden once told me, are nothing but fine-dining collagen restaurants for the Borrelia bacteria.

So is it safe to consume DE?
Because if it is, I want to know. It could not only help cleanse the colon of all the bad stuff, it could also restore the damage done to our joints and skin (and nails and hair).

I’m in!! But…

My first instinct is to avoid taking it, simply because I wouldn’t want to stir up a major herx. Anything that changes the stasis of the gut is likely to do so.

Ask your Lyme literate doctor
If you are considering trying it, please first ask your doctor(s) about it. Let me know what they say.

I’ll post about DE again, once I find a qualified medical expert to offer scientific evidence that food-grade DE is helpful. Especially if it might help anyone who suffers with Lyme and its co-infections.

Many Lyme patients are dealing with immune-system challenges such as an imbalance of gut flora and fauna, a direct result of using pharmaceutical antibiotics.

Leaky gut syndrome
According to Dr. Lee Cowden, it’s often a case of the cure being worse than the illness itself. Pharmaceutical antibiotics punch holes in the gut lining, causing leaky bowel syndrome (IBS) and other problems that may be very difficult to cure.

Center of the immune system
The gut is center of the immune system. In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s called the dantian, a.k.a. the sea of qi (pronounced chee). In Japanese it is called the hara.

The story goes that qi, or jing, is the energy that sustains life. It supplies the rootedness and vitality required for healthy life to develop. When the dantian is unhealthy, from poor diet and nutrition to lack of fresh oxygen, the person will be sick and drained of energy.

In traditional Chinese medicine, qi gong practice helps restore and maintain the energy flow throughout the body and mind with deep, rhythmic breathing and slow physical movement.

So it follows that cleansing one’s colon would also help to restore one’s health and vital energy.

Food-grade DE for humans?

I you are thinking about giving food-grade DE a try, be sure to heed the disclaimers and warnings.

The FDA has not weighed in on this stuff. They haven’t tested or approved it for human or animal consumption. Therefore, DE may have unknown consequences or contraindications. Buyer beware.




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Symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs

Lyme in dogs

Our family adopted a two-year old.

She’s an 11-pound cuddle-bug with a smidgen of sass and a lust for green beans.

The adoption process included a full medical checkup, a spay, and followup exam.

Everything looked great.

Everything, except our little doggy had tested positive for Lyme disease. In her early life, before her first owner abandoned her, she had never been given tick preventatives.

When I saw that she’d tested for Lyme I slightly panicked.

The adoption was already a done deal. And I wasn’t about to back out because of Lyme. If anyone understood the pain and confusion of Lyme, I figured, it was me. We were a perfect match.

When I asked if she had any symptoms, the foster mama clucked reassuringly. No signs, no symptoms.

The foster mom takes in 50 dogs a year. “About 5 of them have NOT tested positive for Lyme,” she said.

She doesn’t consider it a problem. But because they were located in Virginia, the vet started her on Doxy and administered a Lyme vaccination before the adoption.


All pets can get Lyme

“I didn’t even know dogs could get Lyme,” said more than one of our dog-owning friends.

They can.

Our pets are exposed to ticks—deer ticks, dog-ticks, many types—whenever they’re outside. We humans wear insect repellent but we know that it varies in efficacy. It’s very important to protect our animal friends with products such as Heartgard and Nexgard.

Contact with ticks is especially likely in deep woods, but we and our pets can pick up an infected tick anywhere rodents and other carriers might pass.

Including your own backyard.

Unless you are the owner of a blue-tailed skink, http://www.anapsid.org/lyme/sceloporus.html, your pet is not immune.

Cats, horses, ferrets, parrots and other critters bitten by an infected tick are vulnerable to Lyme disease. However, just as with Lyme in humans, much about the disease in dogs is controversial.

Unfortunately, veterinarians do not have a unified approach to diagnosis or treatment. A lot of this has to do with geography. In Virginia, Lyme is reported regularly.


Pet insurance

In canines, Lyme symptoms can manifest as lameness and other bad news.

So, being head-over-heels about our new baby, I looked into pet health insurance, because I know that Lyme symptoms may appear when a body is under stress.

If she were ever to get injured or sick, Lyme bacteria might be waiting to pounce.

But pet insurance raised more questions.

I learned that no pet insurance policy covers pre-existing conditions.

Pre-existing conditions can no longer prevent people from getting proper coverage, but our pets are a different story.

Would pet insurance cover Lyme symptoms that might show up in future years?


The scoop on pre-existing conditions

We pondered whether to buy it or not. It was a conundrum. When your dog has tested positive for Lyme, but shows no signs or symptoms, is it considered a pre-existing condition?

It sounded like a gray area to me, so I called the vet.

“It’s a gray area,” he said. “Ask the insurance company.”

It was starting to feel a little like a game of keep-away.

The representative at Healthy Paws pet insurance told me that coverage of any future symptoms would be determined by our veterinarian.


Let’s say your dog tests positive for Lyme today, but shows no signs or symptoms.

Five years down the road, he starts showing signs.

Lyme can cause many troubling symptoms and signs, including lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, lameness, malaise, joint pain, or kidney disease.

If the vet diagnoses the new symptom as a result of the Lyme disease that had been diagnosed all those years ago, the insurance policy will not cover treatment.

If the vet diagnoses the symptom to be unrelated to Lyme, it will be covered.


Prevention and care in spite of Lyme controversy

At least we can depend on one thing:

There is as much Lyme controversy among pet-doctors as among people-doctors.

It isn't hard to see why there is confusion, since as I mentioned, much of the reporting of Lyme depends on geographical location. Here in North Carolina, Lyme doesn’t exist, according to one of the vets with whom I conferred.

“You just don’t see it here,” he says.

I remain skeptical. It may simply be underreported.

Our dog hails from Virginia http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/maps.html.

As this map shows, Lyme cases are reported there.

What mystifies me is how the ticks know to stay put at the border.


Luckily, I found a vet who shares my skepticism and suggested antibiotic treatment, as well as the vaccine and followup booster.



Lyme treatment in dogs

Some vets, when a dog tests positive for Lyme, will administer the Lyme vaccination. They will also prescribe 30 days of Doxycycline and a followup booster at 3 weeks.

Other vets will not give the vaccination or antibiotics, reasoning that a dog that tests positive but doesn’t have signs or symptoms is a carrier, but is not sick. They claim that only a small percentage of dogs will ever show symptoms of Lyme.

On a personal note, my dog gets a few drops of Samento or teasel in her water bowl. I take one or the other as a prophylactic, so she gets it too.

And maybe most importantly, we do our daily tick checks after having been outdoors. This is tedious, but we sleep better at night.



Probiotics for pups

As soon as our pup finished her Doxy prescription, I started her on a high quality probiotic for pets. Probiotics will help restore her healthy gut flora and fauna. It is best not to give probiotics until your pet is finished with the antibiotics.

I use Dr. Mercola’s pet probiotics. For $5 off this product when ordered from iHerb, click http://www.iherb.com/iherb-brands?rcode=NEJ627.

A friend of mine claims that adding nutritional yeast to her dog’s diet repels ticks and fleas.

However, when I asked the vet if nutritional yeast would repel such critters, he smiled as if reasoning with a 5-year-old and handed me a pamphlet for NexGard.

This is not to say that the vet disapproves of nutritional yeast for dogs.

He claims that our dog eats better than he does. So because of the B vitamins that make her coat shine, I continue to give her nutritional yeast as well as probiotics.


Herbal alternatives for Fido

In humans, anti-inflammatory supplements such as fish oil, glucosamine, chondroitin, and turmeric are suggested for reducing inflammation and pain of Lyme symptoms such as headaches and arthritis.

Always ask your veterinarian to see if supplements or herbal alternatives are right for your pet. *See warning below.

For a little extra pet protection, I use high quality products on our pooch that are designed for pets and that use essential oils.

In my opinion, a line of quality products are available online from jeansgreens.com in Castleton, New York.

Jean’s Greens offers a Bug Repellent Shampoo that uses essential oils to fend off biting insects, including ticks. Ingredients include eucalyptus, lemon, rosemary and wormwood essential oils.


*Warning! Always check with your vet before feeding your beloved pet a new food or using any ingredients on their coat. Essential oils, when used wrong, or if a cheap brand is used, can cause harm or even kill a precious pet.


Anti-inflammatory diet for dogs - fish oil

Our vet will check our dog for elevated protein levels in her kidneys every three or four months. If protein levels are high, it indicates kidney trouble. However, if her levels have not risen for one year, all is considered well and we may expand the time between checkups.

For the anti-inflammatory effect, we added a high quality fish oil to her diet. Our vet says to be aware that a lot of fish oil on the market is “snake oil,” due to unethical producers who spot an easy way to cash in on people’s love for their pets.

She gets the same kind of fish oil I take, once daily. It has made her coat thick and soft as goose down.

Just a note here about delivery. I don’t let her swallow the whole capsule. The doc suggests cutting it open and squeezing the oil over her food. This prevents the whole cap from racing through the dog’s digestive system and popping out the other end—before it has had a chance to dissolve.



Good girl!

She loves to learn new words. Her favorite is “dance.”

Friends say they see a big difference in her personality, coat, and carriage since the day we brought her home from the rescue agency.

She may be Lyme positive—but so far, so good.

With all the love, care, and supplements she gets — along with the grain-free dog food, she is as full of good cheer as ever.

She still goes nuts over green beans. She's a good girl.

And she’s never met a human she didn’t love. I’m sure she’d even greet the jerk who tossed her out and shut the door in her face.


To him, I am forever grateful. For if he hadn’t rejected her and given the neighbors a reason to take her to the rescue people, we would never have met her.

She is, like your dog is to you, our precious baby. A font of love, forgiveness, and a source of happiness and joy.

With a little luck, we will never, ever have to use that pet insurance policy.


How to remove a tick from your dog
http://www.akc.org/learn/dog-health/lyme-disease-in-dogs/
http://www.akc.org/learn/dog-health/how-to-remove-tick-from-dog/


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Can antibiotics heal Lyme disease?

Can antibiotics heal Lyme disease?
Yes. If Lyme is detected early on, antibiotics can be effective in stopping the infection and killing the bug.

But what if you’ve completed antibiotic treatment, and you still feel more zombie than human? Quality of life matters.

When you dig a little further, you find that Lyme disease is often complicated by many factors. So it makes sense that Lyme is difficult to treat with just one pharmaceutical drug.

For one thing, the nasty co-infections that can accompany Lyme infection may go unresolved.

Research increasingly shows that a tick bite often downloads additional pathogens along with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme. Co-infections such as Babesia and Bartonella seem to be the rule, and not the exception, for people with Lyme.

So why do most doctors take this one-drug-for-one-bug approach to treatment?

The answer is, as in so many cases, because that’s what they’ve always done.

It’s historical.

One drug for one bug
Monotherapy is the treatment of a condition by means of a single pharmaceutical drug. This idea of “one drug for one bug” was developed after World War II. Monotherapy came into use with the “first generation” antibacterials, as some epidemiologists and researchers refer to them.

But humans, our systems, and our environment, have evolved since the 1940s.

Consider the communication system. The computers my dad worked on in the 60s were as large as my kitchen, and had a fraction of the capacity of my smartphone.

Back then, people even had to get up and walk to the telephone.

Bacteria evolves too. Lyme and its co-infections are a new challenge for doctors as well as patients. These bacteria are stealth pathogens, with the ability to evade the immune system and antibiotics.

Outsmarting the smart bugs
Monotherapy offers only one weapon against the complexity of a Lyme infection.

Lyme, Babesia, and other co-infections are newly emerging infections, sometimes called “second generation” infections. These difficult-to-cure diseases require more holistic and complex approaches to treatment.

Stephen Buhner, author of Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections, questions the sole dependence on antibiotics as a treatment for Lyme disease.

“Technological medicine,” he says, “while a great adjunct, is not capable, at this point in time (if it ever will be), of dealing with this second generation of infectious agents.”

Especially when it is not detected in the early stage, many of us find that Lyme is not an easy disease to cure.

Plant medicine is considered by alternative medicine practitioners to be a smart healing ally, because as living organisms, herbs evolve right along with bacteria.


Get a handle on it
For me, killing the Lyme bacterial complex—as I call the numerous pathogens that we call Lyme—has been an ongoing challenge that has transformed my life. I have to say, it hasn’t been an altogether bad thing.

I try all feasible pathways to vitality and good health. My focus is on healing through daily attention to body, mind, and spirit. Most precious of all, I have a better handle on what truly matters.

I’ve had much good luck with herbs and plant medicine over the years since battling Lyme and its co-infections. Although I’d be the first to tell you to run to the ER with a severe infection—because that ain’t nothing to mess with—I consider herbal medicine one of my primary allies in staying healthy in my life post-Lyme.

Co-infections complicate Lyme. They can muck up the healing process and delay the gift of living a vibrant life.

Plants might be able to help. Most people I know who've healed from Lyme have taken herbal medicines along with their standard protocol. According to Stephen Buhner and other herbalists I've interviewed, there is generally no problem with taking herbs at the same time as taking pharmaceuticals. But as always, I recommend asking your doctor or medical team for their opinion before doing so.

“Those with co-infections tend to be sicker longer, have more difficult symptoms, possess a lower quality of life, and are much less likely to heal from the use of monotherapies such as antibiotics,” says Buhner.

Get well soon!

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