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Magnesium a must for Lyme patients

Magnesium for reducing inflammation

If you have Lyme disease, you have silent inflammation.

It is highly likely that you are also deficient in magnesium, because the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia, unlike other bacteria that require iron to survive, has evolved to use magnesium to complete its own life cycle.

The Lyme bacteria steals magnesium from our cells to survive.

Another factor contributing to the problem, for Americans at least, is that our farming topsoil has been depleted in magnesium which is not replaced. So our foods tend to be deficient in magnesium, which is problematic.

Magnesium supplements have been clinically proven to reduce pain and inflammation from fibromyalgia and other autoimmune diseases. As Lyme is an inflammatory disease, it makes sense to pay attention to something as simple as adding in a vital mineral.

Increasing magnesium levels through diet or supplements may be even more crucial for people with Lyme, because not only does the Lyme bacteria rob us of magnesium, so does stress—both physical and psychological or emotional—as well as the use of antibiotics.

If you have Lyme, you are likely familiar with experiencing stress on every level. One of the main complaints addressed by magnesium is anxiety, and reducing mental stress is a critical first step in healing.

Magnesium deficiency same as Lyme symptoms

Many of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency are the same ones associated with Lyme disease, such as irregular heartbeat, anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, muscle cramps and spasms, and joint health.

Other problems stemming from a lack of magnesium are arthritis, heart disease, hardening of the arteries, and calcification.

Magnesium deficiency shares another aspect with Lyme disease.

Tests are highly unreliable. Here’s why. This vital mineral is located throughout the body and functions in every cell, including those in our brain. Only about 1% of magnesium is in our blood. Yet the test for magnesium deficiency is a blood serum test.

Magnesium can alter the course of health — and disease

Magnesium research over the past 40 years tells us that this essential mineral is far more vital to our health—physically and psychologically—than was previously assumed.

Fibromyalgia patients treated with magnesium malate have been clinically demonstrated to experience a reduction in pain.

According to a recent study published the journal BMC Bioinformatics, magnesium is essential to altering the course of health and disease.

Major body functions requiring magnesium

Our bodies use magnesium to perform thousands of biochemical functions that contribute to good health—at the top of the list is a good night’s sleep and regulation of the heartbeat.

Nerve function, blood sugar control, blood pressure regulation, energy metabolism, protein synthesis, and production of the antioxidant glutathione are just a handful of the major functions that require magnesium.

It is easy to get more magnesium in your diet by eating magnesium-rich foods and also by taking a magnesium supplement. Magnesium baths also increase levels through the skin. Ask your doctor about the best way for you.

Calcium and magnesium are both necessary

Calcium and magnesium work together like two sides of the same coin. Yet modern medicine has fixated on the role and importance of calcium, even though getting too much calcium is problematic.

In addition to fibromyalgia patients, increased magnesium has shown benefits to those suffering with atrial fibrillation, Diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease, premenstrual syndrome, and migraines.

Low magnesium levels are also associated with cardiovascular aging, which contributes to premature aging.

Magnesium is an essential part of the delicate balance of our health. Taking a magnesium supplement or eating foods rich in magnesium helps create the right amount of calcium in the body. Yet, calcium supplements taken without magnesium can actually deplete magnesium in the body.

What depletes magnesium?

Pharmaceutical drugs, antibiotics, stress, whether psychological or physical, depletes magnesium in the body.

Same with caffeine, so be aware that if you have a habit of drinking coffee or tea in the morning, one of the reasons behind your afternoon crash is that the caffeine has depleted your necessary magnesium levels. Drinking yet another cup of coffee is probably not the best way to wake up.

Nor is reaching for a candy bar or anything with sugar. Fizzy sodas and pop drinks contain phosphates which bind with magnesium and flush it out through the kidneys.

“Anti-nutrients” such as sugary drinks, candy bars, cookies, cakes, and pastries tank the level of magnesium in the body as well.

Having a Vitamin D deficiency contributes to a loss of magnesium.

Alcoholic drinks, if taken seven times or more per week, also flush magnesium out through the kidneys.

Exercise and sweating depletes magnesium. Magnesium is controlled by the kidneys and excreted daily.

How do you know if you’ve got too much? Your body will naturally let you know. Too much magnesium can cause diarrhea as your body rids itself of the excess mineral.

Foods rich in magnesium

You can take a supplement, but the easiest fix is to start eating foods that contain magnesium to see if you feel an increase in energy. Look for vegetables high in chlorophyl, such as dark leafy greens—chard and spinach contain magnesium.

So do pumpkin seeds, yogurt, kefir, beans and other legumes such as black-eyed peas. Artichoke, almonds, avocado, goat cheese, figs, dark chocolate, and banana are some other foods that contain this miracle-worker mineral.

Further References:

What’s missing in Lyme treatment?

Healing chronic Lyme means you have to think like a private investigator. Yep, even when your brain fog rolls as thick as on a San Francisco street.

Private investigators solve mysteries. You want to solve the mystery of good health. How should you start?

Ask questions.

Let’s say you’re in pain. You go to an MD. What happens?

After a physical exam, you may walk out of there with a prescription for pharmaceutical painkillers.

The drugs may ease the pain for awhile. However, locating the origin of pain can be tricky. And if the source hasn’t been diagnosed or addressed, pills can only hide it temporarily and it may come back. In some cases, pharmaceuticals can even make it worse.

What then?

You might look further afield. Pain is motivating — which may be its only merit, but it’s a goodie.

You might turn to alternative treatments, seeking out an acupuncturist, herbalist, or a traditional Chinese Medicine doctor.

The MD offered one choice: pharmaceuticals. The acupuncturist, herbalist, and TCMD offered three more choices and possibly some pain relief without drugs.

What are the missing keys in Lyme treatment?

Standard treatments for Lyme cover one dimension: Kill the bug with antibiotics. If that worked for everyone all the time, there would be no need for further discussion. But it doesn’t.

Lyme patients who still aren’t healthy and continue to suffer from symptoms after completing a course of antibiotics might want to ask their doctors lots of questions.

For starters, let’s ask what else besides antibiotic treatment might be helpful? Diet and exercise aren’t generally addressed.

Most MDs don’t study nutrition, so they don’t consider it a factor in healing. However you might land in the office of a doctor with nutritional expertise. There are exceptions, because of overwhelming evidence that what you eat does play a role — a big role, in health and healing.

Or you might find a more holistic doctor, with knowledge that movement and physical exercise—even if only one brief walk per day—helps detox your lymphatic system, which is critical to recovery.

In that case, you’ve got a doctor with a wider perspective on Lyme treatment. You are encouraged to become more proactive in your own recovery. And that could be the moment you turn the tide toward wellness.

What other dimensions are missing?
For further reading see the 4 Paths to Beating Lyme

Diet & herbs in healing Lyme

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

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.


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 or

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

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.

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.