Lyme Disease Research Database Independent reporting on all aspects of Lyme Disease

Feb 2012

Fight Lyme from every angle

Lyme is a multi-systemic disease, which means it can affect all the systems in the body, including the brain. Many people discover that Lyme symptoms must be treated from as many angles as possible. But how can we be certain we’re hitting them all?  

These four angles represent the fundamental perspectives that arise in any illness, in fact these four angles are always present for everyone, healthy as well as ill:
  • Physical state
  • Mental state
  • Cultural views
  • Social systems


Consider the way these fit together in your life. For now, let’s talk about the first two, because it’s easy to see how they work together, although they differ in one crucial way. You can see one, but not the other.

Conventional Lyme protocols treat the physical body -- your physical symptoms. That’s one angle. Even if your doctor uses alternative medicine, for example, prescribing herbal tinctures instead of conventional antibiotics, he is still addressing the physical symptoms. And as Lyme symptoms vary from person to person, your doctor might be primarily prescribing treatment to address your arthritis, while also treating a different patient for Lyme fatigue and rash.

Conventional medicine emphasizes treatment of the physical state with good reason. The physical body is what we see. It’s easy to see many symptoms or their effects, such as the sudden wince of someone suffering with arthritic pain. Many illnesses and conditions can and should be treated primarily from this one angle. You break a leg, you go to an orthopedic doctor.

But what about the mental state?
People with Lyme disease often have the experience of seeming normal to our friends and family members even though we know that inside, something is off. Very off.  They may declare “but you don’t look sick.” They may not be able to tell from the outside, but our inner view could be garbled and fuzzy, and it can vary from day to day or depending on the medicines we take. I used to have the odd feeling that I was somehow living underwater, just a few inches from the surface, so close but so far away from normal. It was weird to think that people thought of me as “okay,” because I knew I wasn’t quite.

Integrative physicians, in contrast to conventional doctors, are in the business of addressing the mental state in addition to the physical. How do they accomplish this? For starters, they talk to their patients and they listen. They ask how they feel. Patients may be asked to guess at what they think the problem is, and they are generally encouraged to play an active role in their own treatment.

These patients typically feel gratified for having been listened to and taken seriously. Doctors who listen are thought of as open-minded by their patients. Instead of simply being poked and prodded and treated like a slab of meat, patients feel respected and even energized by sessions with their doctor. Energetic exchanges or meaningful conversations can contribute to a patient’s mental health, leaving them feeling optimistic about the future of their state of physical health. That’s two angles.

In the next post, I’ll discuss the third and fourth perspectives and explore the ways in which they contribute to the whole picture of healing from Lyme.

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Resveratrol and Lyme treatment

Is resveratrol a component of your Lyme treatment? A lot of people, from Dr. Oz to herbal healers to big pharma, are excited about its health benefits, and probably not least of all due to its presence as an ingredient in red wine. Reportedly, resveratrol boosts mental & physical energy, reduces appetite and cravings, offers cardiovascular protection, lowers blood sugar, prevents oxidative damage from free-radicals and contains anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. And it improves the quality of sleep. And gets rid of turkey neck, age spots and gray hair! Geez, who wouldn’t be interested?

Resveratrol is a phenol, an acidic organic compound, found in some plants. It occurs in the skin of grapes, and also in the seeds of muscadine grapes. The Japanese knotweed is an excellent source of it as well. In grapes it acts as an antifungal, and also it is very high in antioxidants which helps to protect the fruit on the vine from the harsh effects of the sun. Sure, it’s available in red wine but so is alcohol, which isn’t recommended in any Lyme protocol. You can get a much larger and more beneficial dosage of resveratrol through supplements.

Resveratrol was a part of my protocol during a critical stage of Lyme, and I’ve recently started taking it again. I’m taking Biotivia Transmax 500mg, just fyi. So far it’s been very helpful as an anti-inflammatory, which gives me a lot of hope for healing a recurring Lyme rash (not a bullseye rash). Superficial research turns up glowing testimonials. I’d like to believe them all. However, my inner critic revs up to high-alert when reading such claims. I will be poking below the surface and talking with scientists and doctors about resveratrol’s part in Lyme treatment. I want to know: Is it beneficial as part of a protocol for Lyme disease? Not all resveratrol is alike. What type or form is recommended for Lyme patients? And as there are no long-term tests available as yet, are there contraindications? What are the differences between trans-resveratrol, plain resveratrol and cis-resveratrol?

A 60 minutes segment from January 2009 examined some of the claims of resveratrol as a “fountain of youth” supplement that pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is now evidently interested in.

Master herbalist Stephen Buhner lists it as the number one ingredient in his core herbal protocol for Lyme disease. He recommends whole root Japanese knotweed. Here are Stephen’s remarks copied from planetthrive.com:The Source Naturals form of the caplet that I recommend is recommended because it is essential whole root knotweed that is standardized to contain a certain percentage of resveratrol. What I would recommend is that you get the whole root in encapsulated form. You can get it from Tim Scott at tim@watercourse-way.com in Bratteleboro, VT.”

What type, if any, are you taking as part of your Lyme treatment? I’d love to hear from you. Let me know if resveratrol has helped with a Lyme rash.

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Detox diet and chronic Lyme

The trick with any Lyme treatment is that detoxing will almost certainly bring on a Herxheimer reaction, referred to quite generously by some as a healing crisis. As anyone who’s experienced a Herx knows, it can be as bad as or worse than the Lyme symptoms themselves. Personally, I find it impossible to tell the difference.

What is a Herx? The Herx occurs when the Lyme bacterial complex dies from an attack by antibiotics or other means, and releases toxins that signal reactions from the body’s immune system. Herxing can be triggered at a number of points throughout the healing process.

Detoxification, once the catch-word of glitzy drug rehab centers, is now more or less a Hollywood cliche. Almost every health & beauty magazine or website promotes a different detox diet that in theory will cleanse your body of toxins that assault it every day: smog, sugar, alcohol, pesticides and artificial sweeteners. If you suffer from a chronic condition such as post-Lyme syndrome or chronic Lyme, proponents of detox diets say you’ll benefit from periodic cleansing.

Current, popular ways to cleanse include the ‘Master Cleanse’ which consists primarily of drinking lemon, water and maple syrup. Many consider fresh raw vegetable juices a healthy basis for a good detox diet that can help people slim down while infusing the body with necessary enzymes and other rich nutrients. These types of diets are believed by some to boost the body’s elimination mechanisms through internal cleaning.

However, there may be no scientific basis for cleansing diets. Dr. Peter Pressman of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles states that the body’s multiple systems, such as the liver, kidneys, and GI tract, already do a perfectly good job of cleansing the body and eliminating toxins. He claims there is no evidence to suggest that detox diets improve the body’s natural mechanisms.

Lyme patients must be vigilant about popular trends. Changing your diet or engaging in something radical such as a juice fast might even be a bad idea, especially if you are on antibiotics or some other Lyme treatment. Always discuss with your Lyme doctor or medical team before changing your diet. Cleansing can be dicey for people with active Lyme disease symptoms. The cleanse may trigger a Herxheimer reaction which would affect the body’s immune system.

Whether you think colon cleansing is good and necessary or not, we can all agree that keeping things moving is best. By drinking lots of filtered water and eating foods that help prevent or relieve constipation, we can do our best to ensure that our body is able to eliminate the toxins from the Lyme bacteria as well as the meds, while undergoing Lyme treatment and post treatment. Be sure to drink about 8 glasses of water daily, as it helps digest the fiber, as well as softens and adds bulk to the stool. When I am experiencing a Herx, I drink extra water and it always seems to give me relief, almost immediately.

What are the best foods for preventing or relieving constipation?

High-fiber foods such as barley, quinoa, brown rice are helpful. So are flaxseeds, beans, lentils, artichokes, sweet potatoes, pears and green peas. If you’re avoiding gluten, don’t eat wheats, barley or rye. Quinoa makes a great breakfast cereal.  I add a little coconut oil, stevia and cinnamon, and toss on a teaspoon of flaxseed for good measure. And of course steel cut oats that are gluten free are highly recommended in a healthy Lyme diet, because they’re so good for our skin in addition to their fiber-rich content. We should be eating about 20 - 35 grams of fiber per day, according to the NIH.

Additionally, people with a magnesium deficiency are found to be at greater risk for constipation, so include plenty of magnesium-rich sources in your healing Lyme diet. Nuts such as almonds and cashews are high in magnesium, as are baked potatoes in their “jackets” as my mom used to say.

Refined or processed foods such as white bread, white rice, and white pasta are not your friends if you want to promote pooping. In addition, ice cream, cheeses and meats are high in fat and will work against you in your quest for a good bowel movement. Cut these processed and sugary foods out of your diet and replace them with high quality, high fiber foods. You’ll begin to see and feel the difference.

For now, we may not have the answer to healing chronic Lyme, but in my experience, my quality of life -- and the amount of energy I have for living -- increases immensely the more I shift my diet into the healthy zone. Over the years, each and every person I’ve interviewed for our Lyme Success Stories series has also told a remarkable tale of having healed more quickly after making healthy changes to their diet.

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