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Lyme Disease Rash

Diet and Supplements

Lyme makes excellent troubleshooters of us. People with Lyme disease are an innovative species. We tend to reach out and try new things. We've got to, because sometimes that's the only way to find the best remedies and treatments for our particular situation.

Every winter, I get eczema on my legs and hands, no matter what I do or how I eat. It’s frustrating. Yet each spring, it goes away as the weather warms up. Along with record-breaking temps and bitter winter cold comes an added challenge: Dry air inside. If you suffer from eczema, these cold, dry conditions can make a breakout unbearable. Your doctor can prescribe steroidal creme. Mine did, but after my horrid experiences with Prednisone, I couldn’t even bring myself to open the tube. I am mega-cautious when it comes to any medicine with steroids in it.

Manuka honey and Shea butter
By chance, I learned about Manuka honey from a friend who works at the local hospital. It comes from New Zealand, and the bees cultivate the nectar from tea tree bushes, with its famously potent antibacterial agents.

Turns out this hospital—a Western-medicine-centric place—like every other hospital in the US, orders Manuka honey by the boatload. Doctors in the ER use it on bad burns, deep gunshot wounds, and eczema.

It’s a good sign when your average hospital in the US starts using healthy “alternatives.” The type they use is trademarked Medihoney. I bought The Wild Bee brand at the local healthy foods store and started applying it directly on my skin. Mixed with a bit of Shea butter, that is.

Of course, nothing beats butter to seal in the moistness. Once in the morning and again before bedtime, I dab honey on the patches of dry skin, then slather it with a layer of Shea butter. Especially in the winter, I’ve found this combo to work like nothing else to soothe my dry skin and keep the eczema from getting worse.

I’ve long avoided eating any honey because our bodies react to it the same as sugar. Excessive amounts of sugar are to be avoided when the body is fighting any infection, but especially when it’s battling a fierce opponent such as Lyme. Manuka tastes lovely, but be cautious adding it to your diet. I do not recommend eating any sort of honey if you’re harboring a load of Lyme bacteria.

At the same time as I started using the Manuka on my skin, I also changed my diet. My doctor recommended that I limit my diet to find out if it could be a food allergy triggering the eczema. It may not be solely due to the cold dry winter weather.

Give GF a try
So I quit eating most of the common allergens. My diet is now 100% gluten-free and dairy-free. Wheat has never bothered me in the past, but by eliminating it completely and then experimenting with adding it back in, I’ve discovered that it actually does make my eczema worse. So, no more wheat for me.

Soy, although another potential allergen, isn’t problematic for me. I drink soy milk and eat tofu and edamame. Soy provides a good nonfat source of protein.

Bamboo leaf tea for silica?
In addition, I’ve added in a daily dose of bamboo-leaf tea. Over the past few years, I have experimented with preparing this tea, mainly because it’s very convenient. We happen to live inside a bamboo grove. I enjoy the process of picking and cleaning the leaves, then roasting them and grinding them up for a pot of tea.

Bamboo leaf tea has a pleasant grassy fragrance. It’s a light green tea which combines well with other teas (I especially like it blended with Jasmine green). It’s also very nice just brewed all by itself. Bamboo leaves are a high source of silica. The second-most common element on earth, silica is necessary to restore and regulate the amount of collagen in our bodies. Lyme bacteria eats away the collagen in our joints and skin. Bamboo leaf tea may help replace it.

What I don’t know yet is how much of the silica actually gets absorbed into our bodies from drinking bamboo leaf tea. How much is bioavailable? I’ll let you know as soon as I find out.

Turmeric with black pepper to reduce inflammation
Now let’s consider a very important spice—one that’s probably in your kitchen. Turmeric is highly recommended for reducing silent inflammation associated with arthritis, gout, heart disease, a whole host of other ailments, and of course, Lyme disease. Research into the cause and effect of Alzheimer’s disease on the brain has pointed to some very convincing scientific evidence that turmeric helps heal the brain, thus slow the aging process itself. But turmeric taken alone is evidently not as effective as turmeric that includes pepper. The addition of black pepper renders it many times more effective.

These are just a few of the supplements, therapies, and lifestyle changes that I’ve personally experimented with over the years. If something isn’t working for you, you might want to try a different remedy. Listen to your own body, be patient, and you’ll find what’s best for you. Different things work differently on different people, but these are some that I’ve come to depend on, to help me maintain the quality of life I’ve gotten used to since healing from Lyme.

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Babesiosis

Ticks! How do I hate them? Let me count the ways.

Babesiosis is known as a co-infection frequently accompanying Lyme. But it is no mere side-kick. The latest threat from ticks is not a new disease, but cases seem to be on the rise especially in the northeastern US. Babesiosis is described as a malaria-like illness which can be life-threatening in some people. It is caused by the parasite babesea microti, which invades and destroys the body's red blood cells.

Unlike Lyme disease, Babesiosis will not present with a
bullseye rash. Symptoms from the outset are fever, sweats, fatigue, bad headaches and malaise, or a general feeling of un-wellness. 

People who are at greatest risk of fatality from Babesiosis:
• are on immuno-suppresant drugs
• lack a spleen
• on chemotherapy
• infants & elderly


Take precautions to prevent exposure to ticks, which can hang out for days on the tips of grasses, and hitch a ride on chipmunks and other rodents if there are no deer around.

In the summertime,
ticks are in the nymph stage, at their tiniest. Just to up the ante of the risk, many of us spend more time outdoors enjoying the warm weather and longer days. This means that when you come inside, tick-check time is even more important than ever. Get the kids in the act. Place a full-length mirror in the foyer and establish a habit of helping each other search for uninvited critters.

Be well, for goodness sake!

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Cleansing for health post-Lyme Disease

January invites fresh starts. So it’s no surprise that cleansing, colon cleansing to be specific, is on the minds of many. A lot of us abandon our usually healthy diets as we travel or feast with friends and families over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now that we’ve decked the hallways, it’s time to clear them out.

In my life BL (before Lyme,) I had embarked on dietary healing cleanses such as juice fasts quite a few times. Bear in mind, I grew up in California and one of my first jobs after high school was at a health food store, so my behavior wasn’t out of sync. But health food stores were new and not quite popular yet. Even in SoCal in the 70s - 80s you might be dubbed a little weird if you shopped in one, especially wearing your Birkenstocks and tye-died t-shirts.

Pre-internet days now seem like ancient history, but these stores always had an intriguing books section which I gravitated to. I sipped many a smoothie while reading about the virtues of sprouts, organic veggies, the healing power of vegetable juices, herbal formulas and even (ahem), enemas. Since learning about the function and importance of the colon, it’s always made sense to me that an occasional cleansing could be very helpful. Keep things moving on out. Now of course the internet is a rich source of research on, and recipes for such cleansings, including full-color images of the dreadful gunk that people have dredged from their lowlands.

Having been through Lyme’s crucible, I would never suggest that someone still healing from Lyme Disease try a colon cleanse. I haven’t yet asked, but I doubt that many Lyme doctors would advise it, based on my own experience with frequent and painful Herxheimer reactions and the Lyme symptoms themselves.

However, I’m currently on Day 6 of experimenting with an herbal intestinal cleanse. I decided to go for it because I’ve been feeling so incredibly normal for more than a year now. This is my first time since healing from LD and going through many years of both traditional and alternative Lyme Disease treatment. I’ve got a good feeling about it. Over the holidays, I did experience a few skin-breakouts and some sort of shingle pain that I attribute to chronic Lyme symptoms. It seems to happen every winter as the weather grows chilly & dry and I spend more time indoors with the heater on. It’s too early to come to any real conclusions, but since Day 1 I’ve noticed a distinct reduction in swelling in my tummy, and my skin breakouts have almost completely faded. The skin isn’t itchy or red as it has been for over a month. I haven’t had any negative effects from the herbs, no Herxing (thank goodness!), no brain-fog, no skin rash and no fatigue. In fact I’m super energized and I’m off to a dance class as soon as I finish this post!

Drinking more water (one doctor mentions that we should all be drinking nearly a gallon per day) is so important. And you know how I feel about exercise - it’s the miracle cure when you can possibly swing it. But on top of these two things, it seems to be helping me to focus, at least for a week or two, on cleansing my colon again. Remember, I’m no doctor and I’m certainly not doling out recommendations here. But I know sometimes it’s helpful to hear someone else’s experience.

I can’t remember where I copied this quote from so apologize for the lack of acknowledgement. But in the spirit of the new year and its power & potential for healing, I want to include it here:

"The future is just the past catching up with us. Today is the preview of tomorrow's reality. In the future we will say one of two things. ‘I wish I had’ or ‘I'm glad I did,’ but we make that choice today."

If you’ve cleansed lately please tell me what your experience was. I’d love to hear from you, especially if you’ve had Lyme.

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"My year in HELL"

It's Friday, and I wanted to share this with you all. One our readers, Kim Jones, gave us permission to post this happy note. If you're sick, take heart and know that there are many, many people who are beating Lyme:

It has been a year since a nasty little tick gave me the disease from HELL. But I am back among the living. And living well. Feeling better than ever! Something I did not think was possible a year ago. Some days were so hopeless and I was too tired to read in bed or walk down my driveway to get the mail let alone work or go out with friends.

I dreaded the full moon and nights of restless sleep and days of endless exhaustion. The joint pain was incredible and I could not think through the brain fog to function in any normal sort of way. I will forever look back on May 2008 as the beginning of my year in HELL.

Never mind the swirl of doctors and pills and tests that we have all gone through and the endless researching and reading to find an answer. I absolutely was consumed with finding a cure - I was not going to let this ruin my life. I was absolutely glued to my computer screen searching every LD site I could find.

Then later, when Under Our Skin came out (I bought an advance copy), I watched it over and over while I cried seemingly endless tears. But I refused to allow this to happen to me. Mine is a story of strength and perseverance and just plain stubbornness on my part. Even from the beginning I made my mind up that this THING was NOT going to get me. I was going to beat it.

And I have beat it. Thanks to self-determination, excellent nutrition, LOTS of exercise, and meditative positive thinking. Also, with support from my husband and an excellent local LPN, the only one in the medical community who would listen and help me with meds and support, and a team of online supporters.

I have WON this battle. I am symptom free now for over 3 months. No meds, no brain fog, no fatigue, no rash, nothing. I really am free of this dreaded disease. I now have my life back - whoooooooppppppeeeee!
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Lyme Disease Pictures

I can now stand to look - objectively view a photo of a tick, or glance at pictures of a bad rash on someone's leg or neck. However, the last thing I could stomach when I was very sick with Lyme were Lyme disease pictures.

My universe consisted of my bed and my computer. Both were necessary for survival and healing. I slept. When I was not trying to sleep or in too much pain or too dizzy, I sat at the computer and researched Lyme disease. Can you relate?

A large percentage of the skin on my hands, arms and shins was hamburger. I quickly learned not to search for "Lyme rash" or "bull's-eye rash." I couldn't bear looking at the images on the screen. Way too close for comfort.

Sleep. High-quality food. Antibiotics. Supplements. Physical exercise. Time. Love. Liberal doses of these ingredients have miraculously repaired my body and brain, and now I can look (when I must) at a picture of a tiny tick, even though I still squirm at the sight.
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Support while detoxing

With all the talk about Swine Flu, there's an abundance of common sense about how to stay healthy making the rounds on the Internet, such as washing your hands regularly and supporting the immune system. Immune support is as central to keeping the flu bug away as it is in healing from Lyme disease. And one important step in keeping healthy is detoxification. Detox is part of the one-two punch in Lyme management (along with antibiotics) that RN Ginger Savely describes in our experts interview series. But what happens when you try to detox too quickly?

Anyone dealing with Lyme is painfully familiar with stressful "Herxheimer Reactions," which occurs when toxins - Lyme bacteria - in the body die off faster than the organs of elimination can handle. Learning how to manage Herxes is important yet tricky business. Essentially experienced as an increase in symptoms, Herxes can include nausea, headaches, brain fog, vertigo or mood swings, bringing more stress to an already stress-loaded system.

Some experts and patients say the Herx just comes with the territory, that it's unfortunately one of the crummy things that Lyme patients must endure in order to get better. However, others claim that painful Herxes are more likely to occur when the organs of elimination lack sufficient support. For example, Jean Reist, RN, claims that the intensity of a Herx can be reduced and in some cases eliminated altogether. How? By supporting the lymph system, an important part of the immune system and a major player in elimination. The lymph must be maintained in order to carry toxins away from the cells. An act as simple as drinking plenty of water each day and routinely jumping on a mini-trampoline can help move the lymph, and reduce the effects of a Herx.

The organs of elimination include the liver, the bowel, kidneys, skin and lungs. Yes, deep breathing, which is used in meditation and yoga practice, is a way to remove toxins from your lungs, so remember to support your body in healing by taking a deep relaxing breath.
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Lyme disease symptoms in families

RN and Lyme expert Ginger Savely says similar Lyme disease symptoms frequently show up in members of the same family. In her experience treating patients with Tick Borne diseases at health care clinics in Texas and San Francisco, CA, some families seem to be more keenly susceptible to falling ill from a tick bite. Genetic disposition may play an important part.

The Borrelia bacteria does not affect all people to the same degree. Lyme disease symptoms vary from person to person, but family members may present similar symptoms. And some may not get sick at all, exhibiting a stronger genetic resistance to succumbing to the infection.

"It is always impressive to me how many people do have this infection that are totally fine. Many times, I will check family members that are still healthy, and they actually test very positive for the disease, although they have no symptoms," says Ginger. The bulls eye rash is not always present.

Ginger, a member of ILADS, follows their guidelines when treating Lyme patients. That means sticking with antibiotic therapy for as long as it takes. For certain patients, such as those who have suffered with Lyme disease symptoms for decades, treatment has taken up to four or five years. Neither Ginger nor her patients mind that treatment must be prolonged. As she says, "it does pay to just keep plugging along, and keep treating. Because eventually people do get better."

Read about the Expert Interview Audio Series and listen to the interview with Ginger Savely.
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Herxing and finding the balance

How do you tell the difference between a herx and Lyme symptoms? A herx, aka Herxheimer reaction, is many things to many people. When you're suffering, it doesn't seem to matter whether the cause is a herx or symptoms that are acting up. You just want them to stop. When you are infected with the Lyme bacteria, your body is loaded with toxins that react within your body's multiple systems and make you sick.

You have to kill the bugs and get them out of your body. Detoxifying, therefore, is a primary aim in healing from Lyme, but unfortunately, detoxing can also make you sick. When you're healing from Lyme you must try to find the balance between killing the bugs and keeping the herxes under control, so it doesn't feel like they are trying to kill you. Finding that balance is like surfing a giant wave. You must be hypervigilant, sensitive to your environment, and able to react as elegantly as possible to the perpetual changes that encompass you and carry you along. Although, as anybody who has ever suffered the stress and pain of Lyme symptoms or herxes would say, I'd rather be surfing.

It seems that herxing (often accompanied by a rash) can be triggered by a number of different factors. Stress, change of medication type and an increase in medication dosage (either herbal or pharmaceutical medications) are a few examples. Those in the Lyme community (albeit, an unwilling yet blessedly generous group of humans) deal with herxes in a wide variety of ways. That's the subject of my next post.

Until then, hang ten.
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Lyme symptom-free

I am finally back to living a normal, Lyme-free life. There were days that I never, EVER thought I'd get here, but it's happening. I'm upright, I'm productive, and I'm getting on with it. I'm relatively symptom-free. Sometimes, like this morning when the birds are singing and I can smell the yummy omelets that my sweetie is cooking in the kitchen, I feel absolutely great. (Or maybe that's the Holy Basil) However, there are no magic bullets. There has never been a day when I woke up and thought, "Hey! I'm all better." Getting over Lyme is not like getting over the flu. It takes time. A lot of time. It's been two and a half years since my diagnosis, and more than three since I began to deal with mysterious symptoms.

A tiny muscle in my left eyelid is twitching, but I'm going to chalk that up to staring at this computer screen.

I took the herbal tinctures from the Amazon for about a year. Dr. Cowden's protocol worked really well for me. Currently, I'm taking a very high quality colloidal silver and a host of other helpful supplements. In October of 2006, I had a month-long herx that manifested as itchy rashes on my shins and ankles. That was always where the worst of the rashes had been, for the two years prior. I kept taking the herbs, but I was nervous that the rash might worsen, so I wasn't increasing the doses like I wanted to. I struggled with the decision to increase the doses and take my chances with more herxes, or just step back and take small amounts until I got over it and felt like I could risk a herx. I didn't increase the doses for about two months, then in about February I started increasing, and I didn't break out or feel Lymie. So I slowly started to increase more and built up to the full dose, then stayed on it until about September.

Since October of 2006 I have had no major breakouts, no problematic rashes, and every day I feel incrementally better. Symptoms, good riddance.
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Diagnosing Lyme Symptoms

Due to its many symptoms and its ability to mimic numerous other illnesses, Lyme disease remains tricky to diagnose. The bull's eye rash, with which the infection is frequently associated, is by no means the only symptom to be aware of. Indeed, only a relatively small percentage of people infected with the bacteria known to cause Lyme ever present with the bull's eye rash. Other symptoms include fatigue, fever, headache, joint pain, a rushing or jumpy heart, and an extreme sensitivity to bright lights, especially florescent lighting. Symptoms do not all appear in all Lyme patients, and they may present at different stages as the disease progresses.

Lyme is a multistage illness, and the first-stage symptoms mentioned above can all be mistaken as signs of another ailment. Joint pain can pass as arthritis, headache may be associated with other triggers such as workplace stress, eye strain, or menstruation. Fatigue is a universal problem, as many people suffer from lack of sleep, and when overcome by tiredness, tend to push themselves beyond a healthy limit with the assistance of caffeine. Because brain fog is primarily caused by a lack of sleep, there are many people who walk around each day trying to function normally while feeling mentally fuzzy. Thus it becomes confusing to discriminate in order to obtain a diagnosis. When is mental confusion, or the inability to make clear decisions, caused by a fatigue, and when is it part of a bacterial infection?

In advanced stages of Lyme, or in cases where the bacteria has affected the brain, called neuroborelliosis, inability to concentrate, memory loss, brain fog, speech problems such as stammering, and hallucinations are all potential symptoms, all of which, again, do not appear in every Lyme sufferer. Hallucinations can be expressed through any of the senses. They do not always manifest as visions. Some people hear voices or sounds which aren't there. Others feel sensations, such as a raging fever, when in actuality their body temperature is normal. Additionally, disorientation or a sudden onset of paranoia can be a symptom of this stage of Lyme disease.

There is no question that speech disorders, severe mental fog, and these other symptoms are upsetting and frightening. Yet once a clear diagnosis has been obtained, a Lyme patient can begin to heal using a multi-branched approach, including whatever is deemed needed by the patient and his or her team of medical support personnel. Painful and often torturous Lyme symptoms can be alleviated with effort and commitment to healing. Many Lyme sufferers eventually find themselves balanced and virtually healed from Lyme, often as a result of using a wide array of healing approaches, including pharmacological antibiotics, herbal and nutritional supplements, physical exercise, and mental and emotional support. Through heroic effort and a will to commit to their own healing, many people who have experienced even the severe and disorienting symptoms of neuroborelliosis have recovered from Lyme disease.
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Common mistakes in diagnosing and treatment

Deliberations and contestments continue over successful treatment of Lyme disease. Due to the difficulty of getting a correct diagnosis shortly following the initial infection, Lyme patients commonly do not seek treatment until the symptoms become painful. Not everyone gets the bullseye rash! At the present, most physicians do not know how best to diagnose Lyme. If you or a loved one are suffering from symptoms you suspect may be associated with the disease, it is very important to seek a Lyme disease expert. Incorrect diagnosis, and subsequently, inappropriate subscription medication, can lead to serious complications for the person with an underlying infection due to undetected Borrelia bacteria.
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