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Lyme Disease Tick

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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Cold freeze won't keep ticks from biting

Gorgeous fall weather brings temptations. Pumpkin pie cooling by the kitchen window. Outdoors, leaf-strewn mountain paths beckon. Canada geese honk and chatter in the clear twilight as they pass overhead on their way to the nearby lake.

The last thing we want to think about is Lyme disease. However, there is an increased chance of getting Lyme during winter, when we believe ticks don’t pose a threat.

I hope you’re feeling well enough to spend some time outdoors. Natural environments have an undisputed healing power, increasing relaxation and restoring a sense of balance in our minds and bodies. But if you do, take the necessary precautions. At least in Rhode Island,
ticks can survive even a cold New England freeze, according to Dr. Thomas Mather of the University of Rhode Island.

From WPRI News:
Ticks can survive throughout the entire winter, even if they are frozen in the ground for periods of time.

“They must produce some sort of antifreeze inside of themselves, because as soon as the ground thaws and they warm up again, they’re back out and biting,” said Mather.


When you go for a hike in the fresh fall air, stay in the middle of the path. Avoid grassy and wooded areas. Wear long socks and boots and tuck your pant legs in. Perform that routine tick check when you come inside. Pets who share our living space should routinely be inspected too. And bear in mind, wearing DEET does not guarantee protection from tick bites.
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Warm-weather ticks & Treatment strategy questioned

Surprisingly brisk bursts of wind scatter multi-colored leaves and shuttle herds of gray thunderheads across the sky. It’s Fall, arguably the most beautiful time of the year, at least in our nook of the SE. Still, when it comes to unwanted critters, awareness and prevention are the rule for venturing outdoors.

Warmer weather creates a haven for the tiny natural catastrophes we know as
ticks. In the Southeast, we may be advised that ticks don’t carry Lyme disease, but an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. A recent news clip from WXIA in Georgia attests to the rise in ticks, which may be due to the very warm weather much of the nation has endured over the course of 2012.

For prevention, the classic advice includes keeping on top of your pets’ tick and flea medications, and using caution outdoors. When you are outside, whether hiking, strolling through a neighborhood park, or preparing your garden for the season, don’t make yourself available for ticks. Start a fashion trend -- goodness knows it’ll keep the neighbors amused. Tuck your pants into the tops of your socks and wear light-colored clothing so ticks are easier to spot. Who says you can’t wear white after Labor Day?

Other prevention-strategies for the season: Make a tick-check a part of your post-outdoors routine. We can’t see our whole selves even in the mirror. Ask a family member to inspect the back of your head and your back. If they do find a tick -- have them remove it without damaging it (which can increase the risk of infection) and put it in a baggie, so it can be checked for the bacterial complex which causes Lyme and other diseases. Not all ticks carry the spirochete that causes Lyme.

We recommend sending it to
IGeneX Labs in Palo Alto, California. There are a few other labs around the country, which you can find through searching online.

Watch and wait? Or treat with doxy?
People who suspect that they’ve been bitten and infected by a tick have a couple of choices. One is to watch and wait. See your doctor, and be ready to treat symptoms aggressively if they arise. Symptoms can be extremely subtle, and they are mightily varied depending on your particular immune system response, general state of health, age and many other factors.

The other option is to begin antibiotic treatment immediately, with the most common drug used for Lyme, doxycycline. This approach, which is apparently based on only one case study, deserves scrutiny, according to ILADS doctor Elizabeth Maloney, who has
another view on the matter.

In her written testimony, she questions whether this now commonly-recommended prophylaxis strategy is sufficient to treat the borrelia infection. She states that it may indeed prevent the patient from getting the treatment they need, by hiding the symptoms of Lyme. Watching and waiting may be the wisest choice.



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Lyme disease at the center of JP Morgan failures

A tiny tick can wreak big damage. We know the terrible health issues that Lyme bacteria and its attendant co-infections can cause one single person, affecting them on every level and in every aspect of life.


But people don’t exist in a vacuum. For every person suffering with Lyme disease, numerous others are affected in countless ways. They don’t have to have the disease, they may just be related to, work with, or care for someone who does: their co-worker, aunt, Facebook friend or significant other.


An interesting article in the New York Times reveals that Lyme disease lies at the center of the discord at JPMorgan. Turns out that a key leader, who evidently knew the critical importance of managing relationships, was unable to preside over meetings as usual because she got Lyme. And due to the absence of her level-headed influence, certain people lost sight of their duties. Narcissism abounds in power positions.


The NYT story reports that the bank’s Chief Investment Officer, coolheaded executive Ina Drew, had expertly handled key personnel relationships and directed the organization during peak moments of the brutal financial crises of 2008. However, her guidance was dramatically absent during 2010 and 2011.


“But after contracting Lyme disease in 2010, she was frequently out of the office for a critical period, when her unit was making riskier bets, and her absences allowed long-simmering internal divisions and clashing egos to come to the fore, the traders said.”


Conference calls between deputies in Ms. Drew’s New York and London unit “devolved into shouting matches,” according to a trader quoted in the article. Without her to expertly manage negotiations between divisive personalities, egos spun out of control and distracted everyone from their duties.


Of course, Lyme disease is not the sole cause of the banking giant’s financial woes. For our purposes here, the financial failures are besides the point. What I find intriguing is how the story clearly illustrates the power of relationships, the impact of leadership, and the mayhem that resulted because one key person in a position of leadership got Lyme disease.


The impact of Lyme on our relationships
Think of the way your own suffering has impacted your relationships, how it has colored the everyday decisions of your friends and loved ones. Chances are, you’re not at the center of a monolithic banking meltdown. But like all of us, you have duties and responsibilities. You may be the head of a family or company that depends on you financially, emotionally or otherwise. How do you manage to cope with the changes Lyme disease has forced on you? How do they manage without you, when they face meltdowns of their own?


Another key theme woven through this story is vulnerability. We work hard to make something of our lives, pour endless love and resources into developing and protecting our families and our life’s work. It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking we’re invulnerable to disease, or to anything so small as a tick.


It comes as no surprise that ticks will bite the movers and shakers of the world as easily as the working class. Perhaps because of her notoriety, Ina Drew’s case of Lyme will serve to shed more light on the disease, the numbers of people affected, the ease with which Lyme can be contracted and the difficulties that so many of us encounter in getting diagnosed and seeking treatment.


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How to recognize Lyme symptoms in your child

Probably the most frightening thing, aside from contracting a Lyme infection yourself, is discovering that your child has Lyme. Parents number one role is to protect, after all. We are the first line of defense between our kids and the big, bad world. We’re hardwired to keep broken glass, vampires and werewolves at bay, to say nothing of the lions, tigers and bears. But some adversaries come in small sizes. Sometimes they’re even invisible to the naked eye.

Lyme shares a long list of symptoms with a number of other illnesses. So what sort of treatment do you give if you don’t know the difference between one disease and another? How can you tell whether your kid has the flu or he’s suffering with Lyme? You find your mind racing to find answers, to fill in the blanks. But, you may reason, you never saw a tick so therefore it can’t be Lyme.

One thing we have to bear in mind is that it’s possible to get a tick bite that nobody notices. You may not have seen any ticks on your child, but if he or she was playing in an area where ticks are prone to live, it is possible that your child was exposed.

I’ve heard some medical doctors say that Lyme disease cannot be transmitted from a tick who hasn’t been attached to a person’s skin for less than 24 hours. I’ve heard them say 36 and 48 hours as well. But according to noted researcher and former Yale post doctoral-operative fellow in therapeutic radiology, Dr. Eva Sapi, there is no evidence to suggest that Lyme can’t be contracted in less time than that. She and her research students in Lyme treatment regularly go on tick-gathering forays in the forest near their New Haven, CT research lab. She has seen people contract Lyme disease when a known-to-be infectious tick has only been attached to their skin for an hour or two, no longer.

People often make a mistake in thinking that if the
bull’s-eye rash that is so closely associated with Lyme isn’t present, than it just can’t be a Lyme infection. However, that simply doesn’t seem to be the case. Although a Lyme infection can be the most likely suspect if that rash is present, the absence of the rash does not indicated that it isn’t a Lyme infection. So if you haven’t seen a tick, and you don’t detect a skin rash, what do you look for?

Lyme symptoms in your child may include the following:

flu-like body aches that don’t improve with sleep
fever
headache
rash
crushing fatigue that is not relieved with rest
joint pain
sensitivity to florescent lights
night sweats
nausea and vomiting
insomnia
forgetfulness and confusion

If you suspect that your child may have Lyme, please try to find a good
Lyme literate doctor. Call ILADS and ask them to give you the name and contact info for the doctor or pediatrician nearest you. Don’t be surprised if a knowledgeable Lyme doctor, who suspects that your child may have a Lyme infection, starts treatment with antibiotics before test results are in. An untreated infection can involve the brain, heart, joints and all the systems of your child’s body. Early treatment for Lyme is so very important, as the disease has three stages. Treatment during stage one is the most reliable way to prevent further progression of the disease.


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Beautiful weather brings tick danger

"Go outside and play!" Sound familiar?

I grew up in a time and place where the accepted norm was to spend every possible moment out-of-doors. My mother gently objected to my lounging on the couch for hours, absorbing books by the stackful, whenever it was sunny and warm outside. But since I grew up in SoCal, it was ALWAYS sunny and warm. I did ruin my eyesight, so she was probably right about that. And although I read voraciously in the summer (and every other time of the year), I still managed to make it outside to swim and hike with friends pretty much every day as a kid.

So when spring comes tumbling in, bringing beautiful outdoorsy weather, should you still be sending your kids outside to play? Have things changed now that you are aware of the dangers of Lyme? Now that you know you and your loved ones are only one tick-bite away from it?

This spring, reports are already piling up in regional news, warning that this is likely to be a heavy tick season. The ticks are early and plentiful.

One suggestion for preventing Lyme is to advise your kids not to sit on the ground. Now, how realistic is that? For kids, part of the allure of playing outside is the opportunity to investigate the bugs and other critters crawling on the ground. And when you're little, how else can you eat your snacks, play tic-tac-toe in the dirt, examine the fluttering moth you just caught in your hands, if not sitting on the ground? And what about toddlers who are still getting their sea-legs, and end up sitting more than walking?

One thing that really bugs me is when I read, over and over in various articles, that ticks must be embedded for 24 hours or so in order to infect the person they bite. While that may be a comfort to read, there is no scientific evidence to support it. Prevention is the very best medicine, not wishful thinking.

Aside from prevention, early detection is still the most important thing when it comes to having been exposed to ticks. Bear in mind, tick bites don't hurt. This is because the tick injects a sort of anaesthetic with the bite that will numb the area, so you won't feel it. Perform regular tick checks on yourself and your kids, especially after time spent playing outside. Take the time to be careful and diligent. Remove ticks before they have a chance to get embedded.

And please tell everybody you know that tick checks are vitally important.
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Tick saliva may hold key to Lyme vaccine

Erol Fikrig, MD, and other researchers at the Yale School of Medicine may be hot on the trail of creating a new Lyme vaccine.   

What makes this Lyme vaccine different from the one that was taken off the market in 2002?   

From a recent post on Science Blog.com   

"Traditionally, vaccines have directly targeted specific pathogens. This is the first time that antibodies against a protein in the saliva of a pathogen's transmitting agent (in this case, the tick) has been shown to confer immunity when administered protectively as a vaccine."   

Apparently the old Lyme vaccine "utilized just the outer surface proteins of the bacteria."

"The authors [of this study] believe this new strategy of targeting the saliva - the 'vector molecule' that a microbe requires to infect a host - may be applicable not just to Lyme disease but to other insect-borne pathogens that also cause human illness."

"We believe that it is likely that many arthropod-borne infection agents of medical importance use vector proteins as they move to the mammalian host," Fikrig explained.

If their scientific hunch proves correct, this study may also have positive implications for treatment of other illnesses that are spread by insects.

"Currently, we are working to determine if this strategy is likely to be important for West Nile virus infection, dengue fever, and malaria, among other diseases."
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North Carolina recognizes risk of Lyme

Are you living in a state where the medical board--or worse, your own doctor--won't acknowledge Lyme disease?

Until recently, many North Carolina residents and physicians have presumed that the risk of getting Lyme within state borders was nonexistent. Casualties have included not only residents who contracted the disease, but also Dr Joseph Jemsek's Charlotte, NC medical practice. (Please note: Dr Jemsek moved his clinic to Fort Mill, SC in 2008.)

Dr Carl Williams performs disease surveillance for the North Carolina State epidemiology department. His office is in the tick-counting business. He says that unfortunately, the risk of contracting a tick-borne illness is nothing new in NC.

"Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is still a greater risk than Lyme in North Carolina, and you can catch both of them here," says Dr Williams.

Risk of Lyme disease in NC has now been officially acknowledged. "However," he adds, "skepticism is high because counts are low." That is, the numbers of confirmed cases of Lyme are still lower than cases of RMSF. There has been one fatality due to RMSF in North Carolina this year.

"As far as prevention goes," says Dr Williams, "there is nothing new to recommend. The same old tried and true methods are still the most effective."

Cooler weather is no deterrent to ticks, so he recommends that we stay tick-aware at all times of the year. "Just because it's January, for example, don't think you can't take precautions or don't need to. We want people to recognize that there are a variety of ticks here in NC, and that it's important to take care and adhere to preventative measures."

What are those tried and true methods?

"Use DEET on areas of exposed skin, and Permethrin on clothes. Perform tick checks when you come in from an area where you may have been exposed to ticks, and realize that even though you can significantly reduce your chances of getting bitten by a tick, taking these safety measures is really not a guarantee. There is no failsafe mechanism to guarantee that a tick will not get onto your skin, or attach to it."
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Video--how to repel ticks

The harvest moon is rising outside my office window at this moment. It's full and bright and lovely. I noticed our neighbor's garden is burgeoning with ripe green peppers and orange squashes that need to be picked and enjoyed. Gardening and me don't exactly fit very well anymore -- not since Lyme revised my priorities. I leave it up to braver folks than I, who aren't as paranoid of tiny ticks. However, I still love the idea of gardening, and I'm always interested in discovering ways to do it safely.

How to Repel Ticks -- powered by eHow.com

This eHow video, posted by a gardener, explains the basics about how to protect yourself and your kids from ticks. She recommends the usual precautions, such as covering up head to toe with multiple layers of clothing. Then she mentions something I hadn't heard before. She suggests that on your hands and face, and any other body parts that aren't covered by clothing, you put on oil.

Her reasoning is that although the ticks are nearly impossible to repel once they've gotten onto your skin, they don't like oil because it causes them to slip, or reduces their success at sinking their sharp teeth into your skin. She says any kind of oil will do -- olive oil, lavender oil, baby oil, etc. She mentions DEET, as well, for its effectiveness as a tick repellent.

She also recommends putting your clothing into a hot dryer as soon as you come in from the garden, woods, forest, or wherever you may have been exposed to ticks. She claims that if you put your clothes into the washing machine, you risk setting them loose in the house. However, the hot temperature of the dryer should kill them.

I think I need to ask Dr Eva Sapi or some of our other Lyme experts about these claims before I believe them wholeheartedly. In our last interview, Dr Sapi told us that the biology graduate students in her University of New Haven Lyme research program couldn't even keep the ticks away using DEET, as they went hiking in the forest for a tick-gathering field trip.

What do you think? Have you ever used this oil trick? Is it effective?
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Educate yourself about ticks

Summertime is so inviting, the trails around my house are shady, green and cool. Summer is also time to pay close attention to the small dangers in the woods and grassy fields. If you hike, camp or hang out in the great outdoors, or know anyone who does, please pass on to this information about ticks and tick-borne diseases.

Everything you always wanted to know about ticks (but were too chicken to ask) is included in this handbook, the new revised edition prepared by Kirby C. Stafford III, PhD Vice Director, Chief Entomologist of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven. It's an 84-page booklet that you can download as a PDF.

Tick Management Handbook
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Be wary of misinformation

Aside from ticks and tick-carrying deer in our front yards there is something else we must be vigilant about: Misinformation.

For example, one piece of advice I've read in a number of places says that you won't get Lyme disease if you pull a tick out of your skin before it's been there for 24 hours. These articles usually do not name their source of information, instead saying, "latest medical research indicates that..."

I wouldn't be so sure. I asked Eva Sapi, Ph.D., who directs the graduate studies in Lyme disease research at the University of New Haven, about this claim. She said there was no evidence to support the "24 hour" rule. She added that personally, she knew field researchers who had contracted Lyme from a tick that had only been embedded for a couple of hours.
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Deer ticks and other critters

"My dog has Lyme. Could I get it from her?"

No. If you are bitten by a tick, you may get Lyme. Your dog cannot give it to you directly. However, you may both get it from the same infected tick. Being bitten by a tick that crawled onto you when you were snuggling or letting her sleep on your bed is more likely. Ticks don't jump, like fleas. They crawl.

These ticks and others can be vectors for Lyme and other bad diseases. Vector means they are animals that can carry disease to humans.

* Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis)
* Western Blacklegged Tick (Ixodes pacificus)
* Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum)
* Avian Tick (Ixodes auritulus)

Search Term: Lyme disease tick.

According to Eva Sapi, PhD, biologist and director of the Lyme research program at the University of New Haven, Connecticut, the ticks collected in the NE region of the US this year have shown a higher percentage of Lyme infection than in the past. Not only are there greater numbers of ticks than in the past, they're also more likely to be carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme bacteria.

Your dog, cat, or horse might inadvertently share a Lyme-infected tick with you. Do be careful and perform regular tick checks all over your body whenever you've spent time with them. If you rarely venture into the woods or onto the seashore without slathering your body with DEET, and make your kids stay in your own yard to play, you may not think you are putting yourself or your loved ones in harm's way. Unfortunately, it's tougher than that to steer clear of tick habitat. Lyme researchers tell me there are plenty of ticks in our own yards, not just in the wild. Where we live in North Carolina, deer regularly walk along the side fence, where they're nicely hidden by the dense woods in the lot next door. I only spot them when I'm spacing out while staring past my computer monitor, out the office windows. One time I thought I saw a whole section of tree branches move away from the tree. On closer inspection, I realized with a start that I had been looking at a beautiful buck with a giant rack. Deer are survivors. They are excellent at adapting to living in urban areas, and they are often covered in ticks.

I'd love to have a yard full of guinea fowl, who find ticks a tasty treat to eat. However, they're super noisy and I'm afraid they'd drive me and the neighbor, who is also a writer and works at home, batty with their cry.

Tell me what you do to avoid (or control) ticks?
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