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Lyme Disease Treatment

Herbs and plants for a healing diet

Dr. Christine Horner was once on the clean-up crew. As a board certified plastic surgeon, she specialized in breast reconstruction surgery for cancer patients.

And she noticed something odd.

Each year, her patients were younger and younger. Breast cancer was an epidemic.

When her own mother died of the disease, she knew it was time to step back and look into the reasons all these women were getting cancer in the first place. Instead of putting them back together following the illness, was there something that could be done to avert it?

What she discovered can benefit everyone sick with Lyme disease.

She became convinced after her research led to the 5,000 year old teachings of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic healing works on the principle that our body has innate intelligence. When our bodies are in balance, that inner intelligence keeps us healthy.

Imbalance caused by illness, such as cancer, Lyme bacterial infection, or unhealthy lifestyle and diet disrupts our innate healing intelligence.

I’ll have what she’s having
While learning about Ayurveda, Dr. Horner made a surprising discovery. Following a luxurious spa treatment and detoxification process called panchakarma, or “five actions,” she looked in the mirror. Her face appeared ten years younger. She had a renewed sense of zest and vitality. In fact, she had never felt better in her life. On fire to put this new discovery to practice, she studied like mad to get certified in Ayurveda.

Schooled in Western medicine and having worked for years as a surgeon, it is important to Dr. Horner that everything she promotes is research-based. Ayurvedic healing is, and it also has a history of development — millions of people experimenting and refining it, over thousands of years. Ayurveda literally translates as “life-knowledge.”

Currently in the West, there is an explosion of empirical research into the natural approaches to health through the uses of herbs and plants for healing, as well as lifestyle factors. The research bodes well, unless you are one of those vegetarians who only eats French fries.

Lyme disease patients on standard antibiotics can also benefit from incorporating some or all of Dr. Horner’s advice. A healthy diet and lifestyle includes many factors, and among the most crucial is eating a varied diet of organic fruits and veggies.

Eat your medicine
“Eating a plant-based diet is considered the healthiest type of diet around,” says Dr. Horner. “Not only do plants and herbs contain vitamins, minerals, nutrients and all the other things we know are good for maintaining our health, they also contain hundreds of phytons.”

Phytons are plant chemicals, powerful natural medicines. Some of them even work exactly like chemotherapy. Pharmaceutical companies study the plants, create a drug that works the same way, and then tell the public that plant medicine doesn’t work.

Ayurveda says that there are fundamental truths about human beings, and that the basic rule-book says that, “if you follow these rules you’ll bring your body into balance. And that balance enlivens your body’s inner healing intelligence,” says Dr. Horner.

Lyme infection obstructs the balance your body is trying to create. So the idea is to do as much as you can to bring it to balance. We’re all different and in Ayurveda there are three doshas and nine different body constitutions. Overall though, the general rules apply across the board.

Strengthening your body’s immune system is the key to regaining balance and good health. The immune system needs a variety of veggies, so vary the produce you consume. Alternating supplements on a weekly or monthly basis can also help insure your maximum benefit.

Two herbs are better than one
Supplements have synergistic effects. When paired with another supplement there is a multiplication of the healing effect. Pharmaceutical drugs do not work this way.

For example, green tea and turmeric taken together are many times more effective than when taken alone. Each of these have antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties which work better when put together.

Dr. Christine Horner has more energy than many teenagers I know. I asked her what she puts in her morning smoothies. She rotates between fruits and green smoothies, and also tosses in a comprehensive list of healthy supplements.

Along with plant medicine, she also talked about the vital importance of having practices such as mediation, exercise, and radical forgiveness. Nurture your spirit, especially if you are dealing with Lyme or any serious illness. Lifestyle factors are as important as eating a healthy diet.

For further information please go to drchristinehorner.com

Podcast

Click on podcast to listen to my 60-minute interview with the effervescent Dr. Christine Horner. She’s got more energy than many of the teenagers I work with. She is a wealth of knowledge and has much more to say than I could include in this post. She also suggests ways to diminish the side effects of menopause.

If you like what you see here, please consider signing up for our newsletter, or become an LDRD member for full access to our complete series of audio interviews. Learn from listening to Lyme-literate doctors and other medical experts.

Breathe deep, eat your greens, and be well!



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Herbalist Julie McIntyre

People seek out clinical herbalist Julie McIntyre when they have reached the end of their rope. They may call her after having received a formal Lyme diagnosis. They may have already spent thousands of dollars on standard protocols and are still battling symptoms. Then there are those who are desperate for help, but don’t believe in antibiotics and put their trust in plant medicines instead. She often hears horror stories from Lyme patients who are “completely and totally frustrated with mainstream medicines.”

Standard medical doctors don’t normally talk to patients as though they are adults with minds of their own. When I’m sitting on that cold steel table it always feels like the doctor is using a tone reserved for imbeciles. “Can da widdle patient take a nice, big breath for me?”
This is absolutely not the case with Julie, who currently works with Lyme patients in 17 countries around the world via Skype, and in-person when feasible. A holistic healer treating Lyme since 2003, Julie uses her intuition and “everything she’s got,” when analyzing how best to treat each person. “Lyme is insanely complicated,” and each person is uniquely affected, she says.

Instead of talking at her patients, she actively listens. She hears what they say, the words they use, and how they describe themselves. She learns about them in every way she can, including observing their body language, examining their fingernails, and also noting the quality of their voice. “The voice tells a lot,” she says.
herbal-protocol-lyme
Most people suffering with Lyme, she says, also tell her their illness has become their greatest teacher. People understand that the illness is changing them profoundly, working in psycho-spiritual ways that most of us would never seek out willingly.

To guide patients through the process of healing from Lyme and co-infections, Julie uses her partner Stephen Buhner’s herbal protocol. But she also “innovates a lot,” always treating each person on a case-by-case basis. For example, she may add in homeopathic remedies and amino acids for one, and for another she may have them blend their own tinctures, therefore gaining a hand in their own healing process.

Where IS the immune system anyway?
The immune system, while it is a system of biological structures, it is also a system of processes. Think of it as a field inside and outside your body. Julie’s work focuses on the immune system’s many parts, such as our emotions. The immune system includes our guts—both physical and non-physical, as in gut feelings. The enteric brain is the gut brain, and it is in constant communication with our head brain. Our bodies believe what we say, Julie says, and our white blood cells respond instantly.

Herbal protocols can be used alone or concurrently with conventional medicine. One of the many benefits of plant medicine is that is it “highly flexible, and perfectly forgiving,” says Julie. “I am not dogmatic, and the plants aren’t either.”

Her advice is to support the immune system by supplementing with herbs and foods such as reishi mushrooms, ashwagandha root, rhodiola, and astragalus. She mentioned a rock rose and tea from Greece, called cistus incanus, which is used both as an immune modulator and as a bug spray. To prepare as tea, use 1 tsp in 8 ounces hot water, steep ten minutes and drink at least two cups a day.  

“It’s important to know when enough research is enough research,” she says. There is a lot of wisdom in accepting that “this shall pass,” and a vital key to healing is to regain something that many of us lose along the journey, a sense of trust. “Trust the plants, trust the medicines, trust your own body.”

But how can we trust nature, when nature is the thing that got us into this trouble in the first place? I asked, and Julie agrees it’s a bit of a paradox. Short of living in a high-rise guarded by guinea fowl and donning a hazmat suit every time you venture outdoors, how do you protect yourself from dangerous critters the size of a pinhead?

Her response, in three words, “Immunity, immunity, immunity.”

Strengthen your immunity with plants and foods, but also nurture your emotional health, a key component of the immune system. It’s vital to find something that brings you joy and do it every day. Engage with the people who lift you up, and laugh everyday. It is almost impossible to heal alone. All of us need loving and supportive relationships, especially when healing from chronic illness.

For further information about Julie McIntyre, Stephen Buhner, and the Buhner protocol, please visit gaianstudies.org.
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Common allergy med kills Lyme bacteria?

Encouraging news is spreading throughout the Lyme community. A northern California nonprofit called the Bay Area Lyme Foundation says that a common allergy medicine may help kill the Lyme bacteria. A new laboratory study shows that the antihistamine, loratadine (or as you might know it, Claritin), starves the Lyme bacteria by preventing it to gather manganese, which it evidently needs to harm the body. The study has so far proved Claritin effective in killing Lyme bacteria in test tubes.

The Bay Area Lyme Foundation's mission is to "make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, and to make prevention common knowledge." These are our kind of people. 

Not all doctors are educated about Lyme diagnosis and treatment. For many years, the CDC held the line that only 20,000 new cases of Lyme disease were diagnosed annually. Recently, they increased that estimate to 300,000. However, for decades those low numbers, as well as inadequate doctor-education about Lyme prevention and diagnosis, meant inadequate funding for research. Perhaps this breakthrough study is a signal that the tide is turning.

As always, consult your Lyme-literate doctor for further information. Claritin and all allergy medications can cause side effects. The study of loratadine was published in the open access publication Drug Design, Development and Therapy.


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Laughter, the best medicine

Do you journal your experience of Lyme? I did, and though it's painful to read now, I am glad I captured something of the emotional and psychological dimension while it was occurring. I wouldn't have remembered how I scraped the bottom, especially in comparison to the healthy high that is my new normal.

Shortly after diagnosis, I was put on a cocktail of antibiotics that nearly killed me. Every day was a challenge. No, every breath was a challenge. I never knew that severe pain could be a 24/7 ordeal. The physical pain was torture, but it was the accompanying emotional pain that pushed me over the edge into despair. And then, miraculously, and none too soon, pushed me out again.

From my journal: Lately, I feel emotionally raw, and a bit overwhelmed by a radical compassion for the suffering in this world. I am tremendously grateful for my friends and family. If not for them, I would be dead. My heart breaks for anybody who doesn’t have people to lean on in times of crisis.

I was falling apart—in mind and body. Lyme was bitch-slapping me right out of the stratosphere. The illness had triggered some mysterious process that was stripping me of everything that wasn't absolutely necessary for my immediate survival—from certain foods and drinks, to relationships, to habits, to clothes that I couldn't wear (too itchy, too big, too small), to possessions, desires, and even including my lifelong dreams. I was a musician who couldn't practice, a writer who couldn't string a sentence together. I wasn't left with much that I could recognize of my old self. I was being peeled to the core of whatever ragtag collection of trinkets might be left of my inner self. And inside, things were no bed of roses. In there, I discovered I was capable of really feeling my own pain, and other people’s, deeply, probably for the very first time.

But I could laugh—and that's why God made comedy.

Each day, Evan went in mad pursuit of a (hopefully) hilarious movie that we hadn’t yet seen. We'd start it up before bedtime, and cross our fingers it would work its magic.

While I was laughing, I wasn't thinking about my pain. Pain did not exist! Those precious moments were my aim, my sacred chalice. For a few brief seconds, I wasn't trapped inside my misery. I was free. And like cracking a window for fresh air, I believe healing can take hold in those small openings. Episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 were manna from heaven.

But you can’t fake it. That’s the trick. Your funny bone has got to be genuinely tickled. You must actually be laughing, not just ha, ha, faking it. Bowled over, tummy-clenching humor--miracle of miracles. I felt like I’d discovered the Rosetta Stone.

Most people suffering with longterm Lyme symptoms realize that addressing the psychological component of the disease is equally as important as treating the physical one. The two cannot be separated.

Homework assignment: Watch a comedy tonight.


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Acupuncture for healing Lyme


I've written about acupressure for pain relief, now let's talk about acupuncture. Yep, the kind with the needles.

Recently, I got the chance to talk with an acupuncture doctor in San Francisco Bay area, Palo Alto to be exact. This region is home to IGeneX Inc. and Google, and it is also where to find Jenny Qui, currently a doctoral student in Chinese Traditional Medicine. Jenny is focused on using acupuncture to help alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain, and Lyme disease in particular.

Jenny Qiu is having great success treating Lyme symptoms. The alternative medicines, to some people, are actually more traditional than what we call “traditional” or conventional medicine. That is because Western medicine, including antibiotics, only came about at about the turn of the 20th century, a hundred years ago. And acupuncture, acupressure, herbal tinctures, homeopathy, and bodywork (among others) are treatments that have been around for centuries.

Jenny explains that acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine treatment, is used alongside Chinese herbal medicine to treat any infectious disease. But she wanted to find out if it can help minimize symptoms, such as joint pain and chronic fatigue, caused by Lyme disease.


Her research has convinced her that Lyme patients can get relief using acupuncture. She is currently writing her dissertation on her work.

“Since 2008,” says Jenny, “I have been treating a Lyme patient at my clinic. He comes in biweekly for acupuncture treatment.”

The patient, who is also a patient of San Francisco Lyme disease expert Dr. Raphael Stricker, was diagnosed with Lyme in 1989. Jenny says that according to him, “acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine has been, by far, the most helpful and effective treatment for his major complaints of joint pain and chronic fatigue.

“The patient has minimized his use of Western medication during his years of alternative treatments,” she adds.

The Western cure for Lyme, antibiotics, can cause problems that have far-reaching effects on the immune system. The seat of the immune system lies in the intestines. As antibiotics destroy the pathogens in the guts, and they also decimate the friendly flora necessary for a healthy balance.

With acupuncture and herbal medicine, Jenny is aiming to minimize the damaging side effects of antibiotics. She wants to show how traditional Chinese treatments can work together with Western medicine to make healing from Lyme disease more bearable.

Taking proactive steps, such as seeing an acupuncturist, helps you move forward in your healing. What alternative or complementary medicines are you using, if any?


Join the LDRD and listen to the interview





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Lyme Success Story - Samson

In spite of the turmoil Lyme can cause, many people are living happy and productive post-Lyme lives. I've had the fortune to connect with a number of them. Samson's story is a really uplifting example.

The first thing you notice about Samson is his upbeat attitude, in spite of the long journey he took back to health. He's a happy young man, originally from Detroit, who worked hard to earn his way into his dream profession, the music business, in L.A. To an outsider, it may appear as if he's always had a lucky star, and that may be true! But the thing he's really good at is not giving up. He's a vivid example of being proactive in your own healing.

His story, like a novel with lots of ups and downs and a happy ending, includes knee surgery for puffiness, an inflamed jaw, a frozen shoulder, tons of research, nightmarish
symptoms and three different protocols in eight months. It also features travel – lots of travel – around the US, to places such as the Mayo Clinic, to seek out specialists to diagnose and treat his illness.

Like shooting a squirt gun
Until he finally found himself back on the road to good health, Samson never stopped trying to find a way to heal from Lyme. The worst period for him was from age 21 to 28. At one point he visited Dr. Andrew Weil's clinic in Tucson, where he was directed to try an Eastern approach. He used alternative medicines and meditation. He read Weil's book Spontaneous Healing, and became a vegan for a year. That resulted in anemia, although it did give him a little relief from his symptoms. At another point, he fasted on water only for two weeks, in another attempt to get down to the root cause, which also resulted in a bit of relief. But it was hardly enough.

Samson was also taking Omega 3's, turmeric,
curcumin, and other supplements. But he says that when you're dealing with Lyme bacteria, taking supplements without taking antibiotics is like shooting a squirt gun at a person who is trying to do harm. It won't stop them, but it will give you the satisfaction of doing something.

curing Lyme disease
Finding confidence
A turning point came one day, when Samson happened on the trailer online for the acclaimed film about Lyme,
Under Our Skin. He proceeded directly to Lyme specialist Dr. Daniel Cameron in New York, and began antibiotic treatment for about three weeks. But his intuition urged him to continue seeking help, and it was only when he walked into Dr. Raphael Stricker's office in San Francisco that he felt confident about kicking Lyme.

Samson, who works as a talent manager and is in scout development in the music business in Los Angeles, has a lighthearted way of telling his story, but anyone who knows how difficult Lyme is, will recognize the cost, the resources, and the steely perseverance he had to devote to healing. Perseverance, and always listening to his intuition, have no doubt fueled his healing journey.

“I've always been very intuitive, and grateful for that!” he says.

Today, Samson has finally won his life back from Lyme, and he's feeling great and right on track, exactly where his intuition told him he belonged.

Join the LDRD to listen to Samson’s story.

Please keep in mind that your success story might just help lift the spirits of someone who needs it most. Call us if you would like to share.




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What's Lymph got to do with it?

Lyme disease typically clogs up the lymph system, which is foundation of our immune system. The lymph system plays the role of our body's clean-up crew or garbage collector. It gathers waste products, dead microorganisms, damaged cells, and bacterial toxins that would otherwise trigger inflammation anywhere in the body. The lymph system is linked to the tonsils, the thymus, the spleen, lymph nodes and the large intestine. These organs are all about taking out the garbage. I know how my kitchen stinks if one of us forgets to take the trash out. Don't let your inner garbage sit around. It's toxic. Get it moving.

But I know how it is. When you are sick with Lyme and your symptoms are kicking, exercise may be the very last thing on your mind. But nothing moves the lymph like getting some exercise, especially in fresh air. If the weather is not too vile, and you are physically able, motivate and take a walk. Take the dog, or round up a friend to accompany you. They can help you set up a regular schedule that you won't be so easily persuaded to drop. Swimming and jogging are great exercises for getting the lymph to move, if you can manage. If you can do a dry brush massage, do it. That's also a terrific lymph stimulator. However, use your best judgement, and do not use a dry brush if you have skin eruptions or any sort of rash.


Lymph massage through breathing
Going for a massage could be heaven, but if it isn't an option, you can treat yourself to a really effective self-massage in this simple way. Deep, rhythmic breathing is like giving yourself a massage from the inside. When you breathe out, contract your lower-abdomen muscles, and on the in breath, keep them contracted but allow your ribcage to expand. Sit up straight, imagine a string pulling gently up from your spine through the top of your head. Imagine the other end of the string pulling gently down from your tailbone. You needn't get fancy with your imagery to get into a really relaxing frame of mind. The breath is capable of doing all of that naturally. Of course, you can get through the day without scarcely taking a deep breath. But why do that, when it can be so helpful in our healing process? We just have to remember to direct our awareness in using it.

When we eat fresh fruits and vegetables and add fresh herbs to our daily meals, we take their vitality into our bodies for healing. Dr. Wolf Storl’s work is centered in his conviction that all plants, and especially wild plants that haven't been cultivated, are bursting with vital energy from the sun. In his 2010 book,
Healing Lyme Disease Naturally, he lists several herbs that strengthen the capillary vessels, regulate the blood pressure, alleviate arterial sclerosis, improve the lymph functions and support the immune system by stimulating the thymus (Storl, 2010). Always check with your doctor(s) before taking any herb. Herbs, just like pharmaceutical medicines, can have side effects.


Reference
Storl, Wolf D. (2010).
Healing Lyme disease naturally: History, analysis, and treatments. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.


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Art & Acupuncture: 2 ways to get chronic pain relief

Art & Acupressure: 2 ways to break chronic pain patterns

Art for pain relief
Chronic Lyme symptoms are such a drag. We can stand only so much stress, I think. Not only does chronic pain just plain hurt, it also exhausts the body and mind to the brink of insanity. Sleep is restorative, but the war between the Lyme bacteria and our immune systems often destroys a good night of sleep. Honestly, when I was super sick, I recall thinking it would not be so terrible if I could just get out of my own body for awhile. Take breaks from the pain. Even prisoners get time off for good behavior. Then quite by accident, I learned that it was entirely possible to engineer those pain breaks. Art became my healing ally.

That is when a chiropractor friend told me about pain fountains, a name she gave the patterns and exquisite neuronal pathways that our bodies and minds can create in response to serious illness. The pain is trauma, both physical and emotional, because our minds get involved and have an opinion about our pain. That body-mind involvement can work for us, or against us. It works against us most powerfully when we aren't aware that we're caught in a loop. Patterns lay down a groove. If nothing disrupts that groove, the pain continues to spill throughout the body's systems like a fountain.

But even our awareness cannot simply make the pain vanish. I wish it were that easy (and perhaps for some, it is). In my case, making the pain go away took the total concentration that I was able to give to a painting project. It was as if I had to use guerilla tactics, sneak up obliquely onto the pain fountain, and re-route its direction. Stop its flow. Redirect the energy into my project and into my breath. What was weird was that I wouldn't even become fully aware that the pain had subsided until I quit painting. And then I knew it had been gone, because it would come flooding back. Like an elevator stopping at a different floor, I would stop, and return to experiencing the pain.

Acupressure for pain relief
For centuries, Asian cultures have recognized that the human body has meridians or pathways of energy, and have applied acupuncture and acupressure to points along those pathways to promote healthy ki (the Japanese term), or chi (the Chinese term). Healthy ki is moving, not stuck. As Lyme is an anti-inflammatory illness, acupressure can help by restoring conditions for the body to reduce inflammation.

Since the Lyme disease bacterial complex attacks the body's vital systems, it makes sense to counter with therapies that support those systems and gives them a fighting chance at balance. These are the lymph, digestive, eliminatory, respiratory, nervous, reproductive, and endocrine systems.

Western medical science has affirmed that these pathways and points in the body really do exist. A professional acupuncturist can teach you where to locate the points on your own body, but it is easy enough to find a good chart or video to help you find them yourself.

Art and acupressure can both be practiced for free. You don't need professional tools or expensive equipment, or a professional artist or acupuncturist to tell you what to do. Find the points that feel good and work on them. Find some paper and paint, or colored pencils, or whatever appeals to you, and take 30 minutes to lose yourself in art. You might also succeed in losing the pain – at least temporarily. Take a pain break. You deserve it. We can all promote our own healing at whatever stage of Lyme we find ourselves.



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Lyme treatment choices: Do other people's perceptions matter?

Other people matter, this much is clear. We're social critters who need love and feedback from our peeps as much as we need food and water. But when it comes to our choice of Lyme treatment, can other people's opinions affect the way we perceive ourselves?

Look at a bottle of water, then look at a cup of water. The water conforms to the contours of each vessel. People, largely composed of water, are much the same. We tend to take the shape of the environment or community in which we find ourselves.

Other people's ideas of us have an impact on us. I don't mean to say that they control or dominate us (unless we let them). I mean their opinions and beliefs tend to influence how we perceive ourselves, and fit ourselves into our environment. The closer or more fully developed the relationship, the deeper can be the impact of their opinion of you, whether it is spoken or unsaid. We don't grow, develop, or heal (or become whole) in a vacuum.

Their feeling about a particular Lyme treatment may differ from ours. For example, imagine a scenario in which one person is eager to try treatment with an ILADS doctor, or begin alternative therapy, or an herbal protocol, yet her spouse has a low opinion of alternative medicine. He thinks she needs to stick with their IDSA doctor and go with conventional antibiotics. It may not be an easy decision to make.

We need feedback from people we feel close to, and we hope they support us. It's natural and necessary to seek support and emotional resonance. When someone in your life accepts and loves you unconditionally, hangnails, bad-math skills and all, you feel safe. Intimacy is psychological, physical, and emotional sanctuary, and healing can commence from that place.

Psychologists who study how personalities develop are currently revising their conclusions. The new thinking is that people's dispositions are not fixed, but more like a psychological language that can be picked up through immersion. Other people influence us.

When Lyme symptoms linger or come back long after the antibiotics are finished, the problems are more complicated. Social support systems, friends and family members, may be less available for the person who hasn't rallied quickly back to health.

Lymies do their best to fit in, be part of the norm, but chronic pain or exhaustion makes it difficult to be chipper, or even fulfill basic obligations. Even acting normal can tire out a person who is operating on insomnia and anxiety. Can you count the times you stuffed your pain and faked an answer to the perennial “how are you” with a glib, “fine thanks, you?” It's completely understandable. It can feel incredibly lonely and frustrating, like nobody wants to hear that you are still battling Lyme, especially when it seems that it never gets better.

And from the outside, understanding a chronically ill person's dilemma is not easy. A person with Lyme disease is in pain, and it's often invisible. One of the weird downsides is that people with Lyme often don't look sick. No one can see their bad headache, racing heart, or aching knees. “You look fine,” friends and family members will say. “You must be feeling better.” Beyond this, there is also a cultural undercurrent at work, the subtle shaming of a person who does not act chipper and perky, or at least look cheerful.

We all have many facets. Recognize that other people's vision of you – your uniqueness, depth, and your quirks – does have some impact on your vision of yourself. Others are, in a very real sense, mirrors to our growth and healing processes. This includes your doctor or medical team. So who is your support system, and what do they believe about your approach to healing? The only one who can influence a change in their opinion of you, is you. It's worth paying attention to.
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New practice, new healing

Healing through cross-training
Surprises. Some are fabulous, whereas others we could live without. Before I was diagnosed with Lyme I never would have guessed that it could happen to me. Took me completely by surprise. But the nastiest blow was being told by the IDSA doctor, “Looks like MS. My advice is to apply for disability, get a wheelchair, and get ready to spend the rest of your life in it.”

Needless to say, I changed doctors, and was lucky enough to stumble upon a group of smart ones who had a clue about Lyme, and as much faith in me as I had in myself. I didn't get a wheelchair. I learned to walk, talk, and think straight again even through the pain. Over a period of years, I found ways to heal my body, mind and spirit through cross-training.


Time is a river
I thought about the element of surprise yesterday. A friend told me an anecdote about the way different cultures perceive the concept of time. Westerners and Easterners envision time differently. Both see time as a river.

However, in the West we imagine that events flow towards us from the horizon, approaching the present moment where we stand. In front of us, we see future events as they approach. When the event/time has past, it disappears behind, fading into memory.

Easterners imagine time's river approaching from behind. The future comes up from behind, like a surprise. It isn't visible until it's upon us. As events pass by, they flow away to the horizon, fading gradually from memory, appearing smaller and farther away as they go.

Lyme disease was like that for me. It attacked out of the blue, and engulfed my present moments for many years. But gratefully, as the time of being so sick has faded into the horizon, I see it from an increasingly distant perspective. And life continues to come up from behind and surprise me.


Starting a practice
I recently did something that I wanted to do when I was a teenager, at which time circumstances intervened, so I never got around to it. So it seemed a bit surprising, a little out-of-the-blue when recently I started taking Taekwondo lessons at a local studio. The present moment snuck up from behind once again. But this is no brutal blow like Lyme delivered. It's a nice surprise.

Starting a martial arts practice in my 50s – peri-menopause and post-Lyme. Ha, ha, right? Yes, I have stepped out of my comfort zone. And in spite of however it looks, I'm going for it. Even if I look silly, or have to push myself really hard. Even if I am really bad at it. Which I am. But I will stick with it, because it's fun, challenging, and has benefits for the brain (and god knows, I can use all the help I can get).

In fact, physical exercise is reported to be better for improving cognitive functions than even mental exercise. My brand of cross-training has always included an exercise component, but martial arts is well suited to my needs, because it's a body-mind-spirit practice. You have to find what works for you. When I was fighting Lyme at the acute stage, I couldn't even handle much walking, let alone do martial arts. For help regaining my balance, slower, meditative exercises such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong were well-suited.


Importance of community
The Taekwondo community my partner and I joined is a family-friendly place. Very supportive. Folks are each at their own stage of development. There are lots of women and children, and people of every age, from three-year-olds to at least one 70-something. Some have been at it for years, some are newbies. Everyone has something to teach or offer.

I practiced with a 5 year-old yesterday whose listening skills were, embarrassingly, better than mine. As instructed, he nonchalantly executed five perfect kicks in a row. Meantime, I lost track of count and lost my balance. Ten minutes later, I was mirroring an economics professor, a black belt. He helped me aim my roundhouse kick more precisely. Following that, I sparred with a woman ten inches taller and four years more experienced than me.


Astonishing turnaround
Another beginner, a 43 year-old pediatric endocrinologist (I know, it's a mouthful), told me she had decided to start training because of a patient of hers. He is a member of the community too. She saw him go through astonishing changes over the course of his seven years of practice. He is 18 now, and was diagnosed with diabetes at age six. He had been overweight and at times severely depressed. Last Saturday we watched him skillfully earn his first-degree adult black belt. Afterward, he read aloud a personal essay he'd written about his healing journey through martial arts. He's headed off to college, a dream that when he was child, he assumed would never come true.

But the future is full of surprises. Some surprises we will abhor. Others we appreciate. Perhaps in the end it equals out, I don't know.

Can you recall any good surprises in your life since Lyme? If you're not there yet, it's okay. Sometimes it helps to hear stories of courage and victory. Other times, not so much. It depends on where you are on your path. My wish for every person suffering from Lyme or any chronic illness is always this: Persevere. Find the right healing path, diet, medicine, and Lyme doctors for you. Find a community of people who will cheer you on, offer you a hand up when you lose your balance, and celebrate your victories when you succeed. The river of time is on your side.

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Stephen Harrod Buhner on mycoplasmas and coinfections


When standard antibiotic treatment fails, many of us give holistic or complementary protocols a try. It takes determination to battle the stealth pathogens associated with Lyme and its coinfections. Where pharmaceuticals bombard the body, herbs are more elegant and complex. They work synergistically when encountering these organisms.

As Stephen Harrod Buhner says, “The bacteria are evolving, we need to, too.”

Buhner, master herbalist and author, is well-known to many in the Lyme community for his informative, meticulously researched, and beautifully written books. His popular Lyme protocol has helped scores of Lyme patients, as it picks up where technological medicine leaves off.

His new work,
Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections is a reference book for people struggling with these common Lyme coinfections. There is increasing evidence that coinfections such as Bartonella and mycoplasmas are the rule, not the exception, when Lyme is present. How do these coinfections behave in the body, and what can be done to alleviate the problems they create?

Q: Who would you like to read this book, and what do you want them to walk away knowing?
A: Well, the book was written for both people with Lyme and Lyme coinfections and for health professionals and I tried to make it accessible to both groups. These kinds of emerging infections are what some epidemiologists and researchers are calling “second generation” infections. “First generation” are those bacteria that antibacterials were developed for after world war II. In essence, technological medicine already dealt with the easy ones.

The emerging infections, among which are included Lyme and its coinfections, are much more difficult. They tend to be stealth pathogens, much more clever when they infect the body, and they take a different approach. Technological medicine, 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.

So, the purpose of the book is twofold. First: to begin giving a good general sense of how these infectious agents behave and why they do so. This takes a lot of the mystique away from them, lowers the fear level, and allows an intelligent response to treating them. This creates empowerment both for healing professionals and those who are infected.

Second: The standard medical model for treating infections is tremendously flawed and those flaws are rather glaring when it comes to treating stealth infections such as these. I am hoping the book will stimulate the development of a much different approach to treating infections, one that is a great deal more sophisticated than the one currently in use. The bacteria are evolving, we need to, too.

Q: Why should people with Lyme be concerned about coinfections and mycoplasma?
A: Coinfections make treating Lyme much more difficult due to the synergy between Lyme and other coinfectious agents. Research has found, time and time again, that coinfection is much more common than not. Those with coinfections 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.

Q: Please give us a basic working definition of mycoplasma.
A: Perhaps the tiniest bacteria known, mycoplasma must scavenge almost all of its nutrients from its host by breaking down host cellular tissues. It has an affinity for mucus membrane systems and cilia and once in the body creates a kind of nutrient starvation in the host which results in a wide range of symptoms, much as lyme does.

Q: What is mycoplasma's relation to Lyme disease? How long have medical doctors been noticing its relationship to Lyme?
A: Mycoplasma, like most of the coinfections, is very new to medical doctors. Like most [coinfections], it has only come to prominence in the past 15 years or so, more so each year. As with the other coinfectious agents, it is spread by tickbite (among other things). As researchers have looked deeper into the Lyme epidemic, they have found that mycoplasma is a much more common coinfection than realized.

Q: Please elaborate on the issue of chronic Lyme -- the idea being that many of us go 'chronic' because we were not diagnosed early enough for treatment to be fully effective. How can a working knowledge of herbal remedies help?
A: About 60 percent of people who are infected with Lyme can be helped by antibiotics. Five to ten percent are not. Thirty to thirty-five percent appear to be helped initially but relapse. Added to that are the very large group of people who are never properly diagnosed with lyme. About half of those heal naturally over time, the others do not.

In consequence there is a large group of people that develop chronic Lyme. In that population, about half will respond to a fairly simple herbal protocol, the others will not. Herbs are much more elegant medicinal agents than pharmaceuticals in that they contain hundred to thousands of complex compounds that work together synergistically when confronted by disease organisms.

The plants have been here much longer than people and they have developed extremely sophisticated responses to infections. when we take them internally, those responses are medicines for us. The very nature of stealth pathogens and their wide impacts on the body make herbs a very useful approach.

In essence, successful treatment of Lyme infections needs to address: immune status, inflammation dynamics that are breaking down cellular tissues in the body (cytokine cascades), specific symptoms, and the long term damage, especially in the nervous system, that lyme causes. Pharmaceuticals are useless for most of those. Each of those problems can often be addressed with one or two plants due to the complexity of compounds in the plants.

Q: Please say a few words about the difference(s) between plain old resveratrol capsules and Japanese knotweed, and why you prefer whichever you prefer.
A: I always wanted to use Japanese knotweed root itself for treating Lyme, however, when I first wrote the book there were no decent suppliers for the herb in the U.S. It turned out that a number of resveratrols were made using knotweed root, in fact what they were were actually standardized knotweed root, so that is what I first suggested.

Now that the herb has proved so helpful to so many, a number of growers and harvesters have made it commonly available. I like the whole, powdered, root the best for several reasons. First it is much cheaper than the capsules. Second, I think that it is much easier to take these herbs if the powder is simply blended into liquid and then drunk. Taking all those capsules is a pain.

And, just my own preference . . . I like wild plants or those organically grown. They haven’t been mucked about with; there is much less standing between us and the plants.

Thank you, Stephen!

Buy the book

More Stephen Harrod Buhner
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Yolanda Foster speaks about Lyme

"The light had gone off in my brain." Yolanda Foster speaks about Lyme.

“We live in the most extraordinary country, with the best doctors in the world. But the truth is, we don't have proper diagnostic testing,” Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member Yolanda Foster told the audience at the Gala held for the Lyme Research Alliance on April 6. The LRA honored Foster with the Star Light Award, in recognition for her advocacy and for serving as a role model for people suffering with Lyme.

In her acceptance speech, Foster describes her frightening decline from “being an outspoken, multi-tasking social butterfly, to being trapped in a mentally paralyzed cocoon.” Doctors did not find any indication of Lyme disease in their standard blood tests, so they missed important clues. She knew something was wrong, intuiting that it may have been an infection in her brain. But doctor after doctor misdiagnosed her, advising her to cut back on her busy schedule. She was put on subscription drugs.

“Sleeping pills, Adderall, steroids, and anti-depressants,” she recalls, reciting the litany of drugs she was given. “[But] I was so
so not depressed,” she adds. Increasing frustration and annoyance were closer to the mark.

After a two-week stay at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles that achieved nothing, Foster returned home to bed. Hopeless, and believing that in her native Europe she might find a doctor to help, she to embarked on the long flight from California to Belgium. After a test showed spirochetes in her brain, she finally received a correct diagnosis of Lyme Neuroborreliosis and co-infections.

Thankfully, zeroing in on the pathology leads to treatment, but as anyone who has been through this crazy-making process knows, Lyme treatment is a double-edged sword. To begin with, it is not so cut and dry. And antibiotic therapy also causes Herxheimer reactions which can be as debilitating as the symptoms themselves. Friend Suzanne Somers led Foster to the Sponaugle Wellness Institute in Clearwater, Florida. Foster reluctantly left her family to go for a 6-week treatment. She reports that now she feels about 80% back to normal.

The LRA event raised more than $1 million to fund research for finding a cure for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Doctors Steven Schutzer, M.D., of the University of Medicine and Dentristy of New Jersey, and Mark Eshoo, Ph.D, director of new technology at Ibis Biosciences, were also honored at the Gala and received an award for their significant contribution in research and treatment in the quest to find a cure for Lyme.

Please watch Yolanda Foster's speech.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO8ZDvwTXKw

Interview with director of the Lyme Research Alliance
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uDyb0NyRog



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Actively healing from Lyme

“The more you see, the more you care. The more you care, the more you participate.”
-- Diane Hamilton

As a supporter of a multi-faceted approach to healing chronic Lyme, I try to read widely and
consider many different types of advice from a wide range of teachers and experts. The quote
above is from one of my meditation teachers. She is referring to the benefit of developing
the ability to see more perspectives. To see is to acknowledge and recognize the value in a
perspective that may be different from one we normally take.

I think this is valuable advice, particularly in light of
Lyme treatment where so much contention
divides doctors, limiting their points of view instead of expanding them. Does it have to come
down to “either/or” choices between Western medicine and natural or alternative therapies?
Or can we embrace a healthy “both/and” perspective to include whatever works best for each
individual?

What works for one of us may not work for another. Further, what works at one stage may
not be best for another stage. In my own case, it’s taken some careful experimenting to find
out what works. For example, I began treatment on what used to be known as an “antibiotic
cocktail,” which included several different strong antibiotics administered orally for at least six
months. But when I couldn’t afford to continue, I started the
r Cowden's updated Lyme protocol">Cowden protocol. I stayed on that
for about three years. I switched to Teasel root extract after that. And now, I take a handful of
supplements every morning and remain stable and healthy.

But the key to my current state of good health, I’m convinced, is that multi-faceted approach. I
am devoted to strengthening my body as well as stretching it, so I do strength training exercises
as well as yoga. I cured a frozen shoulder using these exercises a few years ago, when most of
my
Lyme symptoms were well on their way out. I knew another woman at the time who suffered
from the same painful condition in her shoulder. She was able to afford treatments administered
by a chiropractor, who used electricity to break up the adhesions. She regained use of her arm
about a year into treatment. My arms continue to get stronger and feel fine, all through simple
push-ups and yoga. We both got the treatment we needed. Hers was passive. Mine was active.

When we do whatever we can to help ourselves heal, we become stronger and more aware.
Our healing is not only in the hands of the doctors, although I thank god for good doctors
every day. It’s in our own hands as well. It isn’t an either/or situation. It’s a both/and. Trust your
instinct. Read tons. Use every approach you can think of, diet, exercise, meditation, study,
medicines -- prescription and/or complementary or alternative.

In the New Year, let’s continue to use all our awareness to develop a more comprehensive path
of healing from Lyme at any stage. Let’s see more perspectives, allow ourselves to care more
deeply, and participate more vigorously in our own healing.
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Paying it forward = Stress relief

I was stuck. Attempting to turn left into a traffic jam, confronted with cars backed up as far as I could see. Several vehicles had fresh-cut Christmas trees roped to the roof like hostages. The setting sun was blinding all the westbound drivers. I started to settle in for what looked like a long wait for a break.

Suddenly, a driver stopped to wave me in. Hallelujah! I couldn’t believe it. I watched as everybody in the long line of cars behind her was forced to stop and wait while I made my turn. With a wave and a smile and a tap on the brakes, she had flooded my heart with hope and love for my fellow humans. If she hadn’t voluntarily stopped like that, I might still be sitting there.

An hour later, stuck in a checkout line held up by a woman buying 4,000 rolls of ribbon, I overheard the couple behind me. They were griping quietly at each other. I encouraged them to go ahead of me, and they suddenly smiled and said thanks, both wishing me a Merry Christmas. It felt so nice to pay back the generosity that had been extended to me that I actually wished there were more shoppers standing in line to wave ahead.

In times of stress, whether from traffic, sickness, or other events, it seems we have a choice. We can’t control the events themselves, but we can choose how we react. The glee and gratitude I felt for that driver infected my mood instantaneously. In every crowded lane and line for hours afterward, I enjoyed interacting with clerks and shoppers and felt genuinely uplifted with every sincere smile and upbeat thank you. It got me thinking about generosity and vulnerability.

We’re more vulnerable when we’re ill and suffering.
Pain breaks down the normal barriers that healthy people take for granted, the psychic boundaries we put up in a grocery store or a crowded elevator. When we’re spending most of our energy trying to feel normal or attempting to breathe through the pain in our muscles, our skin, or the fog in our mind, I think we’re more naturally vulnerable and open to other people’s moods and actions.

This open attitude of heart or viewpoint can make us feel weak. After all, it is only the strong ego that can construct barriers and know exactly who it is and what it wants. But these days, having returned from the trip to the underworld of Lyme disease, I feel, at times, much less attached to the picture of who-I-think-I-am. I feel more porous, less fixed. That fluidity has its own sort of strength.

I wish I could thank that anonymous driver for her small gesture of kindness, which felt to me like a light of consciousness in a murky sea. It could have worked the other way. We’ve all been the recipient of an angry gesture by an impatient driver (or we ourselves have been that angry driver), and we know how that affects us and others too. But as the recipient of her generous action, I went on my merry way with an attitude of gratitude. Like a fairy godmother, she’d waved her wand and changed the landscape from black-and-white to technicolor. In the crowded store, I passed her kindness along like an unexpected gift, and I bet it’s still working its way around town.

Serious illness not only brings suffering, it has another side which is filled with gifts if we are open to receiving them. When I take a genuine, hard inner look, I know I have Lyme to thank for the tremendous blessings in my life now. Riches beyond measure. Among them, more patience, resilience and humility, and an extraordinary awakening of consciousness which is largely unexpected but certainly profound.

Here’s to the spirit of gratitude and vulnerability. What are you grateful for?


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How much is too much exercise for Lyme patients?

We take a cross-training approach to healing from Lyme. This includes body, mind, spirit and shadow (psychological) exercises. Some Lyme patients are just too weak, especially in the first stage, to address the needed physical exercise. Indeed at times it is not wise, if you are dizzy or otherwise debilitated. But there comes a time when you really just have to move that body! I know from experience.

Anaerobic exercise, such as stretching, sprinting and weightlifting, can help you heal from Lyme disease. But don’t overdo the aerobics, according to
Dr. Joseph Burrascano and other Lyme experts. They say that too much aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope and skipping, can be detrimental.

One reason is that vigorous jogging or other aerobics open up the blood-brain barrier, allowing more
Borrelia bacteria to enter the brain. Too much, too fast aerobic exercise can also deplete the adrenals and decrease the specialized cells that are part of the body’s immune system, the T-cells. T-cells are the highly skilled militia of the immune system. They hunt and destroy invading bacteria. They also alert other cells to do their jobs. The adrenals can be depleted by the low-grade, ongoing stress of chronic illness, by not getting enough sleep, and in many other ways.

Tai chi and gentle yoga, chi gong, and other Eastern body-mind-spirit exercises are very beneficial. Depending on the style of each of these practices, they are considered anaerobic. Mindful stretching as you get out of bed in the morning can warm up your muscles and make you feel a smidge better. If you’re not feeling up to snuff, but want to do something, simply take a few slow, deep breaths. Breathing from the diagram can relax and bring your body and mind into harmony.

I’ve gotten hooked on yoga this year, and finally made it a habit. I’m also a big fan of using the breath for relaxation, and finishing with a meditation.

What is your exercise routine? Have you ever overdone it?




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Video games and art as therapy


Read blog post...
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Dr. Phil sheds light on chronic Lyme treatment

Dr Phil brought mass attention to “persistent Lyme disease” on his show last spring. Fashion model Stephanie Vostry who was featured on the show appeared sick, fragile, and miserable under the studio lights. Watching, my heart went out to her, and to weathercaster Brooke Landau and a longtime Doctor Phil staffer who were seated in the audience, and who also shared some of their experiences with what they termed chronic Lyme disease. If you are very ill at this moment, please judge for yourself how much you want to watch of the clip, which includes footage from Under Our Skin. This stuff is disturbing. And real.

Stephanie’s treatments have put her in financial jeopardy. She started an online campaign at
gofundme.com to raise money to pay for her Lyme treatments. So far she’s raised over $10,000 toward her $20,000 goal.

The show was difficult to watch, and I think it raised my anxiety level about 300%! I am grateful to Dr Phil for shedding light on this controversial disease and on the use of long-term antibiotics. Even though I’ve been in the state that Stephanie is in, I realize now how thoroughly I have disconnected from the memories of being that bad off. What amazes me about Lyme disease is that you can go through utter hell, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially, and that you can come back to life. It really has been literally like being raised from the dead.

Have you watched the show? What did you think of the way
Lyme disease was presented to the public?

Watch
Under Our Skin for free on Hulu.


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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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Chronic Lyme and Antibiotics

Q. Hello,

I am new to Lyme Disease... come from a very holistic background, eat a whole food
organic diet, etc. Will not bore you with details and get to my point.

Any idea on the current train of thought on IV antibiotic treatment for people with
chronic
lyme
? I will also be taking a holistic approach, but am also trying to get the latest info on
antibiotic treatment before my visit with the infectious disease md.

Thank you!

A. Thanks so much for your question. I get where you're coming from, as I've always
been a health-foodie myself. Lyme blindsided me too. Through diligent attention to
my cross-training approach -- including body, mind, spirit and shadow practices daily
-- I am completely well. And I was almost dead. Sounds dramatic, but it's true.

Your question is specifically about IV treatment for chronic Lyme, and I'll tell you,
it's a complicated answer. For one thing, the term "
chronic Lyme" is not a condition
widely agreed upon in the medical world. Whether or not a chronic state of Lyme
disease exists seems to completely depend on whom you ask. Doctors are people
and people have their biases. I noticed recently that the
CDC has changed their
information on their website to reflect that there is a condition which they say is more
properly called “Post-Lyme disease Syndrome,” or PTLDS. The article states that the
cause of PTLDS is as yet unknown.

My bias is to go with a cross-training approach, which I have laid out on our website.
This is what we call "100 Perspectives," which is the way I think about my practices,
the body, mind, spirit and shadow practices that I mentioned. Please read about it
and see what you think.

The notion of long-term
antibiotics (IV and/or oral) is hotly debated. Although I
know that some are grateful for antibiotics long-term, I am also a huge proponent of
attacking the bacteria from every angle. The daily practices are not simply tacked on
to my life, they’re central to it. This is what has worked for me.

Dr. Lee Cowden, whom I've interviewed several times, is a worldwide expert on Lyme
treatment. He's not pro-antibiotics for the long-term. He sees that they can cause
worse problems than the Lyme bacteria can for the intestines. He is in favor of long-
term herbal tinctures, which do not damage the intestines when used as directed in
his protocol. His protocol worked for me as well. We need to bear in mind that the
intestines play a major role in our immune system, so Dr. Cowden’s message is a
significant note of caution, in my opinion.

I suggest that you listen to the
audio interviews on our website that feature Dr.
Cowden. (Many are free for the public to access - go to our blog and do a search.)
He will teach you so much and give you a lot of food for thought, all very positive.


All my very best to you on your healing journey,
Suzanne

Here's more information about Dr. Cowden and the
Cowden protocol.


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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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Lyme Success Story! Treating every angle

Not too long ago, Jerry was preoccupied with his professional responsibilities and other commitments. Resolutely running the treadmill, he pursued his multiple roles as a husband, father and self-described Type A quite unconsciously.  But around May of 2010, he began “to feel really crummy.”  Not merely tired from work, he was exhausted. He ached all over, his glands were swollen and painful, he suffered headaches and disturbing muscle twitches.

At first he brushed it off as a bad flu and continued on his daily routines. He did not have a bull’s eye rash.  But then his symptoms took a turn for the worse, the muscle twitches increased and he felt he was losing control. He decided it was time to get tested for Lyme. The result was negative. However, test results were positive for an infection that typically accompanies Lyme: Ehrlichia. Antibiotic treatment began but he continued to feel worse, even taking Doxycycline. At that point, he took the initiative to search out a doctor in Minnesota who specialized in Lyme and could really help him.

Jerry found Dr. Karen Vrchota. She sent his blood to be tested by IGenEx, in Palo Alto, California. In addition to three co-infections, Ehrlichia, Bartonella and Babesia, Jerry was positively diagnosed with Lyme.  She recommended further treatment including some of Dr. Cowden’s protocol, such as Samento, Burbur and Parsley tinctures.

As Jerry worked with Dr. Vrchota, he branched out to discover many more proactive methods that would allow him to feel in charge of his own therapy. He realized that truly healing from Lyme disease demanded coming at it from every angle, not simply by taking antibiotics and herbal medicines. At the suggestion of Dr. Cowden, he focused on getting rid of the mercury, aluminum and other heavy metal poisons and toxins in his system. He adopted a new approach to exercise and nutrition. Following the advice of Dr. Burrascano, he began cardio as well as strength training exercises. He talks about the difference he began to feel as he focused on heating up the blood and getting it flowing. Spirochetes hate heat and cannot survive it. Therefore, physical exercise is super important to include in a Lyme disease protocol.

In his search for wellness, he has been seeking advice from experts in many fields, psychological as well as physical, spiritual as well as emotional. He feels confident that he’s now about 95% healed, and is eager to reach out and help others facing similar health challenges.

Over the past couple years, Lyme disease has become one of Jerry’s greatest teachers. He has rediscovered the simple joys -- tossing a ball with his kids, slowing down each day to practice mindfulness meditation and noticing life’s small blessings.

Hearing him tell his story, it’s easy to see that this once-Type-A person has a loving and generous heart.  You can sense that something in his nature has softened and profoundly changed and evolved.  He talked movingly about how he is now deeply committed to “giving something back,” and I’m really pleased to be able to share our recent conversation in our Lyme Success Stories series. You’ll hear him discuss the challenges he faced in getting properly diagnosed, his treatments, protocols, exercise routines, and the doctors and other experts who are guiding him as he turns his life around.  

Jerry has redefined the meaning of success in his life and feels endless gratitude for the things we tend to take too easily for granted. By approaching Lyme disease comprehensively and from every angle, his healing is happening on many levels of his life. Yours can too.

For additional information on healing Lyme from every angle, see Beat Lyme!

Join to listen to the interview.
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Mind your brain health!

Whether we’ve recently received a diagnosis of Lyme disease, or we’re dealing with recurring symptoms, eating right and exercising are core considerations of a good protocol. We know the importance of foods rich in Omega-3, lean proteins, and a rainbow of vegetables which are high in antioxidants and key vitamins. The physical health of the body is usually our main focus in healing from Lyme.

But what about mental health? You know, brain fog. One of the most disturbing things about Lyme is that the bacterial complex can actually cross over the blood brain barrier. That means it may affect your cognitive abilities, the ability to pay attention; your speech centers, creating stutters or slurs; your memory; your balance and more. I’ve found that
herxing can bring on a ridiculously frustrating case of brain fog, even when other symptoms have faded.

What is really hard to explain to someone who has never been through it, is the unique torment of days filled with sensations and events that you can’t know with certainty even exist. Did I hallucinate that smell, those sounds, or is there someone else in the house? And if that isn’t real, how can this physical pain be so tortuous? My heart goes out to anyone who is at that stage of Lyme.

As Winston Churchill famously said: “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Having been dragged by Lyme through the murk and come out on the other side, I can now look at that component of the disease with some objectivity. Yes, it’s crucial to take your
antibiotics (whether conventional or alternative), nourish your body with whole foods and detoxifying fruits like strawberries and blueberries, exercise and stretch whenever possible, and by all means rest.

But because of this mental component of Lyme, it’s also absolutely necessary to
exercise our brains, and therefore help keep our minds fit. The general rule is to try new things.

Try this:
Play music - dust off your violin or sit down at the piano
Go to a museum or concert - if you’re not well enough to do so, take a virtual museum tour online


Play games - try lumosity.com or brainmetrix.com
Paint
Write
Cook
Play Sudokus or do crossword puzzles
Read a book - on an iPad or the old-fashioned paper kind
Try learning a language

Almost anything can be learned online, either with a live teacher/virtual classroom or software program. If you have a yen for learning something, from Yoga to Mandarin Chinese to how to improve your fingerpicking technique on the ukelele, the important thing is to try something new. When you can.

Make a promise to your mind that you’ll do whatever you can to help your brain stay fit so that when you come out on the other side of Lyme disease, you will be smarter and healthier than ever. For it’s true what Nietzsche said: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

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Sweet Alternatives: Splenda or Stevia?

Have you thumped your thymus lately?

The thymus is located in the chest, in front of the heart. It’s part of the adaptive immune system. You may recall as a kid seeing Tarzan pounding his chest, right before leaping onto a vine and sailing across the treetops. The thymus, which decreases in size after puberty, is situated right there in the chest behind the sternum. The King of the Jungle and his gorilla pals pounded their chests as a show of strength and dominance. Some physical therapists say that thumping it gently will help stimulate it.

Eating Splenda shrinks it. Why is this bad? Because T-cells develop in, and are educated by, the thymus. Splenda can damage the T-cells, according to Jean Reist, a nurse who has treated over a thousand people diagnosed with Lyme disease. When treating Lyme, the last thing you want to do is cause damage to your adaptive immune system.

Lyme-literate experts advise us to avoid sugar. So what do you replace it with? Honey and agave sweeteners may contain nutritional goodness, but they are processed by our bodies the same way that sugar is. Stay away from Splenda (sucralose), which contains chlorine.

I’m happy to see that some nutritionists recommend stevia nowadays. I switched to stevia tincture when I was first diagnosed with late-disseminated Lyme symtpoms. Stevia tincture is made from the stevia herb, which has small leaves and looks like any other hillside weed. My mom, who has an amazing green thumb, grows it in a container on her deck. If you ever get the opportunity, bite into a stevia leaf. It’s unbelievably sweet, and it’s pure plant. No sugar. Nothing fake. This herb is native to South America, used for centuries to sweeten tea and make mate, and although popular for decades in Japan and elsewhere, it’s now in widespread use in the US, following approval from the FDA. Still, if you buy stevia at the grocery store, read the label. Some brands actually add sugar! I use KAL Stevia tincture, an alcohol-free, zero-calorie blend.

How far can diet and exercise go toward treating Lyme? There is no question that antibiotics are well-advised and necessary towards a Lyme disease treatment. But if there are lingering symptoms or problems, diet and exercise seem to be critically important.  In my experience, healthy shifts in diet and making the effort to maintain a regular workout practice have made a huge, positive difference. I know that without having changed my habits I wouldn’t be in very good shape at all.

Weird as it sounds, I count having had Lyme disease among the biggest blessings in my life. Perhaps it is the biggest. I know you’ll understand what I’m saying. Although I’d never have voluntarily dived into the wretched state that it put me in, if I hadn’t been dragged under by Lyme, I strongly doubt that I would now be making the daily efforts I now make to live a radiantly healthy life, in body, mind & spirit! As you know, healthy living is not something that happens by accident. It takes mindfulness. I eat live foods, and drink freshly-made juices, mostly containing fresh organic veggies and high-fiber, high-protein foods such as beans and quinoa, to improve my skin and elevate my energy. I hit the gym at least three times a week, mainly doing interval workouts and strength training with weights. Exercising helps oxygenate my blood, strengthen my muscles and improve my endurance. I also think positively, which is not too difficult considering that post-Lyme, I feel blessed to be alive at all!

I also love to learn from other people. My mom is in her 80s and still healthy, beautiful and active, taking dance and Tai Chi classes and enjoying spending time with her friends and family. She never bought us much junk food or soda pop as kids, and she didn’t drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. Instead, she shared her excitement over vibrant fresh greens and delicious fruits straight from the garden or the local farmer’s markets. When we sat down to dinner, she and my siblings and I often lingered afterward just talking and enjoying each other’s company. Recently I asked about her secret to living a long, healthy life. She thought about it for a minute and said, “I don’t poison my body and I think positively!” I love my mom. What a wonderful role model.

Sadly, I have friends ten years younger than I who suffer with RA and other autoimmune deficiencies, who refuse to examine their dietary habits and sedentary lifestyles. They depend on the medical professionals to help heal them with medicines.

If you decide to take an active role in your own healing, begin by recognizing that shifting your diet and starting an exercise practice takes determination and regular effort. Realize that your Lyme doctor may be an excellent diagnostician, and she may have prescribed antibiotics and been of great help to you in the early stages, but she may not know bupkes about nutrition, or how some foods or alternatives such as Splenda may contribute to, or denigrate, your progress.

Medical doctors don’t study nutrition in medical school, not with any depth. While it would be nice to think that they could be our role models for healthy living all-around, that isn’t in the curriculum. So unless your doctor is also educated in and interested in the way diet affects healing, it’s possible that you know much more about it than he does. There are indications that this is changing, and that more people who become doctors are also interested in how the whole healing process works. This is a wonderful trend, and I have a feeling it will continue. One of my friends says her doctor expects his patients to have read up on their condition online, and he encourages them to dialog with him about what they learn there.

Does your medical doctor know about the role of nutrition and exercise in treating Lyme? Do you talk with your nurse practitioner or doctor about diet and exercise as you heal from Lyme disease? Who are your role models for healthy living? Drop a line or leave a comment. I love hearing from you!

Now go on, nobody’s looking. Thump your thymus!

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An integral approach to healing from Lyme

Lyme affects all the systems in the body, including the brain and therefore the mental state. It seems important to recognize that Lyme, as a complex disease that can be very hard to heal from, must be treated from as many angles as possible.

I’m not writing about this approach simply because I read about it somewhere and thought it sounded good. I’m a walking, talking example of someone who beat Lyme because I practice an integral approach myself. It begins with recognizing that in any given event, there are four perspectives that represent the fundamental dimensions of an illness, as stated in the post above:
  • Physical state
  • Mental state
  • Cultural views
  • Social systems

We’ve already touched on the first two angles, and explored how you can see one but not the other. The doctors can treat your physical body with medicines while often missing entirely your state of mental-emotional health. Sometimes mental problems can clear up when only the body receives treatment. Other times it takes another approach.

Cultural views, the third angle, include other peoples’ thoughts and opinions about your experience. Think about the impact that your family members and friends’ ideas about your illness have influenced or affected you. Whose advice do you seek out in times of trouble? Your psychologist, your BFF, your mom, and the opinions of other important tribe members all play a role in your approach to healing Lyme. And in many cases, this has proved itself not a simple disease to heal. What happens to the people who have experienced recurring symptoms?

Say, for example, that your manager at work came across an article that restates the IDSA’s guidelines for Lyme treatment, and he knows you have completed the requisite three weeks of doxycycline when you suddenly begin to complain of arthritis or fatigue -- again. If he believes hands-down that the IDSA must know the optimal treatment for Lyme, he may not believe that you are still not well. He may even suspect that your symptoms are “all in your head.”

I remember when a writer friend whom I trust and admire queried me about my pain. I had confided at lunch that I was having trouble writing because I couldn’t remember from one sentence to the next what I had just said. You look fine, he insisted. I was hurt. It felt like betrayal. He didn’t believe me, and I hated being put in the position of having to defend my illness. The opinions of others still hold sway even if they’re wrong.  On the other hand, when others believe in us and hold a space for our healing, it can feel as liberating as fresh air. It opens the way for our progress.

The fourth angle of the integral approach is the social systems. Think of the health care system, and whether or not you can afford access to coverage. Can you not get access because you’ve been denied, or because you had to quit your job and can’t afford COBRA? Systems are simply there whether you are aware of them or not. The emergency room, for example, is a social safety-net system. If you haven’t been privy to a doctor’s care for one reason or another you may wind up in the ER in a health crisis. That’s an example of falling unintentionally into a social system that may be your only option. An example of an intentional use of a system may be your own research into alternative care, which leads you to an integrative doctor and a trip to the pharmacy for herbal tinctures and supplements.

As you can see, the social systems available to us are largely influenced by where we live, which country, and how near or far we are to the kind of doctor or medical team we need. Many people with Lyme disease have come up against the cruel realization that not enough medical professionals are educated about diagnosing or treating Lyme. Numerous people have had to travel by air across state lines, sometimes thousands of miles, to get to a doctor that will give them appropriate treatment. Social systems are not incidental to the story. They lie at the heart of it, influencing the outcome just as cogently as do the other three angles.

Bear in mind that these four perspectives are not unique to illness but always arise naturally, and always together, in any given event you can think of. Even when you’re healthy you can still identify all of these dimensions. Each area only tells a part of the story. Each part contributes to our experience as a whole. They cannot be separated.

Once we recognize how these dimensions work together in our day-to-day life, it’s easy to see where things are functioning well and where they aren’t. Being aware of dysfunction gives us a much better chance to change it. And to get better.

Learn more about this approach on the
Beat Lyme page.
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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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Rethinking Lyme disease treatments

Whenever somebody else talks about their battle with Lyme, whether it’s about the symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment itself, I get a deep sense of validation. It’s a mixture of relief that I’m not crazy and empathy for the person who went through a hell-realm that I know intimately. My dad’s generation called these foxhole tales, shared experiences while hiding from a hostile enemy.

Celebrities’ stories have a potent affect on our collective notions about disease. When someone famous for car racing or acting or novel writing, or when the President of the US (GW Bush) has fought and defeated the same powerful foe as we have, we want to know their stories. We may not be equal in status but we’re equally brought to our knees by the Lyme bacteria. Hearing their stories about dealing with Lyme might trigger an idea that works, or give us strength to try a new approach.

Parker Posey was diagnosed with Lyme disease in February 2009 and received the standard IDSA Lyme treatment of antibiotics. After completing the round of antibiotics and experiencing a return of her symptoms, she decided not to continue on a second round and instead turned to a holistic approach involving detoxification, diet and supplements. Her experience led to her involvement with a documentary film by rethinkingcancer.org, the story of five cancer patients and one person with Lyme disease who all made the decision to treat their diseases through alternative means, and who have all lived years beyond the time their doctors predicted.

Posey asks: “How can a natural approach to healing oneself be considered so unconventional? Why do we think we can't play an active role in getting healthy? Why do we give ourselves away so easily to pharmaceuticals that deplete our system and confuse the natural healing process?”  

Lyme patient David Walant has been free of Lyme for 20 years. Listen to him in this brief clip from the webpage of rethinkingcancer.org.

Karen Allen, who played opposite Jeff Bridges in Starman, was interviewed in 2010 on the blog, Macrobiotic Adventures, about her difficult journey through Lyme disease and back to health. Her story is familiar to almost everyone with Lyme, it’s a series of tortuous misdiagnoses and failed cures, and then finally a way through the pain and confusion and back to a normal, creative life. The interview is fairly long, but very intriguing. Karen talks about her dynamic healing experience with the parasite zapper invented by Canadian Dr. Hulda Clark.

I hope you find these clips inspiring, as I have. Remember you are not alone and you’re not crazy. Change your diet if you think it will benefit you. Change your sedentary life and exercise every single day. Stay limber, stretch and relax daily, and surround yourself with loving friends. It’s your life and it’s worth every precious moment you have to get well.

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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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Diagnosis and treatment of Babesia & other coinfections

If you have been treated for Lyme Disease but you’re still in pain, you may have MCIDS, or Multiple Chronic Infectious Disease Syndrome. Dr Richard Horowitz coined this term for patients presenting with symptoms of multiple chronic infections, many that don’t test positive with the standard tests. Challenges to the immune system include chronic inflammation, problems detoxifying heavy metals, sleep disorders which in turn exacerbate inflammation, and mitochondrial infections.  Patients with multiple co-infections may have a suppressed immune system, and ultimately it is the inflammation that causes the problems.

Dr. Horowitz has treated almost 12,000 patients with Lyme Disease over the past twenty years. He has observed that most of his patients have had multiple infections, viruses and parasites and that for this reason, the standard of care recommended by the IDSA has been less than effective. Patients may have one or more coinfections such as Babesia, Erlichia, Bartonella, additional piroplasms which don’t test well with the standard testing. Some have hormonal disorders, nutritional and enzyme deficiencies, GI problems, autonomic nervous system disfunction and other symptom complexes.

To describe the challenge of treating a patient with MCIDS, Dr Horowitz uses the following analogy. “It’s like the patient has ten nails in their foot, and you pull out only one. They still have pain.”  Doctors need to address all of the factors and overlapping symptoms.

Also, there are evidently different strains of Borrelia and Babesia that may not be detected with the ELISA or the Western Blot tests. Recent evidence suggests that new species of tick borne coinfections may be arising and may occur in regions of the US and worldwide. One tick bite can transmit a cesspool of multiple infections.

Here is an intriguing paper by Dr. Horowitz illustrating the interest in investigating Alternative Medicine to treat Lyme and coinfections that elude conventional Western medicine. Herbs, Hormones & Heavy Metals. (.pdf)

Dr. Richard Horowitz is the President of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Educational Foundation. He serves the Lyme community in multiple ways, primarily as an internist at the Hudson Valley Healing Arts Center, in Hyde Park, New York. In 2007, the Turn the Corner Foundation named him the Humanitarian of the Year for his ongoing work with chronic Lyme disease.

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Alternative treatment for Lyme - Cowden Condensed Protocol

The latest Cowden protocol -- Cowden Condensed Support Program -- was featured last summer (2010) in an article in The Townsend Letter by the Lyme Disease Research Group. Personally, I had brilliant results from the original Cowden protocol and it’s gratifying to see Dr. Richard Horowitz’s very positive results as well. Alternatives to conventional antibiotic treatment for Lyme often seem difficult to track and trust, however there is no lack of scientific methodology from this medical group in Connecticut and the University of New Haven.

There is also good news in that the condensed protocol is more affordable than the original version. The protocol is available through Nutramedix or through your LLMD.

In Vitro Effectiveness of Samento and Banderol Herbal Extracts on the Different Morphological Forms of Borrelia Burgdorferi

by Akshita Datar, Navroop Kaur, Seema Patel, David F. Luecke, and Eva Sapi, PhD
Lyme Disease Research Group
University of New Haven

There is an alternative clinical treatment option gaining wide use, called Cowden Condensed Support Program, that utilizes several herbal extracts designed to eliminate microbes in Lyme disease patients. Richard Horowitz, MD, president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Educational Foundation (ILADEF), has prescribed this protocol for over 2000 of his patient and reports that it has been effective for more than 70% of them. The two herbal agents from the Cowden Condensed Support Program selected for this study are Samento (a pentacyclic chemotype of Cat's Claw [Uncaria tomentosa] that does not contain tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids), with reported antibacterial and antiviral properties, and Banderol (Otoba sp.), known to have antibacterial, antiprotozoal and anti-inflammatory effects.10-12 Both herbal agents are used during the first two months of Cowden Condensed Support Program, then in rotation with other antimicrobials for the duration of this 6-month protocol.

For further information about the Lyme Disease Research Group’s work, please listen to Dr. Eva Sapi in our Interviews with Experts series.


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Reduce Lyme Symptoms by Nurturing Yourself

Along the streets in my neighborhood, colorful leaves lie jumbled in piles, trees are half empty or illuminated by unexpected shafts of sunlight to reveal tones of red, yellow and amber. The wind has a wicked bite, and suddenly the holidays are right around the corner.

Making plans to gather with family can be a source of joy or nervousness, or a raw combination of all sorts of emotions. Stress is a part of everyday life, but add in a spate of bad weather or a run of obligatory social events and it can be a recipe for real exhaustion, especially if you’re struggling with
Lyme symptoms.

Naturally, during the fall & winter we tend to spend more time indoors, where we’re less likely to exercise or be exposed to natural light, and more likely to eat a little more. Most Lyme patients are familiar with symptoms of mild to moderate depression, and heading into the cooler seasons can trigger feelings of sadness or loss.

What are some simple ways to be good to yourself during this time?

One way to be proactive is to pay closer attention to what you eat.
Dr. Andrew Weil’s food pyramid is a helpful visual chart. At the bottom are foods to eat more of. Start with a solid foundation of a variety of vegetables, which are rich in flavonoids and caratenoids that can help keep inflammation in check. Fruits and veggies both contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. 

When the wind whips around our house and the nights are long, I gravitate to the kitchen for comfort and creativity. Chopping vegetables for a pot of savory soup creates a rhythm and gives me a sense of order, which is something I seem to have developed a stronger need for throughout the process of healing from Lyme. Hot soup always tastes good and fills the house with delicious smells. I always try to buy organic when possible, and I’m blessed with a sister who lives nearby, grows amazing greens and keeps us freshly supplied.

Here is a list of ingredients that went into the pot last night:

1 yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 carrots
6 large leaves of fresh chard
3 potatoes
baked, leftover salmon pieces
3 cups of vegetable broth
Italian herbs to taste
3 drops of cayenne-based hot sauce
salt & pepper

Chop onions & garlic and quick-fry in a generous puddle of olive oil. Meantime, bring the broth to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Drop in chopped veggies, seasonings, hot sauce, and put the fish in last, since it’s already cooked and just needs to heat up.

Serve with a thickly sliced piece of bread, gluten free. Enjoy!
Comments

Lithium as treatment for Lyme-related depression

Tracy writes:

I would like to find research on lithium as a supplement for Lyme disease. I noticed in one of your posts that you took this your first year.

Both my LLMD and naturopath are in support of supplementing with it. It's helped me personally.  I wonder if you have any research to suggest?  I would like to share it with others to consider as an alternative to discuss with their medical professionals, but it seems without the research proof people are questioning it. (Perhaps as an alternative say, to Xanathx and Klonopin which cause detox stress on the body while we need instead to focus on clearing the Lyme bugs and neurotoxins.)

I hope you can provide info or suggestion where to further my research.

Dear Tracy, Thank you for your question.

I remember sitting in my naturopath’s office in agonizing pain, trying to follow his advice through my brain-fog. When he suggested lithium, my naturally cautious nature kicked in. “What is it?” I asked. He said, “it’s a mineral.”

In my miserable state though, lithium sounded to me vaguely sinister, like something out of an old Dracula flick, the mug of steaming potion given to the victims to keep them docile. Even worse, I knew that lithium was somehow associated with psychotic episodes and depression. Did this nice doctor simply think I was just losing it?

I’d told him about the phone that wouldn’t stop ringing, about hearing my dead father saying my name. I had told him that I couldn’t make heads or tails of any paragraph I tried to read, and that recently, I had remained in the same position in the same chair from sun up to sundown, because I could not decide what to do. (I confided that I thought maybe I’d died, and just hadn’t figured that out yet.)  Depressed? I think any formerly healthy person who wakes up to find they can’t walk, talk, or think is entitled to a little depression. But I wasn’t sure whether taking lithium would firmly secure my insanity, or help me get through it.

With considerable relief, I can report that it helped me through the toughest time in my life. It is also inexpensive as I recall, and I didn’t find it at all addicting. I’m glad it’s also helped you.

Your point is well-taken that without the supporting research, there is reason to doubt claims. Fortunately for those who want more information about the use of lithium, there is plenty of science behind it. In my opinion it is not without risks and benefits, like other drugs, and should only be prescribed by a doctor. In future posts please watch for an interview with my naturopath, whom I have asked to share what he knows and point to further research. Here, for starters:

From an article in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 2002:

The special usefulness of lithium lies in long-term prevention of recurrences of mania and bipolar depression and in reducing risk of suicidal behavior. Lithium also may be beneficial in recurrent unipolar depression and is an effective adjunct for treatment-resistant depression.

Reference:
Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 2002, Vol. 10, No. 2 : Pages 59-75

Is Lithium Still Worth Using? An Update of Selected Recent Research
Ross J. Baldessarini, Leonardo Tondo, John Hennen and ,Adele C. Viguera
(doi: 10.1080/hrp.10.2.59.75)

And here are three articles from the British Journal of Psychiatry:

Lithium in Bipolar Mood Disorder

Monitoring Patients on Lithium

Use of antipsychotic drugs and lithium in mania


Learn more about Lyme disease treatments.
Comments

Educate & legislate: Sen. Charles Schumer on Lyme disease

Senator Charles Schumer in August, talking to the press about Lyme disease. His message is that we need to educate and legislate, and teach each other how to identify the symptoms early, before a treatable condition becomes a horrendous nightmare: chronic Lyme disease.

Schumer states that he is personally aware of the dangers of not treating Lyme disease immediately after contracting an infection. He says he was bit by a tick in the Hudson Valley, while inspecting a dam in the area. He sought medical treatment immediately, and says he was cured because it was caught early enough.

Senator Schumer’s comments, quoted from the Hudson Valley Insider, Aug 13, 2011:

“We need to bring Lyme disease and Babesiosis out of the weeds and better educate the public about how to keep themselves and their families’ safe,” said Schumer. “Lyme disease is a problem we’ve seen for decades, and Babesiosis is a recently growing issue in New York, but we haven’t done nearly enough at the federal level to tackle it. Tick-borne illnesses often go unnoticed for months, yet can be devastating for many victims and their families. The summertime brings about warm weather and school vacation, causing higher rates of infection in Ulster County and beyond.  The tick is a little pest that can pose a big problem, and this legislation would boost research of Lyme disease and Babesiosis and increase education and awareness in the community to better fight these diseases.”

Just for the record, Senator Schumer states that “20,000 Americans are infected with Lyme,” which is a misleading statement, and probably also a grossly underestimated number. Lyme experts estimate the number of infections to be approximately 10 times higher, more like 200,000 annual cases. Mangled facts aside, it’s always good to hear and see  an influential politician speaking out for Lyme awareness.

Educate and legislate!




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Start where you are. Fight chronic inflammation.

Lyme disease is a thief. Chronic lyme disease symptoms can go on affecting a person’s life for many years. Given the complexity of receiving a correct diagnosis, a person with an undetected, underlying Lyme infection may instead be labeled with RA, fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MS, ALS, or almost anything from a truckload of other conditions.

Meantime, life goes on. Friends and siblings get jobs, travel, go to grad school, fall in love. They get married, have babies, and not in any particular order. But for the person with Lyme those fundamental pathways, common fruits of life we for granted, may simply not be an option. Lyme has stolen years.

But enough of spilled tears, right? The wisest thing anyone can do is to start where you are. If you’ve had it with chronic lyme disease symptoms, take heart. Many others have been in your shoes. And they’ve gotten through it. Regardless of the time and opportunities missed because of Lyme, there are many people living happy, loving, productive lives again.

Exactly how the stealthy
Lyme bacterial complex works is still under scrutiny. Scientists and doctors, some who are also personally infected with Lyme disease, such as Dr. Eva Sapi and  veterinarian, Lyme and immunology expert Dr. Scott Taylor, toil to understand and find a cure for Lyme. One thing we know for certain is that Lyme is an inflammatory disease, and chronic inflammation is the root cause of many life threatening conditions, including Lyme.

Cortico-steroids are commonly given to Lyme patients by doctors without any knowledge or clinical experience in
diagnosing chronic Lyme disease symptoms. The faulty logic goes something like this: the patient is experiencing distress, inflammation is causing the distress, steroids (usually Prednisone) will reduce the inflammation and thus reduce the patient’s distress. Not! Predinose will supress the patient’s immune system, causing it to tolerate the Borrelia bacteria instead of attacking and killing it. The Lyme infection is almost guaranteed to get worse, not better.

What can be done about chronic inflammation? Are there safe prescription drugs available, and does your LLMD know about them? What about natural alternatives? Aside from fish oil, are there other products we can take to reduce this silent killer? Does physical exercise really help people dealing with chronic inflammation? Or can it hurt? In my next post, we’ll delve into the various ways to treat chronic inflammation.


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Healing from Lyme - Part 3

For several years, although I had worked my way to the point where I was well enough to work and follow a somewhat normal routine, I still doubted that I’d ever live a life of my own choosing again, where I wouldn’t wake up feeling like I had lead in my veins and my head wasn’t stuffed with cotton candy. Eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly are two important keys for maintaining my healthy state.

If you want to know how not to lie to yourself about your diet, try keeping a journal where you chart everything you eat. In one column write down the food you ate, and make a column next to it where you note how it made you feel. This is a very basic way to figure out exactly what you’re eating, not what you tell yourself you’re eating. Some doctors tell me that they have their patients keep a similar type of journal when they’re trying to identify food allergies.

My diet is made up of mainly vegetables, some tuna and wild Alaskan salmon, raw and stir-fried or steamed veggies & curry, some fruit, legumes, and breads or tortillas. Some of the bread I buy is gluten free and I like the pasta made from brown rice, but I am not particularly bothered by digestive issues, and regular bread works for me too. In general, if it’s wholesome food with not too many ingredients that I can’t pronounce or recognize, it works.

My current favorite food is a wrap. I love wraps because instead of bread, you’re using a thin tortilla, and you can pack them with all sorts of veggies and greens. Stir-fry is good for that too. A lot of vegetables taste excellent in a wrap or a stir-fry that aren’t that delectable when eaten raw or steamed. I don’t generally drink alcohol or eat sugar, although I will indulge occasionally in a beer or cookies, but not often. Alcohol and sugar pull the wool over my eyes. Literally. When I drink or pig out on sugary things I get Lymie. It’s awful to experience Lyme brain again. It’s so wonderful and amazing to have a clear head again, why go there?

I know you’ve heard this a million times, but remember to drink enough water! Liquids are needed to assist the lymph system. I drink water or tea all day long. Green, not black. Black makes me jittery. Coffee only as a treat very infrequently. Tea is alkaline, coffee is acidic and drinking it tends to make me feel chilly. Tea doesn’t do that.

Lately I’ve been drinking a lot of tea made from bamboo leaves. The bamboo leaf tea has about 350 mgs of silica per cup, it tastes great and also helps me sleep. This isn’t technically a real tea. It’s a tisane, or an infusion. Bamboo has the highest amount of silica, a basic mineral that our bodies slough off constantly in the form of dead skin cells, hair, and nail trimmings. Silica is the main ingredient in collagen, which is so essential to rebuild as collagen is destroyed by the Lyme bacteria.

Especially as we get older we need to be mindful of getting enough silica to maintain the levels we need for healthy hair, skin, nails and bones. Studies are showing that silica is the body’s delivery system for calcium. So if you have enough silica in your diet, the calcium can be delivered to the organs properly. As an interesting side note, studies are also showing that this tea can pull out the aluminum in the body and brain. Researchers are intrigued by this finding, and it may be quite useful in cases of Alzheimer’s.

Smoothies are a treat and a regular part of my diet. Delicious, fresh smoothies made of rice milk, berries, a banana and green food powder are very satisfying. Sometimes I put in protein powder if I’ve been working out particularly hard.

I’ve made other life style changes. The main one is that now I exercise religiously. I used to just dance and walk for exercise, but I wasn’t doing either with any sort of regularity. If it happened, it happened. Then about two years into my healing, my shoulder started to freeze up. I was so frustrated, because I was working really hard to clear up the nasty neurological, skin and heart problems I was having, and had begun to track some very good progress. Then one day I realized that I couldn’t move my shoulder and it was painful. It was disheartening. My partner suggested that I try some exercises, in particular push-ups. Hated those push-ups at first, but I was determined to fix this without drugs, and I did. It took about two years, but now my shoulder gives me very little trouble and I have full range of movement. That was the beginning of my now-regular exercise phase. I love working out now, but at first it was difficult. I hadn’t realized how out of shape I had gotten from being sick, and from my work life style, which is sitting at a computer all day (can you relate?).

I used an exercise CD at home for about a year before I had the nerve to join the Y and exercise in front of others. Then I decided to join a private gym that had something called a kinesis wall. Essentially, the kinesis wall is an apparatus with several stations that enable the user to get a rigorous, core-strengthening workout. Very much like Pilates. I took a weekly class with a very skilled coach, which got me started off on the right foot. I recommend classes instead of private coaching if you want to save some money. They’re fun, and also you meet other people, great for team spirit and camaraderie.

I’m fortunate in that I work at home. For the past 7 years I’ve been in charge of my own work schedule. That has been extremely helpful. If I’m honestly too tired to work I can take a nap. I can also stay close to the bathroom, which helps when you drink so much water.

My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering with Lyme and has to maintain a job where they have to leave the house every day. This can be a bear of an illness, and that life style can be merciless. If that is your situation, see if you can look into telecommuting, even part of the week. Staggering your work hours so you aren’t dealing with bad traffic patterns, a real stress-inducer, can help a little bit too.

So that’s where I’m at currently. Please tell me if any of this resonates, or helps to hear, or if you have an idea that you think could benefit others healing from Lyme. Do you keep a food journal, or an exercise journal? I’d love to hear about your journey and your results.


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Healing from Lyme - Part 2

Before receiving the correct diagnosis for Lyme and coinfections, a dermatologist had put me on Prednisone to try and control my severe skin rashes. This was a nearly fatal mistake on his part. It marked a crisis point in my illness. I also received lectures by this doctor about how I “really should stop scratching myself raw while I was sleeping.” I wasn’t sleeping, and I knew he was wrong. The skin on my body wasn’t opening up due to scratching it. It was infuriating not to be heard.

He considered me a nuisance, because at each appointment I’d open my notebook and read another question from my list, which he wouldn’t answer. Bless his heart, as we say in the South. He wouldn’t even look me in the eye or talk to me. When he had something to say he addressed my mother instead, who drove me to these appointments and helped me get through them.

A doctor worth her salt who suspects that a Lyme infection is underlying will be the first to tell you that corticosteroids such as Prednisone are contraindicated. That means they are precisely what you do not want to do. The dermatologist who wouldn’t listen to my questions seemed to have no professional curiosity about my skin rash. If he’d looked into it, he might have saved me several terrible months of pain, and perhaps even several years of cognitive disorientation. Prednisone will replicate the Lyme bacteria. It will drive the bacterial complex further into the body and across the blood-brain barrier. That is what had happened to me.

In spite of the fact that my intuition urged me not to, I continued taking the Prednisone for 16 days (he’d prescribed it for 20). On the 16th day, I made the decision to stop although the dermatologist, and a couple of my dear friends, warned me not to. The doctor must know what he’s doing, they said. You’re seriously ill and you should listen to him. The mental stress and anxiety caused by going through this process, on top of the continuous physical pain, was nearly unbearable.

We’re conditioned to listen to our doctors, take the medicine they prescribe, and to take what they say as the word of God. From my current vantage point, I look back and wonder what on earth I was thinking. How could I have thought that this guy was helping me? He kept me coming back because he wanted to biopsy my skin rashes. But the rashes lingered and didn’t improve. He was ready to perform a punch biopsy on my raw skin. I’m grateful that he kept waiting for the rash to improve before he did. He knew that a biopsy would likely make the rash worse. Partly because I so feared having that punch biopsy and partly because I felt like I was in the enemy’s camp when I went to his office, I simply stopped going.

That’s when I found a naturopath, Tod Thoring, in Arroyo Grande, CA. It was like being introduced to an angel, and it was another turning point in my long battle. This time it was a positive one. This was the beginning my new life. I’d found Dr Thoring and lucked into a situation where he and a very smart group of Lyme experts were putting their heads together to try and help people in dire straits, like me.

Today I consider myself lucky in every way. But that said, I know I’ve also battled my symptoms with every ounce of strength I had. And without the support and love of my partner and my mother, I wouldn’t have made it. I’m ashamed to say this, but when I was in the acute stage, if I’d had a gun, I probably would have pulled the trigger. The pain in my skin and muscles was so severe, so constant and unbearable. Instead of letting me hurt myself, my partner handed me a paintbrush and some tubes of paint. He supported me emotionally as well as he could, and set me on a path to healing.

During the acute stage some of my other symptoms were insomnia, hypersensitivity to light (especially florescent) and to being touched. I couldn’t stand or walk without holding onto a chair or a wall. I was dizzy all the time. My brain wasn’t functioning well enough to work or write, and when reading, comprehending even a simple paragraph was an insurmountable challenge. During this time, in spite of my state, I began interviewing doctors who I thought might have some clue about how to treat Lyme disease. I was determined to help other people like me who I knew were out there, going through this horrible process and needing to hear what the doctors had to say about it.

Navigating the technical equipment and recording the interviews was hugely challenging. Once, I could barely hear the doctor I was speaking to, and couldn’t figure out how to fix it. I strained to hear her through the entire session while her voice came through like a little mouse in my ear. It wasn’t until after I thanked her and hung up that I realized I had put my earphone in backwards.

I ached to be held and comforted, but couldn’t stand to be touched. I felt extremely lonely and isolated. I had horrible mood swings. I hallucinated. Once, while in the bathroom, I heard my father say my name. He died when I was 15 years old, more than 30 years ago, but I instantly recognized his voice. I heard my telephone ringing and a little girl on the other end asking for someone who didn’t live there. That particular hallucination happened a few different times. Each time, the calls upset me enormously, and she always called when I was home alone. I couldn’t understand why this little girl kept calling back, insisting on talking with someone who didn’t live there. Weeks later, I realized that I’d hallucinated her and all the conversations we’d had.

In Part 3 I’ll outline my diet and exercise routine. I’ll also pass along advice and suggestions from some amazing individuals. You’ll hear more about the Lyme success stories I’ve heard along the way.  


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Healing from Lyme - Part 1

Q.  I noticed in the article you said that your symptoms are gone and your health vastly improved. What did you do to get to that point and how long did it take you?

A. My healing journey is still ongoing, and since Lyme changed my perspective on pretty much everything, I’m always vigilant about the consequences of my everyday choices. I’ve learned how critical it is, when dealing with any serious disease, to approach healing from as many directions as possible. This is called an ‘integral’ approach and there are four general life areas that come under consideration. I’ll get into all four areas in this multi-part post.

First, I’ll give you the general picture of the medicines and supplements I took and still take. To begin with, my doctor put me on a treatment protocol of antibiotics including Omnicef and Zithromax. He also started me on a regime of homeopathics and vitamin supplements to support my immune system. Here is a partial list of the supplements that I took everyday for the first year:

probiotics
cod liver oil
bromelain
thymucin
lithium
dermaliq
CoQ10
quercetin/bromelain
copper
garlic
vit E
vit C
MSM
pekana
L lysine
Noni
liquid chlorophyll
zinc
psyllium

After six months, my doctor recommended that I stop the oral antibiotics and begin IV treatment with the antibiotic Rocephin. I had been through a rough time physically and emotionally, and though I felt better, I didn’t feel anywhere near 100%. In addition, I didn’t have health insurance, and I understood the cost of the IV and the new antibiotics would be around $20,000. Financially, my illness had already set me back in two fundamental ways. First, I hadn’t been able to work full time. And second, I had spent a great deal of money on the medicine and supplements needed already. It was a pretty disturbing place to be. My doctor was a naturopath, and typically did not treat illness with antibiotics. I knew my condition must be very serious if he thought I needed the Rocephin.

I had to decide what to do. After agonizing over it for a week or so, I chose not to go with the IV, but decided to start the Cowden protocol. There was no lapse of time between ending my oral antibiotic protocol and beginning the Cowden, an alternative protocol that I had researched, consisting of Samento, Burbur, Banderol and a number of other herbal tinctures that originate in the Amazon. These native plants have been used to treat malaria for a thousand years or more. I felt like I could make it work.

The Cowden routine worked very effectively for me, and although it took a long time (several years) I’m happy with the results. The cost, while not cheap, was a fraction of what the Rocephin IV treatment would have been. Currently I’m on a break from the r Cowden's updated Lyme protocol">Cowden protocol. About a year ago I tapered off of it, and began taking a low dose (3 drops 3 times daily) of teasel root tincture which I still take. I made this decision after reading about it and interviewing a couple of herbalist/physicians who had found it to be immensely helpful for their patients.

It took me six years to get to the point where I feel normal again. It wasn’t a quick trip. More like an excruciatingly slow journey. Normal, to me, means that I can enjoy my family and friends and take time for them. I can pursue my personal and professional goals and work long days if I so choose without crashing, I can sleep through the night every night, and I can exercise rigorously every day. I can make plans for the future.

In my opinion, exercise and diet are more important than anybody will tell you. I consider Lance Armstrong and all the athletes I’ve had the honor of interviewing for our Lyme success stories to be my solid gold role models.

Next, I’ll give a bit of backstory and talk about what happened before I found my naturopath. What can happen when the doctors don’t know about Lyme disease and prescribe the wrong medicine?


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What's wrong with conventional medicine (and what to do about it)

An insightful article on the Doctor-Patient Relationship written by Dr Lissa Rankin points out some of the specific problems created and intensified by our orthodox medical system. Rankin is searching for a more vital and meaningful way to relate to her profession, her patients and her role. In her post, she perceptively describes an enormous & paradoxical problem with what she calls Old Medicine. Lyme disease patients get to be unwilling experts in Old Medicine. Picture the doctor with his/her hand on the doorknob, nodding in your direction as you wait in your underwear on a cold table under florescent lights that are driving you mad.

From the patients’ perspective, you can boil it down to this: You want to be treated like a whole person, not a slab of meat.

From the doctors’ perspective, you want to practice medicine without losing your own health and/or being forced to put your soul on hold.

Dr Rankin shows how the rules of Old Medicine are intolerable, imposing unsustainable stresses on doctors and patients alike.  She accurately describes the ways in which ways doctors get shafted in this system. Then she turns the tables, articulating how our current cold-as-a-spectrum ‘managed care’ feels from the patients’ perspective.

What’s wrong with conventional medicine and what can be done about it

Our medical system is flawed. The question is not how bad is it, or how thoroughly can we condemn it. The question is, can it be fixed, and if so, how?

Most people are aware that there are 2 types of medicine:
1. Conventional, which treats the illness.
2. Alternative, complementary, holistic, or integrative, which treats the whole patient.

However, there is also an emerging 3rd category: Integral, which includes the first two types and treats the physician as well. I’m old enough to remember when ‘health food’ stores were totally square. Now, Whole Foods, just one example, is a billion dollar business. Our collective consciousness around health issues is constantly expanding, although not as quickly as some of us would like. There is evidence that Integral medicine is being quickly adopted by health-care practitioners around the world.

Here’s why:

Using an
Integral framework is like putting on a new pair of specs. It gives us a good look at the big picture without excluding the details. The Integral model recognizes that every event has at least four dimensions. They represent the perspectives: I, we, it and its. How does this apply in analyzing our medical system? Here’s how: Factors in all four dimensions affect both the cause and the cure of an illness. The all-too-often murky process of diagnosing and treating Lyme disease provides a classic example of why an integral medicine is necessary.

Four dimensions of medicine and why all four are important

1. Conventional medicine tends to strictly abide in only one of those four dimensions. It deals almost entirely with the physical organism using physical interventions: surgery, drugs, medication, and behavioral modification. Orthodox medicine believes essentially in the physical causes of physical illness, and therefore prescribes mostly physical interventions. Lyme disease, if caught early enough, can be greatly cured and controlled with antibiotics. The integral model doesn’t claim that this objective dimension is unimportant, only that it is just telling one-fourth of the story. (The Integral Vision, by Ken Wilber. p 92) Which leads us to the next quadrant:

2. Unprecedented interest in Alternative care makes it clear that many people (doctors included) recognize that our interior states, i.e. our emotions, psychological attitudes, imagery, and intentions, play a crucial role in both the cause and the cure of even physical illness. Conscious use of imagery, visualization, and affirmation have been scientifically proven to affect the management of most illnesses, and including these practices is increasingly more accepted in comprehensive medical care. (p. 92) Affirmations were extremely important to me while Lyme was in an acute stage. Repeating bits of positive phrases helped me focus my Lyme-addled brain and gave me a reason to believe I was eventually going to be alright, even though more than one doctor had advised me to go on disability, climb into a wheelchair and settle in for life. For me that wouldn’t have been life, but death.

3. However, this subjective dimension is still only one-fourth of the whole picture. Nothing exists in a vacuum, least of all human consciousness. We are embedded in shared cultural values and intersubjective factors that affect our state of health and our journey through illness. Cultural views and judgements affect us. In my interviews with Lyme patients over the years, I’ve noticed a significantly common thread, which is that we’ve all been told, at one time or another, that “it’s all in your head.” We may not give much credence to the dimension of cultural views, and yet our spouses’, friends’ and doctors’ subjective opinions about our health affects us (sometimes dramatically) whether we like it or not.

4. The material and economic dimension, causative factors in both disease and cure are rarely acknowledged. Yet, these factors are central to the issue, not besides-the-point. This is the Social system that delivers your medicine, sets the limits on your managed care, and accepts or declines your access to insurance. Are you wealthy? You may be fortunate enough to afford concierge medical care. Or are you in the economic class that is relegated to using the ER when things get bad enough? The Social system dimension or quadrant also includes your access to clinics and nurses and their availability in your region. In other words, if you can’t reach the clinic you need because you are too sick to drive or it is too far away, it cannot help you.

Integral medicine includes all four of the above dimensions. I’m inspired by doctors like Lissa Rankin, who intuit that Old Medicine only tells one-quarter of the story, and that in order to improve we must acknowledge the other 3 quadrants or dimensions. In the
100 perspectives we categorize our interviews, articles, and other info into all four quadrants. Integral medicine is gaining popularity around the globe, and Lyme literate doctors, because they have to deal with us Lymies on so many different dimensions of health, may be on the leading edge.
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Dr. Peter Muran, Lyme Disease Management

I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Peter Muran this week about his approach to Lyme disease management, which he refers to as functional medicine. Dr. Muran practices Holistic Integrative Medicine in San Luis Obispo, CA, and specializes in diagnosing and treating immune system disorders and diseases such as Lyme. Functional medicine is about treating the whole person, body, mind, and spirit. To those of us who are aware of the role we must play in our own healing, this might seem like a no-brainer, but in Western medicine it is still quite revolutionary and new.

There’s a profound sense of relief that resonates deep inside when a trained and experienced medical doctor tells you, “there’s nothing stronger than what goes on in your own body.” It felt like music to my ears to hear this. Yes, we need medicine -- sometimes very powerful medicine indeed -- but our own miraculous bodies are often resilient and strong and capable of healing themselves, if only we let them.

The main point I came away with after our talk was that immune disorders can be managed if we take a whole person, whole life, approach. Healing from Lyme is literally a life-changing experience. I’ve said in the past that I’d almost rather have something easily diagnosable, such as cancer, instead of this mysterious condition that is so difficult to treat. Dr. Muran set me straight. Cancer is much harder to get over, he told me, more devastating overall to health. Lyme is treatable. We just might not want to make the effort to change in the radical ways it seems to insist on, but if we do, we can get better.

Have you ever had a doctor tell you that “diet has nothing to do with it”? I’m pretty sure I’m not the only Lyme patient who has ever heard that from a conventional doctor. I’m no expert, but I know a line of bull when I hear it.  As it turns out, diet does have something to do with it. When I asked him to say a few words about our eating habits, and about the role of sugar, Dr. Muran offered some basic widsom:
don’t live to eat, eat to live. Diet should always be nutritional. Become aware of how the foods you eat affect you. In other words, instead of ignoring that bloated sensation, recognize that your body is giving you feedback. When beginning to work with a new patient, Dr. Muran conducts food allergy tests to help distinguish food sensitivities from a reaction to bacterial infection.

During our hour-long conversation, he touched on subjects that are close to our hearts, including of course the astounding immune system and GI tract, diet and nutrition, exercise, the function and role of the body’s secondary responders: the hormones, cortisol, insulin, and adrenal. He doesn’t go into detail, but intriguingly also mentions the importance of the role of meditation.

We also talked about his approach to handling herxes. The Herxheimer reaction is a double-edged sword for Lyme patients, because we know it is generally a sign that the Lyme bacteria are dying -- good. But with that die-off, more symptoms or more severe symptoms may also emerge -- not good. Instead of pushing the patient and risking more stress to their system, his recommendation is to back off the newly introduced antibiotic or treatment causing the herx. Reduce it to a point where the patient can stabilize and continue to heal without additional stress.

On a personal note, I was surprised and gratified to discover during our talk that Dr. Muran actually played a central role in my own healing although I never knew his name. I lived in San Luis Obispo at the time I discovered I had Lyme, and the naturopathic doctor who treated me was new to the field at the time. I was aware that he was given guidance every step of the way by a group of Lyme experts in California. That group included Dr. Muran and Dr. Steve Harris, who incidentally are both featured in Connie Strasheim’s excellent book:
Insights into Lyme Disease Treatment. Also included in the book are Dr. Lee Cowden and master herbalist Stephen Buhner, both of whom are featured guests in our own interview with experts’ series.


Listen to my conversation with Dr. Muran on managing Lyme disease.


For further information about Dr. Muran’s approach, please visit his website page on Lyme disease:
http://www.alternativemedicinehealthcare.com/immune-health/lyme-disease.www.longevityhealthcare.com
Tel: (888) 315-4777



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Self-treatment for Lyme: Understanding your immune system

Do you self treat for Lyme? Many of us do, taking our cues from others who have found ways to regain their health and build their immune systems. Self treatment is necessary, I believe, even while under a doctor’s care. Diet and exercise routines, for example, may not be in your doctor’s radar. However, both play an important role in recovery. Speaking from my own experience, I advocate taking an integrative and many-faceted approach in treating Lyme.

But where do you start? I guess it’s always made sense to me to begin with the basics. When I was very ill with Lyme, I kept notebooks and schedules of my daily routines. I was so loopy that I was afraid I’d forget to take my meds or supplements without keeping track. Plus, I think the act of doing so made me feel useful and proactive in my own recovery, at a time when I really thought I was doomed. 

What are your routines? What goes into your mouth at every meal? How much exercise do you get? Especially if you plan to treat yourself, it’s prudent to track yourself. Write it down. Not the food you say you eat, or the exercise you say you get, but in actuality.


Food sensitivities and allergies may show up as skin rashes and other problems, but the major concern when dealing with Lyme is chronic inflammation. Persistent inflammation caused by the Lyme bacterial complex can create long-term problems, but there may be ways to discourage inflammation through diet and exercise. The seat of the immune system lies in the GI tract. Besides keeping track of your daily routines, understanding the link between your gut and your health is a good place to start.

Here is an excerpt from the first in a series of articles by Dr Peter J Muran, MD, who practices Integrative Medicine in San Luis Obispo, CA, specializing in immune conditions such as Lyme disease.

There are approximately 100 Trillion bacteria in the human gut. Astoundingly, this represents 10 times more cells then what makes up the body. The presence of these bacteria has an immunological effect on the rest of the body. Under most circumstances, this immunological effect is greatly beneficial. However, disruption of this normal flora, if not tolerated, is inflammatory and can be significantly harmful.



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Following up with Samento & Banderol

A reader commented that he has tried Samento and Banderol and didn’t get results. Another reader mentioned that ‘diet is everything.’ I feel so strongly about this and want to put in another pitch for taking personal responsibility in our own healing. I wholeheartedly agree that Samento and Banderol alone won't cut it. I wonder if antibiotics alone can heal us, and personally doubt they can do it all (unless the Lyme disease is caught early enough). I believe that in order to be effective healing agents, antibiotics, as well as herbal and other complementary therapeutics, should be positioned as part of a whole approach. That approach includes diet and exercise and a host of other factors that I’ve written about in ‘100 Perspectives.

My own history of healing from Lyme seems similar to that of the person who responded, LymeAngl, although I followed the
r Cowden's updated Lyme protocol">Cowden protocol for four years (after treating for six months with powerful antibiotics), taking 30 drops 3x daily, alternating between Samento and Banderol.

LymeAngl’s point about diet being everything is critical in my opinion. I have had a healthy diet my entire life, but then went gonzo with healthy food, fresh organic juices daily, fresh sprouts and fresh dark green everything, such as spirulina, chlorella, and leafy greens when I learned I had Lyme. I maintained that frenzy of healthy food consumption long after my horrid symptoms and the ‘daily dizzies’ began to slowly fade. Today, 6 years after my diagnosis, I am a devotee of a clean diet and exercise and believe they are two very important branches of a healing path.

I have written here about slipping off the health food wagon, the results of which have been disastrous for me. Beer and wine don’t work. Sugar is the worst. Coffee I can handle very infrequently, but I stay healthy now because I pay close attention to my daily habits. I exercise MORE, not less, as I get older; I consume no sugar or alcohol, and I have never been a soda drinker. I drink more water than most people are probably able to (because I'm fortunate to work at home, near the loo). I hardly ever drink coffee but I do drink green tea. I don't have a sensitivity to gluten which is fortunate. My diet includes a fair amount of dairy but I stay away from cow milk, which has never worked for me. Goat cheeses, lots of herbs and spices, and as much fresh organic produce as I can swing. I read labels voraciously and have learned to attend pot lucks and dinner parties without caving in to peer pressure, while at the same time not devolving into a buzz-killing 'health food lecturer' about the evils of sugar. Everyone is aware of the dangers by now & they need to wake up and make their own choice. It does, however, never cease to amaze me how much actual junk food people can consume, all while fervently believing that their diet is perfectly healthy. I’m a people person, always have been, so people’s quirks and imperfections tickle me to no end, but sometimes it's just too surreal to witness how strong the disconnect can be between somebody’s words and their actions.

For example, the other day I sat and watched someone woof down a sugary maple scone and a cup of coffee with sugar & cream, while describing to me her newly found enthusiasm for ‘cleansing.’ When I pointed out that scones are probably not the best cleanse-food she pouted, saying she had to have SOME fun. Ridiculous. What's “fun” is living life the way you choose to every day, not strangling in the grip of your own unconscious habits, not being held prisoner by disease.

I'm convinced that the key to healing from serious disease is to approach it from as many angles as you can discover. Never give up.

Please read about my "100 Perspectives."



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A Holistic Approach To Treating Lyme


Q. I was diagnosed with Lyme last July (2010) after several neurologists told me I had a motor neuron disease - ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).  My family and I were thrilled to find out it was Lyme as at least it wasn't a death sentence.  But after nearly 6 months on IV Rocephin and other antibiotics and many supplements and 5 IVIg treatments to modulate my immune system - I am still not feeling much better.  I do have more energy than before the antibiotics but my speech is poorer, my body twitches when I'm still and I feel a sense of vibration in my hands and feet.  I have some joint pain in my elbow and fingers, but it’s not too bad.

I really love my Lyme doctor she listens and adjust my doses at my monthly visit. I fill out a symptom list every day ranking my symptoms from 1 to 10.  I go weekly to her office for my PICC line to be checked by a nurse and they draw blood at that time to check things.  I feel taken care of -- but I never thought it would take as long as it’s taking.


I had read at some point that you beat Lyme with a more holistic approach - can you elaborate on that for me?  I know there are alternative medicine doctors and I went to one once - and she told me to use certain Essential Oils by Young Living - I used them for a while.

A. Your letter brings to mind that aphorism: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Many of the strongest people I know are dealing with Lyme.

Yes, I take what I consider an integral approach to treating Lyme. An integral approach requires more than just treating with medicines and supplements. It also includes getting regular physical exercise, eating right, tending to your psychological/spiritual needs through a regular practice of meditation, prayer, affirmations (whichever practice suits you best), and finally, seriously considering your network of support including your close loved ones on out to the social systems that are available to you: your clinic, nurse practitioner, doctor, as well as the money you must generate, and/or the insurance forms you must navigate, in order to access all of the above.  

I started my treatment with antibiotics because I felt (and my doctor observed) that I had quickly devolved into a very low-functioning state. Every one of my systems was affected and going haywire. After 6 months of antibiotics, a period that I honestly find very difficult to remember, I came to a crossroads. I had reached a point where I could no longer financially afford to continue on the antibiotics. I was feeling better, but not spectacularly so. My doctor was not enthusiastic about my decision but he sympathized with my dilemma, and going on his advice that something would be better than nothing, I then prescribed myself a treatment consisting of herbal medicines and a continuation of the supplements that he had started me on. I embarked on the beginning of my second phase of treatment with some real moments of fear. However, I felt deep inside that I had no choice but to get well and although I was still unbearably fatigued after a full nights’ sleep and had many other Lyme symptoms that could have depressed me, I never, ever lost the willpower to fight and get well. I didn’t want to die, and I’m stubborn.

As the months wore on, I was finally able to put two sentences together again and resumed my work as a professional writer. I was fortunate in that way. If I’d had to go to work outside my home, I probably wouldn’t have been able to stick with the routines I had developed in order to stay on the wellness path. I required lots of sleep, little or no interaction with people outside my inner circle, long naps mid-morning, daily walks, blankets piled on my lap. I had to remember to take the supplements at their correct doses and times. And most critically, I had to have the luxury of being able to take my time on assignments. If the editors I worked for at that time had been able to see me at my computer, they would have wondered about my frequent pauses to stare at nothing, my complete spaciness and inability to stay on task! If they hadn’t been utterly disgusted by the ugly rashes on my hands and fingers, they definitely would have been put off by the stammers and slur in my speech. Luckily for me, they never knew, they were usually too busy to talk on the phone, and I was somehow always able to meet my deadlines.

I think many of us get to a point in our healing where we look into alternatives because conventional therapies either haven’t worked, they aren’t enough, or they’re simply not affordable or available. I’ve often thought that hey, if there’s something, anything, I can do to speed up this healing process, let me at it.

I’ve also read about the essential oils by Young Living and looked into them a little. At one point, someone gave me several tiny bottles of elixirs that I tried. Alternative doctors, alternative medicines, and holistic or complementary therapies are familiar terms, even to those of us who prefer Western medicine. But we often read about or hear these terms referred to without knowing or really understanding what is meant by them. We’ll explore and define these terms in subsequent posts.

All good wishes to you my friend.
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Has Lyme changed your mind?

Every New Year's Eve I write down my goals for the New Year. Written lists have an uncanny way of materializing -- perhaps not as soon as we would like, or in the way we imagined, but all in all the act of writing down your goals for the coming year does seem to influence your ability to achieve them.

I also write down my goals for each month, putting them in a journal dedicated for that purpose only. I got my journal out today and looked it over, scanning to see the trajectory of the last five years since I've been dealing with Lyme.

My goals were strikingly immediate in the beginning, and health naturally became my number one priority. In the past they'd had everything to do with professional, financial, and relationship aims. But starting in 2005 my written goals became narrow and specifically focused on getting healthy. Common actions and abilities I once took completely for granted -- thinking clearly, talking without stammering, walking around the block, putting in a good day's work, sleeping peacefully, or waking up rested -- it all seemed very hard to imagine.

From the perspective of today, I look back at that time with more than a little fear. 'What if' questions start gathering in my head like storm clouds. What if I ever get that sick again? No matter how far behind you the illness gets, once a powerful antagonist like Lyme has twisted you like a rag and hung you out to dry, one is never the same. Revisiting my deepest wishes I'm amazed at how much faith I had managed to express. I kept my focus on positive affirmations. One month is a simple list of 10 goals, each a variation on the same theme of trust in my body's innate wisdom, in its ability to heal.

Please do not misunderstand. I'm not saying that I believe I healed from Lyme because I wrote down my goals. The point is, writing them down strengthened my resolve to work hard at healing. Going through the long dark passage of disease and emerging on the other side is one heck of a life changing experience.

The brain and all the systems of the body can be affected by the Lyme bacterial complex. But even when the brain has been affected there is hope. Further, there is the miracle of transcending brain changes and tackling new studies, such as learning a new language, an instrument or sport.

For proof and a shot of inspiration, read this New York Times article by Oliver Sacks:

This year, change your mind.
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Managing chronic Lyme symptoms

If you have chronic Lyme, or post-Lyme symptoms, like I do, it's up to you to raise your awareness and change your behavior if you need to. You can't depend on your doctor to tell you to start an exercise program, give up sugar, stop drinking pop, and never touch a glass a wine. You have to make those decisions yourself. Okay, some doctors may counsel you to exercise, but speaking generally, they won't bother. It's not their job. It is their job to find the pathology and fix it, not to counsel you in preventing chronic illness.

Most chronic disease (perhaps including chronic Lyme) is a result of long-term behaviors, including diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors. This should come as no surprise. Habits may be hard to break, but if getting healthy is our goal, we do ourselves a disservice when we don't recognize the problems caused by our own repeated behavior. Complementary and Alternative medical practitioners, such as nutritionists, acupuncturists and nurse practitioners are generally aware of this. Many perhaps most, Western doctors are not.

My own experience has taught me this. Eating sugary food or drinking alcohol is one example. I've been living with so-called chronic Lyme for 6 years now. When I make the choice to eat those cookies, knock back that beer, stress out from overworking, or skip the gym for days on end, my body reacts. I can ignore the obvious cause and effect. I can attribute the flare-ups and Lyme-brain to the capricious Borrelia infection, or I can take responsibility for giving the infection an advantage. I can choose to recognize my own culpability, and next time the cookies are passed around or my friend wants to pour me a glass of wine, I can simply say no thanks. What may have begun with a Borrelia infection from a tick bite can be exacerbated by habitual behaviors that continue unchecked for years or even many decades. Nothing about chronic Lyme is simple. There is even controversy over calling it 'chronic Lyme.' But one thing seems clear. Medicine alone cannot cure a person suffering with long-term Lyme symptoms. We need to approach healing from multiple levels.

Success stories are published here for many reasons. We need the inspiration, the 'atta girl/boy' pat on the back, for one thing. For another, we want a recipe. 'How did that person do it? What protocol did she or he follow? If they can do it, maybe there is hope for me.'

Managing chronic Lyme disease is dicey, no question about it. But there are many ways to prevent the problems we know are lurking, by making intelligent choices and stopping behavior known to increase the problems. One way to begin raising your awareness around habits that may be hurting you is to see what the Lyme experts say about it. If you think for one minute that drinking alcohol is okay when you have a Lyme infection, just check out what Dr. Burrascano has to say about it.

Dr. Burrascano's bullet list for chronic Lyme:

CHRONIC LYME- Treatment Issues
• In chronic Lyme Disease, active infection may persist despite prior antibiotic therapy
• Relapses do occur and retreatment is often needed
• Repeated or prolonged antibiotic therapy usually is necessary
• High doses of antibiotics are needed, and blood levels should be confirmed wherever possible
• Antibiotic combinations usually are necessary
• Check for co-infections and immune status, and treat appropriately
• May need to rotate through different regimens based on response
• If the CD-57 count is not normal at the end of treatment, then continued illness or a relapse is likely
• May not cure the infection, and may need repeated or open-ended maintenance therapy
• Signs of persistence of infection:
– continued fevers, synovitis
– four week cycles, migrating symptoms
– PCR positivity and low CD-57 counts
• As symptoms wind down, I DO NOT cut the dose, for resistance may develop
• Aggressive supportive therapy is required- and search for any other possible cause of a weakened host:
– Toxin exposure, heavy metal poisoning, malnutrition, endocrine dysfunction, other illnesses, severe or ongoing stress
• Progressively increase exercise program as the symptoms of Lyme decrease
– Exercise is vital and required, or a full recovery will not occur
– Not exercising will increase risk of a relapse

* This post was modified by the editor on 11.24.10.

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Have Lyme? Have patience.

Treating for post-Lyme or chronic Lyme infection may be highly controversial in the medical industry, but down here in real life it seems quite clear-cut: You have Lyme. You go to a doctor who treats your Lyme infection. You get better. After a time, you stop taking the antibiotics. You go back to work, to caring for your kids, to everyday life. You may or may not change your diet, your lifestyle, your stress levels. And then sometimes, not always, but sometimes years after the fact, the Lyme infection returns. Is further treatment necessary? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes the flare-ups continue and increase in intensity, driving you back to the doctor. Chronic or not, the label is not the essential thing. Treating the flare-up, or the return of the symptoms, is.

My mother raised five rambunctious kids. She tells me she often prayed for guidance. Her favorite prayer was: God, grant me patience, and give it to me RIGHT NOW! Patience is certainly a virtue in healing chronic or post-Lyme disease. But cognitively knowing it and embodying patience in everyday life are two different things.

Here in the mountains of NC, we've just received our first snow. Although I welcome the changing seasons, I find myself getting a tad anxious about the coming winter. It's hard to be patient when you have no control. And of course, who has control over the weather? Last winter was no picnic for people with Lyme. The cold weather poses many more challenges to people who struggle to keep their body temperature at an even keel. Plus, skin conditions that are common with Lyme and co-infections are exacerbated by winter weather, little sun exposure, and snug clothing.

Seeking personal inspiration and practical advice about treating Lyme, I looked back through our posts and conversations with healthy post-Lyme survivors. How do these people remain strong? Are they just made of different stuff? Do they worry, like I do, about tiny signs of Lyme's return, a sore that won't go away, a persistent itchiness. The occasional Lymie surge of dizziness that fades almost as quickly as it comes on.

Then I found Darryl Crews' advice about treating Lyme disease, which I want to share with you. I so appreciate his level-headed approach to treatment. Also, not surprised to see 'patience' right there at the top of the list:

1.  PATIENCE, DETERMINATION, WILL POWER, DEDICATION, DISCIPLINE: Your chances of recovery are good if you happen to possess these qualities.

2.  MEDICATION: Treat all known infections thoroughly with specific antibiotics. Treat aggressively until infection load is reduced to a point where the immune system can take over. Consider IV if you have neuro symptoms or fail to respond to orals. Learn to embrace herxes and avoid under treating at all costs.

3.  DETOX: Address die-off daily to decrease toxins and reduce herx intensity. Consider using supps/herbs, sauna, Epsom salt baths, coffee enema, colonics, etc.

4.  SLEEP: There's no such thing as too much. Quality deep sleep is a vital part of healing. Lyme causes fractured sleep. Auto CPAP is my all-natural sleep-aid of choice.
 
5.  SUPPLEMENTS/HERBS: Daily support is required to assist the body with balancing nutrients, detoxifying and boosting your immune system.
 
6.  EXERCISE: Thick blood harbors infections and toxins. Daily exercise will keep the blood flowing. Keep it basic for 10-15 mins twice a day (calisthenics, walk, cycling, swim, stair climbs or yoga.)
 

I especially like #4. My treatment routine includes meditation and deep breathing at night and again in the morning. Sleep is indeed essential, and these little habits help create the space for a good night's sleep.

I've come to accept that my approach to treating Lyme is unique, and if it's working, it's the right thing to do. But those dark clouds outside the window, that nippy breeze lifting leaves off the trees. What Lyme treatment approach can fend off cold weather? I'm still treating with teasel tincture and hoping it will help keep my body warm, as it has been doing for several months now. And come to think of it, it's lunchtime. A nice pot of carrot-ginger soup sounds perfect. Ginger is a warming food.

What is your attitude about winter? How do you stay warm enough and protect your skin? Lyme treatment, especially treating for chronic Lyme disease, is different for for everyone, but there is so much we can learn from each other.
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The Best Lyme Treatment

You've just been diagnosed. Now what? The best course of treatment for Lyme may be the one your doctor prescribes. And it may be a combination of treatments that you devise or discover for yourself.

In another post, I asked readers if they had ever reached a crossroads in Lyme treatment. In comments and emails, the response was a resounding yes, people are doing quite a bit of experimenting with herbal and non-pharmaceutical remedies. Some work, some don't. What doesn't seem to change is the urgency that drives us to keep searching. A woman wrote me to say that she read about teasel on our blog. She decided to try it. A half a year later, she says that including a low dose of the herbal tincture of teasel is the single best move she's ever made in treating herself. She says it keeps her warm, which is a very good thing. An insidious side effect of Lyme infection is a lowering of the body's core temperature. The Big Lyme Chill. It's what makes some Lymies apprehensive about winter. We are already cold enough.

I'm trying teasel too. I began taking it in May 2010, a very low dose, which I had learned about through interviewing with Master Herbalist Matthew Wood. It is, so far, having a positive affect. But I'm a skeptic. I believe that it's not just one herbal tincture that is affecting my health, but a combination of factors. When I ask other people who have cured themselves of serious diseases to talk about how they did it, they seem to have a similar approach. I call it cross-training, and others have called it an Integral approach to healing. In a nutshell, my cross-training approach covers these four areas: experience, behavior, community, and the social systems where my resources can be found. Cross-training is a sports analogy. Getting healthy again after a terrible brush with death and a long illness takes the kind of commitment that pro athletes apply to achieving self-mastery, to winning, to beating the competition against all odds. It takes courage, and work. Not just teasel.

You may feel that you're not in charge of your own Lyme disease treatment. The medical community is certainly divided on the topic, as you probably are well aware. Just for the moment, let's turn away from the limitations of the government standards as we perceive them. Let's focus on the possible. Put it this way: What can you do to make yourself feel more in control of your progress? What small step can you take today? Maybe make a decision that you've been putting off, such as quitting sugar, or getting a second opinion from a nurse practitioner or a nutritionist, or starting a walking routine. Whatever it is, don't put it off. The best Lyme treatment is the one you can stick to, and ultimately of course, it's the one that works to restore your energy, your vitality, and your one precious human life.




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Wanted: YOU to live a healthy post-Lyme life

"You know you don't have chronic Lyme disease anymore when you're ready to plan a trip."

I honestly can't remember (Lyme-brain) who said it to me, but that casual remark has been rolling around in my head a lot lately. I'm not exactly planning a trip, but my professional workload has increased exponentially this fall, and I am multi-tasking like a brand-new BlackBerry.  I feel I actually COULD plan a trip, and that is almost just as good, if you know what I'm saying.

Chronic Lyme disease has been a way of life for five years, however, I got a wake-up call yesterday when I caught myself saying out loud, "I could never have multi-tasked like this when I had Lyme."

When I had Lyme.
When I HAD Lyme
.

Such a lovely phrase! I could sing.

Let me back up for a second though and tell you: I have no medical proof of this statement. In fact, in all the years I've been looking into the problem of Lyme disease treatment and diagnoses, what I have discovered is evidence to suggest that a healthy post-Lyme survivor will probably continue to play host to the Lyme bacterial complex throughout their life. 

So the question is, why do some people, regardless of their duration or methods of Lyme disease treatment, develop into healthy post-Lyme survivors -- and why do some people develop symptoms of chronic Lyme disease? It's a maddening situation.

I talk to many people involved in the medical and healing professions. When I first began conducting these interviews five years ago, I observed that many doctors had differing opinions about every aspect of Lyme, particularly when it came to Lyme disease treatment.  I assumed that I would soon begin to hear the same approach being used by the doctors I interviewed. But instead, over the years I have noticed that all the experts have their own perspectives, their own opinions, their own approaches to healing Lyme. And Lyme isn't simple. Nothing about it seems to be simple, though much about it has certainly been oversimplified.

The answer to that question, of why do some suffer from chronic Lyme symptoms, while others seem to drift back into a post-Lyme level of relatively good health, is a mystery to me. I will keep asking the questions, and knock on wood in the meantime.

I receive a lot of letters from readers of this blog, and you are all in my heart every single day. My wish is for all of you to experience that unique and buzzing wonder that is a healthy mind and body: ready, willing, and able, to work, love, and live a normal life again. To surprise yourself one day soon by hearing these words come out of your own mouth: When I HAD Lyme...

And maybe you'll plan a trip too!




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Nutrition & diet are essential - Interview with Ginger Savely

I had a very uplifting conversation with Ginger Savely the other day.

Ginger R. Savely, RN, FNP-C
is a primary care provider who specializes in treating Lyme disease symptoms.

She has bachelors degrees in both Psychology and Nursing and graduated summa cum laude in her nursing class at the University of Texas where she was named Outstanding Graduating Senior. She has masters degrees in both education and nursing, and recently earned a doctorate degree in research.

Ginger is a member of ILADS, a prestigious group of world experts on the treatment of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. She was honored by her peers by being selected to receive the 2004 Texas Nurse Practitioner of the Year Award. Ginger's clinic is called TBD Medical Associates and she is located at Union Square Medical Associates, in San Francisco. She can be reached at Ginger Savely.com.

It's great to get Ginger's perspective on nutrition, and as we talked about what Lyme patients can do to include diet and nutrition in their protocol, she mentions Dr. Royal Lee, who first recognized that processed foods cause many health problems. She points out that MDs are not trained in nutrition, and that in general, most interested citizens know more than their doctors about food and its effect on their health. MDs are trained to fix the current problem, not to counsel patients about eating a healing diet.

Patients looking for guidance in diet and nutrition generally cannot get it from their LLMD. Although there are exceptions, and many doctors do go on to study diet and nutrition as part of a healing approach, in general, MDs are just not trained to think in that way.

So, what's a Lyme patient to do?

To help her patients educate themselves about healing from Lyme disease, Ginger recommends that they read a book called The Fourfold Path to Healing, by Thomas Cowan. She says it's a must-read for Lyme patients. The 100 Perspectives that is available on this website is also a "cross-training" approach that I've taken for recovering from Lyme. Getting better requires looking at the bigger picture of health, and not simply taking the antibiotics prescribed by a doctor, even an LLMD.

Attitude is another part of the big picture that Ginger spoke with me about. Lyme symptoms often manifest in our emotions and mental states, and it is well-known that holding onto anger can be very damaging to the immune system. She discusses how she has observed that patients who hang on to anger or have bitterness toward the world can throw a wrench into their own healing process.

Listen to my conversation with Ginger Savely in the member’s portal.



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How many vitamins are too many?


We all know that suffering with Lyme symptoms can really push you to the edge. So when an expert says, "do this thing, e.g., take a handful of vitamins, and you'll feel better," we will go to just about any length to do that thing.

If you take upwards of 30 different supplements per day (or if it just feels like you do), and you are a bit depressed by the amount of time, money and energy you spend on them, then Ginger Savely, FNP, is on your side. She is on the hunt for products that give us "the most bang for our buck." Instead of taking 30 pills, you can get the same amount of supplements in just a couple of products such as Green Vibrance, which includes many of the vitamins we want in our healing diets, and fish oil.

Ginger is a nurse practitioner with a doctorate degree in research, who owns the SF clinic where she primarily sees patients with Lyme and Morgellons disease, of whom a high percentage also have Lyme. But Ginger's work does not stop there. She is a lifelong learner (and a former Lyme patient herself), who is currently enrolled in advanced courses in clinical nutrition and diet.

She began treating Lyme patients over a decade ago, and over the years gathered her recommendations into a pamphlet that she provides new patients. One patient, after looking over the material, told Ginger that she "sat down and cried," after reading it. She simply felt overwhelmed by the amount of things to take. She felt she would never be able to take all the supplements she needed to take.

Her patient's response made an impression, and Ginger then began to listen to her own gut instinct, and change the way she views diet and food. She says that instead of putting the emphasis on vitamin supplements in isolation, she now sees diet and food choices as a central component in healing Lyme disease.

Ginger has long suspected that the isolated vitamins we consume may not be the most efficient way to supplement our diets. And she readily admits she has been guilty of it herself, advising her patients to include vitamins recommended by popular research studies. Yet in her gut, she's always been curious as to just how effective these vitamin pills are.

Asking her patients didn't clear up the matter much. They would often say they took a long list of supplements, not because the vitamins made a difference in the way they felt, but because they were afraid to stop, just in case they might feel worse.

But Ginger's instinct has pointed her in a different direction. In terms of eating well to support a healing diet, she might say it's back to the future.

What does she advise her Lyme patients to do now? Get your healing supplements directly from the food you eat. Eat the old-fashioned way, by which she means the way we ate 100 years ago. Don't shy away from a little bit of animal fat, she says. The chronic illnesses that are currently such a problem in the western world, such as heart disease and diabetes, have come about since we started cutting "healthy" fats from our diet and replacing them with refined carbohydrates and refined sugar.

Eat the way your grandparents (or your great-grandparents) did. Whole foods, meat with a little fat on it (preferably grass-fed and organic), organic veggies. Above all, no refined carbs or sugar, which have absolutely no place in a healing diet.

On the occasions when Ginger does indulge in sugar, she feels "foggy" the very next day. She is a self-described sugar-holic, so she understands how difficult it is for some people to give it up. Yet after a few initial suggestions, she says, patients who agree to drop sugar from their diets seem to need no reminding. The body knows it will heal faster without it. After a couple of weeks of going without, it simply doesn't appeal to them anymore.

If you do eat sugar, keep it to the whole foods variety which at least includes a little nutritional value. Blackstrap molasses, unrefined honey may be tolerated by some people. Agave sweetener is processed in the exact same way that refined sugar is, and we have been "sold a bill of goods on that," she says.

If you don't eat sugar, antibiotics will have a better chance of working, and you may heal more quickly. Ginger observes that her patients who indulge in refined sweets do seem to take a slower route back to living a vibrantly healthy, post-Lyme life.

Ginger is featured in our Expert Audio Series. You can hear her interview for free by signing up for our LDRD newsletter.


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Lyme doctor punished for helping children

Pediatrician and hero to many moms and kids with Lyme disease, Dr Charles Ray Jones is being "harassed" by the medical community for treating Lyme disease, says state Rep. Jason Bartlett (D-Bethel).

Bartlett sponsored a bill that was passed unanimously by Connecticut State Legislature in 2009 that protects doctors who treat chronic Lyme with antibiotics over extended periods. But although it may protect doctors in the future, it's not doing anything to protect Dr Jones right now.

"The law 'allow[s] a licensed physician to prescribe, administer or dispense long-term antibiotics for a therapeutic purpose to a patient clinically diagnosed with Lyme disease.'"

Jones has been ordered  to hire a monitor to examine his patients charts every month, given four years of probation and smacked with a $10,000 fine. Jones expects the monitor may cost $2,000 - $10,000 per month. He says "it's hopeless," because he simply cannot afford it. But what really burns up his supporters is that the good doctor appears to be the mouse in a game of legal cat-and-mouse being played out at his expense.

In a New Haven Advocate article from July 13, Time Is Running Out For Controversial Chronic Lyme Disease Doctor Betsy Yalga writes,

"None of Jones’ patients has complained, he’s quick to point out, and none has been harmed by his treatment. He’s never been sued for medical malpractice. The charges against him have been levied by fathers involved in custodial battles over their children. In those cases Mom was in charge of treatment and Dad was in charge of payment and disputed the need for treatment. By complaining, Jones’ supporters say, Dad could get back at Mom and possibly skirt paying a costly medical bill. There were no allegations of harm done to the children."


Please listen to a brief interview with Dr Charles Ray Jones in the member’s portal.
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Samento & Banderol found significantly effective in Lyme treatment

A tick-borne, multisystemic disease, Lyme borreliosis caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi has grown into a major public health problem during the last 10 years. The primary treatment for chronic Lyme disease is administration of various antibiotics. However, relapse often occurs when antibiotic treatment is discontinued. One possible explanation for this is that B. burgdorferi become resistant to antibiotic treatment, by converting from their vegetative spirochete form into different round bodies and/or into biofilmlike colonies. There is an urgent need to find novel therapeutic agents that can eliminate all these different morphologies of B. burgdorferi. In this study, two herbal extracts, Samento and Banderol, as well as doxycycline (one of the primary antibiotics for Lyme disease treatment) were tested for their in vitro effectiveness on several of the different morphological forms of B. burgdorferi (spirochetes, round bodies, and biofilmlike colonies) using fluorescent, darkfield microscopic, and BacLight viability staining methods. Our results demonstrated that both herbal agents, but not doxycycline, had very significant effects on all forms of B. burgdorferi, especially when used in combination, suggesting that herbal agents could provide an effective therapeutic approach for Lyme disease patients. -- from article in Townsend Letter, July 2010

Samento and Banderol are found to be important herbal allies, in this study conducted by our friends at the Lyme Disease Research Group of the University of New Haven. In our interview with Eva Sapi, PhD, director of the graduate program in Lyme disease research, she promised that she was quite determined to find an effective agent that would "kill the bug -- and soon." So, this study is proof that Dr Sapi is following through with her promise. It is a hopeful note in the battle against the nasty bacterial complex we know as Borrelia burgdorferi.

Personally, I am very excited about these findings. Samento and Banderol have been my medicine of choice for several years. These herbal extracts have certainly been effective, helping me pull myself out of a painful, groggy nightmare and get my life back on track. Those two herbal tinctures daily, plus a host of other supportive supplements, a regular exercise routine, and a sugar-free, whole-foods diet, have made all the difference. Samento and Banderol have truly been my allies in this cross-training approach to healing.

Please read the entire article reporting on the study, which you can find on the website of the Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine. The article is titled: In Vitro Effectiveness of Samento and Banderol Herbal Extracts on the Different Morphological Forms of Borrelia Burgdorferi by Akshita Datar, Navroop Kaur, Seema Patel, David F. Luecke, and Eva Sapi, PhD -- Lyme Disease Research Group, University of New Haven

Members, to learn more about the work of the University of New Haven Lyme research program, please listen to our interview with Dr Eva Sapi. You will also find more information about Lee Cowden, MD, and his herbal protocol.



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Jessica Wojenski, teen on a mission to educate people about Lyme

As reported in the Hollis Brookline Journal, teenager Jessica Wojenski, who recently graduated from New Hampshire's Bedford High School, has struggled to recover from Lyme symptoms severe enough to keep her out of school much of her junior and senior years.

“There’s such a lack of awareness out there about this that unless you scare people into realizing, they’re never going to get it, even though I hate doing that,” Jessica told the reporter.

I know just how she feels, and you probably do as well, if you have suffered with debilitating Lyme symptoms. Jessica is dedicated to raising awareness of the complications the disease can cause. Evidently she did not show symptoms in the early stages, which is a problem that many of us deal with -- not even suspecting Lyme disease as a cause of our painful and disorienting symptoms until the disease has progressed beyond the early stages. Kudos to her, and we hope she continues to find support in her New Hampshire community, which is located in the hot zone for ticks and Lyme infections.

When you are first diagnosed, you can easily be overwhelmed by information about what to do. What will work, what won't? Who should you consult and who can you trust as a reliable resource?

I agree with Jessica, there is not enough awareness of the serious nature of Lyme disease out there. Like her, I contracted Lyme about 5 or 6 years ago, and my painful symptoms and treatment quickly made it impossible for me to live my life in a normal way. Since then, my mission has also been to help educate people about this disease through sharing my interviews with Lyme disease experts and people who are living normal, healthy lives again, post-Lyme.

My life is now back to normal, thankfully, and my hope is that yours will soon be too. This is a good place to start educating yourself and clear up any confusion. Our list of "10 things you need to know about Lyme," is available immediately, when you sign up for our free newsletter.



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Biotoxins test and chronic Lyme

Biotoxins created by the Lyme bacterial complex and released into the body can cause chronic illness, even when antibiotics are killing the spirochetes. You will recognize these illnesses by their other names: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Sick Building Syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and depression.

People who cannot naturally eliminate biotoxins develop chronic illness. About 20% of patients with Lyme disease, due to their hepa-type, are susceptible to biotoxin illnesses. However, according to Dr Richie Shoemaker and other biotoxin experts, the toxins can be eliminated and good health can be restored.

From biotoxin.info: "Many physicians feel that diagnostic tests for Lyme are unreliable, due to differences between strains of the bacteria, and the potential for co-infections with Bartonella, Babesia and/or Ehrlichia. A team of researchers at Boston University Medical Center (Cartwright, Martin Donta) discovered and patented (US Patent No. 6,667,038) the Bbtox1 neurotoxin. They reported that the effects of Bbtox1 were consistent with that of botulinium and other cytoskeletal toxins. Even so, there are no chemical tests for the disease-causing toxin B. burgdorferi produces and releases into human body, even as antibiotics are killing the bacteria. Without such tests, the medical debate over whether or not Lyme can be quickly cured has surged in recent years, provoking frequent battles in which physicians have attacked each other's credibility and integrity (and in a few cases, even their medical licenses). All too often, suffering patients have been left in the middle, essentially ignored by doctors who contend that their long-term symptoms aren't the result of Chronic Lyme, but of 'Fibromyalgia,' 'Chronic Fatigue Syndrome', 'depression,' or 'irritable bowel syndrome.'"

Testing for nervous system dysfunction can be done online. The Visual Contrast Sensitivity (VCS) test is a pattern recognition test that Dr Shoemaker uses to help determine how the nervous system is functioning. According to Dr Joseph Burrascano, at least 70 - 90% of patients whose VCS test is abnormal feel better with treatment, while 30% of patients who test normal from the VCS test feel better with neurotoxin treatment.

When testing for Lyme infection, coinfections are often culprits that go undetected. Be sure to look for Bartonella or Babesia, which destroys red blood cells.

Dr Shoemaker and other Lyme experts agree that if you find elevated C4-A markers, and if symptoms are persistent beyond the initial antibiotic protocol that may indicate that a longer antibiotic treatment, possibly including intravenous antibiotic therapy, is needed. As he makes it clear in this video, you and your doctor will be the judge in whether or not you should use long-term antibiotics.




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Interview with Lyme Dr David Jernigan

If you were a Lyme literate doctor writing a new book on Lyme treatment, where would you turn to find the most urgent questions being asked by people who are suffering with Lyme? The online forums. Now imagine reading a book that addresses your most pressing questions about Lyme diagnosis, treatment, and symptoms. Dr David Jernigan wisely consulted the forums online to find out what the patients he cares for most need to know.

When I was diagnosed with late-stage Lyme in 2005 a dear friend sent me Dr Jernigan's book, Beating Lyme Disease. Since my diagnosis I had been in a state of shell-shock, weak and sick, and barely knowing anything about the disease or its cause beyond the very basics.

Beating Lyme Disease
was the beginning of my turnaround. This comprehensive book helped me begin to understand what was happening, and how the body responds to Lyme bacteria. I particularly remember how helpful it was to learn about the lower core body temperatures that Lyme patients develop. While reading, I became steadfastly determined to beat Lyme, despite the grim prognosis of my infectious disease doctor. In fact I dropped that doctor like a hot potato and found a naturopath who also believed I would be healthy again one day.

Now the new, second edition of Dr Jernigan's enlightening and useful book is available, sporting the inspiring subtitle: Living the Good Life in Spite of Lyme.

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk with Dr Jernigan and learn about his unique approach to Lyme treatment. He has witnessed the positive turnaround of thousands of Lyme patients at the Hansa Center for Optimum Health, his clinic in Wichita, KS. One of the first things he clarified was that many people come to see him and his colleagues after already having seen an average of 20 - 30 other doctors or more, without finding relief.

Chances are you've experienced that fruitless search yourself. Dr Jernigan says he hears it from his patients every day. People who have been dismissed and their terrible pain reduced to imagination with, "it's all in your head," or "you need a psychiatrist," or even, as one of his patients was told by a previous doctor, "you need a new husband." I like to remember when my infectious disease doctor told me bluntly, "you are too late." (Wrong!)

Clearly, one big problem in Lyme diagnosis is that our medical industry depends on doctors who specialize. A cardiologist specializes in finding heart problems and fixing them. A dermatologist specializes in finding skin problems and fixing them, and so on. But we are not mechanistic parts and pieces, welded together like the engine of a Toyota. And Lyme is not a problem that can always be located in one particular spot. It affects all the systems of our body, including the brain and so also the mind.

If you have ever felt that a specialist has given you lousy and limited information about your illness and how to treat it, you know what it's like to be treated like a piece of machinery.

In contrast, the Hansa Center for Optimum Health has a whole person approach. Their motto is: "Healing From Within, Treating the Whole Person, Body, Mind & Spirit."

Soon I'll be reviewing the 2nd edition of Dr Jernigan's book, Beating Lyme Disease: Living the Good Life in Spite of Lyme.

Contact him through the Hansa Center's website. Listen to "The Bridge," the Hansa Center's "New Healing Radio Station," located on the website's home page.

LDRD members please login and listen to our interview with Dr Jernigan. Hear him describe his unique, whole person approach to beating Lyme, and living the good life in spite of it. Become a member
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Tennis star beats Lyme disease

Beautiful and powerful tennis star Samantha Stosur faced her formidable opponent squarely. In 2007, she was struck down with Lyme disease, battling severe fatigue, skin rash, and other symptoms that ripped her off the path to stardom. Since that time, she has not only beat Lyme disease, but also proved herself as a force to be reckoned with on the tennis courts.

Why do athletes seem to have a superb ability to beat Lyme and other serious diseases? There are probably many reasons. We believe it has something to do with maintaining a positive mental focus on winning (putting mind over matter), and regular exercise, which warms up the body's core temperature. Although Sam was unable to exercise (or indeed, even take care of herself) while the disease was in an acute phase, she did return to training and competing as soon as she could muster the strength.

Athletes engage in a program of regular vigorous exercise which raises their body temperatures on a consistent basis, which induces sweat. The raised temperature heats up the body's environment, keeps the lymph flowing at a healthy rate, and kills off toxins and bacteria so they can be carried away in the sweat and washed off.

This is a recent story that probably didn't escape your attention if you are a tennis fan and you have Lyme.

Watch a brief interview with Sam.




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Healing Lyme Naturally

Healing Lyme Disease Naturally: History, Analysis, and Treatments
by Wolf D. Storl
Foreword by Matthew Wood
North Atlantic Books

In our interview with herbalist and teacher Matthew Wood, you may recall his mentioning a new book, Healing Lyme Disease Naturally, by Wolf Storl. Matthew wrote the foreword to this book, and talked to us about the role of the herb teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris) in healing Lyme. Dr Storl is an anthropologist and herbalist, as well as an engaging and prolific writer. He has published twenty-eight books, and his work has been translated into numerous different languages. He has also taught university courses in medical anthropology. As a result of a superinfection that resisted antibiotic treatment in an earlier illness he suffered, he was unable to take antibiotics when he discovered he had Lyme. For this reason, he was forced to turn to older methods of treating a serious disease. Dr Storl healed himself using teasel and supportive therapies, such as a light diet, exercise and hyperthermia.

This new book is not going to appeal to everyone. However, if you are interested in herbal medicine and lore, or if you're investigating alternatives to antibiotics, you may find it a captivating read, as I did. It will give you a comprehensive picture of Lyme and another spirochetal illness that resembles Lyme, and that is syphilis. (Matthew Wood and others have called Lyme "deer syphilis".) Through the wide lens of medical history, and illustrated with his own personal story, he shows us how these diseases have been viewed and treated in different cultures through time.

If you've become paranoid of picnicking by the lake, or you panic at the sight of a weird-looking spider on the wall, this book may help restore your sense of wonder about nature, and lose a little of the fear. After all, as he points out in a provocative examination of the advent of antibiotics after WWII, microbes are not the enemy. They are an integral part of us.

Early in the book there is a fascinating chapter about the stealthy make-up of the Borrelia spirochete. Research scientists have told me that the Borrelia bacteria is capable of dormancy, changing forms, and hiding from the immune system. I just never really understood quite how until I read this chapter, which explains the Borrelia bergdorferi and its "astonishing typical characteristics." Among them:

  • Depending on the conditions of their environment, borrelia can take on different forms. Besides the normal spiral or corkscrew spirochete form, they can cast off their cell wall and, held together by a thin pliable membrane, take on globular form. In this way, cell-wall-inhibiting antibiotics are rendered useless. In this spheric form (also called L-form) they are not recognizable for the immune cells; they have, so to say, no "features," no antigens, by which they could be recognized.
  • Borrelia can also encapsulate and go into dormancy within minutes. They seem to do this when their environment is polluted by antibiotics, for example. Until the environment improves for them, they can remain dormant for at least ten months without carrying on basic life functions such as metabolism or dividing. As long as they are metabolically inactive, antibiotics have no effect of them. The patient believes he has been finally cured, but then the symptoms rebound anew.
  • Borrelia can attach to host cell walls (mainly scar-tissue cells and even defense cells) and induce the cell to release its own digestive enzymes, which eat a hole in the cell wall. The spirochete then enters the cell, kills the nucleus, and wears the cell wall as a disguising cloak or mask. This is another way in which these terrorists of the microscopic world evade recognition by the immune cells.

Included in his telling of herbal lore and histories are intriguing ethno-medical stories. For example, did you know that at one point in the 19th century, doctors injected syphilitic patients with malaria? It seemed to help. About a third of the patients would get healed. Another third weren't affected at all, and the other third entered a long remission. Years later, in the 1930s, the medical establishment discovered why it helped: the malaria caused spiking fevers of 107 degrees, which killed the Borrelia bacteria. Hyperthermia has long been used by many different cultures to kill bacteria of all kinds.

Dr Storl raises and explores important questions, such as whether Lyme is a new illness, or an old disease that was diagnosed as other conditions. Aside from an examination of teasel and how it works in healing Lyme, dosages, preparation methods, and more, there are many practical tips included here, such as measures to take to protect against tick bites (essential oils such as cedar milk, clove oil, tea tree oil, peppermint oil and others may be effective when rubbed onto exposed skin areas), and an explanation of the way antibiotics such as doxycycline work.

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Ever reached a crossroads in treatment?

Have you or your Lyme doctor chosen to supplement or substitute your treatment using herbal therapies, homeopathic remedies, or other alternative treatments? Over the years, I've noticed that a fair number of people who are undergoing Lyme treatment at some point decide to switch to, or at least try, herbal remedies, traditional Chinese medicine, rifing, super-oxygenation, or other alternatives to conventional antibiotic treatments. It seems that a lot of us reach a crossroads at some point in our healing journey, and have to make an important decision.

In my case, I treated with heavy doses of antibiotics for six months, and over that time period I slowly emerged from the hell of the symptoms I was experiencing. I'd been diagnosed in a late stage of Lyme, and the treatment had been as hard on my body as the original symptoms, or even worse. Actually it was impossible to tell which was worse, the treatment, which made me re-experience the original symptoms, or the sickness itself. After six months of treatment I had returned to work and was feeling generally better, but was unable to continue antibiotics for financial reasons. I reached the end of that six-month period and although I was relieved to get off the antibiotics, my doc was clearly worried about a relapse. I kept up my herbal and vitamin supplements, which were super-expensive but proving to be well worth the cost. I was curious about Samento, so I started Dr Cowden's herbal antibiotic protocol as soon as possible after I took my last conventional pill. I've always been proactive regarding staying healthy, so getting enough sleep, regular exercise and eating a good quality Mediterranean diet are my staples.

For many reasons (not only financial), Lyme patients decide to try herbs, or many other types of treatment such as HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen treatment), rife machines, Vitamin C and salt, or other compelling treatments. For example, Matthew Wood, the renowned herbalist I spoke with a couple weeks ago, tells us he's treating Lyme successfully with the common herb, teasel, and that instead of killing the bacteria, teasel warms up the body's environment and lures the bacteria out from its hiding places to be killed off by the body's own immune defense system.

In some cases, people I've talked to say they simply had an inner compulsion to switch up treatments. Evidence exists to support changing types of antibiotics because the Lyme bacteria will grow accustomed to one type of treatment, and just stop responding to it.

How did you or your doctor respond when you reached such a crossroads in your Lyme treatment? If you made changes in your treatment along the way, how did your switch effect you? Has it been positive, challenging, or pushed you into a new level of healing?

 
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Your Lyme treatment & supplement safety

Health insurance may be directly affecting your ability to get the medical treatment you need. A fair number of people who leave comments on this blog tell about the confounding experience of being rejected by their insurance companies. When a door slams in your face, whether you are in the middle of treatment or just beginning, your treatment choices are reduced or eliminated entirely. What then?

So now that the dust on the Congressional floor is settling, and the historic health care reform bill has passed, how will it affect your treatment? If your insurance company has refused to cover you for pre-existing conditions, will you now be able to reapply for coverage? During the coming weeks, we will be interviewing medical insurance experts who can help us understand the fallout from this historic passage.

Meantime, I want to call your attention to another bill under consideration, one that might also affect your treatment. I know I'm not alone in supplementing my treatment with vitamins and herbs. There is currently a bill in congress that, if passed, could change our ability to buy vitamins and supplements as common as CO-Q10, Vitamins D, C, and others.

The Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 (S.3002), would amend The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act so the FDA would have absolute discretion to decide market availability of, as well as mandatory recall authority over, supplements. Some are calling this proposed act a prohibition of supplements.

We believe that consumer safety is of the utmost importance, and S.3002 has targeted products containing steroids and other illegal substances. However, the entire vitamin and supplements industry could as well be effected, with devastating results to small-company suppliers of herbal supplements, vitamins and to the people who buy those items to supplement their treatment.

As health advocate Stephen Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N. puts it, "The problem with this bill is that its provisions are too broad, and don't specifically target the problems at hand.

We need the FDA to protect consumers against harmful products without smothering an industry that lacks the resources to comply with over-regulation. Coupled with greater FDA authority to decide which supplements are suitable for market, the new regulations create the potential for pharmaceutical companies to indirectly strong-arm smaller supplement companies out of business.

A more realistic balance between consumer safety and freedom in health care is possible through a more streamlined and carefully structured bill. S.3002 should not be passed as is, and public opposition could set the stage for closer scrutiny of any related supplement regulation."

Concerned about the future availability of supplements in your Lyme treatment protocol? Let your Senator know your opinion. Send an email or a place a quick phone call. Want to read the bill? Google the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 (S.3002) to view the .pdf.

Learn how to approach Lyme through holistic cross-training.
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Darryl Crews' Olympic Gold-style healing tips

Darryl's interviews are among our very favorite stories here at the LDRD. This guy walks his talk. When it comes to beating Lyme, he is as inspiring to me as any Olympic Gold medalist. Please listen to his updated story, if you haven't already heard it.

Some of you asked him to comment a little more about what it takes to get well. Here's what Coach Darryl has to say.

To me, getting well is a compilation of the following things:
 
1.  PATIENCE, DETERMINATION, WILL POWER, DEDICATION, DISCIPLINE: Your chances of recovery are good if you happen to possess these qualities.

2.  MEDICATION: Treat all known infections thoroughly with specific antibiotics. Treat aggressively until infection load is reduced to a point where the immune system can take over. Consider IV if you have neuro symptoms or fail to respond to orals. Learn to embrace herxes and avoid under treating at all costs.

3.  DETOX: Address die-off daily to decrease toxins and reduce herx intensity. Consider using supps/herbs, sauna, Epsom salt baths, coffee enema, colonics, etc.

4.  SLEEP: There's no such thing as too much. Quality deep sleep is a vital part of healing. Lyme causes fractured sleep. Auto CPAP is my all-natural sleep-aid of choice.
 
5.  SUPPLEMENTS/HERBS: Daily support is required to assist the body with balancing nutrients, detoxifying and boosting your immune system.
 
6.  EXERCISE: Thick blood harbors infections and toxins. Daily exercise will keep the blood flowing. Keep it basic for 10-15 mins twice a day (calisthenics, walk, cycling, swim, stair climbs or yoga.)
 
On another note…Be sure to tune into the Olympics for a bit of Visual Sports Therapy. Olympic athletes have overcome so much to get where they are and their stories are very motivating and inspiring. Beating Lyme requires the same drive.
 
Thanks for the kind wishes…all the best and full recoveries to everyone!

Darryl


Please also note: For further info about Darryl: WrongDiagnosis.com: Read about Darryl's misdiagnosis

And in addition, here's where Darryl goes for VO2 Exercise testing on his bike: Useful info throughout site.
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Treatment issues for children with Lyme

Dr Charles Ray Jones is a man with three ordinary names - yet he couldn't be any more extraordinary in his service to chronically ill patients, the children he treats every single day.

A reader sent a note last week that brought tears to my eyes -- the joyful kind.

Here is part of her note:

"My 11 year old is now under the care of Dr. Jones and is making incredible progress in his path to wellness. I appreciate what you are doing. Thank you for being willing to get the word out. What a frustrating journey this has been but I finally have my medical support system in place. It took a while. I was told by an infectious disease specialist in Maine that I was crazy and that my son was perfectly healthy. Dr. Jones is a saint and he has given my little boy his life back. He is again running and climbing trees and happy and bubbly...a far cry from last year at this time. I wish all of you the best and again, thank you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving."

Unfortunately, too many moms can relate to being told by a medical professional that there is nothing wrong with their kid, when the reality is that if Lyme bacteria is present, treatment could restore the child's health (and the mother's sanity).

Dr Jones has been called (by a colleague of his), "an international treasure - a courageous, selfless, inspirational, and outstandingly gifted clinician who has helped thousands of the most severely ill children with Lyme disease from around the world to regain their health and their lives."
r Charles Ray Jones: upcoming interview">
Dr Jones talked with me a few weeks ago, about Connecticut Governor Rell's June 2009 decision to allow doctors to treat Lyme disease. He also talked about the significance of the recent IDSA Lyme treatment guidelines hearing in Washington, DC, and the future of Lyme disease treatment.

Listen to the interview in the member’s portal.
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Dr Cowden's updated Lyme protocol

Are you treating Lyme disease symptoms after having received a late-stage diagnosis? The problem for many of us who are healing from Lyme is that we know antibiotics are tough on our systems. While I have no doubt that longer term antibiotic protocols are key in killing the Lyme bacterial complex, I've talked to a lot of people who are either severely allergic to antibiotics, simply can't tolerate them after a long period, or have no health insurance coverage and can't pay out of pocket.

Which leaves us with what alternatives? It's very scary to hear your doctor tell you that in order to treat you for Lyme you must have antibiotics, when you a) can't tolerate them physically, or b), you can't afford them financially.

A friend of mine asked me about Lyme the other day. She'd heard that I'd been very sick and wondered if I was feeling better. It was such a huge pleasure to realize that I hadn't mentioned Lyme once to her, since we met a year or so ago. Speaking from my own experience only, I have found that treatment with a combination of methods, including behavioral changes, nutrition and diet and rigorous exercise has worked really well. Not as quickly as I'd like, that's for sure! But these days I consider myself to be living a healthy, Lyme-free life. In part, I achieved that goal with the help of Dr Cowden's protocol, using Samento and Cumanda and a host of other supplements.

Dr. Wm Lee Cowden says that he has discovered that “antibiotics do seem to work fairly well in a lot of patients. But, if they've had the illness for longer than six weeks, the chance of antibiotics getting rid of the infection, in my experience, is pretty unlikely, pretty remote. So, they're basically just guaranteeing that they'll stay on antibiotics for the rest of their life."

“The problem with staying on the standard pharmaceutical antibiotics long term," he says, "is that you kill off the friendly bacteria in your gut, and you cause an overgrowth of fungus in your gut, so then you trade one problem for another."

(The above quote is from my article on the effectiveness of Dr Cowden's Lyme protocol, in the Townsend Letter - The Examiner of Alternative Medicine, April 2007.)

PROTOCOL FOR LYME BORRELIOSIS From Wm. Lee Cowden, MD

Please also note Dr Cowden's condensed support program, updated February 17, 2009.
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3 keys to better sleep

When was the last time you got a really good night of deep sleep? Sleep is a soothing tonic for anyone suffering with Lyme symptoms, yet peaceful snoozing can be elusive when you're in pain.

3 keys to better sleep:

1 - Therapeutic massage. Gentle, healing touch can help you relax and get a better night's sleep. Massage is helpful in lowering the anxiety which naturally arises when you have Lyme symptoms. Just the simple act of being touched with compassionate intention can be healing in and of itself. Before you make an appointment with a professional massage therapist, talk over your situation with them. Be certain you can communicate your needs clearly. She or he should be made aware of your illness and your threshold for pressure.

The Bowen Technique, developed by Dr JoAnne Whitaker, is similar in principle to acupuncture. It is a type of gentle massage designed to unblock energy and help the body maintain equilibrium so that healing can take place. Many people struggling with Fibromyalgia and CFS/ME report that this technique has accelerated their healing. (Incidentally, Dr Whitaker is one of the experts I interviewed for the LDRD Interviews with Experts series.)

2 - Maintain a regular schedule. Go to bed and rise at the same time every night and day. Even on the weekends. This is a good health-habit to cultivate even for people who aren't sick. Former surgeon Dr Christine Horner, author of Waking the Warrior Goddess: Harnessing the Power of Nature & Natural Medicines to Achieve Extraordinary Health, which received the “Best Book of the Year” for 2005 award from the Independent Book Publishers association in the category of health, medicine and nutrition, strongly believes in the body's innate ability to heal from any disease. Dr Horner recommends going to bed no later than 10 pm and rising at 6 am each day. (Note: LDRD members, please read the transcript of my interview with her, or listen to the audio version.)

Keeping a regular sleeping schedule helps your body to regulate its other autonomic functions, eating and making bowel movements. All of this can lead to more effective healing therapy. In addition, I'm a big fan of afternoon snoozing, and I usually get in about 20 minutes to one hour, daily. I'm convinced that my napping habit saved me during the worst of my illness. However, if you struggle with insomnia, you might get better results at night by limiting your naptime during the day.

3 - Allow yourself time to wind down before bedtime. This is a personal challenge for me. I'm either online with work or friends, or deep in conversation with my favorite person in the world, my partner Evan. I'm also a natural night owl, so if you are too, I'm sure you can relate. It can be tough to find the discipline to slow down at night, especially if you aren't in the thick of the disease and your mind is back to working order.

Cultivating a meditation practice, simply using breathing techniques from your yoga class, or relaxing in bed with an inspiring book can do wonders. Don't exercise for up to three hours before bedtime. Avoid stimulating drinks--especially during the afternoon and evening. No alcohol. Take a warm bath, and listen to soothing music. Let your loved ones know that they can help by gently rubbing your shoulders or neck. Stretching your arms and legs slowly and methodically before you get into bed can signal your body that it's time to drop off into dreamland.
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Making your own herbal tonics

Like any serious disease, Lyme has gifts hidden in its pockets.

For me, Lyme's gift has been its power to teach. I've often thought that since dealing with this pernicious disease, I've learned more about my own particular healing patterns than I ever wanted to know. I doubt if I would have learned so much about keeping myself healthy if I hadn't gotten so sick in the first place.

Since Lyme has become my teacher, I've gotten really interested in making my own tinctures and teas. If this is something you're into as well, I recommend watching the short videos on Youtube by mountainroseherbs.com. These instructional videos are clear presentations that can help take the mystery out of the process. By making your own herbal concoctions you can save money as well.

And while we're on the subject, please check out this recipe for arthritis massage oils by author and master herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner. In addition, see herbalist Leslie Tierra's wonderful massage oil recipes here.


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Dr Burrascano's Lyme treatment guidelines

Looking for diagnostic hints and treatment guidelines? I want to call your attention to Dr Burrascano's Treatment Guidelines. Click on this link:

Advanced Topics in Lyme Disease

If you're struggling with Lyme, this no-nonsense PDF will give you a reference and perhaps even a place to start. Among other things, you'll find a list of supplements that may be very helpful, along with a reminder to exercise if at all possible. Gentle strength training is necessary to rebuild your muscles and help restore your energy level. In addition, exercise can raise the core body temperature and oxygenate the blood. The Lyme bacteria may be a tough bug to kill, but two things that can do the job for sure are heat and oxygen.


Dr Burrascano writes:

Despite antibiotic treatments, patients will NOT return to normal unless they exercise! This is because in most cases the chronic Lyme patient is deconditioned. More importantly, a properly executed exercise program becomes part of the treatment, as it can actually go beyond the antibiotics in helping to clear the symptoms and to maintain a remission.
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Lyme sufferers in need of help

I receive heartrending letters like these every week. Lymenet.org has a good forum, and I have urged these two to go there. If you have some sound advice for these predicaments, we welcome supportive comments.

Note: If you have thoughts of suicide, please call the Lyme Disease Hotline: 1-800-886-LYME (1-800-886-5963)

Hi,
My husband has Lyme disease, and we have health insurance with Blue cross/Blue shield through my job. My husband has been on IV for the past 3 months & is just starting to show some recovery. Now yesterday, 9/1/09, insurance says it will no longer pay, because this treatment is called "experimental IV". Has anyone else had this problem, if so what did you do? I am at a loss.


Hello,
I know I have Lyme, I was bit by a tick at age 4, and I am now 40. It has affected my brain, I have no sense of direction, I cannot remember anything anymore. My left arm feels like it has been cut off at my wrist making if difficult because I am left handed. I have boils on my face the size of golf balls, I can't go into public which being in sales isn't possible so I lost my job. The doctor has tested me for everything under the sun and I told him to test for Lyme. He did a IgG/ImG, something like that, and the blood test came back negative, so he said I do not have Lyme. I can't get out of bed. I now am having problems walking because of my left hip. Several years ago I was semi-diagnosed with MS because I had a case of Bell's Palsy. The tick that bit me in Maryland wasn't found for over 2 days. I was severely ill. My insurance has been canceled and I am losing control. I don't know what to do anymore. I have been thinking suicidal thoughts and am very scared. Please if someone could give me some advice on what to do next. I need some guidance in a really bad way.
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Alternative Lyme treatments

A friend asked for some advice about her Lyme protocol. She doesn't want to take antibiotics and would like to attempt an all-natural Lyme protocol.

I reminded her that I don't give advice. I'm an editor, not a doctor, and besides, it seems to me that depending on what stage of the disease you have, the symptoms of Lyme and the specific quirks of our immune systems truly complicate the challenge. The more people I interview about their experience with Lyme and its co-infections, the more I find out that I don't know. You've heard that old saying about the moment you recognize that you don't know anything is the beginning of wisdom? It's like that.

Although many of the Lyme-aware doctors we've interviewed for the "Interviews with Experts" series prescribe antibiotics for Lyme disease treatment, many people dealing with this multistage illness have incorporated other protocols into their routine at one point or another. Herbal tinctures, nutritional supplements and oxygen therapy are good examples of alternative or additional treatments, and I've had reports of excellent results with various combinations of these. Rife therapy has reportedly helped a lot of Lyme patients as well.

I've written about Dr Lee Cowden's herbal protocol in a special issue about Lyme protocols in the Townsend Letter, and he's featured in our Experts series. I'm interested in hearing more about the results of Dr Richard Horowitz's protocol, because he incorporates some of the Cowden herbs, and we're looking forward to adding his voice to our series.

I told my friend that the best advice I could offer is to tune in to the experts, and also listen to a catalog of stories about people from all walks of life, rich and poor, old and young, who have battled the tiger and now live vital, post-Lyme lives. I believe everyone has something to teach us, and that everyone is at least partially right. It's our job to decipher what's right, and what works, for us on our individual healing journeys.

I have had profound results from Dr Cowden's protocol. However, when I was first diagnosed my doctor insisted that I take antibiotics, which I remained on for six months.

I'm moved by my friend's sincere quest to heal from Lyme without going the pharmaceutical route. So, I thought I'd post this question to you: Have you had significant and long-lasting results from purely herbal protocols, such as the treatments recommended by Dr Lee Cowden, or Herbalist Stephen Buhner?
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Lyme docs OK'd to treat with long-term antibiotics

Governor signs bill, shielding doctors in treatment of Lyme disease


It's Monday, and I've got good news. Let's all acknowledge this nod of compassion in Lyme disease treatment and send thank you notes in support of this decision made by the governor of Connecticut.

The following is an excerpt of a June 21, 2009 article by Jack Sanders in the Ridgefield Press.com:

Governor M. Jodi Rell said Sunday she has signed a bill allowing doctors to prescribe long-term antibiotics in the treatment of persistent Lyme disease – outside of standard guidelines – without fear of sanctions from state health regulators if the patient’s clinical diagnosis of the tick-borne disease and treatment have been documented by a licensed physician.

“Doctors in Connecticut – the absolute epicenter of Lyme disease – can continue to do what is best for their patients suffering from this complex illness. I think most people know someone who has been infected,” Governor Rell said. “The bill also recognizes that Lyme disease patients must have the freedom to choose which remedy or regimen best meets their needs.”

House Bill 6200, which gained broad bipartisan support in the Legislature, was prompted by an ongoing debate in the medical community. Some health organizations have questioned the existence of chronic Lyme disease and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has cautioned against the long-term use of antibiotics. Some physicians were hesitant to treat patients outside the IDSA guidelines because of potential reprimands from medical boards and insurance companies.

“Doctors will have the right to use treatment guidelines based on their clinical experience and best medical judgment,” Governor Rell said. “This bill does not, however, shield any physician who provides substandard care.”
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Effects of Cumanda & Samento in treatment of Lyme disease

This is a really useful report, especially for those of us who are using herbal therapies to complement antibiotic treatment. It is Dr Richard Horowitz's findings on his use of herbs, such as Samento and Cumanda, among others, in treating patients who have Lyme disease and co-infections.

Herbs, Hormones & Heavy Metals: A study of CAM therapies in the treatment of Chronic Lyme Disease.


This tidbit is from the opening of his paper. Gave me a chuckle:

The History of Medicine
• 2000 BC Here, eat this root
• 1000 AD That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer
• 1850 AD That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
• 1940 AD That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
• 1985 AD That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
• 2007 AD That antibiotic does not work anymore. Here, eat this root.


Dr Richard Horowitz
4232 Albany Post Road
Hyde Park, NY 12538
845-229-8977
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Give yourself a pain break

Illness doesn't take vacations. You don't get to clock out for long weekends of R & R. There are no breaks, no furloughs, no specific date you can circle on the calendar, flipping the pages and counting the days. Dealing with Lyme is a full time gig, especially when your symptoms are acute or you're in the midst of a flaring herx.

Since nobody at Lyme Headquarters is going to pop their head out the door, shake your hand, and tell you to go home and put your feet up, we need to remind ourselves. Take the opportunity to take a break. The whole world celebrates at this time of the year. Being sick now feels a bit like being the kid at boarding school with no parents coming to pick her up for summer. So even if you feel lousy, you're in pain, you wish you could formulate a complete sentence without forgetting what you were talking about...take time out. I've done it, and you probably have too, so I know it's possible.

When I was in an acute stage, bedridden and miserable, pain-breaks were few and far between. I learned a couple of tricks, a little mental prestidigitation. One was to watch funny movies and laugh. Out loud. Belly laughter is more than physical, it's a state of mind. It takes complete control of your attitude. It's really hard to be miserable and laughing at the same time. And for those few precious moments, I didn't feel the pain. In fact I felt happy, normal, and like everything was going to be alright.

Another trick I discovered, which isn't a trick but really more of a visualization, is to imagine another person, someone you either know or don't know, who is suffering worse than you. Sadly, we don't have to look far. Hold a picture of that person in your mind, take a deep, relaxing breath, and as you breathe out imagine all the pain and sickness draining from them. Whenever I do this, I can vividly imagine that other person smiling and rosy-cheeked, and I instantly (even if only for a moment) feel better too.

A doctor friend of mine tells me these little tricks are very healthy. She says they can even help break the cycles of pain involved in many chronic illnesses, cycles known as the pain cascade.

So take a pain break. Get on the phone to a long-lost friend, or e-mail them if talking is too tiring. Send e-mail notes to all your loved ones wishing them a happy holiday -- e-mail is less expensive and less work. Cut and paste. Watch a comedy on TV or rent a funny movie and let yourself get caught up in the silliness. Find a kid and tell them a knock-knock joke. I bet they'll have one for you, and it just might make you feel better.

We'll be here after your break, to wish you well, as always.

Happy holidays, everybody. Cheerio.
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Immune system support

A few subscribers have said they're curious about my own particular healing protocol. We all know that there's no silver bullet where Lyme is concerned (although we wish) and that what works for your cousin or someone on your Lyme forum may not work for you, and vice verse. So keep that in mind. For the record, I feel great these days -- nearly normal (what a concept! Was I ever?). My routine is a blend of Dr. Cowden's and master herbalist Stephen Buhner's Lyme protocols, with a handful of other stuff thrown in for good measure. I get enough sleep, eat organic vegetables and fruits, try to exercise every day, and take probiotics.

One thing that I've learned from my own experience, as well as from talking to Lyme specialists and others who are healing, is that when you take antibiotics you must replace the friendly bacterial flora in dryour gut. Otherwise, "you can cause problems for yourself that are just as harmful as the Lyme symptoms themselves," says cardiologist and Lyme researcher Dr. Lee Cowden, whose herbal protocol for Lyme disease has helped many people. Even long after you stop taking antibiotics, probiotics can assist in bringing balance to your intestines. The intestines play a central role in the human immune system, and getting better is in many ways dependent on supporting the immune system.

So I want to mention something else I also take daily, a lactobacillus-based supplement that supports my immune system. I take 2 to 4 capsules daily, more if I feel stressed. It's called Del Immune V. A friend of mine sent me some when I first got diagnosed and I haven't been without it since. She takes it religiously too, as part of her protocol for hepatitis C. I have seen its effect on her, and the stuff is good. It seems to banish dark circles under her eyes, and best of all it seems to help lift her back to her natural wise, warm and witty self.

Although I haven't taken pharmaceutical antibiotics for two years, I've continued to take this high quality probiotic from Bulgaria. Although I may run out of other supplements and let them slide from time to time, I try to never go without Del Immune. It's made from a strain of lactic acid bacteria -- lactobacillus -- more precisely known as Lactobacillus rhamnosus, DV strain. The lactobacillus is cultured, then digested with natural enzymes that are an exact match to the enzymes in the human intestine, creating a product that is made of cell wall fragments containing pieces of cell DNA.

No silver bullets, but smart choices. Like eating organic and treating your tummy, and your immune system, with care.
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Memory games

One Lyme symptom I really hate is the word-finding problem. You know how it is. You're talking to a friend and suddenly the word you're looking for seems to have been sucked into a black hole. It's not merely gone -- it's non-existent. Frustrating, huh? The good news is, you can improve your word recall by playing memory games. It doesn't take long, maybe 10 or 20 minutes a day. As with physical exercise, when you're consistent you see improvement.

Wordjuxtapoz.com, lumosity.com and mybraintrainer.com offer different types of memory games, ranging from easy to very difficult. With practice, you can improve your brain processing speed and other cognitive functions. Games are addictive!

You don't have to go online, of course. Take that puzzle-in-a-box down from the shelf, dump out the zillion little pieces on a card table and pull up a chair. Our family always has at least one puzzle going around the holidays. It's a comfortable way to pass a rainy day together. Improving your concentration and recall by focusing on detail is an active, healthy way to participate in your healing journey. And you won't be thinking about Lyme bugs.
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HBOT for Lyme

Like many serious diseases, Lyme disease causes an oxygen deficiency. One very distressing symptom is often called "air hunger," and it can make you feel like a fish out of water. No matter how deeply you breathe, you just can't seem to get enough air.

Increasing the available oxygen is a must for healing. Any sort of exercise that increases your oxygen intake seems to be invaluable for beating Lyme, and most of the people I've interviewed who are healing or healed from Lyme engage regularly in physical exercise, activities ranging from brisk walking, running to swimming and vigorous biking.

Some people use Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy as an adjunctive Lyme treatment. HBOT administers oxygen at high atmospheric pressure, saturating the body with oxygen and increasing the total available amount. To receive a treatment, you climb into a chamber where pure oxygen is delivered at three times the normal atmospheric pressure.

Among US doctors, HBOT is controversial, although it has been commonly used for many years to treat burns, injuries from car accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning, smoke inhalation and other sorts of trauma. It has also proven valuable in treating people with AIDS and HIV, and others who suffer from opportunistic infections resulting from immuno-suppression.

HBOT is widely used in Europe and other countries to treat people suffering with multiple sclerosis, those who are recovering from strokes, and people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Although HBOT is still controversial in the US, it is gaining acceptance and used by conventional and alternative doctors.

Have you used HBOT as an adjunctive Lyme treatment? If so, I'd love to hear about your results. Please drop me a line.
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Stephen Buhner's DIY massage oil

For a treat, I asked herbalist, author and teacher Stephen Harrod Buhner to share a simple DIY recipe to help ease arthritis pain. Not only will it help reduce the pain, it smells wonderful! Plus, it's easy to make with simple ingredients you can find in a good healthy grocery store or co-op. And as the weather turns crispy heading into fall, a soothing massage will warm achy joints.

Stephen's book Healing Lyme, is much appreciated by many Lyme patients who can't tolerate antibiotics, or who suffer from chronic Lyme disease, have already reached their limit with standard Lyme treatment, or are simply looking for an alternative to Western medicine. He's a wonderful ally to have as we journey through our various healing paths. These are Stephen's recent books:

The Secret Teachings of Plants:
The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature
(Bear and Company, 2004)

Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme Borrelosis and its related Co-infections
(Raven Press, June 2005)

Stephen Harrod Buhner's Arthritis massage oil formula:

Use essential oils and a carrier oil. Stephen says he normally uses olive oil as a carrier, though a lot of people prefer jojoba, which is lighter and less fragrant. The amount of essential oil used in the mix can be adjusted up or down depending on personal preference.

1) 8 ounces olive oil (or jojoba oil)
2) 1/4 tsp each of the following essential oils: juniper, lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, German or Roman chamomile. (Alternatively, you can use peppermint, ginger, thyme, geranium)
3) Mix well.
4) Put into glass bottle, keep protected from sunlight.
5) When needed just pour a bit into the hand and massage into the affected area.
6) Let it work, takes a little while for it to penetrate the tissues.
7) Do not take internally.
8) Do not get on sensitive areas - i.e. eyes, reproductive organs, etc. or any areas of abraded skin.

Stephen Buhner's website is called Gaian Studies. He's featured in our experts interview series, talking about the challenges to Lyme diagnosis and treatment, and discussing his herbal approach to healing. Join here to listen.
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Send your doc to SF

When I was receiving Lyme disease treatment in California, where I lived at the time of my diagnosis, my family doctor was a naturopath who had studied with ILADS physician Dr. Raphael Stricker and others with CALDA. I was extremely fortunate to have his expertise as he helped me battle the fight of a lifetime. In turn, he said he felt lucky to have the expertise, experience, and excellence of these Lyme specialists behind him.

Your doctor doesn't have to live in California to attend. People from all over the country are planning to go. Help us spread the word about the CALDA Lyme conferences coming up in San Francisco. To sweeten the pot, here's a way for him or her to get reimbursed for a portion of the cost:

From the CALDA website:

CALDA will reimburse up to $800.00 out-of-pocket expenses for any actively practicing MD, DO, ND, NP or PA in any state to attend the annual conferences put on by the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) and the Lyme Disease Association (LDA). CALDA grants are limited and are only available to those qualifying professionals who are attending the conferences for the first time. Preference will be given to persons currently engaged in treating tickborne infections and who plan to attend both conferences.


The 2008 ILADS and LDA conferences will be held on October 17 – 19 at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco. Please check the ILADS and LDA websites for details and to register at: www.ilads.org; www.lymediseaseassociation.org.
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Herbs for Lyme


I recently got the opportunity to talk with Dr. Lee Cowden about using herbs for Lyme. His core Lyme herbal protocol, which he is continuously refining, has helped so many Lyme sufferers, including our editor (that would be me). I'll post the interview soon in our members' area so you can listen to the conversation. Dr. Cowden is one of my heroes in the Lyme wars, particularly because he devotes a great deal of his time teaching other physicians how to diagnose and recognize Lyme in their patients. I told him I would like more information on two of the herbal remedies he uses. In particular, Enula and Serrapeptase.

Enula is used for addressing at least one of several common Lyme co-infections. The powerful antimicrobial defense tincture contains an extract of elecampane. Nasty pathogens such as microfilaria and worms gang up to create the co-infection Babesia, which is, unfortunately, more the rule rather than the exception in many Lyme patients. Many of doctors I talk to refer to ticks as little sewage plants; whatever icky sludge they contain gets dumped into our bloodstreams when we're bitten.

Serrapeptase is a proteolytic enzyme, derived from silkworms, who use it to dissolve their chrysalis. Enzymes dissolve organic matter such as cysts and inflammation. They're often used in treating rheumatoid arthritis, even as an alternative to steroids and ibuprofen. Such a potent anti-inflammatory agent can be very useful in keeping your knees happy, and reducing the stress from arthritis pain. However, with enzymes, timing is everything. Take Serrapeptase between meals, leaving at least an hour on either side of eating. Do this so that the enzymes won't use up their healing power by digesting your food, instead.

Listen to the interviews with Dr. Cowden and other Lyme specialists.
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Lyme vaccine in development



On a frigid day in February, this article from the Czech Republic's online newspaper, the Prague Daily Monitor, provides a warm note of hope. All we have to do is hang in there for seven years:

Czech producer may have Lyme vaccine in 7 years
By ČTK / Published 21 February 2008



Olomouc, North Moravia, Feb 20 (CTK) - The development of a vaccine against Lyme disease (borreliosis) will take at least seven years though scientists from the Olomouc-based institute already have its formula, Evzen Weigl, head of the Immunology Institute of Olomouc university, told reporters Wednesday.

The vaccine is being developed by a five-member research team in Olomouc in cooperation with colleagues from the Bioveta pharmaceutical company in Ivanovice, south Moravia.

Bioveta director Libor Bittner told the Ekonom weekly in January that the vaccine is being tested in the Czech Republic and Germany and the results of the tests are expected by July.

"This information has become a media hit, but it has been slightly distorted. So far we have just a prototype of the vaccine, and only on the basis of preclinical trials' results we will seek a strategic partner for the production," said Weigl.

He added that a veterinary version of the vaccine was planned first.

"In the best case, the vaccine might be available in seven years," Weigl said. The vaccine development has continued for 13 years and cost several million crowns. Up to five research teams are working on this task in Europe, Weigl added.

Some 4000 people get annually infected with borreliosis, an infectious disease transmitted by ticks, in the Czech Republic. In 2006, 4370 people caught the disease in the country, which has been the highest figure in the past ten years.

Bioveta, founded in 1951, produces veterinary immunologicals and pharmaceuticals. It exports its products to some 40 countries.

Bioveta has already produced vaccine against Lyme disease for dogs.

The vaccine against encephalitis, another tick-borne disease, has already been developed.
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Medical pro explains link between protein and healing

You know it's important to eat protein, but do you know why?

According to Jean Reist, R.N., one good reason to get sufficient amounts of protein in your diet while you're healing from Lyme is to keep your lymph system working effectively. The lymph, or lymphatic system, is a major part of the body's immune system. Protein is necessary for transporting trace minerals through what is known as the extracellular matrix within the lymph system. Imagine the matrix as the white of an egg that's just been cracked open. You don't want it to congeal, as an egg white does in a hot pan, because it would get clogged up with toxins. You want your matrix to stay loose, efficiently transporting nutrients to the cells, and transporting that toxic waste away.

Vegans and vegetarians often eat soy products to boost their protein intake. Yet Reist, who treats Lyme patients in her Pennsylvania clinic, worries that the patients who eat soy may risk getting too much copper in their diets. Soy is high in copper, and evidence suggests that patients trying to heal from Lyme must also get rid of an overload of metals, including copper, mercury, lead and aluminum. She asks her patients to consider eating animal protein such as eggs, fish or whey while fighting Lyme.

Reist observes that vegetarian patients sometimes eat a lot of pasta and grain, which may be easy to prepare, but are high in carbohydrates. She says that for Lyme patients, loading up on pasta and grain instead of protein is not a good idea, for many reasons. For example, the grains wash away magnesium, and she says that Lyme patients tend to have a magnesium deficiency. In addition, carbohydrates drive inflammation, and as you probably are already aware, a big part of overcoming Lyme is fighting the accompanying chronic inflammation.

Jean Reist, R.N., participated in our ongoing expert audio interview series, which is available online for LDRD members.
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ILADS advises treatment options

Daniel J. Cameron, MD, MPH, the president of ILADS, has recently voiced concern over the Connecticut Department of Public Health's decision to discipline Dr. Charles Ray Jones for treating chronic Lyme patients with a standard of care beyond the IDSA's recommendations. As he explains in his speech of December 18, 2007 in Hartford, CT, at the Connecticut State Capitol Building, ILADS is disturbed by the actions of Connecticut Public Health Commissioner Robert Galvin, who has stated that the department would not initiate cases against physicians who treat chronic Lyme disease, yet allowed the case against Dr. Jones to proceed.

In his speech, Dr. Cameron announced that he is appealing the the CT Department of Public Health to drop the case against Dr. Charles Ray Jones. He advises that the scientific and medical communities need to leave treatment options open in order to better understand controversial issues such as Lyme disease.

Some of the folks I know who are suffering with Lyme disease say they are only equipped to patch their lives together on a daily basis with the help of long-term antibiotics. These people deserve to have treatment options that allow them to gain back a quality of life, and qualified doctors who can advocate for them without fear of disciplinary action.
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Arthritis oils for massage

Winter is here, and with it, bone-chilling weather that can make your achy knees feel worse. Fortunately, herbal oils can make them feel better, especially when applied with regular massage. Rheumatoid arthritis, a frequent symptom of chronic Lyme disease, responds well to massage. As a bonus, these oils will also help take the bite out of the bitter cold.

Below are two possible formulas for arthritis oils from renowned herbalist Lesley Tierra's book, The Herbs of Life: Health and Healing Using Western and Chinese Techniques. (The Crossing Press: 1992) Use externally.

* Use equal parts: bay, eucalyptus, mugwort, rosemary, fresh grated ginger and cayenne. Add 1 tbsp medical grade turpentine oil (turpentine is sap from the fir tree) and 1 tbsp rosemary oil for every cup of oil.

* 1 tbsp camphor oil, 1 tbsp peppermint oil, 1 tsp rosemary oil, 1 tbsp juice from fresh grated ginger, 1 tbsp clove oil, 1 tsp eucalyptus oil.

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Zeolite and Dr. Cowden's therapy

Chelation therapy helps detoxify the body by removing heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury. This type of therapy is commonly used in treating lead poisoning and heavy metal toxicity, but is not supported by conventional doctors as a way to help patients heal from other serious conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, autism, and Lyme disease. However, some alternative medical practitioners and patients claim to get significant results with chelation. Cilantro and alpha lipoic acid are among the natural chelators used by many people seeking to remove low-level poisons such as mercury and lead, which can be transmitted from a polluted environment, from their systems.

Zeolite is another substance used as a chelator. What is it? Zeolites are natural minerals formed thousands or even millions of years ago, that work as other chelating agents do, absorbing metals from your system, and drawing them out so your body can eliminate them. When the body's immune system is supported its natural healing mechanisms simply work better.

Dr. Lee Cowden, a renowned physician who treats Lyme patients, and spends much of his time and energy teaching other doctors his method for treating Lyme patients, emphasizes the necessity to detoxify the body of metals in order to thoroughly treat Lyme disease and prevent reinfection. He recommends Zeolite as a chelator. You can now order Zeolite through Nutramedix (http://www.nutramedix.com), the company that offers all of the herbal supplements listed on Dr. Lee Cowden's core protocol for treating Lyme.
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Cardamom Treat

Cardamom seed is a warming, fragrant spice. Herbalists believe it can help with problems associated with the spleen, stomach, lungs, and kidney. Many Lyme patients find it to be helpful in aiding digestion and eliminating lung congestion that can cause coughs and colds. Headaches, so frequently associated with Lyme disease, are sometimes caused by poor digestion and stagnant food in the stomach. When you are on iagnosis and treatment of Babesia & other coinfections">antibiotics or even herbal therapy, you may need help calming your stomach and digestive tract.

For a yummy winter treat that will soothe your tummy and counteract mucus congestion in the lungs and sinuses, core a hard pear, drizzle honey into the opening and sprinkle in a teaspoon of cardamom powder, then bake it at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Adding cardamom powder to milk and fruit neutralizes the mucus-forming properties.
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Ticks carrying lyme disease active in fall

Lyme disease treatments vary, and so do medical experts' opinions about which treatments are the most effective. Many physicians and Lyme sufferers advocate a balanced approach to treatment, emphasizing the importance of a high quality diet, supplements, exercise, plenty of sleep, and a positive mental attitude in addition to herbal or pharmaceutical antibiotics. Evidence suggests that the spirochetes, the agent that carries the disease throughout the body, are more effectively eliminated when a variety of treatments are employed. The bacteria are likely to hide in cyst form throughout the body's organs, such as the brain and the heart. When treatment is varied, either in type or timing, the bacteria are more likely to be "surprised," unprepared for attack, and thus killed.

Lyme disease attacks every level of the body, so it makes sense to use a multilevel approach to treatment. While seeking treatment, especially if you are drawn to exercise outside during temperate fall weather, bear in mind that this season is rife with risks for those of us who live in the western US. Adult western ticks are active in the late fall and winter. Many Californians are unaware of the potential for contracting Lyme disease, remaining under the false impression that it doesn't occur on the west coast.

Those who hike, bike and walk in the woods and on the scenic California trails are not the only ones who should be vigilant. Ticks who carry and can transmit Lyme disease can be found in urban and suburban neighborhoods as well as in the mountains and meadows. They are bloodsuckers, dependent on passersby for a living. They aren't picky whether the warm-blooded creature who passes is a dog, a mouse or a human, just as long as they can hop on. Ticks can only move around in about a nine foot circumference on their own. In order to get a warm meal and a ride, the tiny critters -- about the size of the period at the end of this sentence -- climb to the tips of grasses, waving their legs and waiting. You are wise to consider seeking treatment for Lyme disease if you suspect a tick bite, and have any of the common symptoms associated with the illness, such as fever, overwhelming fatigue, skin rash, and joint stiffness. Seeking early treatments for Lyme disease raises your success level in dealing with, and healing from, this serious bacterial infection.
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Healing Lyme Disease with Art

When I was super sick, a couple of years ago, I had constant skin pain, the medical term for which is severe neuralgia. I'd never experienced such horrid, continuous sensations. If someone had handed me a gun, I might have shot myself. Fortunately, I didn't get my hands on a gun. I picked up a paint brush instead. I only had enough energy to paint for short durations of time. I chose a small project that took me about three nights to complete, and spent about a half an hour each night painting. During the brief time that I was actually painting, I became completely absorbed in my work. I concentrated fully on how the paint looked on the brush, watched it with wonder as it came slowly off the brush and onto the canvas, curving in direct response to my idea of a design. Astonished, each night I would experience the pain returning as I put away my paints and cleaned the brushes. What was going on?

I called an artist friend, and she corroborated my suspicion. Art, or to be specific, any creative act, heals. Those few precious pain-free moments saved me. Eventually, the moments stretched out and now I live without pain. Looking back, I recognize that the full-on concentration I poured into that small art project created a break in the pattern of stress and pain that had become part of my moment-to-moment experience of living.

Stress is a big challenge when you're healing any serious or chronic disease, and Lyme patients must learn strategies for coping with it in a positive way. It's not as if stress is going to go away -- as everyone knows, it's a natural part of living. Out of despair at the realization that he could not heal me, and that he must accept the fact that I had to heal myself, my partner brought home paints and paintbrushes. I have a background in art, and yet until it was a life or death situation, I had no clue how the practice of painting -- of focusing on one simple creative act -- could help me begin to heal. So how do you deal with it?

One smart way to get a handle on stress is to cultivate a regular meditation practice. Sitting down, calming your mind, and focusing on your breath is something you can (usually) handle even when you're sick. It is a challenge to meditate when you're scared, or in pain, or when a coherent thought can't easily navigate your brain fog. But meditation needn't be long or grueling. Shoot for short sessions. Even sitting and clearing your mind for one minute is helpful, if that's all you can muster. Try going for five minutes next time, fifteen the next. One or two times a day has been proven to help the mind to learn more quickly, and integrate new information more efficiently. You don't have to follow any specific format in order to benefit from meditation practice. You can paint, like I did. Some people merely focus on their breath moving in and out. When the mind wanders, as minds will do, simply become aware of this fact and gently bring the focus back to the breath. This type of focus can't be underrated in terms of helping you get off of the pain train, even momentarily.
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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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Herbal protocols for Lyme

Lyme researchers and medical experts say herbal protocols such as Dr. Lee Cowden's are helping people who suffer with Lyme disease. Clinical studies have tested the effectiveness of a Peruvian herb that by now you've probably heard of: Samento. Other herbs from South America, Cumanda and Burbur, are also currently undergoing a clinical study for their effect on Chronic Lyme. These herbs are imported from Peru and available for use. If your doctor hasn't heard about them, ask her or him to investigate. Read more here.

Many people are finding that these herbal tinctures are safer to use and more effective than antibiotics, with the benefit of not having side effects. Dr. Cowden believes that detoxification of the body is just as important in long-term healing as finding and following a protocol that works.
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Treatment of Lyme and CFS with Samento

Medical research reveals Lyme disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to share not only similar symptoms, but in some cases identical gene expression as well. In my conversation with Dr. Andrew Wright of the UK, he said he thinks that CFS is caused by a bacterial infection, and in many cases it seems to be the same bacteria, Borrelia, that is at the root of Lyme disease. He discussed the success of Samento, his preferred treatment of both illnesses, and his desire for more medical studies to be conducted on the long-term treatment of Lyme and CFS with herbal antimicrobials. As Samento has no effects, is safe and more well-tolerated than antibiotics, he says it's his first choice for treatment. Read more here.
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Definitive Lyme test and Samento

Tests for Lyme seem to be deliberately confusing. Is there a definitive test or isn't there?

Dr. JoAnne Whitaker, Eleanor Fort and Lida Mattmann, PhD, have patented one. The Q-RiBb, which tests for antigens instead of antibodies is definitive because it locates actual Lyme bacteria in the body. Through the Bowen Research Lab in Florida, these physician/researchers have tested hundreds of people and found Lyme bacteria to be the cause of numerous misdiagnoses, among them MS, ALS, Parkinson's disease, fibromyalgia, CFIDS, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiac arrythmias. Dr. Whitaker has reason to suspect that Lyme is a pandemic that is being repressed by the medical-industrial complex.

People who have been misdiagnosed and subsequently treated for Lyme disease are getting well. The Lyme pathogen is hardy, tenacious and difficult to kill, but medical doctors with the courage to help their patients heal are finding holistic protocols that work. Samento, Cumanda and other Peruvian herbs, which have only become available in the US since 2001, are rising in popularity among the Lyme population, many of whom are quite sophisticated in finding ways to heal from a disease that the conventional medical community is too frightened to acknowledge.

For information about Samento and Cumanda, click here

Click here to join the LDRD and listen to our interview with Dr. Joanne Whitaker and many other Lyme literate physicians
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Healing lyme with herbs

At this point in time, antibiotics are the clearest choice for killing spirochetes, with some caveats. Many people think of herbal approaches to treating Lyme borreliois as "experimental." The term is meaningless in relation to Lyme disease. With Lyme infection everything is experimental. -- Stephen Harrod Buhner, Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme Borreliosis and Its Coinfections

The spirochetes are scavengers. They're adept at feasting off of their host and creating endless suffering from eating in their "favorite restaurants," as Stephen Harrod Buhner says: our knees, our skin, our hearts. In his book, this master herbalist and psychotherapist who writes about sacred plant medicine gives a keenly intelligent overview on Lyme disease, offers a core protocol for healing Lyme, and goes into detail about the many herbs that have acted as potent healers across time and tradition. His unique protocol is being followed by patients and physicians alike, either in conjunction with antibiotics or alone.

Stephen writes cogent and in-depth explanations about this natural healing protocol. He generously agreed to take part in the unique "Conversations with Experts" special feature on the LDRD website. Do yourself a favor: Listen to my interview with Stephen here.
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On the horns of an abx dilemma.

We know that antibiotics do help Lyme patients heal, although doctors have observed that abx do their best work when people start taking them soon after becoming infected. Many docs are advocating for the use of long-term abx in the case of chronic Lyme. They feel there is no other way to deal with it. No question, antibiotics are the modern miracle medicine, an irrefutable symbol of civilization. But the medical truth is, long-term antibiotics may do more harm than good.

If you're one of those people who never experienced Lyme disease symptoms until the stress of a life-changing event set it off, you may have been given abx long after you caught the bug. Are your chances of healing from Lyme now reduced? What are the alternatives to abx, and why should we give them a chance?

Read entire article here.
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Qigong and Lyme Disease

If you are like many people and would rather have a root canal than exercise, listen up. In Chinese traditional medicine and complementary medicine, there is a belief that in order for us to stay healthy or to heal from disease, we need to maintain balance. One of the simplest ways to do this is with a bit of daily exercise. Qigong is a simple and easy way to help your body regain and maintain balance. You may know that Qigong is an ancient exercise that hails from China. Qi, or chi, refers to the life-force or energy. Increasing your qi leads to healing, but bear in mind that you must also practice patience with yourself, because healing probably won't happen all in one day. Create a simple, pleasant space where you can practice your daily routine. Express your determination, kindness and compassion for yourself and your unique healing path.

You can practice these gentle exercises by yourself in your living room, or maybe you're the type of person who needs the support and camaraderie of a group. Figure out what feels right to you, then just set your mind to following a routine. Dedicate yourself to healing. Asians have used these exercises for over 5,000 years to maintain health in mind, body and spirit. Qigong is only one form of exercise that you can do to help alleviate stress, increase your blood circulation, and calm your mind. I find that Qigong, like yoga, helps calm my mind. I recognize that I'm dealing with a serious illness that has changed my life, my relationships and my daily routines in every way. Anxiety is a natural result of all these changes. Anxiety arises when I feel my healing going two steps forward, one step back. A daily routine of calm and focused physical exercise helps me release the fears and find balance, literally and metaphorically.

Learn more abour exercise and it's effects on Lyme disease as a member.
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Expiration dates count.

Expiration dates count. Be aware of outdated information on Lyme disease research websites. It's astonishing to me how many doctors' and medical authorities' websites are still confidently proclaiming that Lyme disease can only be spread by ticks. I've only been researching this disease for a little over a year but it appears clear that ticks alone are not responsible for the epidemic of Lyme disease. The Lyme-literate doctors I've spoken with are convinced that only a small percentage of cases of Lyme are spread by ticks. There seems to be a lot of evidence to suggest that all blood-sucking insects are capable of carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme. One scientist I interviewed who researches Lyme stated that every single mosquito she had tested, from California to Florida, tested positive with the bacteria.

When searching online for good information on Lyme, it's crucial to keep in mind that medical research is dynamic and ongoing. This disease is a highly underrated epidemic, and the physicians who test their patients for it and diagnose it are not always able to publish about their results immediately. Old and out-of-date information about this disease seems to be prevalent on the web. Yet cutting edge information is available for those who are careful to critically screen the quality of information they find.

Screening out noisy rubble and finding good information about Lyme is like panning for gold. Many websites are helpful, some more than others. Some websites were once relevant, but now they're outdated. Look for the most updated discoveries to find what you need to know. This evening, I was reading through the site of a popular health advocate I once met and whose products I have used, to my great satisfaction. Her website, however, was stacked with information about Lyme disease that dates back to 1996. Over just the past year or two, the discoveries about new, successful treatments for Lyme are hopeful and deeply encouraging, but a person reading this health advocate's site would never get that impression. So watch the expiration date on the information you take to heart. Lyme patients find out quickly that it is to their advantage to get quality and timely research.
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