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Lyme Disease

The monkey mind and the mandala

Lets talk about the body/mind connection.

How does it work, exactly? For starters, let's consider the monkey mind.

At any given moment, we all have a load of chit-chat streaming through our thoughts.

You recognize this phenomena: the familiar little monkey mind skittering up, down and all around your inner landscape, ceaselessly chattering, never at rest.

What's your monkey mind saying?

Do you ever get quiet and listen?

It may be repeating worries, fears, or other negative memes. I know mine does. Sometimes it gets the upper hand, like in the middle of the night when I'm lying awake, and it seems like everybody else on earth and their dog is snoozing peacefully.

Can this inner voice and its repetition of fears create underlying physical stress?

Some healers believe that negative thoughts, repeated ad nauseum by our monkey minds, can actually soften the way for infection in our bodies. I don’t know for sure.

One thing that's for sure is the amazing connection between the body and mind. One way to access and strengthen this body/mind connection is to draw. This is where art – the act of making art, that is – can actually help open the doors to healing.

Yep. Just pick up a colored pencil or marker, nudge your inner kid awake, and just draw.

Or you might want to try coloring in a delicious looking coloring book of mandalas. Coloring book for adults! What a country.

The claim is that many people who are ill or in the throws of a healing crisis find the act of coloring is quite helpful.

Hold on. Coloring is good for you?

Now we’re talking.

Mandala studies shows that when you are coloring, your conscious mind is turned off. The chatter is turned down at least. Similar to being in a dream state.

As the standard chatter recedes, your unconscious mind, which is vastly larger than the conscious tip of the iceberg, is able to get a word in edgewise. Answers to conundrums may suddenly pop into your mind. You may receive key information about the next step on your healing journey, because healing mechanisms can be triggered by the simple act of coloring.

When I heard about this, my inner coloring-book lover did a happy dance.

If there are inherent lessons in illness, I suspect it has to do with realizing that we must give 100% participation in our own cure. It's learning to accept that we've embarked on the hero’s journey.

A hero who has stepped onto a landmine and can't move off.

So let's face it. The hero needs tools. And maybe a fistful of colored markers.

Any kind of coloring will work. However, mandalas are special for many reasons, and probably the best kind of design to bring harmony to your senses because of their circular symmetry.

Try it.

You might think it's pure synchronicity, but while you are fully concentrating on coloring, you may be given a reprieve from your pain. If it works and you feel better, who cares if it's synchronicity or if it's some sort of mandala magic?

Art saves lives.

At the very least, it can calm the monkey mind for a few minutes and give us a break from its tiresome chatter.

With practice, it may strengthen the bridge between that vast part of us that is perfectly well, not affected by disease, and give our body the rest it needs to heal deeply.

No matter what the doctors say, no matter what anybody else says, no one lives inside our bodies but us.

Only we can really know how we feel, what we need, and in any given moment, what can make us healthier. Our bodies are magnificent, and capable of self-repair and self-healing beyond our wildest imaginings. I believe this.


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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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A new year list for healing from Lyme

Setting new goals and dreaming new dreams can happen at any time. In January, though, you can almost feel a collective buzz as so many people set goals and re-evaluate past aims. If you are healing from Lyme, how does goal-setting work?

I can't remember having the consciousness to set many goals when I was really sick. It was enough to remember to take which medicine when. I used to joke that with my Lyme-brain fuzz head, tracking those meds and supplements had become my full-time job. The little notebooks I kept were my external memory drive. I could not have gotten through it without some sort of system.

New goals can seem very big and abstract. A lot of people want to work on changes in their job status, their weight, or aim for a vacation destination or specific financial goal. People dealing with Lyme often feel their world's been shrunken to the size of a thimble though. New goals any bigger than keeping track of your daily routines can be overwhelming. Still, if you're in the mood for taking a bigger picture approach, writing down your desired goals can be really healthy. It can also be healing just to reflect on last year's goals in relation to where you are today. How has your situation changed since last New Year?

Here are two ideas to try, to kickstart your new year of intentions on the healing path.

Make a gratitude list
Perhaps you already do this on a regular basis. If so, good for you. This simple act, done every night before bedtime, can be one of the most transformational things you could ever do for yourself. You can make it as general or detailed as you want, but try to be specific as you write, and really visualize the faces of the people that you're thankful for, or the doctors or nurses, children, parents or friends who showed up at your side during the worst of days. Name them all and send each one a special prayer of thanks as you do.

Name your furry kids, too. Our pets are unconditional givers. My sweet kitty, who was always by my side during my roughest months and years, recently died at age 13. I grieved for her, and also cried tears of gratitude for all the love, affection, and moments of wonder and laughter she gave so naturally throughout her life. Her passing marks a new point in my own healing stage. It was as if she came to be with me especially as I got through Lyme.

Make 12 new monthly goals
You don't have to reach the moon every four weeks. Take baby steps, and you can always adjust your monthly goals as you go along. Last year I decided to give up gluten for awhile and see how it affected me. The first thing I noticed was that there were no more sandwiches in my future. I adjusted that goal a little and things turned out fine for me.

Relinquishment goals such as that can be valuable of course, but include positive goals too. Consider how you might parse the 12 months of this new year. You could go by the seasons, or some other way that strikes you as important. Are your first three months going to focus on getting better treatment or changing doctors? Maybe your second three months could be about integrating a healthier diet and exercise routine into your schedule. One set of three might be focused on personal/cognitive skills such as starting some new brain exercise games, then you might think about making goals around who you'd really like to attract as your mentors and buddies – your healing community.

Whether or not you set goals for the new year, we wish you much love and rigorous good health as you make progress in healing from Lyme.



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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!


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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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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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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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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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Veteran's Day

This is Veteran's Day. Let's take a moment of silence and give thanks to all the veterans who serve our amazing country. In the UK, November 11 is known as Remembrance Day, and in other countries this is Armistice Day.

This post is dedicated to my dad, who served in WWII in the US Navy. Dad was a radio operator and spent many months undersea, working inside Navy submarines. He and mom raised five kids, and he never lost his love for the ocean. Miss you still, dad!

Harold "Bud" William Arthur (1923 - 1974)
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Deer and mice survive Lyme

What should we take with a grain? Advice.

For example, I just read this: if your cat spends time outdoors and is acting lethargic, ask your vet to test for Lyme disease.

Um, buddy, I don't know about your cat....

I'm being a little facetious here. Of course it is wise to keep an eye on your pet. Our felines are strictly indoor beasts, so I worry less. However, if you've got a dog or a horse, a ferret or even a lazy outdoors cat, do what you can to protect them. Not only can Goldie or Jake fall sick from Lyme himself, he may also bring ticks, and their Borrelia burgdorferi poison, home to you.

Deer and mice, and many other critters, do not get sick from the Lyme bacteria for some reason. Deer can travel many miles in their lifetime, playing host to any number of vile little ticks, who can often be found around their neck or ears. When an infected tick bites a deer, the deer becomes part of the cycle. It doesn't get ill but it harbors the bacteria, which is then passed on to any uninfected ticks who come along to feed.

We can try, but we can't get rid of ticks. In fact, as the biodiversity of our environment shrinks, the tick population is exploding. And so are the numbers of ticks who are already infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, according to Dr. Eva Sapi, director of Lyme research at UNH, Connecticut. Deer and mice and the ticks they carry don't have as many natural enemies as they once did. Plus they're incredibly adaptive to change. These animals can survive in terrain that many of their predators cannot. Dr. Sapi says that another factor in the higher numbers of infected ticks may be the warmer temperatures in winter. Tick populations that used to die off in freezing temps now winter over.

Reputable Lyme researchers like Dr. Sapi and Dr. Alan MacDonald are working to figure out how to kill Borrelia burgdorferi, and how to cure Lyme. We hope you'll listen to these two skilled scientists, as well as the other Lyme experts who have participated in our Interviews with Experts series. Although the explosion of the tick population is unfortunate, it's also resulting in more media coverage on Lyme disease, and more money for researching Lyme as a serious disease.

We'll continue to scope out the most reliable, professional Lyme specialists available, and record them here for you.

Now, I'm off to wake up my lazy cat. Time for her to earn some kibble and catch this flying bug...
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Borrelia Burgdorferi, Lyme bacteria

Borrelia burgdorferi, or Bb, is the notorious bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Bb is just one of three hundred strains of spirochetes worldwide. Other strains of spirochetes cause diseases such as relapsing fever and syphilis. Bb is a spiral-shaped microscopic organism that can scoot around inside the body by rotating in place, like a corkscrew. After its host, the tick, downloads Bb into the bloodstream of a critter or a person, the spirochete can leave the blood stream and invade the tissues and organs.

Although it can cause such frightful, wide-ranging symptoms, to glimpse this tiny pathogen requires a powerful microscope. The Bb spirochete is infinitesimally small. According to the Lyme Disease Foundation in Connecticut, as described in the book, Beating Lyme, it would take fifteen hundred of them laid end to end to equal one inch. "If bacteria were laid side to side, one hundred thousand Lyme bacteria would be required to equal one inch."

Willy Burgdorfer, PhD, was the entomologist who discovered the Lyme microorganism. Scientists honored Dr. Burgdorfer by naming the Lyme spirochete after him. I've just received a copy of Beating Lyme: Understanding and Treating This Complex and Often Misdiagnosed Disease, by Constance Bean with Lesley Ann Fein, MD, MPH. I think I'll pour myself another cup of green tea, settle in and read some more. Chances are you already know some of what's in the book, since Lyme patients tend to read voraciously in order to get educated about symptoms and treatment. We're adding book reviews to the LDRD, so keep an eye out for more news and expert recommendations.
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