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Prevention of Lyme Disease

Chronic Inflamation

Chronic inflammation is the troll under the bridge. It's the nasty culprit creating a dangerous—even deadly--environment in our bodies. Inflammation is at the heart of a long list of disease, including Alzheimer's, asthma, multiple sclerosis, gout, fibromyalgia, cancer, and Lyme. Chronic inflammation can exist inside our bodies for years, suddenly wrecking havoc in our heart, kidneys, or liver.

So what's causing it? I've been reading Kenneth Singleton's terrific book, The Lyme Disease Solution. As he explains, when Lyme bacteria or its co-infections infect the body, the same as when other microorganisms attack--such as parasites, fungi, mold, and viruses—inflammation results. Sometimes you can see it. Sometimes you can't. As I understand it, a little bit of inflammation goes a long way. It is our immune system's natural reaction to infection. A cut on a finger is painful. It swells a bit and turns red. These factors indicate that the immune system is doing its job. White blood cells rush like EMTs to the site of the action. In a healthy person, the infection is stopped. The redness fades and the swelling goes down as the cut mends.

However, if the bacteria isn't killed by the actions of the immune system, the inflammation can become chronic.

“...whenever we are dealing with chronic infections like Lyme, we must be careful not only to treat a person with appropriate antibiotics, but also to address the chronic inflammation problems that have been triggered by Lyme.” Singleton, K. The Lyme Disease Solution (pp. 186-187). Kindle Edition.


The Do's and Don'ts
First, the don'ts. Don't give a helping hand to the inflammation troll. The following activities suppress or kill the endorphins that will help you heal.


Smoking. If you smoke, quit! Here's your good excuse.
Drinking alcohol. Same goes here.
Consuming fried foods, doughnuts, pastries. If it doesn't build healthy cells, it isn't good for you.
Consumption of sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Fifty pounds or more overweight.
Nursing a victim mentality and a negative attitude.
Being unable to forgive.
Averaging less than seven hours sleep per night.
Not drinking enough water.
Little to no sun exposure.

The good news? We can take action to prevent the inflammation troll from ruining our party. With shifts in dietary, lifestyle, and exercise routines, inflammation can be reduced or eliminated. The immune system produces these wonderful little gizmos called endorphins. They assist the NK (Natural Killer) cells in fighting the bad guys.

There's a short list of helpers to make our immune systems create more endorphins. You're gonna like it: Belly laughter, massage, chocolate, acupuncture, adequate sleep, and regular exercise. Eat fresh veggies, salmon (or Omega 3-s/Fish oil supplement), range-fed or organic meat consumption, and healthy oils, like olive. Indian curry, in particular the spice turmeric (curcumin), is a well-known anti-inflammatory agent. (However, please consult your doctor to see turmeric is okay for you. People with gallstones are not advised to consume turmeric.)

On the long list, you'll recognize these emotional and cultural keys that assist endorphin production, as well. We've seen them all before, but they're not trite. Not by a long shot. Indeed, these common-sense tips are central to healing body and mind:

Count your blessings.
Cultivate a positive outlook, and a spirit of generosity and giving.
Take time daily to pray and/or meditate—rejuvenate your spirit.
Do some deep breathing in fresh air.
If possible, get exposure to sunlight for ten minutes a day.
And nurture healthy relationships and social circles. You know, the kind that fluffs your feathers and fills up your love and laughter reserves. Seek out the company of people who make you feel good, not drained.

Antibiotics are necessary to kill the Lyme bacteria. Yet in many cases, they are not enough to return the body back to homeostasis, its natural state of balance. This is where lifestyle and dietary changes are needed to help us get a handle on inflammation.

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I'm Dreaming of a Healthy Christmas...

Just like the ones I used to know.

Holidays are a mixed bag, aren't they? On one hand, they offer a break from routine workday (or sick-day) stress. On the other, they can cause even more stress. First, there's the family get-togethers, which wouldn't be so bad except it means putting up with Uncle Fred or cousin Irma, who want to engage you in an intense conversation about your Lyme disease symptoms (which you're trying unsuccessfully to put out of your mind for one evening), or they are insisting that you immediately make an appointment to see this really amazing doctor they found because (although they have done no research themselves) they don't believe your doctor is treating you correctly.

Or, and this is the more likely scenario, your friends and family are thrilled to see you looking pretty good, walking upright, tracking conversation with ease, so they totally ignore the fact that you are indeed sick. They proceed to put the whole year (or three, or five, etc.) out of their minds completely. Like a bad marriage, your illness gets pushed into the past so everybody in the room can feel more comfortable. Your mother or your dearest friend then proceeds to pour you a glass of wine, pass the See's chocolate, and swoon over little Chloe's sugar cookies which are decorated with more candy than you've seen all year.

You may be able to politely resist the alcohol and pass on the cookie tray, but with a sigh you glance over the traditional holiday foods piled high on the plate your dear ones have placed in front of you. And it smells so good. If you've been making a sincere effort to heal, you have been good for months. No sugar, no wine, no Girl Scout cookies for goodness sake. Why not indulge a little, you tell yourself. However, as anybody with Lyme can tell you, one night of sweet indulgence on sugar or alcohol can zap your strength for many days, bring on a dismal case of brain fog and trigger chronic symptoms such as skin rashes, headaches, and more.

As strict as I am with myself, even I find it difficult to resist holiday temptations. A colleague wanted to meet downtown at a local brewery the other day. I had my last beer on Halloween and it brought about a skin rash on my fingers and hands, my weakest spot and most pernicious symptom. I am not drinking beer anymore. And wine, which is said to be good for you, is still alcohol, it's still sugar, and although it's a lovely thing to share a toast with your dear ones over the holidays it can be done with mineral water. Discipline? Yes, you need it in spades. Determination too. But tell me, what more motivating factor do you need than your own recent experience with Lyme symptoms?

My life is no less joyful or rich because I am not sipping wine, ordering a slice of heavenly Tiramisu, or dipping into the candy bowl after dinner. In fact it's just the opposite. The quality and beauty of my life intensifies the more I tend to my health. This Christmas I'll lift my glass and toast to my loved ones' health. Perhaps it's a cliche that if you have your health you have everything, but it's true.

Happy holidays, everybody. May you have fulfilling work, understanding relatives, true friends, and a clear mind and healthy heart so you may enjoy them all. "Wisdom is to the soul what health is to the body."
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Neem Oil For Pets

How do you keep your pets safe from Lyme? Your pup longs to wiggle in the grass and charge after squirrels through the brushy hillsides. Now that spring is almost here, your little bud will be expecting more outdoors time. Thank goodness for dog parks, where you can let him run around with his doggy pals and burn off some of that exuberance. But in all these scenarios, you worry about his exposure to ticks. Read more about Lyme in dogs.

If you're looking for a natural or botanical alternative to harsh chemical pesticides, you might consider shampooing your furry friend with a pet shampoo containing Neem oil. The Neem is one of the trees in the magnificent Mahogany family, and the oil is made by pressing its seed kernels. Neem oil smells bitter, like garlic.

Neem oil is an excellent moisturizer with medicinal and insecticidal qualities, as well as potent antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It has been used with success to repel or kill fleas and ticks. It also kills mange mites, and will protect your pup from biting flies and mosquitoes. However, it is non-toxic to mammals, birds, bees and earthworms. So, let your dog out to enjoy a spring romp, and remember that keeping him safe from ticks enhances your chances of staying protected from Lyme and other tick-born diseases.
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Guineafowl eat ticks

In 1992 in New York, Christie Brinkley was concerned about her daughter playing outside in what was known to be an area where tick numbers were high. So she enlisted the aid of her congressman, who initiated a commissioned study to investigate the effectiveness of Guineafowl as tick controllers. Guineafowl, originally from Africa, are feathery foragers with an unusual cry that sounds like "buckwheat, buckwheat!" These critters' diet includes about 90% arthopods, which means they eat ticks. The Duffy study illustrated that Guineafowl could indeed play a significant part in keeping tick numbers down.

Raising Guineafowl takes an effort, but it may be an option if your environment permits. The birds prefer to range throughout an open area, not woodsy, of about three to five acres. They make a loud noise when they're threatened by predators such as hawks overhead or the neighbors' dogs, and your local zoning codes must allow for them.

Guineafowl, like watchdogs, are good at raising an alarm when strangers approach, yet unlike dogs they will not attack. They will eat snakes and other noxious insects besides ticks, such as spiders and mites. If your circumstances allow and if you like the idea of controlling ticks through enlisting the aid of a flock of friendly little birds, Guineafowl can be an important weapon in the battle against Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Causes of Lyme disease other than tick- born?
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Lyme disease in the family dog

Your dog is your little buddy, your furry kid. Nothing compares to the love your puppy has for you. You want to keep him or her as healthy and happy as you can. Lyme disease in a dog can be a devastating ordeal, not just for your dog but for you and your whole family. People frequently report that their main exposure to Lyme probably occurred because the family dog inadvertently brought a tick into the house.
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Ticks love warm winters

Unusually warm winters make it easy for ticks and mosquitoes to survive. Although this is not generally the time you would think about protecting your dog or cat from ticks, these creatures can appear during the winter in surprising locales. If your local climate is warmer than usual for the beginning of January, you might consider treating your pets with a tick repellant. Be sure to check your pet's paws and coat thoroughly, lest she or he bring any of the little hitchhiking critters into the house.

If you allow your pet to sleep on your bed, take extra measures to keep them from introducing any tiny friends. Ticks can be as small as a piece of ground black pepper. They are extremely difficult to detect. It's better to apply tick repellant to your pet to be on the safe side. Check with your local pet supply store or veteranarian for an insecticide that is safe enough for your furry pal.
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Craving Sweets? Sugar and its effects on Lyme

I recently met a very sweet Coloradan named Bea who was diagnosed with Lyme disease about a year and a half ago. Same time as I was. (Coincidentally, also the same time as singer Daryl Hall was, but that's a blog of a different color.) Anyway, Bea told me that after six months of taking antimicrobial herb supplements she's healthy, finally, after a terrible nine year battle. She said she's also changed her diet. I asked her what the main change was. “I used to love Little Debbie's and ice cream,” she said.

Sugar is bad for our health. Pretty much everyone knows that. So why do we continue to eat it? Well, it's in more foods than you may know, including bread, breakfast cereals, peanut butter, mayonnaise and ketchup. Do you eat microwaveable meals? They're full of added, refined sugars. Why? Sugar is addictive. Giant food corporations know that if they can hook someone on the sweet stuff they've got a steady stream of cash flow from the junk food junkies.

One of sugar's major effects on our bodies is to raise the insulin level. As a result, it suppresses the growth hormones and depresses the immune system. Lyme bacteria feasts on sugar and replicates, while the sugar also destroys the body's natural defenses against disease. Sugar is what to eat if you want to stay real sick. Just ask Bea, who is a healthy survivor of Lyme disease. “Now I understand that sugar feeds the Lyme bacteria,” she told me. “So I don't eat that stuff anymore.”
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Take An Interest In your Health

Headlines. Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh at them or cry. Yesterday's stuck with me. It was like medical news version of the common one we see in every woman's consumer magazine: Doctors Say Exercise and Eating Less leads to Weight Loss. Yesterday's headline was something like: Study Finds that People Who Take an Interest in their Own Health Likely to Heal Faster. Well, duh!

When I brought this up at the dinner table (yes, we ignore the rules about what can and cannot be talked about at dinner around here, and come to think of it, we don't even eat at a table, but never mind), I was reminded that in fact, many people don't take charge of their own healing. Not only that, but in our culture taking on responsibility for your own healing is a revolutionary act, a heroic act. A lot of people expect the doctor to make them better, presto change-o. Take this magic pill. Don't worry that the doctor doesn't even bother, to tell you what it is or what the generic name of it is, what the adverse side effects might be or even how long to continue taking it.

We live in a culture where we're unaccustomed to taking responsibility for our health. But healing, just as all art and acts of creativity, is way too important to be left solely up to the professionals. I love the advice I got from my Naturopath for healing Lyme disease. He recommended gathering a small group of medical advisors and consulting with them for the maximum of quality information. Imagine your healing journey as a road trip, he told me, and these advisors are in the car with you. Who do you choose to have along for the ride?
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