Lyme Disease Research Database Independent reporting on all aspects of Lyme Disease

exercise and 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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Food as medicine

Good food is good for you
A good Lyme-literate doctor will suggest you supplement your treatment with a good diet. This is especially true for those of us with
chronic Lyme symptoms. But when it comes to food, a lot of us do not like to change things up – creatures of habit, unite! However, change may be easier if you understand why it's necessary.

Sometimes it has to hit us below the belt, in the area of the wallet. So think of it this way. The money spent on medicines, herbal supplements, doctor's appointments, and health insurance may be going to waste, if we neglect our diet. The food we eat is also medicine. It will either help build vibrant immune cells, creating strength and energy, or it will bring the body down. Go to your local market and cast your eye over the organic produce aisles. Doesn't it make you feel better, just looking at the brilliant colors and the variety?

Our bodies are nothing short of miraculous. I wish that didn't sound trite, because I truly believe it. Even aging bodies can learn new tricks! Don't be fooled into thinking you can't make some small change, because you have the power to control what goes into your mouth every day. Exercise and a diet of scrumptious, fresh organic foods can speed the healing process of chronic disease, and slow down the aging process. A better diet also contributes to better sleep, which every Lyme patient needs.

Success Stories – Chicken soup for the soul
As the editor of this blog, I often hear amazing stories about someone who turned around a dire situation. The stories contain different elements but they're all about someone who kicked chronic disease.

The other day a woman I train with said that her dad was celebrating his 79th birthday. None of his family had dreamed of that possibility, because his brother and his nephew had died young. The doctors had informed them of the risk, because diabetes “ran in the family.” But her dad, at age 40, had experienced a scare: His beloved brother's early death. Shortly after that terrible wake-up call, he started exercising. He started out walking, then jogging, then began running long distances. Eventually he began working out vigorously every day of the week, running marathons, and pushing the limit of what his doctors said was possible. He also changed his diet, adding veggies and fresh fruit daily, cutting down on red meat, and eliminating sugary treats.

Chicken Soup with Lyme
I also hear stories – many stories – about people with Lyme. Some (more than you might think), are living healthy, post-Lyme lives. I've shared a lot of these on our “Success Stories” audio interviews here on this site. My purpose for sharing is because you are very important to me. I feel like Lyme patients are all part of one big family. We've been through the ringer! I want you to know for certain that healing from Lyme is possible. You know how hard it is to endure the symptoms. I don't need to remind you of that. What I want to make sure you know is that it is entirely possible to remove more of the obstacles to healing. Your body, our bodies, want to heal. And they are completely capable of it. We just need to give them what they need, and take away the roadblocks so they can make progress.

All these stories share a common thread. Someone in a bad way changed their life, simply by making better every-day decisions. And so they changed the outcome of their story.



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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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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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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!
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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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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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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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Readers write about Lyme brain

"Kmart" sent these comments in response to last week's post:

1 - I once lost my truck key on the job (gardener). I had three people (customers), for thirty five minutes, looking all over their house and property for it. I must have checked my pockets thirty times and even flipped out my front pockets like a rabbit. Yes (you all have done this) while just standing in confusion & embarrassment my stomach fluttered & face grew red as I had to suddenly admit that I found my key in my right front pocket while casually just standing there. Oops, my bad. There is still no way to explain lyme brain to others.

2 - Having read through the protocol, how in the heck is someone with stage 3 suppose to remember all that? I believe any attempt (at a protocol) is a good one for fighting Lyme. Seriously, there is no way I could stay on this as I am still looking for my keys!

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Success stories usually, if not always, follow failure. The classic example is learning to ride a bike. If it took falling over nine or ten times before you finally got the balance thing down, than those nine or ten times were more about succeeding than failing.

Healing from Lyme has been sort of like that for me. Starting with getting a diagnosis, which doctors kept getting wrong. I've talked to people for the success stories who said that they went to more than 30, or in some cases more than 40 different doctors before getting a correct diagnosis!

It still makes me shiver to think about the dermatologist who wouldn't even look me in the eye while he was examining my skin rash. I'd brought in a notebook with questions I had jotted down, because I knew I wouldn't be able to remember them unless I wrote them down. The minute I opened it and read my first question, he stopped making eye contact with me! It felt as though he saw me as some sort of weirdo to protect himself against. I absolutely did not feel like I was in the supportive hands of a healer. Of course, it didn't help that I stuttered terribly whenever I tried to talk. He was one of the docs who had prescribed prednisone for my "excema." He was sure he was right. I was sure I was getting worse, not better. At that time I had no clue that the medicine itself was making my disease spread inside my body and brain, quickly rendering me unable to think, talk or keep my balance while walking.

Lyme brain can definitely be funny in retrospect, but I know it's absolutely terrifying when you've got it.

Whether your stories are humorous or scary (or both!), I invite you to share one of yours here. You can either email me directly: ldrd.support@gmail.com or put it in the comments.

All good wishes for healing to every one of you,
Suzanne


P.S. Kmart, I know what you mean about remembering the protocol. I kept notebooks full of schedules for when to take which antibiotic or supplement, to take it before meals, between, whether to take it with water or juice, or put it under my tongue, and how many drops of this and that, when to increase or decrease...It got to where I was either taking a medicine or writing about having taken it. Having Lyme is hard -- but healing from Lyme can be just as tough!
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Interview with Functional Movement Specialist Katherine Dowdney

I'm pro exercise! I never had a regular exercise program until I was healing from Lyme, and its perks and positive effects have been countless. It is one of those amazing gifts that's come from dealing with Lyme and chronic problems.

And, I'm so inspired by CJ Jaffe, Perry Fields, and all of the other athletes and exercise enthusiasts we've interviewed here, who have kicked Lyme and continue to integrate a rigorous exercise program into their schedule of healing.

But when we're talking exercise, just how much is enough? How much is too much? Should you start an exercise program without consulting your doctor or medical adviser? After all, getting stronger and getting well are the goals, not wearing ourselves out.

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk about these issues with Katherine Dowdney, a Functional Movement Specialist with a private practice as an exercise and rehabilitation coach. She describes her experience in working with people who suffer with conditions brought about by chronic illness. She talks about the problems and concerns we all face, such as how to choose a good exercise coach and just how far to push ourselves when we're really sick ora feeling out of balance.

Here is her bio and website:

Katherine Dowdney’s passion for anatomy and movement is evident in her teaching. She enjoys empowering clients to meet their personal fitness and wellness goals. Utilizing a combination of the Pilates method, yoga, traditional weight training, and additional corrective exercise modalities Katherine has a special interest in working with individuals with chronic conditions and pre or post rehabilitation. Katherine is a certified ACE personal trainer, a dual certified Pilates instructor through Peak Pilates and Balanced Body, an E-RYT 200 hour yoga instructor, an NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist, and an AFPA Post Rehab Specialist. She has received training in experiential anatomy, pre/post natal Fusion Pilates, Sadhana Chi yoga, Children’s yoga, and Structural Yoga Therapy. She recently attended an 8-day training in Therapeutic Yoga for Seniors at Duke Integrative Medicine. Her interests are in mindful movement, pain management, and corrective exercise.

Katherine is a founding member of Moving Women Dance Performance Ensemble in Asheville, NC where she choreographs and performs as a modern dancer. Along with dancing and teaching movement science, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Sam, and their dog, Ranger.

Her website is www.blissful-body.com

LDRD members, please listen to the conversation with Katherine.
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Call for Lyme success stories

I know from experience that when you're in the thick of an acute illness such as Lyme, all your energy is spent on getting better. The pain can be so constant and overwhelming that you lose sight of what being healthy is. You might not think you can get there ever again. Sadly, we know that this disease can sometimes take an irreversible tact. You don't have to search far to encounter grim stories of people suffering with Lyme.

However, many people do recover from this profound illness. I recently took a road trip with my significant other, attended a family reunion, and reconnected with friends I cherish. Life is so astonishing sometimes, so precious, that now I have complete days when I totally forget how sick I've been, and what a long, slow climb it was back to a state of health.

I've been collecting Lyme success stories almost from the time I was diagnosed, because I felt strongly that if someone else out there had healed from Lyme, then I could too. My parents brought me up to share good news, so I'm still gathering success stories that others can learn from and be inspired.

Have you recovered from Lyme disease? Are you well on your way to a healthy, post-Lyme life?

People take so many different paths back to living a productive life. Many are able to follow a Lyme-literate doctor's protocol until they're Lyme-free. Many aren't able to afford that luxury, and so they use a combination of protocols and techniques that seem to help. Some are on a strict diet, and they claim that it has helped them walk away from Lyme. Some use herbal therapies and devices such as the rife machine. And considering how bone-crushingly weary Lyme can make us, I'm always impressed by the numbers of people who swear that rigorous physical exercise played a central role in their healing. Many of the people we've interviewed in our Lyme success stories, such as arryl's Lyme success story">Darryl, who races bikes and works as a professional Hollywood stuntman, talk about applying the mental rigor, discipline and intense focus they honed as a competing athlete, to the path of healing.

Walking away from Lyme is something we all desire to do one day. If you've been successful in doing so, please consider sharing your success story with others. You never know when something you say might trigger an idea in someone's head and help them turn their health situation around for good. You won't be telling other people what to do. You'll simply be relating your own experience, which is in itself, a powerful sort of medicine.

Contact me directly for further information about sharing your Lyme success story.


Thank you.
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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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Top US Athlete beats Lyme

From the time she was three years old, Perry Louis Fields has wanted to be the world's fastest runner. Now 30, the US Track and Field competitor says she's training at the top of her game. What makes her athletic success so sublime? Perry's torturous encounter with Lyme disease in 2003, which she says she has now beat.

"I’m not only healthy," says Perry. "I’m healthier than I was before I was bitten (no kidding!). My training and racing proves that. I’m the fastest and strongest I’ve ever been."

Beneath Perry's easygoing persona and her honey-toned Southern accent, she has a fiercely competitive nature. After enduring a miserable four or five month period of powerful antibiotics, she decided to quit the conventional route and devote what little energy she had to researching and finding "the cure," as she calls it. Although her symptoms "made every day a nightmare," she willed herself to begin taking baby steps toward getting back to her goal of running again.

With the dedication and steel determination of a true winner, Perry achieved her dream of not only running, but training as a pro once again.

"What Lance Armstrong did for cancer, I hope to do for Lyme disease. I have sometimes told myself that I wish I had cancer rather than Lyme. Someone with terminal cancer may feel otherwise, but I’m truly upset that the research on this disease is so inconclusive. The treatment for Lyme is inconclusive. It’s like nobody has had any experience with it at all, yet hundreds of thousands of people get it every year (I think that number is more like millions.)"

LDRD members can login and listen to Perry tell her inspiring story about beating Lyme. For Perry's website, please go to beatlyme.com.

Become a LDRD member and listen to dozens of interviews with both Lyme experts and ordinary people like you that struggle with Lyme disease.
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Diet, exercise and sleep

Are you like me, a list-maker? Nothing satisfies like crossing something off your to-do list. Here's a list that I wrote for myself, but I haven't crossed anything off yet because I'm still doing them.

3 areas where you can help yourself while healing from Lyme disease:

1. Diet. Eat only healthy, whole organic foods whenever possible. Choose more fresh veggies, more alkaline foods. Read all packaged food and drink labels before you buy. I know that the mere mention of spaghetti and garlic bread makes you salivate, however, reduce (or eliminate) your intake of pasta and carbohydrates. They break down into sugar in your system. Sugar will feed the Lyme bacteria you're trying so hard to kill. Drink plenty of pure water, it will help you detoxify and stay alert. Drink green tea instead of coffee - you have no tolerance for coffee now anyway.

2. Exercise. Yeah, I know. You're too pooped to pop. Your eyelids suddenly gained five pounds each and came slamming down like little garage doors. However, the top Lyme experts recommend daily exercise...to help increase your energy level. That's right! Run, dance, ride a bike. Walk. Jump on your mini-trampoline. Most Lyme patients feel about as strong as melted butter. Build muscles. You'll gain strength, and being strong will also build your confidence. Unless you're in an acute stage, start sweating. Every Lyme patient tells me that regular exercise makes them feel better, even when they felt so wobbly they could barely manage to drag themselves around the block.

3. Sleep. While you're deeply snoozing, each one of your cells is being repaired and replaced with a new healthy cell. You need more rest than you think. Who cares if you need 10, 11, 12 hours of sleep? It takes what it takes. Go to bed by 10 pm. If you can't sleep, meditate. Meditate anyway. It helps you gain perspective. Then first thing upon awakening, take a shower (dry brush first, to help slough off icky toxins excreted during the night). Brew a cup of hot green jasmine tea. Sip while sitting in the morning sun. Stretch. Yawn. Pet your cat. Hug your significant other. Breathe deeply. Give thanks.

Lyme Expert Interview Series.
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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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