Sign in with Google+ Sign in with LinkedIn
Integral healing

Acupuncture for healing Lyme


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Join the LDRD and listen to the interview





Comments

Fight Lyme from every angle

Lyme is a multi-systemic disease, which means it can affect all the systems in the body, including the brain. Many people discover that Lyme symptoms must be treated from as many angles as possible. But how can we be certain we’re hitting them all?  

These four angles represent the fundamental perspectives that arise in any illness, in fact these four angles are always present for everyone, healthy as well as ill:
  • Physical state
  • Mental state
  • Cultural views
  • Social systems


Consider the way these fit together in your life. For now, let’s talk about the first two, because it’s easy to see how they work together, although they differ in one crucial way. You can see one, but not the other.

Conventional Lyme protocols treat the physical body -- your physical symptoms. That’s one angle. Even if your doctor uses alternative medicine, for example, prescribing herbal tinctures instead of conventional antibiotics, he is still addressing the physical symptoms. And as Lyme symptoms vary from person to person, your doctor might be primarily prescribing treatment to address your arthritis, while also treating a different patient for Lyme fatigue and rash.

Conventional medicine emphasizes treatment of the physical state with good reason. The physical body is what we see. It’s easy to see many symptoms or their effects, such as the sudden wince of someone suffering with arthritic pain. Many illnesses and conditions can and should be treated primarily from this one angle. You break a leg, you go to an orthopedic doctor.

But what about the mental state?
People with Lyme disease often have the experience of seeming normal to our friends and family members even though we know that inside, something is off. Very off.  They may declare “but you don’t look sick.” They may not be able to tell from the outside, but our inner view could be garbled and fuzzy, and it can vary from day to day or depending on the medicines we take. I used to have the odd feeling that I was somehow living underwater, just a few inches from the surface, so close but so far away from normal. It was weird to think that people thought of me as “okay,” because I knew I wasn’t quite.

Integrative physicians, in contrast to conventional doctors, are in the business of addressing the mental state in addition to the physical. How do they accomplish this? For starters, they talk to their patients and they listen. They ask how they feel. Patients may be asked to guess at what they think the problem is, and they are generally encouraged to play an active role in their own treatment.

These patients typically feel gratified for having been listened to and taken seriously. Doctors who listen are thought of as open-minded by their patients. Instead of simply being poked and prodded and treated like a slab of meat, patients feel respected and even energized by sessions with their doctor. Energetic exchanges or meaningful conversations can contribute to a patient’s mental health, leaving them feeling optimistic about the future of their state of physical health. That’s two angles.

In the next post, I’ll discuss the third and fourth perspectives and explore the ways in which they contribute to the whole picture of healing from Lyme.

Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s why:

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

Four dimensions of medicine and why all four are important

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

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

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

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

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

A Holistic Approach To Treating Lyme


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All good wishes to you my friend.
Comments

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.
Comments

Healing Lyme Naturally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments

Matthew Wood tells how teasel works

I feel great! It could be the sunshiny weather, or the fact that I am not Lymie anymore, having survived a recent herx. But I think what really lifted my spirits was talking with herbalist Matthew Wood, about the effectiveness of the herb teasel on Lyme and co-infections. I got a major energy boost from listening to him describe the way teasel works. After our conversation I immediately went to Amazon and ordered his book, The Book of Herbal Wisdom: Using Plants as Medicines which has a comprehensive chapter all about this strong herbal medicine. I can't wait to learn more about it.

Teasel is considered a common weed that can frequently be found growing alongside highways. It is not an herbal antibiotic. Matthew explains that instead of killing the bacteria itself, it actually changes the environment in the body in order to engage the body's own capabilities to kill off Lyme bacteria. By warming the cells and muscles, it invites the Lyme bacteria into the bloodstream, where the body can then detox.

The detox or herx reaction from teasel is apparently a force to be reckoned with. In Matthew's experience, people using it as a part of Lyme treatment notice this reaction starting in about the second week of use. Only a very few drops of this powerful herbal tincture can cause reactions. He is well-known in herbalist circles for recommending low dosages, and tells about a woman who called him after treatment with the happy news that she could tell the teasel was working at a very deep level of healing.

Matthew's latest book was co-written with Wolf D. Storl. Wolf is a German man who writes about healing himself of Lyme disease using teasel, in Healing Lyme Disease Naturally: History, Analysis, and Treatments. It is due out from Amazon in April and can be pre-ordered.

Matthew lives and practices in Minnesota, and teaches about herbal wisdom all around the world. He is a Registered Herbalist and holds a Master of Science degree from the Scottish School of Medicine at the University of Wales.

LDRD members, please login to access interview.
Comments

Darryl is back--Listen to his success story

Pro bike racer Darryl is counting the days to an upcoming race in April. Twenty-one months of hardcore antibiotic treatment are now behind him, including IV Rocephin, Zithromax and a go-round of Flagyl and Mepron last summer. 
 
Since this new chapter of life began, Darryl counts among his athletic successes the "Beach and Back" fun bike race, a twenty-six mile, grueling uphill bike course that kept him "in the saddle" for four-and-a-half hours. I don't know about you, but I can hardly stay seated for more than one hour, and that's without peddling of course, without having to stretch and take water breaks. You can hear the surprise in his voice, and the satisfaction at his accomplishment as he describes the effort it took to finish that ride. 
 
Darryl's impressive athletic achievements are no accident. A self-described "numbers guy," he has long been a devout record keeper, tracking his heart rate and other bodily systems with the eagle eye of a master coach. In fact, he is a coach, and takes his role seriously. A handful of Lyme patients have been lucky enough to come into Darryl's orbit, and he helps keep them on track with their Lyme-related needs. Knowing the hell that awaits someone with a positive diagnosis of Lyme disease, he aims to mitigate the bureaucratic and other various challenges that await them. 
 
Some of Darryl's key points for beating Lyme:
 
Be a warrior. Don't allow anything to stop you from seeking treatment. Darryl saw 35 doctors before receiving a positive diagnosis for Lyme. He is passionate about standing up for yourself in the face of stubborn insurance company policies. His advice when your insurance company refuses to pay for tests and/or treatment that you and your doctor know are necessary? Appeal, and stay with it. Do not give up the fight. If you can't do the fighting, get someone who can fight for you until you can. 
 
Be organized and monitor your progress. Keep your medical files together in one place. Statistics such as test results, enzyme counts, heart rate, weight and the dates of measurement are important, and so are their fluctuations. I love this--Darryl uses spreadsheets to track his numbers. Why didn't I think of that? Carefully monitor your progress. Keeping track of meds, supplements and foods on a spreadsheet is a great idea too. 
 
Put yourself first. We hardly even need to mention this one. While it seems like such an obvious point, it is nevertheless quite difficult for a lot of people to pull this one off. Are you the main caretaker for a busy family? Find a way to take time for yourself every single day. Get enough sleep. It takes whatever it takes to get well. Your family might have to adjust, but rest assured they'll be overwhelmed with relief when you get better. 
 
And finally, exercise, exercise, exercise. That's a direct quote. Even Darryl's mom (who also has Lyme) rides the bike he gave her indoors, in front of the telly. Do what you can to sweat out the toxins every day. Build muscle, which will help your immune system build strength. Darryl addresses this whole issue of exercise with compassion for those of us who suffer with crushing fatigue. He's been there too. 
 
The really, really great news? Darryl's better! 
 
Get your water bottle, jump on your stationary bike, hop onto your mini-trampoline and put on your headphones. Listen to Darryl's interview here. 
 
Listen to the entire interview with Darryl for free!

Podcast - This is a long interview, so it may take awhile to load, please be patient.
Comments

Healing Lyme Disease with Art

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

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

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

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

Herbal protocols for Lyme

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

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

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?
Comments