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Jean Reist

Support while detoxing

With all the talk about Swine Flu, there's an abundance of common sense about how to stay healthy making the rounds on the Internet, such as washing your hands regularly and supporting the immune system. Immune support is as central to keeping the flu bug away as it is in healing from Lyme disease. And one important step in keeping healthy is detoxification. Detox is part of the one-two punch in Lyme management (along with antibiotics) that RN Ginger Savely describes in our experts interview series. But what happens when you try to detox too quickly?

Anyone dealing with Lyme is painfully familiar with stressful "Herxheimer Reactions," which occurs when toxins - Lyme bacteria - in the body die off faster than the organs of elimination can handle. Learning how to manage Herxes is important yet tricky business. Essentially experienced as an increase in symptoms, Herxes can include nausea, headaches, brain fog, vertigo or mood swings, bringing more stress to an already stress-loaded system.

Some experts and patients say the Herx just comes with the territory, that it's unfortunately one of the crummy things that Lyme patients must endure in order to get better. However, others claim that painful Herxes are more likely to occur when the organs of elimination lack sufficient support. For example, Jean Reist, RN, claims that the intensity of a Herx can be reduced and in some cases eliminated altogether. How? By supporting the lymph system, an important part of the immune system and a major player in elimination. The lymph must be maintained in order to carry toxins away from the cells. An act as simple as drinking plenty of water each day and routinely jumping on a mini-trampoline can help move the lymph, and reduce the effects of a Herx.

The organs of elimination include the liver, the bowel, kidneys, skin and lungs. Yes, deep breathing, which is used in meditation and yoga practice, is a way to remove toxins from your lungs, so remember to support your body in healing by taking a deep relaxing breath.
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Lyme bugs crave sugar

Lyme bugs love sugar. However, Lyme symptoms may flare if you help yourself to the enticing cookie buffet. Cravings for certain foods, such as holiday desserts, are emotional, not physical. A plate of sugar cookies and a steaming mug of hot cocoa goes so perfectly with gray skies and long winter nights, right? Lyme disease, and any chronic disease, re-educates us about our cravings and appetites. Sugar makes the bugs happy and carbohydrates can increase inflammation. Lyme forces us to reconsider what makes us truly feel good. What foods add value to your healing? What foods subtract from it?

Sometimes we think we're choosing a healthy substitute when we're actually only making the problem worse. Tod Thoring, ND, recommends that you work with not just one doctor on your healing journey, but several. If possible, consider consulting a Lyme-literate nutritionist or naturopath.

Jean Reist, RN, who treats Lyme patients at a Pennsylvania clinic, told me that one of her patients decided he'd quit sugar, although he was addicted to Coca-cola. She'd informed him that his daily habit would keep him from healing, and that was enough to help him quit cold turkey. He got well enough to return to work, so he went back to his construction job. However, he missed his daily fix, so he picked up some Diet Coke and swigged it down.

Within days, his energy was totally drained and he was feeling sick again -- too sick to go back to work. His Lyme symptoms returned. He dragged himself back to Jean's office and told her about switching to Diet Coke. She told him that although it didn't contain sugar, it contained an artificial sweetener called aspartame, which is also sold as NutraSweet. The effects of substitute were even worse than regular sugar.

If strings of Christmas lights and gently falling snow make you want to bake a pumpkin pie, think about the Lyme bugs. They want more sugar -- don't let them have it. Although the herbal sugar substitute stevia is not sanctioned by the FDA as an artificial sweetener, many people use it in place of sugar. Try some in a cup of hot green tea, with a thin slice of fresh ginger. Ginger has long been promoted by herbalists for its overall soothing and warming effects. It may not replace the hot chocolate, but it will help take the chill off the cold winter nights.

Members, please visit the Interviews with Experts page for interviews with Tod Thoring, ND, and Jean Reist, RN.
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Lyme disease symptoms: Is herxing necessary?

Lyme disease symptoms are also referred to as Herxheimer reactions or herxing. Would you herx if you discovered you didn't need to? This is a question that Jean Reist, R.N., asks her patients to take to heart. Jean, who has treated hundreds of Lyme sufferers through her PA clinic, Journey to Wellness, has discovered that when Lyme patients tend to proper lymph system drainage they don't experience the stress of a herx. Jean discusses her findings in an audio interview as part of the Interviews with Experts series on the LDRD.

Herxheimer reactions, the healing crisis experienced by Lyme sufferers as a result of a die-off of Lyme bacteria, are a major source of stress for Lyme patients. Simply put, the more effective the medicine in killing the spirochetes, the greater the herx. Killing Lyme bacteria is a curious business. Agonizing pain and the recurrence of symptoms is often used as a measure for the dosage. In general the rule is: If you're herxing to a great degree, back off on the medicine. If you're not herxing at all, you may not be taking a high enough dosage. Each patient will react differently to treatment, and with a wide variety of alternative treatments available, it may take some time and experimentation before you find the right dosage.

Proper lymph drainage can facilitate the healing of Lyme disease and help reduce or even eliminate Lyme disease symptoms altogether. At the first sign of a herx, Reist advises, drink copious amounts of water, exercise, and reach for a detoxifying tonic herb such as Burbur or Parsley. Each organ in the body has a lymph "neck," which is where blockage can occur. Therefore, it's very helpful for the patient to work with a health care practitioner who can help you locate the blockage. The next step is to work on unblocking, which can be achieved in a number of ways, Reist says.

You can hear the entire interview as a member, join now and listen.
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