Sign in with Google+ Sign in with LinkedIn
lyme disease doctor

Diet & herbs in healing Lyme

When you want to know what to eat (and drink!) when healing Lyme, ask an expert.

rebecca-snow
My recent guest—nutritionist, herbalist, Lyme expert, and educator Rebecca Snow, MS—shares a lot of fascinating facts about foods, herbs, and how to start thinking about using nutrition to really get the most out of your healing protocol.

Rebecca’s clients often come to see her for diet and lifestyle support, particularly those who are already seeing a Lyme literate doctor and may also be taking antibiotics.

I wanted to get her opinion on herbal protocols and their role in healing Lyme.

Unlike some of the more conventional Lyme experts I’ve interviewed, Rebecca thinks “there’s probably too much focus on antibiotics in the Lyme-literate community.”

She has a good point.

“There is evidence that chronic symptoms of Lyme may be infection,” she adds, “but they may also be related to an auto-inflammatory response.”

A more effective approach than one that simply applies antibiotics to healing Lyme would include diet, nutrition, and the use of herbal and homeopathic supplements.

Lifestyle factors play an important role as well. And one of the most important of these is sleep. Are you getting enough shut-eye?

Hippocrates, as Rebecca reminds us, is considered the father of modern medicine. Sleep was his go-to prescription for illness. Many of us today go without enough of this precious healing resource.

Rebecca says that because Lyme is an infection-triggered illness, it is more complex than simply the infection itself.

And because of that complexity, looking farther afield than simple antibiotics is a good idea.

"In my experience, herbs and antimicrobials, or antibiotics, are not as strong as prescriptions antibiotics.

However, because I think Lyme is more complex, I mean, it’s an infection-triggered disease process, and I think that disease process is more complex than just the infection itself, that herbs have a lot to offer,” she adds.

Read the full article

Listen to the interview with Rebecca Snow, MS.


Rebecca Snow, MS, CNS, LDN, RH(AHG) is an herbalist, nutritionist, educator, and Lyme expert. Based in Maryland, she sees clients via phone/Skype as well as teaches workshops and mentors new practitioners.

Rebecca has a Master of Science in Herbal Medicine, and takes an integral approach to helping her clients heal from Lyme and other chronic diseases.



http://rebeccasnow.com

Comments

Herbs and plants for a healing diet

Dr. Christine Horner was once on the clean-up crew. As a board certified plastic surgeon, she specialized in breast reconstruction surgery for cancer patients.

And she noticed something odd.

Each year, her patients were younger and younger. Breast cancer was an epidemic.

When her own mother died of the disease, she knew it was time to step back and look into the reasons all these women were getting cancer in the first place. Instead of putting them back together following the illness, was there something that could be done to avert it?

What she discovered can benefit everyone sick with Lyme disease.

She became convinced after her research led to the 5,000 year old teachings of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic healing works on the principle that our body has innate intelligence. When our bodies are in balance, that inner intelligence keeps us healthy.

Imbalance caused by illness, such as cancer, Lyme bacterial infection, or unhealthy lifestyle and diet disrupts our innate healing intelligence.

I’ll have what she’s having
While learning about Ayurveda, Dr. Horner made a surprising discovery. Following a luxurious spa treatment and detoxification process called panchakarma, or “five actions,” she looked in the mirror. Her face appeared ten years younger. She had a renewed sense of zest and vitality. In fact, she had never felt better in her life. On fire to put this new discovery to practice, she studied like mad to get certified in Ayurveda.

Schooled in Western medicine and having worked for years as a surgeon, it is important to Dr. Horner that everything she promotes is research-based. Ayurvedic healing is, and it also has a history of development — millions of people experimenting and refining it, over thousands of years. Ayurveda literally translates as “life-knowledge.”

Currently in the West, there is an explosion of empirical research into the natural approaches to health through the uses of herbs and plants for healing, as well as lifestyle factors. The research bodes well, unless you are one of those vegetarians who only eats French fries.

Lyme disease patients on standard antibiotics can also benefit from incorporating some or all of Dr. Horner’s advice. A healthy diet and lifestyle includes many factors, and among the most crucial is eating a varied diet of organic fruits and veggies.

Eat your medicine
“Eating a plant-based diet is considered the healthiest type of diet around,” says Dr. Horner. “Not only do plants and herbs contain vitamins, minerals, nutrients and all the other things we know are good for maintaining our health, they also contain hundreds of phytons.”

Phytons are plant chemicals, powerful natural medicines. Some of them even work exactly like chemotherapy. Pharmaceutical companies study the plants, create a drug that works the same way, and then tell the public that plant medicine doesn’t work.

Ayurveda says that there are fundamental truths about human beings, and that the basic rule-book says that, “if you follow these rules you’ll bring your body into balance. And that balance enlivens your body’s inner healing intelligence,” says Dr. Horner.

Lyme infection obstructs the balance your body is trying to create. So the idea is to do as much as you can to bring it to balance. We’re all different and in Ayurveda there are three doshas and nine different body constitutions. Overall though, the general rules apply across the board.

Strengthening your body’s immune system is the key to regaining balance and good health. The immune system needs a variety of veggies, so vary the produce you consume. Alternating supplements on a weekly or monthly basis can also help insure your maximum benefit.

Two herbs are better than one
Supplements have synergistic effects. When paired with another supplement there is a multiplication of the healing effect. Pharmaceutical drugs do not work this way.

For example, green tea and turmeric taken together are many times more effective than when taken alone. Each of these have antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties which work better when put together.

Dr. Christine Horner has more energy than many teenagers I know. I asked her what she puts in her morning smoothies. She rotates between fruits and green smoothies, and also tosses in a comprehensive list of healthy supplements.

Along with plant medicine, she also talked about the vital importance of having practices such as mediation, exercise, and radical forgiveness. Nurture your spirit, especially if you are dealing with Lyme or any serious illness. Lifestyle factors are as important as eating a healthy diet.

For further information please go to drchristinehorner.com

Podcast

Click on podcast to listen to my 60-minute interview with the effervescent Dr. Christine Horner. She’s got more energy than many of the teenagers I work with. She is a wealth of knowledge and has much more to say than I could include in this post. She also suggests ways to diminish the side effects of menopause.

If you like what you see here, please consider signing up for our newsletter, or become an LDRD member for full access to our complete series of audio interviews. Learn from listening to Lyme-literate doctors and other medical experts.

Breathe deep, eat your greens, and be well!



Comments

Lyme treatment choices: Do other people's perceptions matter?

Other people matter, this much is clear. We're social critters who need love and feedback from our peeps as much as we need food and water. But when it comes to our choice of Lyme treatment, can other people's opinions affect the way we perceive ourselves?

Look at a bottle of water, then look at a cup of water. The water conforms to the contours of each vessel. People, largely composed of water, are much the same. We tend to take the shape of the environment or community in which we find ourselves.

Other people's ideas of us have an impact on us. I don't mean to say that they control or dominate us (unless we let them). I mean their opinions and beliefs tend to influence how we perceive ourselves, and fit ourselves into our environment. The closer or more fully developed the relationship, the deeper can be the impact of their opinion of you, whether it is spoken or unsaid. We don't grow, develop, or heal (or become whole) in a vacuum.

Their feeling about a particular Lyme treatment may differ from ours. For example, imagine a scenario in which one person is eager to try treatment with an ILADS doctor, or begin alternative therapy, or an herbal protocol, yet her spouse has a low opinion of alternative medicine. He thinks she needs to stick with their IDSA doctor and go with conventional antibiotics. It may not be an easy decision to make.

We need feedback from people we feel close to, and we hope they support us. It's natural and necessary to seek support and emotional resonance. When someone in your life accepts and loves you unconditionally, hangnails, bad-math skills and all, you feel safe. Intimacy is psychological, physical, and emotional sanctuary, and healing can commence from that place.

Psychologists who study how personalities develop are currently revising their conclusions. The new thinking is that people's dispositions are not fixed, but more like a psychological language that can be picked up through immersion. Other people influence us.

When Lyme symptoms linger or come back long after the antibiotics are finished, the problems are more complicated. Social support systems, friends and family members, may be less available for the person who hasn't rallied quickly back to health.

Lymies do their best to fit in, be part of the norm, but chronic pain or exhaustion makes it difficult to be chipper, or even fulfill basic obligations. Even acting normal can tire out a person who is operating on insomnia and anxiety. Can you count the times you stuffed your pain and faked an answer to the perennial “how are you” with a glib, “fine thanks, you?” It's completely understandable. It can feel incredibly lonely and frustrating, like nobody wants to hear that you are still battling Lyme, especially when it seems that it never gets better.

And from the outside, understanding a chronically ill person's dilemma is not easy. A person with Lyme disease is in pain, and it's often invisible. One of the weird downsides is that people with Lyme often don't look sick. No one can see their bad headache, racing heart, or aching knees. “You look fine,” friends and family members will say. “You must be feeling better.” Beyond this, there is also a cultural undercurrent at work, the subtle shaming of a person who does not act chipper and perky, or at least look cheerful.

We all have many facets. Recognize that other people's vision of you – your uniqueness, depth, and your quirks – does have some impact on your vision of yourself. Others are, in a very real sense, mirrors to our growth and healing processes. This includes your doctor or medical team. So who is your support system, and what do they believe about your approach to healing? The only one who can influence a change in their opinion of you, is you. It's worth paying attention to.
Comments

No Panacea for Lyme but diet is critical

Do you have a Lyme diet that you swear by? I find my own diet morphing to include almost no gluten, and I do feel better. Gluten-free labels are popping up everywhere and it seems to be a trend with legs. Even the mainstream grocery stores seem to offer more choices every day, and recently, several of my friends have casually mentioned how much better they feel on a GF diet. A recent story in Salon.com claims that only about one percent of the US population can't tolerate gluten and yet one-quarter percent is steering clear of it. How important is gluten-free food in a Lyme diet? Do your symptoms get worse when you eat it? It makes me feel bloated and icky, but I've only recently noticed that.

For women reaching menopause, Lyme symptoms can blend in really irritating ways with the Seven Menopause dwarves, as Suzanne Somers calls them: Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Bloaty, Sleepy, Forgetful, and Psycho, aka
All-Dried-Up.

Somers promotes gluten-free foods and hormones to help manage the Seven dwarves. I write a fair amount about diet and good nutrition because I've seen firsthand that a diet full of nutrients and whole fresh foods is crucial to the healing process. Adding fresh vegetables and a modicum of fruit, loads of greens, lean proteins, and entirely cutting out sugar has benefited my healing process more than I can say – even though the internal medicine
doctor I saw while in an acute stage of Lyme declared that my “diet had nothing to do with it.”
I'm here to tell you that it does. It's not the only thing, but it's one of the things that we can control, change, modify and design to promote our own healing.

Bear in mind the distinction between
eliminating illness and living a life of wellness. That's an important difference, because you aren't always going to be sick, and you aren't always going to be healing from Lyme. Some day, I hope very soon, there will come a moment when you will feel better. You'll feel like your old self again! The moment might slip away, but it will come back. And then the intervals between the good moments and the bad moments get smaller. You find yourself re-engaging with life again. You still relate to people suffering with Lyme, yet don't define yourself as being sick anymore. There'll come a time when the brain-fog will burn off for good, like a hazy morning sky before a clear day.

This recognition that you are well again might happen in one moment. Or it may happen, as it does for a lot of us, over a long period of time. I think of it as emerging out of the ocean after swimming a great distance from some other land mass. You aren't lifted out, you don't suddenly jump out, but instead you walk slow-mo through the water towards the beach.

You'll be a new person, the same essential you but changed forever, because that's just what happens to those of us who get swept away on this journey of illness and healing. And when you emerge and know that you have, that's the moment to set a course for a life lived with vibrant presence, vigorously dedicated to wellness.
There is no panacea for Lyme, but then, there are no panaceas for anything! Even your Lyme doctor can't perform miracles. We can't fix everything with a
Lyme diet. Personally, I found that sticking with a diet of whole, organic, fresh foods and eliminating sugar and now gluten, has given me a real boost toward the shore. Stick with it. Never give up! 

All of us want to get better, and so many people with Lyme are good people, deeply invested in helping each other. With that in mind, I want to suggest that we follow these two rules:  

  • First, heal well. 
  • Second, through diet, physical exercise, attitude, work, relationships and in your spiritual or religious practice: live a life dedicated to wellness.



Comments

Trust your doctor. Or not?

Anyone in the medical profession deserves heartfelt respect. Most of us honor these men and women for serving humanity in the most fundamental way: Caring for the sick. But what do you do when your own doctor, the saint with a compassionate heart, won't listen, and you know something is wrong? This frustrating experience is common among people with Lyme disease.

Many people, doctors included, believe that a bull's eye rash is the definitive Lyme symptom. In fact, up to two-thirds of people infected with Lyme never develop a rash. When I say doctors I mean doctors from all fields. That includes GPs, Infectious Disease specialists, Neurologists, Dermatologists, Hematologists, Cardiologists, you name it.

  • It is a mistake to assume that your family doctor (or your dentist, for that matter) knows anything about Lyme disease or common Lyme co-infections, such as Babesia, Bartonella, or Ehrlichia. They will most likely tell you with some degree of confidence that Lyme is rare, hard to get, easy to cure, or that it simply doesn't exist where you live. This is old thinking, but you may be surprised how many people (doctors too) are not educated about Lyme, yet possess strong opinions about it.

Tick bites can occur without anyone noticing. They do not hurt. You may have never seen a tick on your skin, or you might have been told the ticks in your region don't carry Lyme. You might remember a tick bite, but you never developed the bull's eye rash, and wrote off the other symptoms as a bad flu, a touch of arthritis, or a passing case of tachycardia.

If you are symptomatic, and have been told that you don't have Lyme but you strongly suspect it, have your blood tested through the IGeneX laboratory. Obtain a second, third, or fourth opinion. Most people who are now successfully overcoming Lyme will tell you they saw 10, 20, 30 doctors or more before they found help.

In my own case, several Infectious Disease doctors I consulted with were quickly convincing themselves that I must have multiple sclerosis. Every cell in body and mind knew with absolute certainty that they were wrong. During that period, I had my blood tested at IGeneX, so I knew that they were wrong. These doctors saw the test results with their own eyes and did not trust them. However, I was in no shape to refute them. At the time I was extremely weak, unable to articulate my thoughts, speak clearly, and was essentially wasted from a horrible full-body rash (not the bull's eye, which actually might have been helpful in terms of their diagnoses).

Prior to my IGeneX test, the expensive dermatologist I consulted had prescribed Prednisone, and taking it (I later learned) was possibly the worst thing I could have done. The steroids explosively multiplied the spirochetes and drove them deeper into my body and brain. Finally I found a naturopath who believed my test results and had treated several patients who had Lyme and co-infections. He was my saving grace. He was hard to find, because I entered this illness naively, believing that all doctors knew best. I had no clue that I'd have to fight them for my life.

You may love and trust your family doc. And indeed, he or she may be saintly and have a heart of gold. But it's your life we're talking about. If your intuition is nagging you to get another opinion, listen to that inner voice. Your intuition is a highly sensitive and intelligent guide, designed to nag for purposes such as this.

The good news is there are educated Lyme doctors who can help you. However, you might have to make an effort to find them. In addition to IGeneX, check out these two new tests, the DNA test and the antigen test.
Comments

Clashing views at the IDSA hearing

Thursday's day-long IDSA hearing in Washington DC offered a fascinating glimpse into the opposing perspectives on Lyme disease treatment. Scattered into the testimony were flashes of tension and emotion. If you crave power point presentations, it was right up your alley. It was also an exercise in stamina for the participants. The entire hearing will be archived online for one year at idsociety.org.

As the hearing proceeded, I was most interested in the tension developing between the presenters' testimonies. For example, Eugene Shapiro, MD, a Lyme disease specialist at Yale University, stated that he thinks it is very important to engage in additional research about how to help persons suffering from medically unexplained symptoms. He also stated that in his view, there is "no scientific justification for changing current IDSA recommendations related to duration of antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease."

Then came Brian Fallon, MD, of Columbia Medical School. Notably, Dr Fallon began his presentation by stating that he is not a member of either IDSA or ILADS. He's a psychiatrist belonging to the American Psychiatric Association. In direct opposition to Dr Shapiro's statement, Dr Fallon referred to a blind study in which repeated antibiotic treatment has been found to be effective, yet is not recommended due to the risks. He also made it clear that repeated antibotics have been shown to be effective for the fatigue associated with Lyme disease. However, not for pain or any of the other symptoms related to Lyme.

Dr Fallon suggested that doctors could approach this risk factor by talking to patients about the risks. Discussing the risks of medications is something, he says, doctors do every day. He also mentioned that the testing has only been done on two specific antibiotics, and added that it might be a mistake to make recommendations based on those tests about antibiotics in general.

The most emotional moment of the hearing (that I saw) occurred when Dr Ken Liegner, ILADS member, showed a video clip of his patient Vicki Logan from June 22, 2001. Vicki had sought all kinds of treatment, according to Dr Liegner, in trying to deal with what he reminded the panel is still to be considered a "formidable pathogen." As the result of a misdiagnoses, she had been given coricosteroids early in her treatment. After all her treatment, spirochetes were found in her pericardium (the thin membrane that surrounds the heart).

The video was evidently recorded as Vicki lay dying in a hospital bed. She is so weak with advanced Lyme disease that you can barely make out the words as she says, "I hope that what happened to me will benefit others who wind up in the same situation." She also had words of praise for Dr Liegner, telling him on-camera that without his help she wouldn't even have lived as long as she did. It was a tearful moment for me.

I'm curious about your opinion. Does your doctor (or doctors) talk to you about the risks involved in the treatment options for Lyme disease?
Comments

Find a Lyme doctor near you


Q: What should I do? I've had Lyme disease symptoms, but the time for early treatment has elapsed.

A: Contact a Lyme literate medical doctor near you. Please go to the Lyme Disease Association doctor referrals page.

Once you're on the LDA website, click on the link for "doctor referrals." Register using your email address. Once you've done so, follow the simple directions to find a doctor near you. The process doesn't take long and the directions are easy to follow. If you need a Lyme doctor, I urge you to find one as soon as possible.

You'll be asked whether you'd prefer a doctor who belongs to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS). Keep in mind that Infectious disease doctors (IDSA) may not have the knowledge it takes to treat Lyme disease, especially when it has gone beyond the early stages. Infectious disease doctors may also lack the experience that ILADS specialists can offer in diagnosing and treating Lyme.

ILADS member and Registered Nurse, Ginger Savely, has diagnosed and treated over one thousand patients with Lyme symptoms. She is confident that with treatment, you can recover from Lyme disease.

Many experts agree that if Lyme is left untreated, or if it goes under-treated, the disease can be debilitating and even cause serious threats to health and well-being.

If you need help, please use the link above to find a doctor who knows how to diagnose and treat Lyme now.

And meantime, please take advantage of the work we've been doing over the past few years, collecting Lyme Success Stories. Listen to the Success Stories here on our website. Many of them are available for free. All we ask is that you sign up for our newsletter in order to hear them. LDRD members, who help make our work here possible, have access to many more stories, and we're adding new ones all the time. These people are so strong and enthusiastic, I love listening to them. They hail from all walks of life -- young, not-so-young, men, women and children. They will help you find the inner strength and confidence you need at this point. Some of them have specific information about how they healed from Lyme. They talk about how they found their Lyme doctors, they tell which medicines they took, and some describe their nutritional plans, exercise routines, and more.

When we're sick, we need encouragement. We need to hear from other people who've been down the same road. Nurse Ginger Savely told me, during our interview, that she fully believes that people can get better, when given the right treatment, even if they've suffered with Lyme symptoms for many, many years. She sees it happening every day in her San Francisco clinic.
Comments

ILADS to train more doctors

As you are probably all too well-aware, we have a desperate need for more Lyme disease specialists. Driving or flying thousands of miles to see a Lyme literate doctor is not a luxury that most of us can afford.

According to this article in MediLexicon, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) has started a new training program to teach more doctors how to diagnose and treat chronic Lyme disease. With financial assistance from the New York-based Turn the Corner Foundation, the program aims to train 100 doctors over the next five years.

"With more than an estimated 200,000 of cases annually, Lyme disease has become the leading epidemic of our time," said Dr. Daniel Cameron, ILADS board president and internal medicine physician. "We need more physician-scientists who will be the future leaders in the treatment of Lyme and associated diseases."

Many physicians are not aware of the complexities of tick-borne diseases, and patients with Lyme symptoms are too often misdiagnosed, under treated or simply dismissed. The disease now known in the medical community as the Great Imitator can be a superb mimic of a hundred other conditions, especially if it hasn't been treated correctly when in the early stage. This is due to the complex nature of the Lyme bacteria, which has the capacity to hide from the body's immune system in order to protect itself. Doctors who are trained to recognize and treat Lyme symptoms will help increase awareness of the disease.

The ninth annual ILADS 2008 conference will be held on October 18-19 in San Francisco. Entomologist Willie Burgdorfer, who discovered the Lyme bacteria we know as Borrelia burgdorferi or Bb, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker. Several hundred physicians from across the globe will be in attendance. For Lyme researchers and medical specialists who treat Lyme patients, the conference offers an opportunity to collaborate and learn about each others' work.
Comments

How to find a Lyme doctor

Currently, there are two standards of treatment for Lyme disease. If you have Lyme symptoms, or suspect you may have Lyme, please contact a Lyme literate medical doctor, or LLMD. Go to the Lyme Disease Association doctor referrals page.

You'll need to register using your email address, and follow the simple directions to find a doctor near you. It doesn't take long and it's easy to do. If you need a Lyme specialist, we urge you to find one soon.

Infectious disease doctors (IDSA) may not have knowledge of Lyme disease, and may lack the experience that ILADS specialists can offer in diagnosing and treating Lyme. ILADS member Ginger Savely, RN, has treated over a thousand patients suffering with Lyme symptoms. She says "you can get better!"

If Lyme is left untreated it can be debilitating. The good news is you can get better. Find a doctor who knows how to diagnose and treat Lyme now.
Comments