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tick bite

Diatomaceous Earth--Guard against tick bites

Prevent tick bites
While I was researching ways to guard against tick bites, such as rubbing your skin with clove, tea tree, peppermint oil or other essential oils, a reader wrote to tell me about food-grade Diatomaceous Earth.

This is not the same Diatomaceous Earth that we used to mix into the pool filter. That DE is laden with chemicals.

I had never heard of “food-grade” DE, which is said to be safe to consume. I’m skeptical, because in anecdotal research it is referred to as something of a panacea, curing everything from hot flashes to cancer.

Obviously, not one, single supplement can do everything.

DE kills fleas and gnats
But what can it do?
Is it all hype?

Not all of it.
My friend Stephanie uses it to kill fleas. If you’ve ever experienced the hell of a flea infestation, that’s worth a whole lot.

And I’ve used it successfully myself to kill gnats when they threatened to overtake my house. Mixed a tablespoon or two into the topsoil of the houseplants.

So I’ve seen it kill off gnats and fleas without harming pets and children. That’s a good sign. It can be rubbed into your pet's skin to help guard against tick and flea bites.
Caveat: DE is not fit for breathing. Take care that your pet's nose, mouth and respiratory passages are protected during application, and apply it when outside in fresh air.

85% Silica
Diatomaceous Earth is mostly silica. 85% and up. The rest is made up of additional minerals.

The way it kills tiny insects is by tearing into their exoskeleton and dehydrating them.
Drying them to death.

You’ve seen those tiny packets of silica that are used in packaged goods such as dried foods, clothing, toys, and all sorts of consumer goods. The reason silica is effective is because of its dehydrating ability.

It sucks the moisture out of whatever it’s packed into.

When consumed, it is said, DE offers the benefit of nourishing the body with silica and cleansing the colon of parasites, molds, bacteria and other scum in general that is contributing to a lack of energy and all manner of illness.

Why should silica matter to Lyme patients?

First, silica is what the body needs to generate collagen.

Second, Lyme bacteria are famous for eating the collagen out of our joints and skin. Our knees, Dr. Cowden once told me, are nothing but fine-dining collagen restaurants for the Borrelia bacteria.

So is it safe to consume DE?
Because if it is, I want to know. It could not only help cleanse the colon of all the bad stuff, it could also restore the damage done to our joints and skin (and nails and hair).

I’m in!! But…

My first instinct is to avoid taking it, simply because I wouldn’t want to stir up a major herx. Anything that changes the stasis of the gut is likely to do so.

Ask your Lyme literate doctor
If you are considering trying it, please first ask your doctor(s) about it. Let me know what they say.

I’ll post about DE again, once I find a qualified medical expert to offer scientific evidence that food-grade DE is helpful. Especially if it might help anyone who suffers with Lyme and its co-infections.

Many Lyme patients are dealing with immune-system challenges such as an imbalance of gut flora and fauna, a direct result of using pharmaceutical antibiotics.

Leaky gut syndrome
According to Dr. Lee Cowden, it’s often a case of the cure being worse than the illness itself. Pharmaceutical antibiotics punch holes in the gut lining, causing leaky bowel syndrome (IBS) and other problems that may be very difficult to cure.

Center of the immune system
The gut is center of the immune system. In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s called the dantian, a.k.a. the sea of qi (pronounced chee). In Japanese it is called the hara.

The story goes that qi, or jing, is the energy that sustains life. It supplies the rootedness and vitality required for healthy life to develop. When the dantian is unhealthy, from poor diet and nutrition to lack of fresh oxygen, the person will be sick and drained of energy.

In traditional Chinese medicine, qi gong practice helps restore and maintain the energy flow throughout the body and mind with deep, rhythmic breathing and slow physical movement.

So it follows that cleansing one’s colon would also help to restore one’s health and vital energy.

Food-grade DE for humans?

I you are thinking about giving food-grade DE a try, be sure to heed the disclaimers and warnings.

The FDA has not weighed in on this stuff. They haven’t tested or approved it for human or animal consumption. Therefore, DE may have unknown consequences or contraindications. Buyer beware.




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Symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs

Lyme in dogs

Our family adopted a two-year old.

She’s an 11-pound cuddle-bug with a smidgen of sass and a lust for green beans.

The adoption process included a full medical checkup, a spay, and followup exam.

Everything looked great.

Everything, except our little doggy had tested positive for Lyme disease. In her early life, before her first owner abandoned her, she had never been given tick preventatives.

When I saw that she’d tested for Lyme I slightly panicked.

The adoption was already a done deal. And I wasn’t about to back out because of Lyme. If anyone understood the pain and confusion of Lyme, I figured, it was me. We were a perfect match.

When I asked if she had any symptoms, the foster mama clucked reassuringly. No signs, no symptoms.

The foster mom takes in 50 dogs a year. “About 5 of them have NOT tested positive for Lyme,” she said.

She doesn’t consider it a problem. But because they were located in Virginia, the vet started her on Doxy and administered a Lyme vaccination before the adoption.


All pets can get Lyme

“I didn’t even know dogs could get Lyme,” said more than one of our dog-owning friends.

They can.

Our pets are exposed to ticks—deer ticks, dog-ticks, many types—whenever they’re outside. We humans wear insect repellent but we know that it varies in efficacy. It’s very important to protect our animal friends with products such as Heartgard and Nexgard.

Contact with ticks is especially likely in deep woods, but we and our pets can pick up an infected tick anywhere rodents and other carriers might pass.

Including your own backyard.

Unless you are the owner of a blue-tailed skink, http://www.anapsid.org/lyme/sceloporus.html, your pet is not immune.

Cats, horses, ferrets, parrots and other critters bitten by an infected tick are vulnerable to Lyme disease. However, just as with Lyme in humans, much about the disease in dogs is controversial.

Unfortunately, veterinarians do not have a unified approach to diagnosis or treatment. A lot of this has to do with geography. In Virginia, Lyme is reported regularly.


Pet insurance

In canines, Lyme symptoms can manifest as lameness and other bad news.

So, being head-over-heels about our new baby, I looked into pet health insurance, because I know that Lyme symptoms may appear when a body is under stress.

If she were ever to get injured or sick, Lyme bacteria might be waiting to pounce.

But pet insurance raised more questions.

I learned that no pet insurance policy covers pre-existing conditions.

Pre-existing conditions can no longer prevent people from getting proper coverage, but our pets are a different story.

Would pet insurance cover Lyme symptoms that might show up in future years?


The scoop on pre-existing conditions

We pondered whether to buy it or not. It was a conundrum. When your dog has tested positive for Lyme, but shows no signs or symptoms, is it considered a pre-existing condition?

It sounded like a gray area to me, so I called the vet.

“It’s a gray area,” he said. “Ask the insurance company.”

It was starting to feel a little like a game of keep-away.

The representative at Healthy Paws pet insurance told me that coverage of any future symptoms would be determined by our veterinarian.


Let’s say your dog tests positive for Lyme today, but shows no signs or symptoms.

Five years down the road, he starts showing signs.

Lyme can cause many troubling symptoms and signs, including lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, lameness, malaise, joint pain, or kidney disease.

If the vet diagnoses the new symptom as a result of the Lyme disease that had been diagnosed all those years ago, the insurance policy will not cover treatment.

If the vet diagnoses the symptom to be unrelated to Lyme, it will be covered.


Prevention and care in spite of Lyme controversy

At least we can depend on one thing:

There is as much Lyme controversy among pet-doctors as among people-doctors.

It isn't hard to see why there is confusion, since as I mentioned, much of the reporting of Lyme depends on geographical location. Here in North Carolina, Lyme doesn’t exist, according to one of the vets with whom I conferred.

“You just don’t see it here,” he says.

I remain skeptical. It may simply be underreported.

Our dog hails from Virginia http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/maps.html.

As this map shows, Lyme cases are reported there.

What mystifies me is how the ticks know to stay put at the border.


Luckily, I found a vet who shares my skepticism and suggested antibiotic treatment, as well as the vaccine and followup booster.



Lyme treatment in dogs

Some vets, when a dog tests positive for Lyme, will administer the Lyme vaccination. They will also prescribe 30 days of Doxycycline and a followup booster at 3 weeks.

Other vets will not give the vaccination or antibiotics, reasoning that a dog that tests positive but doesn’t have signs or symptoms is a carrier, but is not sick. They claim that only a small percentage of dogs will ever show symptoms of Lyme.

On a personal note, my dog gets a few drops of Samento or teasel in her water bowl. I take one or the other as a prophylactic, so she gets it too.

And maybe most importantly, we do our daily tick checks after having been outdoors. This is tedious, but we sleep better at night.



Probiotics for pups

As soon as our pup finished her Doxy prescription, I started her on a high quality probiotic for pets. Probiotics will help restore her healthy gut flora and fauna. It is best not to give probiotics until your pet is finished with the antibiotics.

I use Dr. Mercola’s pet probiotics. For $5 off this product when ordered from iHerb, click http://www.iherb.com/iherb-brands?rcode=NEJ627.

A friend of mine claims that adding nutritional yeast to her dog’s diet repels ticks and fleas.

However, when I asked the vet if nutritional yeast would repel such critters, he smiled as if reasoning with a 5-year-old and handed me a pamphlet for NexGard.

This is not to say that the vet disapproves of nutritional yeast for dogs.

He claims that our dog eats better than he does. So because of the B vitamins that make her coat shine, I continue to give her nutritional yeast as well as probiotics.


Herbal alternatives for Fido

In humans, anti-inflammatory supplements such as fish oil, glucosamine, chondroitin, and turmeric are suggested for reducing inflammation and pain of Lyme symptoms such as headaches and arthritis.

Always ask your veterinarian to see if supplements or herbal alternatives are right for your pet. *See warning below.

For a little extra pet protection, I use high quality products on our pooch that are designed for pets and that use essential oils.

In my opinion, a line of quality products are available online from jeansgreens.com in Castleton, New York.

Jean’s Greens offers a Bug Repellent Shampoo that uses essential oils to fend off biting insects, including ticks. Ingredients include eucalyptus, lemon, rosemary and wormwood essential oils.


*Warning! Always check with your vet before feeding your beloved pet a new food or using any ingredients on their coat. Essential oils, when used wrong, or if a cheap brand is used, can cause harm or even kill a precious pet.


Anti-inflammatory diet for dogs - fish oil

Our vet will check our dog for elevated protein levels in her kidneys every three or four months. If protein levels are high, it indicates kidney trouble. However, if her levels have not risen for one year, all is considered well and we may expand the time between checkups.

For the anti-inflammatory effect, we added a high quality fish oil to her diet. Our vet says to be aware that a lot of fish oil on the market is “snake oil,” due to unethical producers who spot an easy way to cash in on people’s love for their pets.

She gets the same kind of fish oil I take, once daily. It has made her coat thick and soft as goose down.

Just a note here about delivery. I don’t let her swallow the whole capsule. The doc suggests cutting it open and squeezing the oil over her food. This prevents the whole cap from racing through the dog’s digestive system and popping out the other end—before it has had a chance to dissolve.



Good girl!

She loves to learn new words. Her favorite is “dance.”

Friends say they see a big difference in her personality, coat, and carriage since the day we brought her home from the rescue agency.

She may be Lyme positive—but so far, so good.

With all the love, care, and supplements she gets — along with the grain-free dog food, she is as full of good cheer as ever.

She still goes nuts over green beans. She's a good girl.

And she’s never met a human she didn’t love. I’m sure she’d even greet the jerk who tossed her out and shut the door in her face.


To him, I am forever grateful. For if he hadn’t rejected her and given the neighbors a reason to take her to the rescue people, we would never have met her.

She is, like your dog is to you, our precious baby. A font of love, forgiveness, and a source of happiness and joy.

With a little luck, we will never, ever have to use that pet insurance policy.


How to remove a tick from your dog
http://www.akc.org/learn/dog-health/lyme-disease-in-dogs/
http://www.akc.org/learn/dog-health/how-to-remove-tick-from-dog/


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Cold freeze won't keep ticks from biting

Gorgeous fall weather brings temptations. Pumpkin pie cooling by the kitchen window. Outdoors, leaf-strewn mountain paths beckon. Canada geese honk and chatter in the clear twilight as they pass overhead on their way to the nearby lake.

The last thing we want to think about is Lyme disease. However, there is an increased chance of getting Lyme during winter, when we believe ticks don’t pose a threat.

I hope you’re feeling well enough to spend some time outdoors. Natural environments have an undisputed healing power, increasing relaxation and restoring a sense of balance in our minds and bodies. But if you do, take the necessary precautions. At least in Rhode Island,
ticks can survive even a cold New England freeze, according to Dr. Thomas Mather of the University of Rhode Island.

From WPRI News:
Ticks can survive throughout the entire winter, even if they are frozen in the ground for periods of time.

“They must produce some sort of antifreeze inside of themselves, because as soon as the ground thaws and they warm up again, they’re back out and biting,” said Mather.


When you go for a hike in the fresh fall air, stay in the middle of the path. Avoid grassy and wooded areas. Wear long socks and boots and tuck your pant legs in. Perform that routine tick check when you come inside. Pets who share our living space should routinely be inspected too. And bear in mind, wearing DEET does not guarantee protection from tick bites.
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Safe mosquito & tick repellent

A friend dropped by with her 8-month-old baby the other day. We sat at the picnic table, enjoying the deep shade of the bamboo. She set the little guy down on the ground, buck naked, where he proceeded to crawl around and gleefully do what babies do best -- put everything into his mouth. As he sampled the bamboo leaves, I flashed on how much my relationship with nature has changed since having Lyme. In the past, I never would have worried about an occasional bug bite. I was like my friend in that respect, assuming that nature, in small doses, mostly can’t, or won’t, cause harm. Now I’m older, wiser, or perhaps just merely unluckier, but one thing’s for sure, I’m definitely much more cautious when interacting with the Great Outdoors.

Typically, I take any recommendation for tick and mosquito repellent with a grain. Either they’re full of poison or they don’t work because they’re ‘natural.’ However, I’ve been experimenting with a safe mosquito & tick spray repellent in my yard and around my house. It’s made of garlic juice. As an honorary Italian, I love the smell, but it does fade after a few hours. This stuff, Mosquito Barrier, is safe to use around people, fish, butterflies and birds, but it supposedly disturbs ticks and kills mosquitoes.

So far, I like the results but I’ve only been using it for a few weeks, so can’t tell if it’s made a huge difference. The baby didn’t get bit, so you can breathe a sigh of relief now. I live on a creek near a lake, so we’re no strangers to bugs. They’re part and parcel of our community, which is actually a certified wildlife habitat. We see no evidence of deer, but there are plenty of resident birds, geese, ducks, frogs, fish, squirrels and other critters (even reportedly a black bear) which means that ticks are probably here as well.

I’m aware that some people discourage deer with certain deer-repelling plants. Others put up fencing to keep deer out, which is a much more complicated and expensive proposition, but worthwhile, if it works. I picked up a citronella-scented geranium at the nursery and placed it by the front door, and I’ve got a truckload of garlic juice ready to spray in another week.

What are you using to repel ticks from your yard? Please share. I’d love to hear.
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Lymelife

A ragged-looking deer roams through Charlie Bragg's backyard on densely forested Long Island. Charlie (superbly portrayed by Timothy Hutton) suffers from mysterious symptoms that prevent him from working, and torture him perhaps even as much as knowing his wife is dallying with her machismo boss.

It's the late 70s. Lyme disease is beginning to grab the attention of NE residents. Some of them observed a correlation between a tick-bite and a litany of disturbing symptoms ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to mental derangement. In Charlie's house, prescription bottles crowd the bedside table. He's taking penicillin, but we aren't clear how effective it is on his illness. Sometimes he seems almost normal, stringing up Christmas lights. Sometimes when he's alone, he writhes in pain.

He's not the same man I married, rants his desperate wife. His teenage daughter feels compassion, but she's powerless to help. Her own inner conflicts and the pulls and stabs of young adulthood are more than enough for her to handle. A hint of rot underlies the nice suburban constructs, which are coming to a head most visibly in the character of Charlie.

Some of Charlie's scenes made me shudder. As bad as Lyme disease is, and as frustrating as the controversies around it have become, at least we're not still living in the 1970s, when it was new. Some headway has been achieved since then.

Have you seen the movie? What do you think?

(Members, watch for my upcoming interview with Lymelife producer, writer and director, Steven Martini.)
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Reduce your chance of tick bite

Learn about tick bites.

• Avoid likely tick-infested areas such as wooded, bushy areas or places with high grass and leaf litter - especially from May through the fall, when ticks are most active.

• When in likely tick areas, wear insect repellent with 20 percent DEET or more.

• Light-colored clothing helps you spot ticks more easily. Also, wear long sleeves and pants, tucking your shirt into your pants and you pant legs into your shoes.

• Before going indoors, perform a tick check on yourself.

• If you find any, use a fine-tipped tweezer to remove. Grab the tick close to the skin, and do not twist or jerk.

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Going for Gold in spite of Lyme

23-year-old champion archer Mel Clarke of Great Britain was asked what it meant to be preparing for the Summer Paralympic Games in Bejing, which opened Sunday.

"The honor to represent your country at that level, it's incredible. I didn't think I was going to have the opportunity."

Lack of confidence in her athletic ability was not the reason for Clarke's doubt. Rather, it was a tick bite that had resulted in Lyme disease.

In 2003, Clarke was paralyzed and partially blinded by Lyme disease. She was told she'd never shoot the bow again. Since age 11, she has used a wheelchair due to arthritis. A fearless competitor, she rejected the notion of giving up her dream of gold. Instead she worked hard to heal from Lyme's brutal symptoms and recover movement, sight and agility. Three and a half years ago she began training for the 2008 Paralympic Games.

The Summer Paralympics began in Rome in 1960, for athletes with physical, mental or sensory disabilities. They are held in the same host city as the Olympic Games, and run by the same organization. They begin three weeks after the Olympics closing ceremony. "Para" is from a Greek word for "alongside," and is not related to "paralyzed."

Mel Clarke currently holds 20 county records, 10 national able-bodied records and eight world records. In addition to going for the gold in Bejing over the next few weeks, she is also eagerly anticipating competing in her home turf in the London Olympic Games in 2012.
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