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prevention of Lyme disease

Chronic Inflamation

Chronic inflammation is the troll under the bridge. It's the nasty culprit creating a dangerous—even deadly--environment in our bodies. Inflammation is at the heart of a long list of disease, including Alzheimer's, asthma, multiple sclerosis, gout, fibromyalgia, cancer, and Lyme. Chronic inflammation can exist inside our bodies for years, suddenly wrecking havoc in our heart, kidneys, or liver.

So what's causing it? I've been reading Kenneth Singleton's terrific book, The Lyme Disease Solution. As he explains, when Lyme bacteria or its co-infections infect the body, the same as when other microorganisms attack--such as parasites, fungi, mold, and viruses—inflammation results. Sometimes you can see it. Sometimes you can't. As I understand it, a little bit of inflammation goes a long way. It is our immune system's natural reaction to infection. A cut on a finger is painful. It swells a bit and turns red. These factors indicate that the immune system is doing its job. White blood cells rush like EMTs to the site of the action. In a healthy person, the infection is stopped. The redness fades and the swelling goes down as the cut mends.

However, if the bacteria isn't killed by the actions of the immune system, the inflammation can become chronic.

“...whenever we are dealing with chronic infections like Lyme, we must be careful not only to treat a person with appropriate antibiotics, but also to address the chronic inflammation problems that have been triggered by Lyme.” Singleton, K. The Lyme Disease Solution (pp. 186-187). Kindle Edition.

The Do's and Don'ts
First, the don'ts. Don't give a helping hand to the inflammation troll. The following activities suppress or kill the endorphins that will help you heal.

Smoking. If you smoke, quit! Here's your good excuse.
Drinking alcohol. Same goes here.
Consuming fried foods, doughnuts, pastries. If it doesn't build healthy cells, it isn't good for you.
Consumption of sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Fifty pounds or more overweight.
Nursing a victim mentality and a negative attitude.
Being unable to forgive.
Averaging less than seven hours sleep per night.
Not drinking enough water.
Little to no sun exposure.

The good news? We can take action to prevent the inflammation troll from ruining our party. With shifts in dietary, lifestyle, and exercise routines, inflammation can be reduced or eliminated. The immune system produces these wonderful little gizmos called endorphins. They assist the NK (Natural Killer) cells in fighting the bad guys.

There's a short list of helpers to make our immune systems create more endorphins. You're gonna like it: Belly laughter, massage, chocolate, acupuncture, adequate sleep, and regular exercise. Eat fresh veggies, salmon (or Omega 3-s/Fish oil supplement), range-fed or organic meat consumption, and healthy oils, like olive. Indian curry, in particular the spice turmeric (curcumin), is a well-known anti-inflammatory agent. (However, please consult your doctor to see turmeric is okay for you. People with gallstones are not advised to consume turmeric.)

On the long list, you'll recognize these emotional and cultural keys that assist endorphin production, as well. We've seen them all before, but they're not trite. Not by a long shot. Indeed, these common-sense tips are central to healing body and mind:

Count your blessings.
Cultivate a positive outlook, and a spirit of generosity and giving.
Take time daily to pray and/or meditate—rejuvenate your spirit.
Do some deep breathing in fresh air.
If possible, get exposure to sunlight for ten minutes a day.
And nurture healthy relationships and social circles. You know, the kind that fluffs your feathers and fills up your love and laughter reserves. Seek out the company of people who make you feel good, not drained.

Antibiotics are necessary to kill the Lyme bacteria. Yet in many cases, they are not enough to return the body back to homeostasis, its natural state of balance. This is where lifestyle and dietary changes are needed to help us get a handle on inflammation.


How much is too much exercise for Lyme patients?

We take a cross-training approach to healing from Lyme. This includes body, mind, spirit and shadow (psychological) exercises. Some Lyme patients are just too weak, especially in the first stage, to address the needed physical exercise. Indeed at times it is not wise, if you are dizzy or otherwise debilitated. But there comes a time when you really just have to move that body! I know from experience.

Anaerobic exercise, such as stretching, sprinting and weightlifting, can help you heal from Lyme disease. But don’t overdo the aerobics, according to
Dr. Joseph Burrascano and other Lyme experts. They say that too much aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope and skipping, can be detrimental.

One reason is that vigorous jogging or other aerobics open up the blood-brain barrier, allowing more
Borrelia bacteria to enter the brain. Too much, too fast aerobic exercise can also deplete the adrenals and decrease the specialized cells that are part of the body’s immune system, the T-cells. T-cells are the highly skilled militia of the immune system. They hunt and destroy invading bacteria. They also alert other cells to do their jobs. The adrenals can be depleted by the low-grade, ongoing stress of chronic illness, by not getting enough sleep, and in many other ways.

Tai chi and gentle yoga, chi gong, and other Eastern body-mind-spirit exercises are very beneficial. Depending on the style of each of these practices, they are considered anaerobic. Mindful stretching as you get out of bed in the morning can warm up your muscles and make you feel a smidge better. If you’re not feeling up to snuff, but want to do something, simply take a few slow, deep breaths. Breathing from the diagram can relax and bring your body and mind into harmony.

I’ve gotten hooked on yoga this year, and finally made it a habit. I’m also a big fan of using the breath for relaxation, and finishing with a meditation.

What is your exercise routine? Have you ever overdone it?


Beautiful weather brings tick danger

"Go outside and play!" Sound familiar?

I grew up in a time and place where the accepted norm was to spend every possible moment out-of-doors. My mother gently objected to my lounging on the couch for hours, absorbing books by the stackful, whenever it was sunny and warm outside. But since I grew up in SoCal, it was ALWAYS sunny and warm. I did ruin my eyesight, so she was probably right about that. And although I read voraciously in the summer (and every other time of the year), I still managed to make it outside to swim and hike with friends pretty much every day as a kid.

So when spring comes tumbling in, bringing beautiful outdoorsy weather, should you still be sending your kids outside to play? Have things changed now that you are aware of the dangers of Lyme? Now that you know you and your loved ones are only one tick-bite away from it?

This spring, reports are already piling up in regional news, warning that this is likely to be a heavy tick season. The ticks are early and plentiful.

One suggestion for preventing Lyme is to advise your kids not to sit on the ground. Now, how realistic is that? For kids, part of the allure of playing outside is the opportunity to investigate the bugs and other critters crawling on the ground. And when you're little, how else can you eat your snacks, play tic-tac-toe in the dirt, examine the fluttering moth you just caught in your hands, if not sitting on the ground? And what about toddlers who are still getting their sea-legs, and end up sitting more than walking?

One thing that really bugs me is when I read, over and over in various articles, that ticks must be embedded for 24 hours or so in order to infect the person they bite. While that may be a comfort to read, there is no scientific evidence to support it. Prevention is the very best medicine, not wishful thinking.

Aside from prevention, early detection is still the most important thing when it comes to having been exposed to ticks. Bear in mind, tick bites don't hurt. This is because the tick injects a sort of anaesthetic with the bite that will numb the area, so you won't feel it. Perform regular tick checks on yourself and your kids, especially after time spent playing outside. Take the time to be careful and diligent. Remove ticks before they have a chance to get embedded.

And please tell everybody you know that tick checks are vitally important.

Staying Lyme-free in an endemic region

"Almost everybody I know either has Lyme disease, or they know someone who is undergoing Lyme treatment," said my friend Dee, who moved to the Hudson Valley, NY just a few years ago. 

She'd been telling me about her favorite pastime, walking with her dog, Daisy, through the woods near her small house.

"Knock on wood, I haven't gotten it yet. It's kind of shocking how many people have, but honestly, I don't think I've ever even seen a tick out there," she added. I could tell she was amazed at her good luck. "But the fact that I haven't gotten sick doesn't seem to make me more cautious," she went on. "In fact, I feel sort of immune to it." She paused, considering this idea for a moment.

"Are some people just more susceptible than others?" she asked.

While silently giving thanks (and feeling relieved) that my friend remains happy and healthy, I explained what I've learned from Lyme experts regarding our susceptibility.

Ginger Savely, RN, tells us that in her experience observing and treating Lyme patients, it's true that some people tend to attract ticks, just as some of us are mosquito magnets, and some never get bit. Other medical professionals, such as Dr Cowden and the late Dr Joanne Whitaker, who have studied Lyme, its testing and treatment for a lifetime, claim that the Lyme bacteria can be found in body fluids, such as tears, sweat and semen. Pediatrician Dr Charles Ray Jones, who is nothing short of a hero in many of his colleagues and his Lyme patients' estimation, says he has treated very young children who were infected by their mother while in vitro.

"The problem with being Lyme-free while living in a place such as the Hudson Valley," explained Dee, "is that you lose your fear. You don't take the precautions you know you should because it just hasn't happened yet."

Here are some precautions to take, if you plan to venture outdoors in this beautiful spring weather. Be sure to check your dog, too.

To reduce the risk of Lyme disease:

• Wear light-colored clothing and preferably long pants and long sleeves when in places where ticks may be present. This helps in spotting ticks that may be on clothes. Tucking pants into socks is also a very good idea.
• Perform a tick check every day so ticks can be removed before they have a chance to feed and transmit pathogens they might be carrying. Research indicates that a tick has to feed for at least 36 hours before it can transmit pathogens such as the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
• Consider the use of repellents if spending considerable time outdoors.

Source: New York State Health Department

PS: I asked Dr Eva Sapi, Director of Lyme Research at the University of New Haven, Connecticut, whether it was true, in her estimation, that a tick must be attached "for at least 36 hours before it can transmit pathogens," and she assured me there was no evidence to support that assertion.

North Carolina recognizes risk of Lyme

Are you living in a state where the medical board--or worse, your own doctor--won't acknowledge Lyme disease?

Until recently, many North Carolina residents and physicians have presumed that the risk of getting Lyme within state borders was nonexistent. Casualties have included not only residents who contracted the disease, but also Dr Joseph Jemsek's Charlotte, NC medical practice. (Please note: Dr Jemsek moved his clinic to Fort Mill, SC in 2008.)

Dr Carl Williams performs disease surveillance for the North Carolina State epidemiology department. His office is in the tick-counting business. He says that unfortunately, the risk of contracting a tick-borne illness is nothing new in NC.

"Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is still a greater risk than Lyme in North Carolina, and you can catch both of them here," says Dr Williams.

Risk of Lyme disease in NC has now been officially acknowledged. "However," he adds, "skepticism is high because counts are low." That is, the numbers of confirmed cases of Lyme are still lower than cases of RMSF. There has been one fatality due to RMSF in North Carolina this year.

"As far as prevention goes," says Dr Williams, "there is nothing new to recommend. The same old tried and true methods are still the most effective."

Cooler weather is no deterrent to ticks, so he recommends that we stay tick-aware at all times of the year. "Just because it's January, for example, don't think you can't take precautions or don't need to. We want people to recognize that there are a variety of ticks here in NC, and that it's important to take care and adhere to preventative measures."

What are those tried and true methods?

"Use DEET on areas of exposed skin, and Permethrin on clothes. Perform tick checks when you come in from an area where you may have been exposed to ticks, and realize that even though you can significantly reduce your chances of getting bitten by a tick, taking these safety measures is really not a guarantee. There is no failsafe mechanism to guarantee that a tick will not get onto your skin, or attach to it."

Video--how to repel ticks

The harvest moon is rising outside my office window at this moment. It's full and bright and lovely. I noticed our neighbor's garden is burgeoning with ripe green peppers and orange squashes that need to be picked and enjoyed. Gardening and me don't exactly fit very well anymore -- not since Lyme revised my priorities. I leave it up to braver folks than I, who aren't as paranoid of tiny ticks. However, I still love the idea of gardening, and I'm always interested in discovering ways to do it safely.

How to Repel Ticks -- powered by

This eHow video, posted by a gardener, explains the basics about how to protect yourself and your kids from ticks. She recommends the usual precautions, such as covering up head to toe with multiple layers of clothing. Then she mentions something I hadn't heard before. She suggests that on your hands and face, and any other body parts that aren't covered by clothing, you put on oil.

Her reasoning is that although the ticks are nearly impossible to repel once they've gotten onto your skin, they don't like oil because it causes them to slip, or reduces their success at sinking their sharp teeth into your skin. She says any kind of oil will do -- olive oil, lavender oil, baby oil, etc. She mentions DEET, as well, for its effectiveness as a tick repellent.

She also recommends putting your clothing into a hot dryer as soon as you come in from the garden, woods, forest, or wherever you may have been exposed to ticks. She claims that if you put your clothes into the washing machine, you risk setting them loose in the house. However, the hot temperature of the dryer should kill them.

I think I need to ask Dr Eva Sapi or some of our other Lyme experts about these claims before I believe them wholeheartedly. In our last interview, Dr Sapi told us that the biology graduate students in her University of New Haven Lyme research program couldn't even keep the ticks away using DEET, as they went hiking in the forest for a tick-gathering field trip.

What do you think? Have you ever used this oil trick? Is it effective?

Lyme disease prevention

I don't like thinking about ticks. You don't like thinking about ticks. We don't like anything about the little buggers, least of all the fact that when you're outdoors on a lovely summer day, you must think about them! However, protecting yourself, your kids and your pets can give you a sense of control and actually help prevent infection or re-infection from a tick bite. Here are two ways to make you feel a bit safer from Lyme this summer.

First, check your body thoroughly (and teach older children how to check theirs) when you've been hiking or picnicking or doing anything outdoors where you suspect there may be ticks lurking. Give special attention to the area around your ankles, the backs of your knees, your waistband and your armpits. Ticks start out low to the ground and climb up. Shower when you get home, but remember that ticks do not wash off. You must remove them with a tweezers. To remove, gently grab the tick as close to the skin as possible, and pull straight out without twisting or turning. Some people recommend squeezing fresh garlic juice directly on the bite immediately. Antibiotic cream may work as well. Place the tick in a plastic baggie for testing.

Second, eliminate the habitats ticks love in your yard. Ticks don't like to hang out in the middle of the yard unless there are tall grasses to climb. They do like the moist, shady areas around the perimeter of the yard, ornamental plantings and gardens. Ticks like leaf piles. Rake leaves and get rid of them. Keep shrubs trimmed and cut off low branches. Have a professional spray the perimeter of your yard. Do a bit of research to see what types of tick control insecticides are recommended for use in your area. Tick killing agents are not as toxic to humans as they once were.

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Spring Cleaning Helps Prevent Lyme

'Spring' and 'cleaning' are two concepts that fit together just right. Ticks that carry Lyme disease do not like clean spaces. Thoroughly cleaning both indoors and outdoors around your house or property can help you feel more protected against ticks. Wild animals are potential carriers of ticks and Lyme. Mice, skunks, squirrels, opossums, feral cats and dogs who roam around looking for a snug hideaway in the cold may squeeze through crawl spaces in your attic or basement.

With the vernal equinox now three weeks away, it's time to bring out the buckets and brooms. While you're sprucing up, keep the following three steps in Lyme prevention in mind.

* Deny access to host critters. Replace torn screens on vents and windows. Plug holes in walls with caulk or concrete. Reduce the gap in doorway thresholds.

* Sanitize your indoor space. Clean floors and carpets, thoroughly clean area rugs and upholstered furniture. Toss out infested pet bedding.

* Clean up your outdoors space. Remove all debris such as leaf and wood piles. Steam or vacuum spider nests.

Peppermint soap is reported to be a strong natural insect repellent. Use it in your daily shower and also while cleaning up your pet's bedding. While cleaning outdoors, always wear protective clothing and take extra precautions against the creatures, such as snakes and insects, that you may stir up. A little Lyme disease prevention goes a long way as anyone with Lyme disease symptoms now knows.

Guineafowl eat ticks

In 1992 in New York, Christie Brinkley was concerned about her daughter playing outside in what was known to be an area where tick numbers were high. So she enlisted the aid of her congressman, who initiated a commissioned study to investigate the effectiveness of Guineafowl as tick controllers. Guineafowl, originally from Africa, are feathery foragers with an unusual cry that sounds like "buckwheat, buckwheat!" These critters' diet includes about 90% arthopods, which means they eat ticks. The Duffy study illustrated that Guineafowl could indeed play a significant part in keeping tick numbers down.

Raising Guineafowl takes an effort, but it may be an option if your environment permits. The birds prefer to range throughout an open area, not woodsy, of about three to five acres. They make a loud noise when they're threatened by predators such as hawks overhead or the neighbors' dogs, and your local zoning codes must allow for them.

Guineafowl, like watchdogs, are good at raising an alarm when strangers approach, yet unlike dogs they will not attack. They will eat snakes and other noxious insects besides ticks, such as spiders and mites. If your circumstances allow and if you like the idea of controlling ticks through enlisting the aid of a flock of friendly little birds, Guineafowl can be an important weapon in the battle against Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Causes of Lyme disease other than tick- born?

Expiration dates count.

Expiration dates count. Be aware of outdated information on Lyme disease research websites. It's astonishing to me how many doctors' and medical authorities' websites are still confidently proclaiming that Lyme disease can only be spread by ticks. I've only been researching this disease for a little over a year but it appears clear that ticks alone are not responsible for the epidemic of Lyme disease. The Lyme-literate doctors I've spoken with are convinced that only a small percentage of cases of Lyme are spread by ticks. There seems to be a lot of evidence to suggest that all blood-sucking insects are capable of carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme. One scientist I interviewed who researches Lyme stated that every single mosquito she had tested, from California to Florida, tested positive with the bacteria.

When searching online for good information on Lyme, it's crucial to keep in mind that medical research is dynamic and ongoing. This disease is a highly underrated epidemic, and the physicians who test their patients for it and diagnose it are not always able to publish about their results immediately. Old and out-of-date information about this disease seems to be prevalent on the web. Yet cutting edge information is available for those who are careful to critically screen the quality of information they find.

Screening out noisy rubble and finding good information about Lyme is like panning for gold. Many websites are helpful, some more than others. Some websites were once relevant, but now they're outdated. Look for the most updated discoveries to find what you need to know. This evening, I was reading through the site of a popular health advocate I once met and whose products I have used, to my great satisfaction. Her website, however, was stacked with information about Lyme disease that dates back to 1996. Over just the past year or two, the discoveries about new, successful treatments for Lyme are hopeful and deeply encouraging, but a person reading this health advocate's site would never get that impression. So watch the expiration date on the information you take to heart. Lyme patients find out quickly that it is to their advantage to get quality and timely research.