Far beyond the discomfort of a simple bug bite, Lyme disease is a growing threat that is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Conventional treatment commonly misses the mark when it comes to eradicating the often long-lingering symptoms. In this post, Jamie Larrison takes us through her personal discoveries of treating lyme disease naturally. ~Emily
So you’ve been diagnosed with Lyme disease. Now what? Or maybe you suspect you have it, but you’re not even sure where to go next. Is Lyme disease curable?
Both of my parents have been diagnosed with end stage Lyme disease and the journey has been difficult on the whole family. I must have inherited my love of research from my mom, because she has become a hypothyroid and Lyme disease expert after hundreds upon hundreds of hours of personal research on the subject. She'll often consult me about my natural health knowledge, so we've shared in learning how to naturally treat Lyme disease together.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is caused by infections transferred to the body by insects. This doesn’t just mean ticks though, as mosquitos and other insects can also transmit the disease. Some people experience the characteristic bullseye rash and flu-like symptoms, while others have no symptoms at all.
How to tell if you have Lyme
If the symptoms are so vague, you may wonder how you can even know if you have the disease. Conventional tests are frequently inaccurate at diagnosis until after treatment has already started. Direct microscopy may be a better option, but some Lyme specialists feel that even this isn’t the right path (source). Conventional medicine denies the existence of chronic Lyme disease, so other than a few weeks on antibiotics, it offers very little support.
Lyme disease can be tricky to spot, and even trickier to diagnose. The most common symptoms are extreme fatigue and immune suppression. If you have adrenal and thyroid problems, then Lyme disease is often a root cause. Your best bet is to find a qualified natural health practitioner who has experience treating Lyme disease.
It can be hard to find a Lyme literate practitioner, as they tend to keep quiet for fear of persecution from the medical community. However, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases (ILAD) group has a listing of doctors who treat chronic Lyme. You can request the information here and they'll give you a list of practitioner's names.
Testing for Lyme
If you can’t find a practitioner in your area, then you can order lab tests online and have blood drawn at a local facility. Frye labs specializes in cutting edge Lyme testing and you can request a testing kit here.
You can also get a CD57 or HNK1 immune system test without a doctor's order that rates immune function on a scale from 60-360. If the immune system tests at a low range, then Lyme is likely, however, if the results come back under 100, then it's almost certainly Lyme.
The many faces of Lyme
Lyme disease was up until recently defined as being caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Very recently, scientists have revealed the discovery of a new bacteria called Borrelia mayonii also found in Lyme disease patients. However, for years now, alternative medicine doctors have been finding and treating multiple causes and co-infections of Lyme disease. (source)
Bartonella bacteria is a common co-infection that can cause seizure-like symptoms. Unlike regular seizures where someone loses bodily control and may even become unconscious, a bartonella induced seizure causes involuntary spasms that can be somewhat controlled.
Common protocols for treating Lyme disease
The Buhner protocol
A popular treatment method is the Buhner protocol, created by Dr. Stephen Harrod Buhner. Buhner’s book, Healing Lyme, outlines the necessary steps and relies on a simple collection of herbs to treat Lyme disease and the accompanying infections. Cat’s claw, Japanese knotweed, eleuthero root and astragalus root are taken in specific dosages.
While the Buhner protocol is fairly simple, it does take some time to track down supplies and prepare them properly. Some herbs need to be encapsulated, while others are made into a decoction or tincture. You may find what you need readymade, but then you’ll have to do some math and figure out dosage according to the book’s recommendations.
The Cowden protocol
A simpler method is the Cowden protocol, sold by Nutramedics. With this system everything is already prepared and clearly outlined. All you have to do is take each herbal medication as indicated. You end up paying for convenience though, as the price tag for the Cowden protocol will run you up to $285 per month.
Herbs and essential oils that fight Lyme
There are plenty of natural remedies that can help combat Lyme disease. Dosage and frequency will largely depend on what your individual body needs, your weight and is something a practitioner can assist with. Many of these herbs with specific dosages are discussed in the Healing Lyme book. A wide variety of herbal actions are needed to fight Lyme and its co-infections. These can include:
Thieves type essential oil blend (usually contains cinnamon, clove, rosemary and citrus) – antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. A few drops can be taken, diluted in a capsule with olive oil instead of conventional antibiotics.
Oregano essential oil – strong antibacterial that can also be taken diluted with olive oil in capsules.
Olive leaf – a broad spectrum antiviral and anti-bacterial
Raw garlic – strong antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal
Cat’s claw – adaptogenic, immune system regulator, also helps prevents Lyme disease (source)
Japanese knotwood – adaptogenic, aids the immune system, anti-inflammatory. Can be taken in capsules, as a tincture or tea.
Eleuthero root – relieves brain fog and can be taken as a tincture, in capsules or as a tea
N-Acetyl cystiene – a supplement that supports glutathione production and aids the liver (source)
Turmeric or curcumin – Helps relieve inflammation caused by Lyme, can be stirred into food or drink, or taken in capsules
Astragalus – an adaptogenic for use in early stage Lyme only, can be taken as a tincture or in capsules
High amounts of vitamin C – 3,000 mg daily are also needed to kick Lyme disease. You want a supplement that contains a bioavailable form, not cheap ascorbic acid. This herbal tea is naturally high in bioavailable vitamin C and was specifically formulated by a former Lyme disease sufferer. I've also been using camu camu powder lately. Just 1 teaspoon has over 1,000 of the typical RDA of Vitamin C!
The all important gut
Lyme is a complicated disease and can’t be cured by just treating with antibiotics or even antibacterial herbs. Since this is an autoimmune condition where the body starts to attack itself, your first focus should be on healing the gut. When the gut lining becomes damaged, food particles, bad bacteria and other substances can pass through, triggering an immune response. (source)
In addition to a heavy duty probiotic supplement (like this one), probiotic rich foods like kefir, bone broth and fermented veggies all boost your good gut bacteria. Read more about the health benefits of probiotic foods here.
Bone broth contains compounds such as gelatin that help heal the gut lining. Read more on how to make bone broth here.
Read more about gut healing diets here.
Detox and cleanse
Another important component of any Lyme disease protocol is a full body detox. Lyme and it’s co-infections are known for invading every system, including the brain. Once Lyme has progressed and infected the brain, it can cause inflammation, neurological disorders, partial facial paralysis and even seizures.
Supplements like milk thistle capsules or tea detox and restore healthy liver function. Lemon water is also a gentle way to detox the liver and is something I try to drink every morning.
Bentonite clay, charcoal and cilantro help to remove heavy metals and other toxins from the body through internal and external use. Bentonite clay and charcoal can both be taken internally in capsules or stirred into juice. You can also dump a pound of bentonite clay into your bath tub and take a detox bath. Here Dr. Atkins recommends taking 400 mg of cilantro a day for two weeks to flush out heavy metals from the body. These 3 supplements can be used in tandem with each other for increased efficiency.
Often mold and parasites need to be removed from the body. Lyme expert, Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, notes that his Lyme clients typically test at about 7- 10 times the safe level for mold. (source) Both bentonite clay and charcoal used internally help to rid the body of unwanted mold. I really like this Detox+ powder supplement for an all around detox. It looks pretty nasty, but you can't taste it, especially in juice!
Parasites, such as protozoa, are often found even in the earliest stages of Lyme disease. An age old anti-parasitic remedy is clove, black walnut hull and wormwood. You can find a recipe to make your own with detailed dosage instructions, or you can buy a premade parasite cleanse like this one.
Boosting cell function
Since your cells are working hard to fight off the invading infections, you need to give them the ammo they need. (source) And again, dosage largely depends on the individual. Supplements that help boost cellular infection for Lyme sufferers include:
- Vitamin B complex – (especially B-6, B-12, B-2, selenium and niacin)
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Magnesium – a normal dose is 400 mg, but my mom's Lyme Dr. has her on 1,600mg
It may sound crazy, but taking cold showers and ice baths strengthens your autonomic nervous and immune system. The idea has been around for ages, but Wim Hof, nicknamed the “Ice Man” is the first to subject it to rigorous scientific testing to prove its effectiveness. Wim's combined method of breathing techniques, cold training and exercise also boosts energy and reduces inflammation naturally.
My husband has been using some of the techniques outlined in the Wim Hof Method for several months now and they've helped significantly. It has sped up the healing process, given him more energy and reduced the inflammation from his back injury, so I've seen the results first hand. People with cancer, Lyme disease, and other chronic conditions who've done the method say it helped heal their bodies from these diseases.
The emotional connection
Lastly, one other important piece of the puzzle is the emotional connection. Holding onto anger and unforgiveness suppresses the immune system and deters the body from healing. Anxiety, stress and other negative emotions will counteract any positive diet and supplement choices we make.
Good rest, meditation, journaling, prayer and deep breathing are all good ways to process and release negative emotions. Even something as simple as taking a hot bath and reading a good book will put you in a more positive mood.
Regularly make dates with yourself to do these activities and make it a priority. That may mean getting a babysitter, or making use of a long work commute. It will be worth it for your emotional and physical health.
So is Lyme disease curable?
The answer is a resounding yes, however this is a complicated disease that requires dedicated care. Consistent lifestyle changes and the right herbs and supplements will help you fight and successfully recover from Lyme disease.
Do you think you may have Lyme disease or know someone who can benefit from this info?
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Jamie Larrison blogs at The Herbal Spoon. She has a passion for herbalism and aromatherapy and creates her own plant-based, safe for the whole family bodycare items for her etsy shop. Learn more about Jamie here.