The first time I encountered Lyme’s disease was when my youngest sister contracted it from what we believed to be a spider bite. It’s transferable from any biting insect really, mosquitoes, ticks, etc. but it’s more often than not passed on through tick bites.
It pained me to see my sister so ill. Lyme’s disease is not widely recognised in the medical world as it is extremely difficult to diagnose (due to it’s many, many different symptoms), and so what doctors often prescribe are antibiotics. This can help for a short period of time, however, the bacteria are quite clever and will remain dormant in the tissue and cells in your body until the antibiotics have run their course, then they come out and party again.
So Lyme’s disease therefore is extremely difficult to treat. As it upset me to see my sister so unwell, I went about searching for ways to help her body fight off this resilient bacteria using natural home remedies that could help boost her immune system and aid in her recovery.
In case you’re sitting there and thinking, “What is Lyme disease?” I’ll give you a little bit of background on it.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease funnily enough has nothing to do with limes 😉 It’s called that because it was first known as Lyme arthritis, named after the town where it was first reported, Old Lyme, Connecticut, United States and the arthritic symptoms it caused. (1)
Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria that’s transmitted from a tick or insect bite. Many cases of Lyme are due to a bite from a type of deer tick known as the black-legged tick, which can carry and pass on bacteria known as borrelia burgdorferi. It’s only more recently been found that other insects can also spread Lyme disease or cause similar infections – including other types of ticks, mosquitoes, and possibly spiders or fleas.
Lyme disease symptoms can start with flu-like symptoms, headaches, muscle and joint pain. Over time, the symptoms can continue to get worse and turn into a long-term inflammatory response similar to that of an autoimmune condition.
It’s important to understand that while Lyme’s disease may originate from an insect bite, symptoms arise due to an inflammatory response.
Symptoms and Causes
The Most Common Symptoms
The bacteria, borrelia burgdorferi, that are transmitted via the insect can spread throughout the body and may cause a series of autoimmune-like reactions.
Signs and symptoms of Lyme’s disease include: (2)
- A temporary skin rash shaped like a butterfly that appears where the insect bite occurred. Many (but not all) develop a rash shaped like a bull’s eye that appears as a red ring around a clear area with a red centre.
- Flu-like symptoms present themselves, especially shortly after being infected. These include having trouble sleeping, neck pain, chills, sweats, fatigue, and muscle aches.
- Poor sleep, chronic fatigue, lethargy.
- Digestive problems like nausea and loss of appetite.
- Achiness and joint pains.
- Over the long-term, many people experience mood changes, including increased depression and fatigue.
- Other long-term symptoms include cognitive changes like forgetfulness, brain fog, headaches, misplacing things, and difficulty concentrating.
As I mentioned earlier, Lyme disease is brought on by an infection caused by a tick bite (or other biting insect), but there is a bit more to it than that. Chronic Lyme’s disease, the type that can’t be effectively treated using antibiotics and lasts for more than 6 months can be related to the following things: (3)
- A weakened immune system
- Hindered cellular function and protection
- Systemic bacterial infection
- Environmental factors such as exposure to mould and parasites
Some people are able to overcome Lyme disease much more easily than others. For someone who is struggling, they may have all 4 of these issues, or only one. Many doctors refer to the ongoing condition of Lyme’s disease when it becomes chronic and continues to cause ongoing symptoms for many months, or even years, as Post Lyme Disease Syndrome (PLDS). This is where patients do not respond to the conventional treatments provided and can experience real challenges, so that their quality of life can be dramatically reduced due to Lyme’s disease.
In order to kick this disease to the curb, it really comes down to your immune system’s capability to keep these invaders at bay.
Natural Treatment of Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease Preventative Methods
Prevention and early treatment for Lyme’s disease is very important. Some steps you can take to prevent yourself from getting Lyme include: (4)
- Wearing long pants, long sleeves, and long socks to keep ticks off your skin. Also, wearing lighter-coloured clothing can help you to spot ticks and other insects more easily.
- Use a natural insect repellent or bug spray (you can make these using certain essential oils) when your somewhere with large amounts of insects such as the woods, when you’re hiking or camping, out in your garden, or at the beach.
- Checking your skin thoroughly after being out in the woods or other outdoor areas. Check exposed skin first so you can remove ticks as quickly as possible.
- If you’re pregnant, it is best to avoid outdoor areas where ticks might be found. By avoiding camping or hiking in tick-populated areas, this can help reduce your risk.
- Improving your overall immunity before you get infected can help to give your body the best chance in fighting this bacteria if exposed to it, and also hopefully only resulting in a minimal reaction.
1. Improve Immune Function Through the Foods You Eat.
One of the best ways to overcome chronic Lyme disease is to naturally boost your immune system, lower inflammation, and address the root causes of your symptoms. For anyone struggling with an inflammatory condition, removing grains, sugar and fruit from your diet while consuming more anti-inflammatory foods like most veggies, nuts, seeds, organic meat, bone broth, coconut and raw cultured dairy, can help.
Some great foods to eat that can help to naturally raise immunity include:
- Antioxidant-rich foods – Fresh fruits and veggies (particularly leafy greens and other brightly coloured vegetables and berries) are some of the best sources of antioxidants and many other important nutrients. They help control free radicals that can cause damage and inflammation in the body, as well as reduce the chance of developing nutrient deficiencies, and protect you from problems caused by Lyme.
- Probiotic-rich foods – Probiotics have been shown to reduce the progression and symptoms of infectious diseases. (5) Some excellent sources of probiotics include kefir, yoghurt (raw goat’s milk yoghurt is ideal, as it’s one of the highest sources of probiotics), amasai, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, kvass, and kimchi. Eating these rich sources of probiotics will help to overcrowd the gut with “good bacteria” which will help to kill off the bad bacteria. Probiotics help good bacteria to grow and thrive in the gut, which can have a huge impact on your overall health and immunity.
- Bone broth – This natural elixir contains amino acids like proline and glycine which can help repair a “leaky gut” and improve immune function. Foods that help replenish your gut with healthy bacteria as well as rebuild the lining of your GI tract can help to control inflammation and allergies.
2. Supplements To Help Enhance Cellular Function
The next step is to improve cellular functioning and protection. Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, along with parasites and viruses, can attack healthy cells and weaken your body and it’s defence mechanisms. To help restore the health of your cells, it may be a good idea to add these essential nutrients into your diet through supplementation:
- Omega-3 fatty acids – These fatty acids are wonderful anti-inflammatories and support healthy neurological/cognitive functioning. Supplementing with 1,000 milligrams of fish oil daily, in particular, one that contains astaxanthin (which helps to boost absorption) along with consuming food sources of omega-3s (like wild caught fish, nuts, and seeds) is recommended.
- Magnesium – This electrolyte plays a significant part in the healthy functioning of your body. It has hundreds of roles to play, from relieving muscle aches to supporting proper nerve signalling. Quite a lot of the population is deficient in magnesium, and those with Lyme have a higher need for this essential nutrient as stress and illness deplete the body more.
- B vitamins – These support many cellular and metabolic functions, as well as help fight infections and improve neurological health. Vitamin B-6 in particular is especially important for those with Lyme, or anyone else dealing with the effects of stress or fatigue.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D3 in particular helps to naturally boost the immune system and plays a part in controlling inflammation. Supplementing around 5,000 IU daily is recommended (6), particularly if you don’t get much direct sunlight, or are vitamin D deficient.
- Turmeric – A fantastic natural anti-inflammatory that can help reduce joint pain, damage to blood vessels or nerves, and headaches.
- CoQ10 – This marvellous nutrient can help protect your nervous system and brain from degradation and inflammation, while also reducing symptoms like joint pain and aches. It is recommended to take 200 milligrams twice daily.
- Probiotics – Along with consuming probiotic-rich foods, it is recommended that you supplement with probiotics also, with a minimum of 8 strains and 50 billion units daily.
- Medicinal Mushrooms – Including reishi, cordycep, and maitake mushrooms. These have been shown to help the immune system become more adaptive as well as aid in controlling autoimmune reactions. You can find these in various supplement forms, and may help to boost an intercellular antioxidant known as superoxide dismutase (SOD) that protects your cells.
3. Prioritise Rest And Reduce Emotional Stress
Chronic stress has been scientifically proven to weaken the immune system, can trigger inflammation, cause hormonal imbalances, and disturb the proper functioning of the digestive system.
To help prevent the Lyme infection from becoming worse due to stress, here are some natural stress relievers you can adopt into your routine:
- Scheduling time in your week to rest, as well as include some “fun times” where you can spend time with family, friends, and also enjoy your own company.
- Make rest a top priority as Lyme can contribute to fatigue, so often you may require extra sleep. So it’s a good idea to balance activity with rest and relaxation.
- Other methods for helping to control your response to stress include meditation, reading, writing/journaling, exercising, joining a support group, spending time in nature, and using essential oils. I also found the book by Tony Robbins, “Awaken the Giant Within” to be really helpful in learning to control our thoughts and emotions.
4. Reduce Your Exposure To Mould And Parasites
Parasites and exposure to mould may contribute to prolonged Lyme disease as it places stress on the immune system.
- A natural treatment for parasites and toxicity is to use activated charcoal, which has been shown to help the body remove harmful toxins more effectively.
- Consuming a diet low in sugar and high in healthy fats, as well as taking probiotics and consuming probiotic-rich foods can help in specifically treating parasites too.
- Herbs that are useful in killing parasites include black walnut, grapefruit seed extracts, garlic, oregano, and wormwood.
- Bentonite clay is a useful supplement in helping to remove heavy metals and chemicals as it binds to them in the body and draws them out. Just be sure to take bentonite clay and activated charcoal on an empty stomach as they may also bind to essential minerals you need.
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle, or trying or using any new products.
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Have you or someone you know had Lyme before? How did you treat it? Share with us in the comments below!
Zerbe, Leah, MS, NASM-CPT, NASM-CES. (April 23, 2019). Lyme Disease Treatment (Natural vs. Conventional) and Prevention Tips. Dr. Axe. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/lyme-disease-treatment/