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, in Connecticut, United States and due to the arthritic symptoms it caused.
The first time I encountered Lyme’s disease was after my younger sister contracted it from what we believed to be a spider bite. It’s transferable from any biting insect really; mosquitoes, ticks, spiders etc. But it’s more often contracted through tick bites.
It really upset me to see my sister so ill. Lyme’s disease is not widely recognised in the medical community, particularly in Australia, as it’s extremely difficult to diagnose (due to it’s many different symptoms – it can mask itself in under a form of almost any illness).
The main form of treatment prescribed by medical professionals are antibiotics. This can help for a short period of time, however, the Lyme bacteria are quite clever and will remain dormant in tissue and cells in the body until the antibiotics have run their course. Once the antibiotics are out of the system, they can re-emerge and begin wrecking havoc again.
This means that all the antibiotics do is kill essential immune-boosting bacteria, while basically leaving the Lyme bacteria (the main targets) unaffected…
For this reason, Lyme’s disease is extremely difficult to treat.
On top of the Lyme, my sister was also diagnosed with Rickettsia and Mycoplasma, other bacteria commonly transmitted through insect bites, and often found paired with Lyme bacteria.
It’s been two years since our naturopath diagnosed her with Lyme, and she still suffers with it on a daily basis. However, from where she was at the beginning; bed-ridden, exhausted, unable to work or study, she’s come a long way. She’s actually able to live a normal life again!
She’s working full-time, studying part-time, going out with friends on a regular basis, going on dates with her boyfriend, getting up before midday, and able to treat herself to some takeaway foods without undoing all her hard work (which happened on countless occasions before). She still struggles to exercise intensively, or go on long hikes without exhausting herself, but looking at how far she’s come, it’s wonderful to see.
I’ll share some of the natural treatments my sister’s used to help improve her Lyme (our naturopath is hopeful that eventually she’ll get rid of the Lyme completely, which she’s helped many to do in the past).
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacteria, borrelia burgdorferi, which are transmitted from a tick or insect bite. It’s only recently been found that insects, other than ticks, like mosquitoes, spiders and possibly fleas, can spread Lyme disease or cause similar infections.
Symptoms can start with flu-like symptoms, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and over time may continue to get worse and turn into a long-term inflammatory response similar to that of an autoimmune condition.
According to Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, a certified doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist, ‘it’s important to understand that although Lyme disease originates from a tick bite, symptoms arise due to an inflammatory process. Two people who are both bitten by the same tick carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme disease can respond very differently. That’s why preventing and treating Lyme disease symptoms by maintaining healthy immune regulation is key.’
Furthermore, not everyone who is bitten by an insect carrying the Lyme bacteria will contract Lyme. If the immune system is strong enough, it will be able to fight off the bacteria before they get a real hold on the body.
Chronic Lyme’s disease, the type that can’t be effectively treated using antibiotics and lasts for more than six months, can be due to underlying factors such as ‘a weakened immune system, hindered cellular function and protection, systemic bacterial infection, and/or environmental factors such as exposure to mould and parasites,’ according to a Dr. Axe article.
Each of us are individual and so respond differently. Some of us may recover more quickly, while others may take longer to heal.
For my sister, her underlying factor was a weak liver which did not detox well. So, she has to kill the Lyme at a much slower rate than someone with a fully-functioning, healthy liver. If she pushes too hard, she’s left bed-ridden for days after.
Lyme Disease Symptoms
– A temporary (acute) “butterfly” skin rash that appears where the tick bite occurred (called erythema migrans). 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. The CDC reports that around 70% of Lyme disease patients develop this rash
– Flu-like symptoms, especially shortly after being infected. These include a fever, trouble sleeping, neck pain, fatigue, chills, sweats and muscle aches
– Poor sleep, chronic fatigue and lethargy
– Digestive issues, including nausea and loss of appetite
– Achiness and joint pains. The CDC has found that around 30 percent of Lyme patients develop symptoms of arthritis
– Long-term many people experience mood changes, included increased depression and fatigue
– Cognitive changes are also a long-term symptom and include forgetfulness, headaches, brain fog, misplacing things and trouble concentratingLeah Zerbe, MS, NASM-CPT, NASM-CES, Dr. Axe article
For my sister, the Lyme affected her brain the most. She developed a short-temper, was more frustrated, angry, quick to react; which were all out of character for her. She’s always been the most laid-back, fun-loving, relaxed, “see’s the funny side of things” one out of all of us, so this was really out of character for her. She described these moments as, ‘In my mind, I could see these reactions weren’t me. I could tell they were coming from the Lyme, but in the moment whilst knowing this, I couldn’t stop it.’
Dr. Axe mentions a few other symptoms that can arise, particularly in the brain, from Post Lyme Disease Syndrome (PLDS); where the Lyme becomes chronic and continues for months or years after diagnosis and “treatment”;
– Aches and flu-like feelings
– Moderate to severe pain and muscle stiffness
– Extreme fatigue
– Rashes and other skin problems
– Allergic reactions
– Brain fog
– Digestive complications
– Cardiovascular problems, including blood pressure imbalances and irregular heartbeat
– And more
Natural Treatments for Lyme Disease
My sister, Emma, has been using a range of treatments to help heal her body, support her liver, and fight off the Lyme. Our naturopath gives her a concoction of herbs, supplements, and uploads different detox support programs onto our mini bioresonance machine (which works with the energies of the body).
She also takes a biofilm supplement that helps draw out the Lyme bacteria from their protective “coating” so they can be killed.
It’s been a slow process, but one that’s brought about massive improvements over these past two years.
Prevention is very important to avoid contracting Lyme in the first place. Sometimes, it’s just unavoidable – my sister was bitten while in bed; a spider crawled under her sheets and bit her in her sleep – but, in other cases it can be prevented;
- Wear long pants, sleeves, and socks to keep ticks away from skin.
- Use a natural insect repellent or bug spray whenever you go somewhere with large amounts of insects such as the woods, when hiking or camping, or out in the garden.
- Check skin thoroughly after being out in the woods or other outdoor areas.
- If you’re pregnant, it’s best to avoid outdoor areas where ticks may be found to help reduce risk.
- Improve immunity to give your body the best chance in fighting off bacteria.
If you’ve contracted Lyme’s disease, the first thing to do is see a medical professional for their recommended treatments. Even researching online “specialists in the treatment of Lyme’s disease” can be a great place to start.
Some natural treatments that may help improve immunity, which can help in the overall healing of Lyme, include:
1. Immune-Boosting Diet.
Boosting the immune system, lowering inflammation, and addressing the root cause of symptoms can make massive improvements in how the body is able to deal with Lyme. Removing grains, sugar and fruit from the diet whilst consuming more anti-inflammatory foods like most veggies, nuts, seeds, organic meat, bone broth, coconut and cultured foods can help.
Some foods to include more of for immunity include:
- Antioxidant-rich foods. Organic fresh fruits, veggies (particularly leafy greens)
- Probiotic-rich foods. Excellent sources include kefir, yoghurt (raw goat’s milk yoghurt is one of the highest sources of probiotics), amasai, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, kvass, and kimchi.
- Bone broth. Great for helping to repair leaky gut and improve immune function.
2. Supplements to Improve Immunity and Cell Function
Lyme bacteria can attack healthy cells and weaken the body. Immune-boosting supplements include:
- Omega-3. 1,000 mg of fish oil daily (one that contains astaxanthin) along with consuming omega-3-rich foods like wild caught fish, nuts, and seeds.
- B vitamins. Vitamin B-6 especially
- Vitamin D. Vitamin D3 particularly. While Vitamin D2 is plant-based, D3 is sourced from animals and has been found to be more effectively absorbed than D2. Supplement approx. 5,000 IU daily.
- Vitamin C. Crucial for immune function. My naturopath recommended this potent vitamin C powder for me.
- Turmeric. A natural anti-inflammatory.
- Chlorella. A wonderful detoxifier.
- CoQ10. 200 mg twice daily. CoQ10 may protect the nervous system and brain from degradation and inflammation.
- Probiotics. A minimum of 8 strains and 50 billion units daily.
- Medicinal Mushrooms. Including reishi, cordycep, and maitake mushrooms.
3. Prioritise Rest and Reduce Emotional Stress
Sleep is so important when it comes to healing and is something my sister was “forced” to do during the early stages of her Lyme treatment, as her body pretty much couldn’t do much else.
Chronic stress has been scientifically proven to weaken the immune system, triggering inflammation and a cascade of other problems. In fact, one of the reasons we believe Emma suffered with Lyme so severely was due to stress.
4. Reduce Exposure to Toxic Metals, Mould and Parasites
Detoxing plays a huge role in proper healing from Lyme. Without effectively detoxing toxins, a build-up of these substances can occur in the body, causing severe adverse reactions. Furthermore, parasites, heavy metals and mould exposure can place immense stress on the body, which can delay immune response to Lyme and other illnesses.
- Activated charcoal can be used as a natural treatment for parasites, bacteria and toxicity in the body, as it can bind to and remove harmful toxins.
- Following a diet low in sugar and high in healthy fats can help eliminate parasites and reduce stress on the body (as sugar is an inflammatory).
- Black walnut, grapefruit seed extracts, garlic, olive leaf, oregano, cat’s claw, and wormwood are useful herbs in killing parasites and other harmful pathogens in the body.
- Bentonite clay can help in removing heavy metals and chemicals in the body, as it binds to them and draws them out. Be sure to take bentonite clay and activated charcoal on an empty stomach as they can bind to minerals and prevent absorption.
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. I am not a doctor. All opinions expressed are my own personal thoughts and feelings of the products mentioned. Check with your doctor or health practitioner if you are uncertain about trying out any of the products, recipes or tips mentioned in this post.
Have you or someone you know had Lyme before? What was their experience? Share in the comments below.
Lots of love,
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/health/lyme-disease-treatment/
Eliaz, Isaac, MD, MS, LAc. (April 29, 2019). Integrative Lyme Treatment: Mapping the Road to Recovery. Dr. Axe. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/health/integrative-lyme-treatment/
Keck, Rachel MS. (April 5, 2018). How Lyme Disease Affects the Brain (And Mimics Other Diseases). Dr. Axe. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/health/how-lyme-disease-affects-the-brain/
Lyme Disease. (Last reviewed: August 30, 2021). CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html
Hecht, Marjorie. (Updated: August 3, 2020). 13 Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease-symptoms
The Healthline Editorial Team. (Updated: November 12, 2019). Everything You Need to Know About Lyme Disease. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease
O’Brien, Sharon, MS, PGDip. (November 19, 2018). Fish Oil Dosage: How Much Should You Take Per Day?. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fish-oil-dosage
Iftikhar, Noreen, MD. (Updated: June 29, 2018). Natural Treatments for Lyme Disease. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease-natural-treatment
Eckelkamp, Stephanie. (July 10, 2019). My Lyme Came Back After Antibiotics. Here’s How I Treated It Naturally. Mind Body Green. Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/lyme-disease-treatment-antibiotics-vs-natural-protocol