Lyme Disease: A Fresh StartMar 31, 2015 11:53AM ● By Katja Swift
It happens in life sometimes that a relationship with a rocky start can become a stable, life-long friendship. Even when things start off with misunderstanding, it’s not always a foregone conclusion that all is doomed. Perhaps it’s time to look at Lyme disease in this way; perhaps it’s time for a fresh start to how we treat and manage Lyme.
There have been ample medical studies conducted over the past 15 years which conclude that intensive and prolonged antibiotic therapy, including intravenous antibiotics, does not kill Lyme spirochetes. A recent report in The Journal of Infection by Steven Phillips indicates that Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi) spirochetes, the predominant causative agent of Lyme disease, can be reliably cultured from the blood of patients with Lyme disease, even from those previously aggressively treated with antibiotics. At the 13th International Congress of Parasitology, held in Mexico City in August, 2014, Charles Jones, M.D., presented findings from his study which confirmed that the causative agents of Lyme disease are able to survive in humans after multiple antibiotic treatments. His results confirmed that B. bissettii as well as B. burgdorferi are responsible for systemic disease in humans.
A Healthy Balance
Given the failure of antibiotics as a permanent treatment for Lyme, it may be time to work with Lyme disease in a different way. Rather than treat Lyme as an enemy which must be killed or eradicated, those living with it can learn how to manage the disease to a symptom free state by keeping the body in reasonably healthy balance. Once this new perspective is set, Lyme can even be viewed as a kind of early warning system: a symptom flare-up is the body sending a message that it is under stress and out of balance.
A whole food diet, free of processed foods and sugar, is critical in maintaining a healthy balance. Plenty of pastureraised animal protein or wild-caught sustainable fish, organic vegetables and lower sugar fruits are a good start. Fats also play a key role for Lyme recovery, as they are a necessary nutrient for a healthy nervous system. Choose unrefined fats such as coconut oil, ghee from grassfed cows, and fat from pasture-raised animals, olives and olive oil, and avocados. Avoid industrial seed oils such as canola and soy, processed foods, grains and sugars, although generally some amount of honey can be tolerated. A great source for transitioning to this style of eating is the Whole 30, a month-long elimination diet that removes the most inflammatory foods from the diet. (Whole30.com)
It is also important to include plenty of movement throughout each day. Exercise is not the same as movement, and in this case exercise is not the goal. Instead, a daily walk—ideally in a natural setting with uneven ground, but if necessary, a sidewalk will do—some light stretching and hanging from things once in a while is really what the body needs. The lymphatic system, which clears waste from the body and helps fight infections, doesn’t have any muscles of its own; it relies on the movement of the skeletal muscles to take out the trash. The more we move, even if it’s just walking around our home and up and down the stairs in our apartment, the better our body is able to clear out inflammatory waste and debris.
Sufficient sleep is the other side of the “detox” equation. The liver processes and eliminates waste during sleep, and a minimum of eight hours is required for this job. However, for someone with a chronic illness, a few months of 10 or even 12 hours of sleep a night can be very helpful. When in an inflammatory state, the body ends up with a backlog of unfinished cleanup, and more sleep helps the liver catch up.
Finally, there are herbs that can be helpful in the recovery process. These will vary from person to person, but high-mineral nutritive herbs such as nettles and dandelion help the kidneys do their part of waste elimination, and help nourish the body at the same time. Herbs that help the liver, such as milk thistle and burdock, are also useful. Turmeric can be particularly useful for reducing inflammation, and tulsi is fantastic for helping maintain a positive attitude during transitions. None of these herbs fight Lyme, but they do support the body’s shift back into balance.
While it can be challenging to make changes, none of the ones mentioned are risky. For individuals that have tried everything and found nothing works, or folks just starting out on their journey with Lyme, it can’t hurt to experiment a little to see how the body responds. It may turn out to be the start to an unexpected relationship.
Katja Swift is an herbalist and healer with 18 years of clinical experience. She is also director of CommonWealth Center for Holistic Herbalism, located at 25 St. Marys Ct., in Brookline. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 617-750- 5274 or visit CommonWealthHerbs.com.