Chronic Lyme Disease Through Holistic Medicine
The Wellness Duo is back and this time they’re answering questions about Lyme Disease, an often misunderstood and misdiagnosed medical condition. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year, yet it’s estimated that the condition affects up to 300,000 annually. In Canada, the last reported number of diagnosed cases was 2,025, with each year showing an increase over the other as the disease becomes more prevalent.
Lyme is a borreliosis caused by borrelia bacteria; ticks pick up the bacteria from infected animals and pass it on to other animals, including humans. According to the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, symptoms of Lyme Disease can appear quickly or gradually over time if the infection has lain dormant.
When Lyme Disease is detected and treated early, symptoms will minimize, but if it’s left to be untreated, the disease can go on to adversely affect every part of the body and its systems. Chronic symptoms of Lyme Disease include fatigue, joint pain and arthritis, head problems, numbness, heart problems, nausea and vomiting, depression, and stress.
1. How can specific foods and herbal remedies help manage symptoms of chronic Lyme disease?
The most important thing you can do when battling any illness is to feed your body what it needs to heal. Everyone is very different when it comes dietary and herbal remedy recommendations. A few things The Wellness Duo would recommend when using foods as a way of healing from Lyme Disease is to eliminate foods that decrease inflammation, starve bacteria, and incorporate foods that will support and increase your immune system.
Things to eliminate include gluten, as it converts to sugar and feeds the Lyme bacteria and co-infectors; dairy, as it increases inflammation in the gut region; sugars, including high-sugar fruits (with the exception of berries as they are low in content and high in antioxidants); and alcohol and caffeine, which are both known to aggravate symptoms.
Things to incorporate include antioxidants, to help remove free radicals (toxins) from the body, including colourful fruits (such as berries which are lower in sugar and high in antioxidants) and high-fibre vegetables (slightly cooked to help with digestion), avocado, kale, tomato, walnuts, coconut oil, legumes, beans and lentils; water, to help eliminate excess amounts of toxic buildup in the body infected with Lyme Disease; probiotics, to help repopulate the good bacteria in the gut that often gets destroyed by antibiotics, in order to strengthen the immune system; and important supplements that are high in vitamins and nutrients, including kimchi, unpasteurized sauerkraut, coconut kefir, low sugar-content kombucha, and miso, which are all incredibly high in vitamins in nutrients.
Herbs are especially helpful when it comes to boosting the immune system. Angelica root, elderberry, and echinacea are all known to boost the immune system. Astragalus root also holds the same properties while helping the body adapt to stress.
2. What is the biofilm on the Lyme bacteria and why is it important to understand it?
Those who live with Lyme Disease have an accumulation of what is known as biofilm communities, which are a tricky culprit when trying to treat Lyme Disease with antibiotics. Biofilm is a slimy substance that adheres to a cell’s surface, like a bubble around it, essentially protecting the disease. What’s so tricky is about Lyme Disease and its co-infectors is that they love to hide and are very strong and smart bacteria. The bacteria themselves have the ability to alter their DNA to look familiar once it has entered into the bloodstream. Essentially, your immune cells fail to recognize the bacteria as an invader, passing over the threat of the bacteria, and failing to fight it off. As a result, these bacteria not only have a chance to host but also to multiply throughout your system.
The biofilm needs to be broken down in order to increase the efficacy of your immune cells to keep fighting, and this can be done by eliminating certain foods, adding in others, and finding herbs and medications that can assist you in killing harmful bacteria.
Emerging research is showing that cannabis, and the cannabinoids found within, can potentially have an “antibiofilm effect”, which is one of the reasons that many people with Lyme Disease are turning to medical cannabis to help fight the disease.
3. What organs and systems does Lyme typically target and how do you develop holistic support for the affected areas?
Lyme Disease doesn’t just affect one area of the body, it can damage any organ and internal bodily system, including your nervous system, circulatory system, and even the way your brain functions.
Each individual with Lyme Disease will have certain symptoms and ways the disease manifests, but rarely do symptoms manifest all at the same time. It’s important that individuals with Lyme Disease work alongside a health professional that is highly literate on, or specializes in Lyme Disease. Also, seeking other supports like a Clinical Nutritionist, or Clinical Herbalist are common for those with Lyme Disease. Health practitioners can work with individuals to customize a specific meal and herbal plan to tackle various symptoms. Living with a chronic disease is difficult, The Wellness Duo also recommends finding a therapist or someone you can confide in to support you through the difficulties of living with Lyme Disease.
4. What kind of pain do people with Lyme experience on an ongoing basis and how do you suggest managing the pain with natural remedies?
Joint and muscle aches are one of the most common symptoms of Lyme Disease, which can worsen if the disease is left untreated. In addition adjusting the foods they eat, and the supplements they ingest, some people turn to medical cannabis as a means to deal with the pain associated with Lyme Disease.
A Clinical Herbalist will tell you that certain herbs can also help manage pain. These herbs include turmeric, cayenne, ginger, peppermint, and white willow bark.
The Wellness Duo recommends exploring cannabis infused topicals as a means to help relieve some of the pain associated with Lyme Disease. Under their brand Earth Kisses Sky, the Wellness Duo has created a salve that incorporates various herbs and essential oils into a product that invites consumers to add their own cannabis oil. The product can be found at https://justaddoil.ca/– just add cannabis oil purchased from a legal source, and the special formulation works with the cannabis oil to provide relief for localized pain.
5. How can a person with chronic Lyme boost their immunity?
Boosting immunity is all about incorporating anti-oxidant, vitamin, and nutrient rich foods into your diet, and incorporating strategies into your health and wellness regimen that are focused on killing unhealthy bacteria, promoting “good” bacteria, and reducing the biofilm that protects Lyme Disease. As mentioned, for some, cannabis medicine is used to help reduce the biofilm and boost immunity.
6. Any other key suggestions for a person with Lyme about getting the right diagnosis as soon as possible?
Since Lyme Disease is carried through ticks, it’s important that as soon as you notice you have a tick, notice a bulls-eye rash, or are experiencing symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle and joint aches, or swelling in your lymph nodes, to go to a doctor. People often think deer ticks and dog ticks are different with one being less harmful, but The Wellness Duo is quick to remind us that a tick is a tick, and any tick bite can lead to Lyme Disease.
The first physical signs of Lyme infection often appear similar to flu-like symptoms, including sore throat, headaches, congestion, and stiffness. As a result, many are treated for cold or flu rather than being tested for Lyme Disease, and are left to deal with troubling medical symptoms without a proper answer. Testing for Lyme Disease is often inaccurate, showing false negatives when there is, in fact, Lyme Disease present.
When Lyme Disease is not diagnosed, in the long term its symptoms can mask as other diseases or conditions like the common flu, to more serious conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, or juvenile arthritis.
The Wellness Duo always encourages people to be their own health advocate. With Lyme Disease being so tricky disease to diagnose, people may have to seek second, or third opinions when getting an accurate diagnosis. As mentioned, it’s important to seek a wrap-around approach to your health when dealing with Lyme Disease. Always make sure the practitioners you’re working with are literate in Lyme Disease, so to get the best out of your symptom management.
7. Is Lyme disease curable?
The good news about Lyme Disease is that if caught early, it can be treated, usually with antibiotics such as doxycycline (or penicillin for children), and people will experience a 100% recovery within a few weeks of treatment.
However, if the symptoms of Lyme Disease are left untreated and the condition is undiagnosed (or misdiagnosed as an auto-immune disease), Lyme Disease, along with its co-infectors, become much stronger, allowing them to manifest deeper creating a more chronic and debilitating disease. Long term effects of Lyme Disease can include nerve damage, memory loss, dangerous inflammation around the heart, and other permanent health problems. This is why so many people who have received a diagnosis of Lyme Disease too late often have other resulting and chronic health problems.
According to The Wellness Duo, its incredibly important to manage one’s mental health when living with the long-term effects of undiagnosed Lyme Disease. Our body houses our minds, which is an extremely powerful culprit that sometimes has the tendency to slow our healing process down. We need to not only care for the things we put into our bodies but the things we tell ourselves, think to ourselves, and the people we are surrounded with.
We must first honour our heart and soul, to always be grateful even in the worst situations, and to constantly tell yourself you are enough & you will get through this.