Anyone who’s had some exposure to Lyme disease, either as a patient or a friend or relative of one, knows how notoriously difficult the condition is to deal with. That’s because the corkscrew shaped spirochete bacterium associated with Lyme can change forms, mimicking the symptoms of nearly 350 different illnesses evading the immune system and antibiotics, wreaking havoc on the body. Successful antibiotic treatment is possible only in the early stages of infection so understand the signs of infection and what you can do to protect yourself.
Here are my suggestions:
Know how you can get Lyme disease. It was previously believed that Lyme disease was only transmitted by ticks. However, reasearchers and doctors I’ve spoken with have now found live spirochetes of Lyme in fleas, mites, and mosquitoes. And although it was first thought the disease couldn’t be transmitted directly from human to human, the live spirochetes have now also been found in blood, urine, tears, semen, breast milk, cord blood, pool water, and vaginal secretions. (There are also some reports of the spirochete being found in cows, possibly affecting our milk supply).
Take preventive measures while outside. If you do intend to spend time outdoors, it would be wise to use a DEET-free insect repellent such as Shoo-Bug on your clothes. After spending time outside, check your body and your children’s meticulously for ticks. They are the size of a pencil tip. Generally the tick needs to remain attached 12 or more hours before it can pass on the infective material, so check yourself and remove the tick as soon as possible, and treat the skin around the bite with alcohol.
Be alert for symptoms.
- From 3 to 30 days afterward: the bull’s-eye rash at the site of the bite (in half of the cases); fever; chills; headache; muscle and/or joint pain; fatigue.
- From days to weeks afterward: multiple rashes; facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy); stiff neck; fever; headache; weakness, numbness, or pain in the arms or legs; irregular heartbeat; weakness and fatigue.
- Weeks to months afterward: arthritis in the lower joints (usually the knees); nervous system problems.
It is often noted that a tick bite carrying Lyme disease will present a bulls-eye wound but this is only true for a fraction of Lyme’s cases, and many patients do not recall having ever seen a bite.
Act immediately if you suspect infection. You may have a stronger ability to beat the disease and detoxify the spirochete’s toxins from your system if you have maintained good bacterial flora in your lower bowel through the use of probiotics and fermented foods. Yet another reason to incorporate probiotics and fermented foods into your lifestyle!
There are also some effective natural alternatives that have been shown to eliminate the Lyme spirochete when used alone or in conjunction with the antibiotic and anti-protozoal medications.
- Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa). One study showed that an extract of this Peruvian medicinal plant commonly known as cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) was more effective than antibiotic therapy in eliminating the Lyme spirochete. It is not unusual to continuously take the supplement for as long as 8 to 16 months. If you stop too soon, there’s a greater likelihood of experiencing a relapse.
- Artemisinin. This is an extract of Chinese wormwood that has been used for decades to treat malaria. I first wrote about artemisinin over 14 years ago. The recommended dosage when used in conjunction with Lyme treatment is 1 capsule (100 mg) taken three times a day by itself without other medications or supplements.
I’m not trying to alarm you or scare you; far from it. My hope is that you’ll be more alert to the problem and realize there are solutions. If you believe you have been infected it is very important you seek the professional care of a Lyme literate doctor to avoid misdiagnosis and prolonged suffering.
Now it’s your turn: Have you ever found a tick on your body?