Lyme disease is a complicated infection, tough to diagnose and even harder to treat if doctors miss an early diagnosis, which is all too often the case. Lyme disease treatment is tricky because the most popular blood tests used in most doctors’ offices to detect the disease miss about 55 percent of Lyme cases. If and when a patient finally is diagnosed, it’s sometimes by a clinical evaluation of the symptoms, ones that often mimic other ailments like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Complicating matters even further, the hodge-podge collection of symptoms often waxes and wanes and moves from one bodily system to another, making it even harder for doctors to effectively diagnose and treat. Headaches, migrating pain, bowel problems, uncharacteristic mood swings, panic attacks, and sleep disorders are just a few of the symptoms commonly reported in Lyme patients.
Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Only Answer
While antibiotics and other prescription meds are certainly helpful in treating the disease and the all-to-common tick-borne co-infections that often hitchhike into your body through a tick bite, experts in natural medicine say there’s also a place for holistic remedies in the treatment and management of Lyme disease, particularly in Lyme patients battling a chronic infection and its side effects. Antibiotics alone may not suffice because Lyme disease is caused by an intracellular spirochete bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. “Intracellular means that the spirochete gets into the cell and therefore is not always available to the antibiotics,” explains Isaac Eliaz, MD, coauthor of the journal report and founder of Amitabha Medical Clinic and Healing Center in Sebastopol, California. “The cell membrane inadvertently protects the bacteria and shields it from the antibiotics. The bacteria can also hide dormant in the nervous system, among other places, where antibiotic drugs can’t reach them.”
Dr. Eliaz and several other well-known experts in the field of natural medicine recently shared natural Lyme disease treatment options in the journal Alternative and Complimentary Therapies. The gist is that many natural treatments can help heal the body by knocking out the infection and reducing inflammation while also getting an injured immune system back on track. Visit the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society site to learn more about preventing and treating Lyme, and to search for doctors who diagnose based on a clinical evaluation, not just blood tests.
Natural Ways to Deal with Lyme
Acupuncture: While researchers admit more research is warranted, acupuncture appears to be a promising way to help reduce or eliminate pain brought on by Lyme disease.
Lyme-killing plants: According to the report, herbs like samento, banderol, andrographis, Japanese knotweed/resveratrol, smilax, cat’s claw, and Stephania all target Lyme and related tick-borne infections. Be sure to talk to a doctor knowledgeable in integrative medicine for more info on taking these herbs.
Have tea time: Green tea compounds, along with curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric, are known to reduce oxidative stress and help aid in traditional antibiotic treatment.
Be tested for deficiencies: Zinc, B, and D vitamin deficiencies could slow down Lyme recovery, so be sure to ask your doctor to test for these, and improve your diet or supplement accordingly to bring your numbers up to healthy levels.
Probiotics: Probiotic foods may help replenish beneficial bacteria in the gut that are wiped out by antibiotic Lyme disease treatment. Organic yogurt, kefir, and even fermented vegetables are good sources of probiotics.
Exercise: Even small concentrations of oxygen can help destroy Lyme bacteria in the body. Although Lyme typically zaps people’s energy, intense exercise during and after treatment can help keep the disease at bay.
Inflammation annihilators: Dr. Eliaz recommends natural compounds that ease inflammation, such as curcumin, modified citrus pectin, and Tibetan Herbal Formula. First and foremost, a low-glycemic-index diet is a must because carbohydrates, including sugar, fuel the Lyme germs. This means ditching most processed foods and avoiding any added sugar. “Understanding the person, and actively supporting the person’s general health with emphasis on their immune system, circulation, reduced inflammation, and detoxification can be very helpful,” he adds, and notes that high dosages of vitamin C IV and personalized integrative care can make a big difference when treating Lyme disease.