Welcome To Lyme Bytes!
Greetings and welcome to my Lyme disease blog, a comfy cozy (and sometimes crazy!) place for cutting-edge information, encouragement and insight into the fastest-growing epidemic disease in the United States. In this blog you will find everything from bug-killing strategies to immune system and hormone help, as well as lifestyle and spiritual suggestions for healing from chronic illness involving Lyme disease. The information contained within this blog is based upon my own healing journey and what I have learned over the past eight years as I have been diligently digging and researching my way back to a better state of health. May you find it to be a source of hope, inspiration and wisdom in your own journey towards wellness.
About the book:
Published August, 2009
Written by Connie Strasheim
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Friday, December 10, 2010
So the journey back to sanity and relative wellness has been long, and no one single intervention, in and of itself, has been a miracle. I wish I could say that doing X, Y or Z therapy is "it," but the one-size-fits-all remedy for chronic illness or Lyme disease just doesn't exist, except perhaps, for a lucky few.
On that note, please beware of the vociferous and exuberant within the healing community who swear that one specific type of therapy cured them from Lyme and that because it cured them, it should cure you, too. Especially if that therapy hasn't been tested and tried and successfully cured a least a couple hundred others. I have seen people led astray in their healing for years by such folks, but their voices are compelling and their testimonials are powerful because truly, they were one of the lucky or blessed few-and I do mean few- for whom a single therapy or remedy brought them back to life.
Of course, I believe that God can bless any treatment, and those who have received miracles-either supernaturally or through medicine- have received them only because God chose to bless them. I have a theory that He smiles down upon doctors with humble, caring hearts, and whose work isn't done for motives of self-exaltation. Similarly, I believe that God heals those who pursue Him with a humble heart and who submit to His ways so that He can show them the way to health. God gives grace to all but I think that the more willing that we are to spend time with Him and pursue His path instead of ours, the more we will understand how He means to heal us.
This is the foremost, and in my opinion, most important element of healing; being in relationship with God. I recognize that everyone has a different belief system when it comes to faith, and I'm not trying to impose my beliefs on anyone. I simply state what has worked for me, and I speak about the God I know, in case anyone else is interested in knowing Him, too!
As I wrote in my recently published book, Healing Chronic Illness: By His Spirit, Through His Resources, God has healed me both supernaturally and through medicine. Of course, medicine can be supernatural when blessed by God, and over the past six years, God has blessed some of what I have chosen to do to heal from Lyme, but not all of it.
In hindsight, I realize that some of the healing modalities which didn't work well for me were things that I chose to do before seeking the counsel of God on the matter. They were usually either 1) inordinately expensive 2) successful for only a small handful 3) excessively complicated to follow or 4) recommended by a practitioner whose motives in healing patients were less than honest.
I write more about this in my recent book, because I think that such factors provide crucial insights into the treatment decision-making process. That said, God does use the inordinately selfish to heal others, and treatment regimens for Lyme and chronic illness are expensive and complicated to follow, but...some are obviously much more so than others.
Similarly, I believe that when we have gratitude and respect for those who are involved in healing us, we are blessed. When we are thankful for the treatments that are put in our paths, and acknowledge the positive effects that these have had upon our bodies, it opens the door to further healing. Much more is involved, and I discuss these factors more in my book, Healing Chronic Illness so for now I will simply mention the treatments that I believe have been crucial in bringing me back to wellness.
Please note, I am not 100% "well." Wellness is a tricky thing to define, and in some regard, we will all continually be working towards wellness, but compared to where I was six years ago, I tentatively believe that I am about 80 percent better. And then again, supposing you can attach a percentage to it.
Also, and I can't stress this point enough-healing isn't just about getting rid of infections. Getting rid of Lyme and co-infections is a major part of the battle, but if immune dysfunction or hormonal imbalances preceded the tick bite, then these problems won't necessarily get completely resolved when the infections are gone. Some people are made radically well when they get rid of Lyme; but for others, there is much more involved. Heavy metals and other environmental toxins. Harmful relationships. Unforgiveness. Dental infections in the mouth. Vitamin, hormonal, and other deficiencies and imbalances. Yes, Lyme can exacerbate and make worse all of the above, but the opposite can be true, as well. And in the society in which we live; a society in which more and more young people are getting sick from a lack of healthy, nutrient-rich food, as well as toxicity and an unnatural, rushed lifestyle in which we are pushed to do ever more, multiple factors conspire to make the body sick and allow Lyme to get a foothold. For some, Lyme is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, but once it gets out of control, it becomes a major contributing factor to symptoms.
Personally, I think that the bugs were only part of what broke my biochemistry. I spent many years of my life living in a constant state of "fight or flight" which was, of course, exacerbated by Lyme, but living in anxiety day after day suppressed my immune system. That, coupled with the fact that I am a hyper-sensitive person meant that any kind of negative stimuli -emotional, physical or otherwise-, radically affected my well-being.
So you see how complicated healing can be. I preface my list of healing strategies with this sermon, because if I mention the remedies that I believe healed me without noting the additional factors that allowed those remedies to work, then I would be doing my readers a disservice. So with that in mind, below are the top twelve types of treatment that I believe have most impacted my healing, in addition to my lifestyle and relationship with God. Bear in mind, what has healed my biochemistry may not heal yours. Also, it's difficult to ascertain with 100% accuracy what has been the most beneficial, because each healing modality built upon the effects of the previous one, so please bear this in mind as you read.
1). Bio-identical hormones and nutritional support for my thyroid and adrenals.
Many Lyme-literate doctors claim that their patients can't heal from Lyme if their hormonal dysfunction isn't addressed. This has been true for me. In fact, I believe that adrenal insufficiency preceded my Lyme. Because the adrenals are profoundly involved in immune function, I don't believe that the body can heal from infections if the adrenals aren't supported. Thyroid function is linked to adrenal function, and most thyroid dysfunction in people with Lyme is caused by adrenal insufficiency, so in most cases, you must heal the adrenals in order to heal the thyroid.
I still suffer from some degree of adrenal dysfunction and I haven't found a single treatment that restores this problem completely. Usually, healing the adrenals requires a multi-faceted approach, including rest, a healthy diet free of processed sugar and caffeine, and various vitamin, mineral and herbal supports. Many Lyme doctors contend that if you support the thyroid without supporting the adrenals, then the adrenal dysfunction gets worse, but it seems that many doctors' protocols involve giving patients bioidentical or synthetic thyroid hormone replacement and only nutritional support to the adrenals. This seems a bit unbalanced to me. Thyroid hormone is extremely powerful, and it would seem that if the adrenals are the cause of thyroid hormone deficiency, then the adrenals should receive stronger support than the thyroid, but the reverse usually happens. On the other hand, giving bioidentical cortisol to support the adrenals often backfires on patients, because dosing it is tricky and the adrenals sometime shut down their own production of cortisol when supplemental cortisol is given for too long. I don't know what the answer is, as I have tried every supplement under the sun and nothing has restored my adrenal function 100%. Furthermore, I am not sure my adrenals will be healed 100% as long as I am taking bioidentical thyroid hormone. Yet, I have found bioidentical T3 and T4 to be important, as thyroid hormones regulate many functions in the body. Some people prefer Armour thyroid, which is a natural form of thyroid hormone, but I prefer bioidentical hormones, because these are made to be identical to human hormones, whereas Armour is made from a pig. I realize though, that Armour works for some people. For the adrenals, I have found licorice and Siberian Ginseng to be most helpful, as well as Isocort, which is a natural adrenal glandular formula containing cortisol. Vitamins B5, B6 and Vitamin C are thought to be helpful, too.
2). Anti-depressants, specifically, mirtazapine (Remeron). You got it. The amino acid approach didn't work well for me, especially when I had severe psychiatric symptoms. I didn't like taking a drug for four years, but the body can't heal when you are continually anxious and depressed. Period. I would have preferred natural remedies such as 5-HTP and L-tryptophan over Remeron, but these didn't work well for me. Perhaps it's because Vitamin B-6 is required to make serotonin from amino acid precursors, and people with adrenal insufficiency have trouble metabolizing B-6? An interesting theory.
3).Nutrients, including fish oil (Nordic Naturals), magnesium (Peter Gilham's formula), an assortment of B-vitamins, Vitamin D, iron, probiotics, enzymes, and other vitamin supplements. I believe these have been essential for bringing my body back to health, although their effects have been extremely gradual.
4). Exercise and an organic diet free of soy, gluten, cow dairy, most fruits, processed sugar and all grains, except brown rice. To this day, I feel best on a diet of green veggies, low-to-moderate glycemic level fruits, moderate amounts of animal protein, including salmon, beef, chicken, goat cheese, kefir and yogurt, and nuts, including almonds, organic peanuts, and walnuts. Bread, dessert and wine I can handle on a once-per-week basis. My exercise regimen included 20 minutes of Pilate's and 30-40 minutes of walking, 3-4 days per week. Maintaining a proper diet and exercise I believe is essential to recovery.
5). Herbs, including andrographis and samento for Borrelia and artemisia for babesia. The latter only worked for me when I mixed it with grapefruit juice and Phos-Chol; otherwise, my body didn't absorb it! I have used a variety of others herbs for Lyme and other infections, such as quina, noni and cumanda, but by themselves, herbs did not get rid of my infections. Yet they were an integral part of my protocol.
6). Antibiotics, including a half-dozen drugs that I now can't remember the names of, which I don't think is important, because I have discovered that the remedies which work best depend radically from person to person, and only ART or bioenergetic testing can reveal exactly what a person needs. For instance, I didn't seem to need prolonged regimens of cyst-busting drugs, such as metronidazole and tinidazole. I took tinidazole for approximately 3-4 months, but Vitalzym, an enzyme, seemed to get rid of the remaining problematic cysts. Interesting that an innocent, friendly enzyme could get rid of those nasty suckers, eh? I wouldn't recommend taking Vitalzym to treat the cystic form of Lyme, however, unless your doctor specifically finds through ART (autonomic response testing) that it's beneficial.
7). Bio-film busting agents and anti-coagulants such as Boluoke and Rechts-Regulat. This can be important for some, as bugs use biofilm and thick blood to prevent antimicrobial remedies from reaching them. Other problems are created by thick blood, such as nutrients and oxygen not being able to reach the cells.
8). Bionic 880 machine. This biophoton device is effective for killing all kinds of pathogens, although in and of itself, it was insufficient for getting rid of all of my infections. People have varying results with it, and those who are extremely toxic should use it with caution, as it mobilizes toxins in the body. That I am aware, this treatment is still only available in Germany. Please refer to my second book, Insights Into Lyme Disease Treatment, for more information on the practitioners that use it.
9). Detoxification treatments. This is an absolutely integral part of any Lyme disease protocol, and involves all of the following:
a) Agents to mobilize and bind toxins, such as chlorella, zeolite and glutathione.
PCA-rx seemed to be one especially helpful product which helped me to get rid of heavy metals.
b) Homotoxicology and homeopathic remedies to open up the body's drainage pathways. Apo-Hepat and Renelix are two high quality products that I used.
c) Exercise, body brushing, coffee enemas, and saunas to further stimulate toxin removal.
10). Prolotherapy and Pilate's for hip and back pain. The causes of pain in Lyme disease are multiple, and I discovered prolotherapy to be an extremely effective remedy for ligament laxity and cartilaginous damage done by the bugs. This safe, (albeit somewhat expensive and painful) procedure, stimulates the body to lay down new ligament tissue, via injections of pumice and sugar water. The injections create an inflammatory response which then incites the body to create more tissue. The success of prolotherapy depends largely upon the source of a person's pain and whether there are significant auto-immune processes happening in the body. It also depends significantly upon the skill of the practitioner.
11). ACT, Advanced Cellular Training (formerly IRT, Immune Response Training). This treatment modality didn't get rid of my bugs but it brought me out of a very bad place in 2006, when I thought I was near death. Three months of sessions restored my sleep and my sanity. At first, the results were so dramatic that I thought it would fully heal me, but a traumatic event in my life caused the treatments to stop working. Still, I am grateful for the impact that it had upon my life and I believe that it can help some people with Lyme.
12). Melatonin, Kavinace, L-glycine and sometimes, lorezapam for sleep. Throughout my healing journey, I took sedatives to sleep, but usually only for brief periods. Yet I found them to be crucial when Herxheimer reactions were unbearable, or when I was traveling. Sleep is absolutely essential to recovery, and I advocate doing whatever it takes, drug or no drug, to get 7-9 good hours of rest per night.
I surmise that for most people, antibiotics aren't enough to get rid of Lyme disease. Neither are Rife or Bionic machines, or herbs, when used alone. Some of the more "fringe" strategies, such as the salt/C protocol and MMS may be helpful for reducing pathogen load but I would not base any core Lyme disease protocol upon these methods, as I don't know of many who have healed by leaps and bounds with them.
Finally, I believe that success in healing depends not only upon the what, but also the how, why and when a treatment is used. It's not just about the right treatments; it's about doing them at the right time and rotating them on a regular basis. It's about not neglecting any aspect of a treatment regimen, or sabotaging treatments by living an unhealthy lifestyle; it's about pursuing an integrated approach to wellness, and following through. It's difficult. It's complicated. But with God's help, I believe it can be done! And as I mentioned in my previous post, if I can be healed, I think anyone can.