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How many vitamins are too many?

We all know that suffering with Lyme symptoms can really push you to the edge. So when an expert says, "do this thing, e.g., take a handful of vitamins, and you'll feel better," we will go to just about any length to do that thing.

If you take upwards of 30 different supplements per day (or if it just feels like you do), and you are a bit depressed by the amount of time, money and energy you spend on them, then Ginger Savely, FNP, is on your side. She is on the hunt for products that give us "the most bang for our buck." Instead of taking 30 pills, you can get the same amount of supplements in just a couple of products such as Green Vibrance, which includes many of the vitamins we want in our healing diets, and fish oil.

Ginger is a nurse practitioner with a doctorate degree in research, who owns the SF clinic where she primarily sees patients with Lyme and Morgellons disease, of whom a high percentage also have Lyme. But Ginger's work does not stop there. She is a lifelong learner (and a former Lyme patient herself), who is currently enrolled in advanced courses in clinical nutrition and diet.

She began treating Lyme patients over a decade ago, and over the years gathered her recommendations into a pamphlet that she provides new patients. One patient, after looking over the material, told Ginger that she "sat down and cried," after reading it. She simply felt overwhelmed by the amount of things to take. She felt she would never be able to take all the supplements she needed to take.

Her patient's response made an impression, and Ginger then began to listen to her own gut instinct, and change the way she views diet and food. She says that instead of putting the emphasis on vitamin supplements in isolation, she now sees diet and food choices as a central component in healing Lyme disease.

Ginger has long suspected that the isolated vitamins we consume may not be the most efficient way to supplement our diets. And she readily admits she has been guilty of it herself, advising her patients to include vitamins recommended by popular research studies. Yet in her gut, she's always been curious as to just how effective these vitamin pills are.

Asking her patients didn't clear up the matter much. They would often say they took a long list of supplements, not because the vitamins made a difference in the way they felt, but because they were afraid to stop, just in case they might feel worse.

But Ginger's instinct has pointed her in a different direction. In terms of eating well to support a healing diet, she might say it's back to the future.

What does she advise her Lyme patients to do now? Get your healing supplements directly from the food you eat. Eat the old-fashioned way, by which she means the way we ate 100 years ago. Don't shy away from a little bit of animal fat, she says. The chronic illnesses that are currently such a problem in the western world, such as heart disease and diabetes, have come about since we started cutting "healthy" fats from our diet and replacing them with refined carbohydrates and refined sugar.

Eat the way your grandparents (or your great-grandparents) did. Whole foods, meat with a little fat on it (preferably grass-fed and organic), organic veggies. Above all, no refined carbs or sugar, which have absolutely no place in a healing diet.

On the occasions when Ginger does indulge in sugar, she feels "foggy" the very next day. She is a self-described sugar-holic, so she understands how difficult it is for some people to give it up. Yet after a few initial suggestions, she says, patients who agree to drop sugar from their diets seem to need no reminding. The body knows it will heal faster without it. After a couple of weeks of going without, it simply doesn't appeal to them anymore.

If you do eat sugar, keep it to the whole foods variety which at least includes a little nutritional value. Blackstrap molasses, unrefined honey may be tolerated by some people. Agave sweetener is processed in the exact same way that refined sugar is, and we have been "sold a bill of goods on that," she says.

If you don't eat sugar, antibiotics will have a better chance of working, and you may heal more quickly. Ginger observes that her patients who indulge in refined sweets do seem to take a slower route back to living a vibrantly healthy, post-Lyme life.

Ginger is featured in our Expert Audio Series. You can hear her interview for free by signing up for our LDRD newsletter.


Lyme doctor punished for helping children

Pediatrician and hero to many moms and kids with Lyme disease, Dr Charles Ray Jones is being "harassed" by the medical community for treating Lyme disease, says state Rep. Jason Bartlett (D-Bethel).

Bartlett sponsored a bill that was passed unanimously by Connecticut State Legislature in 2009 that protects doctors who treat chronic Lyme with antibiotics over extended periods. But although it may protect doctors in the future, it's not doing anything to protect Dr Jones right now.

"The law 'allow[s] a licensed physician to prescribe, administer or dispense long-term antibiotics for a therapeutic purpose to a patient clinically diagnosed with Lyme disease.'"

Jones has been ordered  to hire a monitor to examine his patients charts every month, given four years of probation and smacked with a $10,000 fine. Jones expects the monitor may cost $2,000 - $10,000 per month. He says "it's hopeless," because he simply cannot afford it. But what really burns up his supporters is that the good doctor appears to be the mouse in a game of legal cat-and-mouse being played out at his expense.

In a New Haven Advocate article from July 13, Time Is Running Out For Controversial Chronic Lyme Disease Doctor Betsy Yalga writes,

"None of Jones’ patients has complained, he’s quick to point out, and none has been harmed by his treatment. He’s never been sued for medical malpractice. The charges against him have been levied by fathers involved in custodial battles over their children. In those cases Mom was in charge of treatment and Dad was in charge of payment and disputed the need for treatment. By complaining, Jones’ supporters say, Dad could get back at Mom and possibly skirt paying a costly medical bill. There were no allegations of harm done to the children."

Please listen to a brief interview with Dr Charles Ray Jones in the member’s portal.

Samento & Banderol found significantly effective in Lyme treatment

A tick-borne, multisystemic disease, Lyme borreliosis caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi has grown into a major public health problem during the last 10 years. The primary treatment for chronic Lyme disease is administration of various antibiotics. However, relapse often occurs when antibiotic treatment is discontinued. One possible explanation for this is that B. burgdorferi become resistant to antibiotic treatment, by converting from their vegetative spirochete form into different round bodies and/or into biofilmlike colonies. There is an urgent need to find novel therapeutic agents that can eliminate all these different morphologies of B. burgdorferi. In this study, two herbal extracts, Samento and Banderol, as well as doxycycline (one of the primary antibiotics for Lyme disease treatment) were tested for their in vitro effectiveness on several of the different morphological forms of B. burgdorferi (spirochetes, round bodies, and biofilmlike colonies) using fluorescent, darkfield microscopic, and BacLight viability staining methods. Our results demonstrated that both herbal agents, but not doxycycline, had very significant effects on all forms of B. burgdorferi, especially when used in combination, suggesting that herbal agents could provide an effective therapeutic approach for Lyme disease patients. -- from article in Townsend Letter, July 2010

Samento and Banderol are found to be important herbal allies, in this study conducted by our friends at the Lyme Disease Research Group of the University of New Haven. In our interview with Eva Sapi, PhD, director of the graduate program in Lyme disease research, she promised that she was quite determined to find an effective agent that would "kill the bug -- and soon." So, this study is proof that Dr Sapi is following through with her promise. It is a hopeful note in the battle against the nasty bacterial complex we know as Borrelia burgdorferi.

Personally, I am very excited about these findings. Samento and Banderol have been my medicine of choice for several years. These herbal extracts have certainly been effective, helping me pull myself out of a painful, groggy nightmare and get my life back on track. Those two herbal tinctures daily, plus a host of other supportive supplements, a regular exercise routine, and a sugar-free, whole-foods diet, have made all the difference. Samento and Banderol have truly been my allies in this cross-training approach to healing.

Please read the entire article reporting on the study, which you can find on the website of the Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine. The article is titled: In Vitro Effectiveness of Samento and Banderol Herbal Extracts on the Different Morphological Forms of Borrelia Burgdorferi by Akshita Datar, Navroop Kaur, Seema Patel, David F. Luecke, and Eva Sapi, PhD -- Lyme Disease Research Group, University of New Haven

Members, to learn more about the work of the University of New Haven Lyme research program, please listen to our interview with Dr Eva Sapi. You will also find more information about Lee Cowden, MD, and his herbal protocol.


Jessica Wojenski, teen on a mission to educate people about Lyme

As reported in the Hollis Brookline Journal, teenager Jessica Wojenski, who recently graduated from New Hampshire's Bedford High School, has struggled to recover from Lyme symptoms severe enough to keep her out of school much of her junior and senior years.

“There’s such a lack of awareness out there about this that unless you scare people into realizing, they’re never going to get it, even though I hate doing that,” Jessica told the reporter.

I know just how she feels, and you probably do as well, if you have suffered with debilitating Lyme symptoms. Jessica is dedicated to raising awareness of the complications the disease can cause. Evidently she did not show symptoms in the early stages, which is a problem that many of us deal with -- not even suspecting Lyme disease as a cause of our painful and disorienting symptoms until the disease has progressed beyond the early stages. Kudos to her, and we hope she continues to find support in her New Hampshire community, which is located in the hot zone for ticks and Lyme infections.

When you are first diagnosed, you can easily be overwhelmed by information about what to do. What will work, what won't? Who should you consult and who can you trust as a reliable resource?

I agree with Jessica, there is not enough awareness of the serious nature of Lyme disease out there. Like her, I contracted Lyme about 5 or 6 years ago, and my painful symptoms and treatment quickly made it impossible for me to live my life in a normal way. Since then, my mission has also been to help educate people about this disease through sharing my interviews with Lyme disease experts and people who are living normal, healthy lives again, post-Lyme.

My life is now back to normal, thankfully, and my hope is that yours will soon be too. This is a good place to start educating yourself and clear up any confusion. Our list of "10 things you need to know about Lyme," is available immediately, when you sign up for our free newsletter.