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Ever reached a crossroads in treatment?

Have you or your Lyme doctor chosen to supplement or substitute your treatment using herbal therapies, homeopathic remedies, or other alternative treatments? Over the years, I've noticed that a fair number of people who are undergoing Lyme treatment at some point decide to switch to, or at least try, herbal remedies, traditional Chinese medicine, rifing, super-oxygenation, or other alternatives to conventional antibiotic treatments. It seems that a lot of us reach a crossroads at some point in our healing journey, and have to make an important decision.

In my case, I treated with heavy doses of antibiotics for six months, and over that time period I slowly emerged from the hell of the symptoms I was experiencing. I'd been diagnosed in a late stage of Lyme, and the treatment had been as hard on my body as the original symptoms, or even worse. Actually it was impossible to tell which was worse, the treatment, which made me re-experience the original symptoms, or the sickness itself. After six months of treatment I had returned to work and was feeling generally better, but was unable to continue antibiotics for financial reasons. I reached the end of that six-month period and although I was relieved to get off the antibiotics, my doc was clearly worried about a relapse. I kept up my herbal and vitamin supplements, which were super-expensive but proving to be well worth the cost. I was curious about Samento, so I started Dr Cowden's herbal antibiotic protocol as soon as possible after I took my last conventional pill. I've always been proactive regarding staying healthy, so getting enough sleep, regular exercise and eating a good quality Mediterranean diet are my staples.

For many reasons (not only financial), Lyme patients decide to try herbs, or many other types of treatment such as HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen treatment), rife machines, Vitamin C and salt, or other compelling treatments. For example, Matthew Wood, the renowned herbalist I spoke with a couple weeks ago, tells us he's treating Lyme successfully with the common herb, teasel, and that instead of killing the bacteria, teasel warms up the body's environment and lures the bacteria out from its hiding places to be killed off by the body's own immune defense system.

In some cases, people I've talked to say they simply had an inner compulsion to switch up treatments. Evidence exists to support changing types of antibiotics because the Lyme bacteria will grow accustomed to one type of treatment, and just stop responding to it.

How did you or your doctor respond when you reached such a crossroads in your Lyme treatment? If you made changes in your treatment along the way, how did your switch effect you? Has it been positive, challenging, or pushed you into a new level of healing?


Your Lyme treatment & supplement safety

Health insurance may be directly affecting your ability to get the medical treatment you need. A fair number of people who leave comments on this blog tell about the confounding experience of being rejected by their insurance companies. When a door slams in your face, whether you are in the middle of treatment or just beginning, your treatment choices are reduced or eliminated entirely. What then?

So now that the dust on the Congressional floor is settling, and the historic health care reform bill has passed, how will it affect your treatment? If your insurance company has refused to cover you for pre-existing conditions, will you now be able to reapply for coverage? During the coming weeks, we will be interviewing medical insurance experts who can help us understand the fallout from this historic passage.

Meantime, I want to call your attention to another bill under consideration, one that might also affect your treatment. I know I'm not alone in supplementing my treatment with vitamins and herbs. There is currently a bill in congress that, if passed, could change our ability to buy vitamins and supplements as common as CO-Q10, Vitamins D, C, and others.

The Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 (S.3002), would amend The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act so the FDA would have absolute discretion to decide market availability of, as well as mandatory recall authority over, supplements. Some are calling this proposed act a prohibition of supplements.

We believe that consumer safety is of the utmost importance, and S.3002 has targeted products containing steroids and other illegal substances. However, the entire vitamin and supplements industry could as well be effected, with devastating results to small-company suppliers of herbal supplements, vitamins and to the people who buy those items to supplement their treatment.

As health advocate Stephen Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N. puts it, "The problem with this bill is that its provisions are too broad, and don't specifically target the problems at hand.

We need the FDA to protect consumers against harmful products without smothering an industry that lacks the resources to comply with over-regulation. Coupled with greater FDA authority to decide which supplements are suitable for market, the new regulations create the potential for pharmaceutical companies to indirectly strong-arm smaller supplement companies out of business.

A more realistic balance between consumer safety and freedom in health care is possible through a more streamlined and carefully structured bill. S.3002 should not be passed as is, and public opposition could set the stage for closer scrutiny of any related supplement regulation."

Concerned about the future availability of supplements in your Lyme treatment protocol? Let your Senator know your opinion. Send an email or a place a quick phone call. Want to read the bill? Google the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 (S.3002) to view the .pdf.

Learn how to approach Lyme through holistic cross-training.

What's stressing you?

Stress is believed by many to be a huge contributor of illness. Struggling with Lyme disease symptoms is stressful not only on your physical and mental bodies, but also on your emotions. And to top it off, even your own awareness of the stresses in your life can be a source of anxiety.

I remember when I was told that my Lyme-induced skin rash was nothing but a bad case of eczema. The nurse practitioner I'd gone to for help asked me in-depth questions about my rash, my diet, and my health history. She seemed puzzled that I was not the type who might suffer from eczema. I had never overused antibiotics, my Mediterranean-type diet included fresh greens and did not include sugar or alcohol. I was very much in love with my life-partner and running a small business that satisfied my financial needs, and which gave me time to spend with family and friends.

As I stood to leave, she peered pensively over her glasses at me and tapped her pen against her chin for a second. "You really must do something about whatever is stressing you out so badly," she said.

When I returned a blank look, she threw me a doctorly look and added, "think about it."

On the drive home, I soul-searched, but still couldn't locate a source of stress along the magnitude she was referring to. It wasn't as if I was living in a bubble, I had certainly had my challenges and bumps on the road of life. But at the time, things were going well. As a naturally self-reflective person, I felt a little embarrassed. Out of touch with myself. Was I making myself sick? By the time I pulled into my driveway, I had concluded that there must be something really wrong with me -- mentally and emotionally, not physically.

Months later, when a different doctor had my blood tested at IGeneX and I received a positive diagnosis for the Lyme infection, I felt that odd sense of relief familiar to many people with this disease. The illness, the mysterious symptoms, the long journey to a positive diagnosis, and the diagnosis itself is so hard-fought and hard-won. And finally, the physical and mental stress of treatment itself. It was a little like that old joke about the tombstone engraved with "I TOLD you I was sick!"

If you think stress might be a contributing factor to your illness (or like me, even if you don't), here are 7 things to do to eliminate or reduce tension and anxiety every day.

1. Set strong boundaries.

2. Take time for yourself.

3. Find areas of your life to maintain control.

4. Learn when to say "no, thanks."

5. Surround yourself with supportive and proactive people.

6. Ask for help when you need it.

7. Love yourself.

How do you deal best with the everyday stresses in your life, as you heal from Lyme? Please let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear from you!


Matthew Wood tells how teasel works

I feel great! It could be the sunshiny weather, or the fact that I am not Lymie anymore, having survived a recent herx. But I think what really lifted my spirits was talking with herbalist Matthew Wood, about the effectiveness of the herb teasel on Lyme and co-infections. I got a major energy boost from listening to him describe the way teasel works. After our conversation I immediately went to Amazon and ordered his book, The Book of Herbal Wisdom: Using Plants as Medicines which has a comprehensive chapter all about this strong herbal medicine. I can't wait to learn more about it.

Teasel is considered a common weed that can frequently be found growing alongside highways. It is not an herbal antibiotic. Matthew explains that instead of killing the bacteria itself, it actually changes the environment in the body in order to engage the body's own capabilities to kill off Lyme bacteria. By warming the cells and muscles, it invites the Lyme bacteria into the bloodstream, where the body can then detox.

The detox or herx reaction from teasel is apparently a force to be reckoned with. In Matthew's experience, people using it as a part of Lyme treatment notice this reaction starting in about the second week of use. Only a very few drops of this powerful herbal tincture can cause reactions. He is well-known in herbalist circles for recommending low dosages, and tells about a woman who called him after treatment with the happy news that she could tell the teasel was working at a very deep level of healing.

Matthew's latest book was co-written with Wolf D. Storl. Wolf is a German man who writes about healing himself of Lyme disease using teasel, in Healing Lyme Disease Naturally: History, Analysis, and Treatments. It is due out from Amazon in April and can be pre-ordered.

Matthew lives and practices in Minnesota, and teaches about herbal wisdom all around the world. He is a Registered Herbalist and holds a Master of Science degree from the Scottish School of Medicine at the University of Wales.

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