A look at how I am healing Chronic Lyme Disease including the use of herbal tinctures, my detox routine, an update on my diet, and the financial costs of healing.
It have been about five months since my Chronic Lyme Disease diagnosis and about two months since I started treatment. To recap, I began treatment in February using the Buhner Protocol. It is an herbal protocol that can be customized for Chronic Lyme and its many co-infections, as well as for the various symptoms that an individual presents with.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the protocol is pretty slow-going at first. It doesn’t necessarily “have” to be, but in order to do it in a way that hopefully prevents a herx (AKA worsening of symptoms) and enables you to see how your body responds to each herb, starting low and slow is recommended. In order to do so, I have been using herbal tinctures because I can easily adjust dosages, whereas the dosages for tablets are pretty set.
I began the protocol with one of the three core herbs: Japanese Knotweed. It took me about three weeks to get up to the dosage I am currently at: 1/3 tsp three times per day. I may increase this dosage later on, but right now am simply working to get more herbs into my routine. The other herbs I am currently taking are milk thistle (great for liver detoxification), Chinese Cat’s Claw (I am using this instead of regular Cat’s Claw because it is known for helping neuro-type symptoms), and Ashwagandha. Other herbs I have purchased and plan to slowly introduce include Red Root, Sida Acuta, and Eleuthera.
Once I have reached a consistent dosage for these herbs, I will add in any additional herbs I feel are necessary based on symptoms. If you pick up Buhner’s Healing Lyme book (<- affiliate link), you will see that there are hundreds of herbs you can experiment with depending on your symptoms and what your body responds to. It is somewhat of a guessing game, which is another reason why healing is such a slow process. What works for one person may not work for the next, and effective dosages can vary quite a lot from person to person.
My functional medicine provider is familiar with the Buhner Protocol, but does not specialize in it. Therefore, a lot of what I am learning is through my own research and Facebook groups. I am, however, certain to meet with her regularly to get routine blood work ordered to ensure my body and organs are responding well to the protocol.
One thing I think is important to preface with healing is that my main focus is on getting my immune system in check. It’s not so much about attacking the Lyme, but getting my body to start functioning properly so that it can do the work on its own. That is why you will notice that many of the herbs in the protocol tend to be immune boosters. Because of this, I also have to be careful about which ones I use now that I have a Hashimoto’s diagnosis since some herbs can stimulate the immune system too much, which is not great for anyone with an AI disease.
Since my immune system plays such a large role in the healing process, getting my gut healthy again is a really important piece of the puzzle. Since 80 percent of our immune system is located in the gut, diet and stress both tend to impact things greatly. For this reason, I chose to do another food sensitivity test about a month ago. I was actually really pleased that my body has made quite a bit of improvement since my last sensitivity test in June of 2016. In fact, I did not have a single “high reactivity” food. Based on my results, I will continue to avoid gluten and dairy (including eggs), along with other random things like almonds, chia seeds, bananas, and carrots. In fact, I am maintaining a completely nut-free diet for the time being since I know my body has not responded well to them in the past.
I am not really on a specific “diet,” per say. I dabbled with the AIP Paleo diet for about two weeks a month ago, but was so miserable with the restriction that I realized it was causing me more harm than good. Our stress levels play as much (if not more) of a role on the health of our bodies than certain foods often do. I am still pretty close to AIP, but have become less strict with some seeds and spices. This has made things a lot more manageable for the time being.
I plan to continue with gluten-free and dairy-free at a minimum through my healing journey. Eliminating most added sugars is also really important, too. Other than that, I imagine things will be mostly Paleo around here except possibly on special occasions, like while traveling.
Trying to heal from Chronic Lyme Disease + co-infections involves a lot more than just taking herbs. The bigger (and sometimes more impactful) part of the process is doing some sort of detoxing every single day. If your immune system fires up and is ready to get the Lyme under control but your detoxification pathways through your liver, kidneys, and lymphatic system are not working properly, the nasty buggies will have nowhere to go. Instead, they will stay in your body and make you feel even worse.
I use quite a few detoxifying practices on a daily basis. I mentioned above that I take milk thistle for detoxification, but I also incorporate NAC and alpha lipoic acid supplements into each day. Both act as precursors to glutathione, which happens to be a pretty powerful molecule that helps the body rid itself of toxins. Activated charcoal is another supplement I incorporate in from time to time when I feel a herx coming on.
In addition to these supplements, I also drink lemon water on the regular and take daily Epsom salt baths. When you initially think of taking a bath every single evening, it sounds relaxing. And yes, it can be. But it also feels like a chore. Regardless of how I feel about it, I always feel crappier the days after I miss a bath, so it has become a daily habit for me. Along the lines of the Epsom salt baths, I also hope to start incorporating sauna sessions into my week to help sweat out some of the toxins.
I just started dabbling with castor oil packs a few weeks ago. I was doing these consistently for many days in a row without a break and noticed that I was feeling a bit nauseous. While I could not pinpoint it down to the castor oil packs specifically, I backed off of them for a bit. I am now shooting to incorporate them in once every few days.
The last few things I have been working on are pretty much just for general health and well-being: stress less (restorative yoga on the regular and acupuncture three to four times per month) and sleep more. Now that I am no longer breastfeeding and little man will sleep through the night some nights, I definitely have been doing better about getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night. I am aiming to increase this to eight to nine hours for good measure!
The Financial Cost of Healing
Sound like a lot? It is! It is time-consuming to organize and execute everything, not to mention financially costly. I don’t mean for this to turn into a woe is me post, but I want to be upfront regarding what it is like financially to heal from a chronic illness. When I factor in the cost of doctor’s appointments, lab work, diagnostic testing, herbal tinctures (once I get up to full dosages) yoga and sauna memberships, acupuncture, epsom salt, castor oil pack supplies, etc., I estimate that the cost of healing chronic Lyme disease is somewhere between $500 and $650 per month.
If you think I am crazy for spending that amount of money, I’m not and you just don’t. get. it. I’ve had many people in my life look at me like I have five heads, but until you experience a downward spiral in your health, you will never understand what it is like to work so hard to get it back. I’m not even looking for perfect health. I just want to function, feel good, and not have to constantly think about the symptoms of this disease.
I feel blessed to have this blog and to bring in a regular part-time income each month. This little side hustle is truly helping me be able to afford my healing journey. And for that, I thank you!How I am Healing Chronic Lyme Disease #healing #Lyme #chroniclyme #buhnerprotocol Click To Tweet