Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans from the bites of ticks. Lyme disease is reaching epidemic proportions and each year we see patients from all around the world including North America, Russia, Europe, Brazil, Australia and Mexico.
The first tell-tale sign of infection is a red bullseye around the tick bite a few days to a week after the bite. While this is a common sign of infection, around 25-50% of those who have been infected don’t develop the rash. Early symptoms of Lyme disease include a headache, fever and lethargy. If the disease goes untreated the symptoms can progress to joint pain, neck stiffness, severe headaches, heart palpitations, loss of motor function, cognitive problems and more.
Lyme disease affects the whole body and can be a complex disease to treat but we have a few tools to help such as antibiotics, immune supportive therapies, detoxification strategies and diet. Diet is a crucial part of any treatment regimen, in fact, it is futile to spend copious amount of time and money on doctors, medications and supplements if you neglect your diet. Food is medicine. The 3 pillars of the Lyme diet: First is to kill the bugs; Second is to strengthen the host (that’s you!); Third is to eliminate stressors on the body such as food intolerances. The Lyme Diet seeks to do this by reducing inflammation, supporting the immune system, preventing Candida, promoting healthy digestive function, supporting hormone systems, and assisting detoxification.
The majority of my Lyme patients report signs and symptoms of hormone imbalance. Many have low thyroid function that manifests as fatigue, feeling cold, depression, poor sleep, thinning hair, difficulty losing weight and more. There are certain nutritional factors that support thyroid function such as iodine, which asparagus is an excellent source of. Asparagus is also naturally rich in glutathione, which aids liver detoxification, particularly important for Lyme patients on antibiotics.
Healthy fats and oils are the third most important food group in the Lyme diet and should be eaten with every meal in some form. Avocados are an excellent source of healthy fats that are used by the body for hormones, chemical mediators and cell membranes. Avocados are also good sources of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins C, E and glutathione, which will also help detox the liver.
Vegetables are alkalizing and help combat the effects of chronic inflammation associated with Lyme disease. Beets contain antioxidants such as beta-carotene, other carotenoids and healing flavonoids. Antioxidants help to limit the damage caused by free radicals, thus they have a healing and cleansing effect on the liver. Beets also contain folic acid which is necessary for Phase I liver detoxification. Detoxification is essential to health and especially important for Lyme patients on antibiotics.
Cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts are great sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They have an alkalizing effect on the body, which helps regulate detoxification, pain levels, and Herxheimer reactions, as well as palliate the chronic inflammation associated with Lyme disease. Brussels sprouts contain folic acid and high amounts of vitamin C that aid Phase I liver detoxification, which is particularly important for Lymes patients on antibiotics.
Colorful vegetables such as carrots and leafy greens should be the most prominent food group in the Lyme diet. Vegetables have an alkaline effect on the body which helps regulate detoxification, pain levels, and Herxheimer reactions, as well as palliate the chronic inflammation associated with Lyme disease. Carrots are very high in beta-carotene and other carotenoids that act as antioxidants that inhibit inflammation and protect the liver, very important for patients on antibiotics. Eat plenty of alkalizing vegetables on the Lyme diet.
Healthy fats and oils are the third most important food group in the Lyme diet and should be eaten with every meal in some form. Coconut oil is one of those healthy fats and is used by the body for hormones, chemical mediators and cell membranes. Coconut oil is a special type of saturated fat called a Medium Chain Fatty Acid (MCF) that is processed by your body differently than harmful saturated fats. Coconut oil supports the thyroid, is anti-inflammatory and has extraordinary antimicrobial properties while leaving beneficial gut bacteria alone, making it an important food for Lyme patients.
One of the most common problems with Lyme patients is digestive disturbance partially caused by yeast and Candida overgrowth. Colonizing the gut with healthy flora is one of the key factors in maintaining healthy digestion. Fermented foods such as Kefir encourage the proliferation of good flora in the gut. The best defense against yeast is a good offense – and fermented foods provide that offense. They contain beneficial bacteria which help maximize absorption of other foods, keep the gut clean and protect against other infections. Any Lyme disease patient on antibiotics needs to be especially vigilant about this.
Onions are prebiotic vegetables that benefit the microbiome of your gut and contain sulfur compounds and the antioxidant glutathione which are important for liver detoxification, particularly important for Lyme patients on antibiotics. Eat plenty of vegetables as they are anti-inflammatory and provide an abundance of phytonutrients that support your healing.
Cat’s claw is one anti-bacterial herb that has been widely used in Lyme treatment. It is an effective herb, but can be quite powerful and should be started gradually. Cat’s claw, also known as samento or uncaria tomentosa, can be used safely long-term. It addresses the spirochete forms of Borrelia.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract is a compound that has been shown to combat the cyst forms of Borrelia. The mature Borrelia spirochetes have the ability to morph into cyst forms, which evade detection by the immune system and can be less responsive to antibiotics. Grapefruit seed extract can address these forms, which make it a great supplement to take in conjunction with cat’s claw.
Supporting liver function and detoxification goes a long way in one’s ability to handle the various medications that Lyme patients may need to take. Most medications clear through the liver and kidneys which place extra strain on both organs. Many chronically ill people have impaired detoxification pathways already, but medications can further compound the issue. Herbs such as milk thistle can help keep liver enzymes in a normal range while on medications and help to clear other toxic compounds from the body. Ideally, I recommend taking a detox support formula that contains a blend of numerous herbs, specially formulated to help cleanse and detox the liver.
Probiotics may be the single most important supplement you take if you are on antibiotics, as probiotics replace the beneficial flora of the gut that is wiped out by the antibiotics. I recommend a high-quality probiotic to be taken every day. I suggest taking it right before bed, at least two hours from the last dose of any antibiotic or antifungal.