Lyme Disease. Brutal, ugly, stubborn, and dark.
That is how I describe Lyme. That is what it was like for me. When I think back to my days of having Lyme they were the darkest days of my life. It was like being dropped in a 100ft dark hole with no light and having to crawl your way out by your nails one inch at a time not knowing if you would ever see the light again. But you can. Finding a Lyme disease natural treatment (and ultimately a cure) was life-altering for me, and it can be for you too.
Often times when I read articles on Lyme I don’t feel they portray the ugly side of it. I want to share my story of Lyme so that those suffering know they are not alone and for those whose loved ones are suffering can understand what they are going through. Lyme Disease is an invisible disease, meaning you look fine on the outside while sick on the inside. Invisible diseases are tough because you run into people not believing how sick you are. My loved ones and family did not understand how sick I was and people questioned me. They thought I needed to be on anti-depressants or that I was just complaining for no reason. This is another reason I want to share my story so that I can educate the loved ones of Lyme disease sufferers on how brutal Lyme is. I hope my story inspires you to fight and to take control of your own health.
In April of 2012, I woke up with a bulls-eye rash on my right inner thigh. At the time I had not heard of Lyme disease so I ignored the rash. Little did I know I was one of the lucky few as only 30% of those diagnosed with Lyme develop the bulls eye rash. Fast forward to November of 2012, 6 months later, and life as I knew it ended.
Lyme disease trashed my nervous system.
Now I had been feeling off for the previous 2 months with symptoms of chronic fatigue, light brain fog and anxiety, muscle aches, and headaches but I blew them off as symptoms from being a busy mom of 2 toddlers. I had breast implants put in in October of 2012, and I believe having them put in made my full cup of systemic inflammation overflow as 3 weeks later I could no longer function. How could I not function you might ask? The symptoms of Lyme disease are vast.
My Lyme Diseases Symptoms
- Severe brain fog
- Severe panic attacks
- Memory loss
- Body aches
- loss of appetite
- hot & cold sensations
- constant anxiety
- feeling unreal
- joint pain
These symptoms plagued me every day without 1 moment of reprieve. I was in a complete state of panic and I was absolutely terrified. My nervous system was shot. I would often times tell my husband at night when going to bed that I hoped I wouldn’t wake the next day because I couldn’t stand 1 more day of not feeling human. I no longer recognized myself.
Conventional medicine was of no help.
I went from super mom and wife to a shell of a human being. I was confused as to what could be going on in my body. I was—at least I thought—a pretty healthy individual. I exercised, was gluten-free, hardly consumed alcohol, didn’t use tobacco, and lived a pretty healthy life. My first thought was that it was something with my hormones. I went to an endocrinologist, a gynecologist, and a holistic doctor. Between the 3 of them, I was told I had hypothyroidism, low progesterone, adrenal dysfunction, and that I needed to be put into medically induced menopause at the ripe old age of 30. What!? Of those diagnoses, thankfully I just ended up on thyroid medication, but it didn’t put a dent in my symptoms. At this point, we had a full-time nanny, and I spent my days crying, researching, and praying. Eight months later I had my general physician do the standardized conventional test for Lyme and it came back negative. Little did I know that the test is not accurate, not even close. Conventional medicine had failed me.
Then I found functional medicine & was diagnosed with Lyme.
By this point, I had come across functional medicine and the message of finding the root cause and not applying a band-aid to your symptoms really resonated with me on a deep level. My brain had been thinking that way all along. How did I go from a healthy 31 year old to barely able to function? I knew there was something wrong with me that was causing those horrific symptoms than just my hormones. After finding an amazing functional medicine doctor and testing everything under the sun, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I’d had a severe Lyme infection for 18 months, so at this point, it was chronic Lyme disease. Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused most often from a deer tick which infects you with a screw-shaped spirochete bacteria called bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.
Thankfully I didn’t have any co-infections.
Co-infections are when more than 1 disease is acquired together, and ticks can infect you with more than 1 disease in 1 single bite. Statistics show that chronic Lyme disease patients are 50% likely to also have a co-infection. Those with co-infections also experience more severe Lyme symptoms and have a longer recovery. I had almost every side effect that is caused by Lyme disease. (1)
But…my immune system was shot.
Lyme wreaks havoc on your nervous system and immune system. I also had heavy metal toxicity, anemia, hypothyroidism, adrenal dysfunction, systemic candida, and leaky gut. My immune system was shot. I was so relieved to finally know what was making me so sick, but once I started to research Lyme and I realized there is no known cure, I was overcome with worry. What if I never got well? What if I had to live the rest of my life enduring those wretched symptoms? I couldn’t think of it.
I did the standard protocol of the antibiotic treatment of doxycycline, but it failed. I then did months of an herbal protocol, and it also failed. By this point, I had hit an all-time low. My symptoms were so bad that I could not remember my kids’ names or where I lived. I wanted to die, the depression and symptoms were at an all-time high. I had completely forgotten what it felt like to be human. It is so hard to be that sick and to watch everyone around you live their life. I would often look at my loved ones and wonder, “what does it feel like to feel good?”
I decided a Lyme disease natural treatment was the way.
I decided to take my health into my own hands. At this point I had nothing left to lose. I had been researching essential oils for treating Lyme disease and wanted to give them a try. I had tried conventional treatments and was now going to try a natural treatment for Lyme. I knew a natural treatment wouldn’t be so hard on my gut which would help not weaken my immune system. I specifically studied oregano, thyme, and cinnamon bark oil for killing B. burgdorferi. I also knew the oils did not kill the good guys in my gut as antibiotics do.
My gut was already messed up, and I couldn’t bear the thought of making it worse by doing the IV antibiotics. My doctor was ready to put me on IV antibiotics but agreed I could try the oils first to see if they would help. I began taking them internally and aromatically. Thankfully from researching them, I had learned about die-offs. After 2 weeks of taking the essential oils, I had my first die-off. How did I know? I knew it was a die-off because every symptom I had was magnified times 10.
I knew a die-off/detox meant I was healing though.
You see, oftentimes people quit something when they experience die-offs or detoxes because they think they are getting worse when they are actually getting better. You cannot have Lyme bacteria die in your body without all of the nasty toxins needing to come out of your body. My first die-off was about a week long. After the die-off, and for the first time, I felt better! Nothing I had done prior to the oils had made any Lyme disease symptoms better. I continued taking the oils and had a die-off every month that would last about a week. Lyme is hard to kill because the bacteria are protected by a bio-film and that makes it hard to penetrate the bacteria. The oils, especially tea tree oil, penetrate the biofilm and killed the Lyme.
The next big weapon against the Lyme was to heal my gut.
I was slowly getting better, month after month. The next big weapon was to heal my gut. I had to do a complete overhaul of what I was eating along with nourishing my gut with probiotics and cultured foods. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast for your gut. They help boost your immune response and stop the growth of harmful bacteria while balancing the friendly bacteria you don’t want to get rid of. They also have effective anti-inflammatory properties for gut, heart, and mental health.
Now I had been eating Paleo, but I was still consuming a lot of fruits and natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. I was consuming a lot of sugar and starches that turned into sugar. I was feeding the disease. Sugar feeds all diseases. I went on a strict Keto diet to starve the Lyme and candida out. I ate healthy fats (coconuts, avocados, olives, nuts), fish, and tons of non-starchy veggies. I began to eat fermented cultured foods—foods containing live probiotics—to help heal and nourish my gut. I started to feel alive again.
I completely eradicated Lyme from my body.
My bloat, brain fog, fatigue, depression, joint pain, panic attacks, and anxiety were leaving. I finally felt like my nervous system was back in order. I learned how to cook, and I learned the power of food. I completely eradicated Lyme from my body. I got rid of the candida overgrowth, heavy metal toxicity, anemia, and my immune system was strong again. Since my immune system was strong again, my thyroid began to function on its own, and I was able to get off of thyroid medication. In April of 2015, my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our third, our little boy Broden. He was a sign to us of what I already knew, that I was healed.
You can only imagine how paranoid I am of ticks, not just for myself but for my entire family. We hunt as a family and are constantly around deer, nature, and wildlife. Knowledge is power so it is important to know how to prevent ticks.
Tips on How to Avoid Tick Bites
- Know where ticks live. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), ticks live in grassy, brushy, wooded areas, and even on animals. (2) Ticks can be in the city, country, neighborhoods, and your own backyard. I personally keep all areas of grass in my backyard short.
- Check yourself! Always check your clothing, gear, and body for ticks after you have been outside or in an area where ticks might like to live. Shower quickly after being outside as washing may help wash off unattached ticks and/or ticks you don’t even know are on you.
- Check your pets! Ticks love dogs and dogs are the perfect height for ticks to attach to when they are running around outside. I personally have my dogs on tick prevention as a preventive measure.
- Prevention. Spray yourself, clothing, and gear when you are going to be outdoors, especially in an area likely to have ticks. I use Nantucket Spider Extra Strength spray. You can also use a spray that contains picaridin, which is great for ticks, but I prefer the natural spray that works just as good but doesn’t have harmful chemicals.
- Tick removal. It is important to know how to properly remove a tick. The CDC, recommends you use fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, then pull up in a single steady motion. (3) You can also put a few drops of straight peppermint oil on a tick and it will work itself out, ensuring that all parts of the tick’s mouth are removed.
Lyme Disease Treatment & Testing
With cases of Lyme disease on the rise, it is important to know about prevention, symptoms, and treatment. According to the CDC, Lyme disease is an infection spread by the bite of ticks that causes more than 300,000 illnesses each year in the United States. It is the most commonly occurring vector-borne disease and the sixth most commonly reported notifiable infectious disease. Although Lyme disease is most prevalent in the eastern part of the United States, you can get infected even if you don’t live in that region. I was infected by a deer tick where I live in Texas.
I personally did not suffer from Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. I attribute that to the fact that I healed my gut and ate in a manner that kept me well and not ill. I believe if I would have taken the antibiotic doxycycline long term that my chances of suffering from Post Lyme Disease Syndrome would have been higher as my gut would have been a wreck from long term antibiotic therapy.
Lyme was meant to make me a victim, but instead, I am a victor. We all want a simple pill to take when we are sick to make everything better, but that is just not how it works. Our bodies are magnificent and they have the unique ability to repair and heal given the right conditions, but so many of us don’t give our bodies the chance to recover. You cannot plant a seed in soil without nutrients, starve it of light and water, and expect it to grow. Our bodies are the same. I am proof of it.
If you think you may have Lyme Disease, please get tested. Testing can be difficult as some tests give false negatives and/or false positives. Most doctors use a 2 tier approach to confirm the diagnosis. The FDA has cleared for marketing four previously cleared Lyme tests with new indications to aid in the diagnosis of Lyme disease. (4)
If you or your loved ones are suffering from Lyme disease please do not give up. If you are the loved one please never question the Lyme sufferers symptoms. To be sick with this disease is enough but to be questioned if you are really sick is more than one can bare. It is important to have support from your health care provider and your loved ones as Lyme is not an easy battle. Healing your gut is key to healing yourself. With every bite of food, you are either feeding a disease or fighting it. I never understood the power of food until I was fighting for my own life and I wished I would have learned it sooner. Ultimately this journey led me to where I am today as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and I wouldn’t change one thing about it. You too have the power to heal yourself.
I would love to hear from you! How has Lyme affected you?
Get in control of your health and start living your best life!
If you’re looking for support from someone who’s been there and come out on the other side, schedule a consultation with me. We’ll create a plan unique to you that incorporates the diet and lifestyle changes that are proven to eradicate Lyme from your body and restore your health.
- “About Lyme Disease Co-Infections.” LymeDisease.org. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-basics/co-infections/about-co-infections/.
- “Preventing Tick Bites on People.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified September 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/prev/on_people.html.
- “Tick removal and testing.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified April 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html.
- “FDA clears new indications for existing Lyme disease tests that may help streamline diagnoses.” US Food & Drug Administration. Last modified July 2019. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-clears-new-indications-existing-lyme-disease-tests-may-help-streamline-diagnoses.