On our way back from a family gathering in Saskatchewan we stopped for walk in the woods. It was only mid April, but by the time we returned to the car we were pulling wood-ticks off of ourselves and the dog. My nine year old son was terrified at the site of the creepy little crawlers in a way that I can remember as a boy myself. There is something so unsettling about ticks that has only been magnified since the discovery of rapid spread of lyme disease over the past couple of decades.
It’s quite interesting that in America, just south of the Canadian border, there has been a very high incidence of lyme disease recorded and diagnosed, yet according to the Canadian medical establishment it has not really existed. If a Canadian wants to get tested for Lyme they have to travel and or pay for expensive tests through naturopaths that provide a good margin of accuracy but not a 100% accuracy of diagnosis.
After many years of studying Lyme disease, and authors on the topic such as American Herbalist Stephen Buhner, I have come to gain a sense of how the disease works. I have also looked for practical ways for us to both prevent and address it. How to heal from Lyme disease is not something I can cover here in a big post. If you are in need of some place to start on such a vast topic, I would look into Stephen Buhners work to start with. What I want to address in this blog is primarily the idea of how we might prevent Lyme from infecting ourselves and others.
To begin, the most important thing to consider is that we are only just learning about what this “Lyme Disease” is (besides the name of the town Old Lyme in the Northeastern U.S.). However, it does seem clear that the main bacteria associated with it is Borrelia burgdorferi, and there are many other co-infections that can and do accompany it that result in varied degrees of symptoms and in some cases can destroy and even end lives. Most people who contact the back legged tick, which has been moving into Canada from the U.S. ( possibly more rapidly due to climate change) if bitten will get a large red ring or rash around the bite. However, not all people get such a rash. The main initial symptoms can include; headaches, body and joint aches, fevers, nights sweats, feeling very weak and experiencing brain fog. There are a host of more minor symptoms including other rashes, changes in vision and so on.
Two very important questions we should be asking ourselves are: Why do some people fall hard to Lyme disease while others do not? And why do some people recover well from treatment while others do not? Of course, healing is dynamic and has any aspects to it, but to answer these questions more directly I believe we have to look a classic and sound theories of body ecology. There is a famous quote from the historic medical researcher Louis Pasteur that clarifies his discovery that it is not the germ or “bug” that causes a disease to flourish, but the “terrain” of the body that either inhibits or allows it to take over it’s new host with ease. Such would be the case with people who are really run down by chronic candida, leaky gut type syndromes, chronic viral overloads, and so on. In order to understand this in more detail please see my last blog on spring cleansing and the concept of keeping a healthy terrain happening within us in general. If we cannot keep a healthy inner terrain happening we are basically the perfect hosts for opportunistic infections – which require certain conditions in order to thrive.
What I would like to focus on here is a very practical conclusion I have come to – that the best time to address the possibility of Lyme disease is immediately after the bite and at the location of the bite itself, before it gets a chance to spread! Yes, it is appears true according to research that Lyme disease can apparently be spread via saliva and through other body fluids, but if we are bitten by a black legged tick there is research suggesting that there can be a 100% kill of the infectious bacteria with the topical use of certain antibiotics. Here is a link to check out on this topic: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3910720/
Since I am an Herbalist, and we herbalist’s focus on the use of natural antibiotics rather than pharmaceuticals, I use certain plants and remedies instead. I am not saying there is no place for pharmaceuticals, in fact Lyme disease, if caught early may be one of the best times to consider them. However, if you do not have access to an effective topical or internal antibiotic, or if your personal belief system has you avoiding them, there are natural options to consider and for you to also research further into.
If I myself, or someone I love get’s a tick bite this is what I would do: First of all don’t rely on the idea that if the tick has not bitten in or attached itself for more than 24 hours there is nothing to worry about. Also don’t assume that back legged ticks will forever more be the only tick that spreads disease producing bacteria. The best first response of course is to remove the tick as safely as possible and you can watch videos or read articles on this – but the main thing is getting the head out along with the body. Another key thing to consider is that it appears helpful for our body to have at least have a short amount of time to recognize a foreign entry of harmful bacteria. Allowing it do so ensures it responds with the correct immune defences to address the infection. After this point I add natural remedies to kill off an neutralize the infection.
My main plant allies and remedies, the ones I always try to have handy during tick season, often include: A quality colloidal silver, tea tree oil, lavender oil, oregano oil, a tincture with goldenseal in combination with myrrh and other antibacterials (Echinasea by St Francis Herb Farm). After I apply a couple of the above I finally add a bentonite clay plaster/ poultice that I leave on to dry and draw out and neutralize any infection. Of course these have not been as heavily researched as pharmaceutical antibiotics but have a long track record of proving themselves as potent anti-bacterials.
Some of these remedies can also be used internally very safely to support and modulate the immune response as well. Please check with your local herbalist or do your diligent research to decide how to proceed in a way that is best for you. Other herbs that have helped people who may have contracted lyme include Olive leaf, Cat’s Claw, Ashwagnadha, Eluthero, and many others. Some people also use bio-resonance therapies as well as heat therapies such as those found in Germany that can take ones body temperature so high that infections die off, but unfortunately also some of the patients die off in the process as well.
This weekend I plan on heading out on the land to do some building. I won’t let wood ticks stop me from going into the bush but I will tuck my pants into my socks and keep all my senses alert so that I can try to catch them before they latch on. I’ll also be wearing some geranium essential oil which they seem to especially dislike. I find they tend to be less active after rain and it’s always better to stay away from the long grass during peak tick season (from May to late June).
I have also been thinking about the conversation I had with an American from the area known as Old Lyme in the U.S, where this problem is theorized to have all started. When I spoke to them about Lyme disease and how rampant it is up here, and how much to seems to be spreading, their reply was that they didn’t know anyone with Lyme back home. It’s had me wondering whether they have adapted to the disease as a collective and have now developed a resistance.
Either way, we have to do our best to keep our inner terrain healthy and resistant to as many diseases as possible, and we can also have natural remedies handy to help our bodies fight off infections of all kinds. These are our folk remedies and they require no prescription. However, they are very dynamic and very powerful in their own right. Possibly the topical antibiotic referred to in the link above will also one day be available and more research can be done on it. However, the challenge with bacteria is that they are very good at adapting quickly to antibiotics and it’s our natural herbal antibiotics and such remedies as Colloidal Silver will become increasingly important for us. There is so much more to explore on this topic, possibly at a later date. I am available for consultations in person or online. Have a great Summer, enjoy the wild lands, and keep your natural medicine kit close at hand!