Those of you who have experienced IV antibiotics or other intense treatments for chronic Lyme disease or other infections know the feeling. It wipes you out. At my last doctor visit, we decided that if we wanted to get my body back in a state of balance, we would need to get rid of all of my infections first. This meant hitting them as hard as we can. Last month I started pulsing several days of IV rocephin at a time, while taking oral minocycline, rotations of oral azythromycin and coartem along with mepron. Thankfully, symptoms of Babesia like fever, chills and night sweats subsided but symptoms such as joint pains, weakness and stiffness have intensified.
The human body works best when in homeostasis – when all organs and body systems are well balanced. It amazes me how precise our organs and body systems work to keep us alive. For example, healthy saliva pH levels need to be alkaline at 6.5-7.5 while specific pH levels in the digestive tract change from a very acidic 1.5-2 in the lower stomach back to a very alkaline 12-13 in the small intestine. All of our organs work together so when one starts to suffer, it can lead to dysfunction in other parts of the body.
Over the past few months I’ve been researching counter-measures to support my body and restore balance in the best possible way while undergoing treatment to clear Babesia and Lyme infections. Aside from clearing all infections, my primary goal is to restore as much balance as possible with hope that eventually the infections will be gone and my body will be able to handle any pathogens that come along. Here are some measures that have helped me maintain some balance.
Clearing the Bowels: One word. Flaxseeds. Or is it two? I never know which is correct. For years, while undergoing many treatments, I’ve struggled with constipation. Even while on antibiotics, which always warn of possible diarrhea, I never even see loose stools. Lately though, despite intense antibiotics, including oral doses that guarantee an upset GI tract and gut terrain, I found that a tablespoon of fresh ground flaxseeds daily along with plenty of water has helped me maintain surprisingly normal stools and normal bowel transit times of one to two movements a day. For some, it may sound gross, but when you learn how important it is to keep waste moving through and out of the body, it’s such a relief to know that toxins are leaving and not recirculating. I find it easiest to slip some ground flaxseed into smoothies or oatmeal or granola. My second great tool for moving the bowels is supplemental magnesium. It’s great for stress, relaxing the gastrointestinal muscles and nearly every process in our body requires magnesium to function. While I’d love to get enough magnesium from whole foods like dark leafy greens, squash, pumpkin seeds, broccoli and other vegetables, it’s tough to know how rich the soil was where the food was grown. To make things more difficult, Lyme bacteria are known to deplete the body of magnesium. It’s also difficult to take too much magnesium. When you do, you’ll most likely experience diarrhea and know when to back off. I usually take magnesium glycinate, malate, or a powdered form called Natural Calm.
Candida Overgrowth: Another problem I’ve experienced while treating for Lyme is Candida overgrowth. While taking antibiotics I tend to get oral thrush which tells me I have a pretty severe imbalance of yeast going on. The usual counter measure is to take prescription antifungals like Diflucan or Nystatin. I tried both and neither seemed to help so I’m now experimenting with natural antifungal alternatives. Currently, instead of the prescriptions, I’m taking a supplement called A.C. Formula II. I haven’t noticed much improvement after several weeks so I may try a different product soon. I’ve heard good things about Candida Cell Wall Supressor and Kolorex but haven’t tried them yet. It’s a good idea to supplement with probiotics and fermented or cultured foods as much as possible too while on antibiotics to help balance gut flora so I make sure to mix in those foods at least two to three times daily. I’m confident that supplementation has also helped with keeping normal functioning bowels. Daily doses of Klaire Labs Therbiotic Complete and Florastor have helped me as well. And even though I’ve gone gluten/wheat free and eliminated most refined foods, I feel that removing all sugar and most carbohydrates from the diet would help me the most. But that’s a tough thing to do. I hope to include an anti-Candida elimination diet as part of recovery after finishing antibiotic treatment some day.
Detoxification: I’m learning that the body removes toxins in many different ways, and it’s a necessary process, even when not ill. Since we live in a toxic world, we’re exposed to so many chemicals in our air, water and food. Even normal body functions produce toxins. Yet, our bodies are designed to get rid of toxins through normal means. When we breathe out, sweat, urinate or have a bowel movement we remove toxins. We run into problems when we get overwhelmed by illness like Lyme disease or other infections which create more toxins that are too much to handle. Organs such as the liver and kidneys can easily get overworked when they need to process and remove waste from activity beyond what is normal. Bacteria die-off and chemicals from medications can easily create an environment that becomes too much to balance. Since it’s still difficult to get around, what helps me most is to try to go for walks on days when I feel good. Any movement can help move lymph through the body and encourage our filtering systems to process waste. Lymphatic drainage massage is another great tool (if you’re lucky enough to have a spouse who doesn’t mind working to try to move fluid out of swollen joints from time to time). I’ve also found dry infrared saunas helpful along with simple things like drinking plenty of pure water and herbal teas throughout the day. My favorites for detoxification and digestion are milk thistle, stinging nettle, chamomile, pau d’arco (also good for Candida overgrowth), slippery elm, licorice and marshmallow root. Going forward into the new year, I hope to learn more about essential oils and their benefit for detoxification and rebalancing the body.
If you have any good tips for feeling better while treating for Lyme disease or other infections I’d love to hear them. The recommendations I’ve made here are not intended to cure any illness and because everyone is biochemically different, some things may work for you while others may not. It’s always best to seek advice from your physician or nutritional consultant before starting any supplements or major dietary changes.