Recently I attended an in depth Naturopathic course where one of the instructors confessed that he had been battling Lyme disease for several years. This instructor is a wildcraft herbalist, who gathers herbs and creates his own tinctures. He contracted Lyme disease from a tick while foraging for his herbs. I was fascinated with this class because of the similarities between Lyme disease and many conditions people suffer with in our area. Indeed, many who endure Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s and dementia, have similar symptoms to Lyme disease.
Both Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia are often mistaken for Lyme disease due to the tremendous overlap of symptoms. Approximately seventy percent of patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia meet all the diagnostic criteria for CFS. The only difference in diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia and CFS is the requirement of musculoskeletal pain in fibromyalgia and fatigue in CFS. Because both CFS and FM are so similar to Lyme, some believe that everyone who suffers with CFS or fibromyalgia should consider the possibility of Lyme being at the root. Lyme disease, on the other hand, is often mistaken for numerous conditions not only chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, but borderline thyroid gland dysfunction, multiple sclerosis, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and other debilitating conditions. Lyme can play a contributing factor in Alzheimer’s and other dementia conditions as well as neuropsychiatric problems, such as brain fog, bipolar disorder, vision disorders, neurological problems, headaches, and even heart disease.
We tend to think that Lyme disease is relatively rare and only transmitted by ticks, which are not commonly found in the Northwest. Contrary to this conventional wisdom, Lyme disease is epidemic and it can be spread by other insects, including fleas, mosquitoes, and mites. It is also spread by human-to-human contact, raw cow’s milk, or even breast feeding. Nick Harris, Ph.D., Director of the International Lyme and Associated diseases Society (ILADS) states, “If it weren’t for AIDS Lyme would be the number one infectious disease in the U.S. and Western Europe.”
Lyme disease was first recognized in 1975, after a mysterious outbreak of arthritis near Lyme,Connecticut. In 1982 the spirochete that causes Lyme, Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) was identified. Lyme disease is a multi-system inflammatory disease. It is a complex illness that often consists of other co-infections. Symptoms include: skin lesions, rashes, flu-like symptoms, sleeping difficulties, muscle pains and weakness, headaches, back pain, fever, chills, nausea or vomiting, facial paralysis, enlargement of the lymph glands or spleen, irregular heartbeat, seizures, blurry vision, moodiness, memory loss, dementia, and joint pains. Lyme disease is a fatigue causing disease.
Now, what made my naturopathic class really exciting is that after struggling with the devastating symptoms of Lyme for several years, the herbal instructor found a plan that made him virtually symptom free. His condition had grown to incapacitating levels as he desperately researched for a natural approach that offered some hope of success. His health triumph came by combining nutritional, herbal and energetic modalities to his condition. One key herb that produced wonderful results is Tincture of Teasel Root.
Teasel is an erect biennial weed with small prickles on the stem and distinctive spiny flower heads. Common teasel may reach 6 1/2 feet in height and is primarily a weed of roadsides, pastures, hayfields, and occasionally rosettes can be found in turf grass. This weed is found throughout the United States except in the northern Great Plains.
The use of Teasel along with other herbs such as Cat’s Claw seems to provide remission of symptoms in many cases. When you combine this approach with opening the system’s communication energetically and supporting the body nutritionally, we find a very powerful approach to dealing with these conditions. Because Tincture of Teasel Root is not readily available my herbalist instructor created his own wild-crafted supply. I was motivated to purchase a case of Tincture of Teasel Root to use in my practice because not only does Teasel relive the symptoms from Lyme disease, it also has a profound effect upon the other conditions with similar symptoms. Tincture of Teasel Root seems to greatly improve the symptoms of Dementia, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, ALS, and even Gulf War syndrome.
As a naturopath, I do not believe in a magic bullet or that there is one supplement that will work as a “cure all”. Anyone dealing with these conditions must take a full compressive approach in addressing them. Your approach should include nutrition and diet along with whole food supplementation. Herbs, homeopathic, and energetic remedies like Infoceuticals also provide deep response. Also, Enzyme therapy should not be overlooked since these conditions all have an inflammatory element.