SUCCESS STORY: Staying Healthy While Battling Lyme Disease with Supplements, Exercise, and Massage

In many ways, I’m a typical Lyme disease patient.  Like so many before me, it took a long time for doctors to put a name on the mysterious illness that was slowly destroying my health – and when the diagnosis finally came, it was far too late for an easy cure.

There came a point during treatment when I realized that if I was ever going to live anything approximating a “normal” life, I’d need to figure out what could be done to minimize some of the disease’s more debilitating symptoms. That meant a lot of reading and even more experimentation, but the end result is that Lyme is now more of an inconvenience than a crippling disease.

Regardless of whether you’re taking a prolonged course of antibiotics or, like me, are using classical homeopathy or another recognized form of treatment (herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, or Rife treatments to name a few), the following suggestions should prove useful in relieving some of the discomfort associated with battling a chronic Lyme infection.

MAGNESIUM

There are many things that distinguish Lyme from other bacteria.  One of them is that most bacteria require iron to complete their life cycles. Lyme bucks this trend by requiring magnesium instead. As a result, Lyme patients often suffer from magnesium deficiency syndromes that either cause or greatly contribute to some of the disease’s more aggravating symptoms, including muscle twitches, spasms, cramps, cardiac arrhythmias, tremors, anxiety and weakness.  Supplementing magnesium can eliminate or significantly improve these symptoms. I’ve been taking one 300 mg. of magnesium citrate tablet every day for about two years and it’s made a dramatic improvement in all of these symptoms.

(If you’ve experienced a slow heart rate at any point since contracting Lyme, talk to your physician before taking magnesium.)

It should be noted that somewhere along the line, someone got the idea that if magnesium plays such an integral role in the bacteria’s life cycle, the disease could be eradicated by restricting magnesium intake and essentially starving the bad guys out. Don’t do this.

Lyme has survival mechanisms that allow it to remain dormant for as long as it takes for magnesium levels to rise again. All you’ll do by cutting back on your magnesium intake is make yourself miserable.

MACA ROOT

One of the tragically under-recognized problems in Lyme is the impact the disease has on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis is part of the neuroendocrine system and helps to regulate, among other things, temperature, digestion, immune function, mood, reproductive hormones and energy levels. It’s sometimes referred to as the “stress system” because it helps to stabilize our response to stress.  It’s also greatly impacted by stress.

There’s no question that anyone battling chronic Lyme suffers from stress, but what’s more important is that dying Lyme bacteria release endotoxins that disrupt the HPA axis, a strategy designed to minimize immune response and allow the infection to thrive.

Maca root’s adaptogenic qualities counteract the effects of these endotoxins by working directly on HPA pathways to restore normal function.  It corrects hormonal imbalance (for both sexes), strengthens the immune system, increases stamina, reduces stress, and improves sleep quality. Maca root is available from most health food stores in either capsule or powder form.  For best results, buy the powder form and start by taking less than the recommended dosage, then build up until you reach the level that’s optimal for you.

PROBIOTICS

If you’re taking pharmaceutical antibiotics, your doctor has likely already explained the importance of taking probiotics since these broad-spectrum medications kill the “good” bacteria along with the “bad”, throwing off the balance of your intestinal flora.  Even if your primary treatment is something other than conventional antibiotics, Lyme loves to colonize the digestive tract and can spread from there to the rest of your body.  This is where probiotics can really help.  The more “good” bacteria you have in your system, the harder it is for the “bad” bacteria to flourish.

You can get probiotics in several different forms from the refrigerated section of your local health food store.

You can also get good bacteria from yogurt, but do yourself a favour and avoid the flavoured kinds which can be surprisingly high in carbohydrates, something that Lyme uses for fuel. It’s the traditional sour yogurt that will serve you best.

VITAMIN C

Collagen makes up between 25% and 35% of all the protein in the human body. It’s found in everything from joints, bones, and tendons to blood vessels, organs, and eyes. It literally holds us together.

Due to their unique corkscrew shape, Lyme bacteria find it much easier to twizzle through collagen than to flail around in blood. This is why Lyme bacteria are rarely found in the bloodstream just a few weeks after initial infection. Instead they’re both colonizing our collagen tissues and using them to travel to other parts of our bodies. The more quickly and efficiently our bodies can repair all that damage, the less discomfort we’ll be in. Enter vitamin C.

Much has been written about the benefits of supplementing vitamin C when battling a cold or the flu. It’s also our ally in the battle against Lyme. Vitamin C is essential to the manufacture and repair of collagen and when our bodies don’t get enough of it, the healing process slows down. Since humans need to rely on either dietary sources or supplements to replace the vitamin C that is constantly being utilized and excreted from our bodies, we often don’t get as much as we need to optimize our ability to efficiently repair damaged tissue. Regularly supplementing vitamin C ensures that we do.

Some people advocate taking as much vitamin C per day as your body will tolerate (known as bowel tolerance level) without triggering nasty side effects that can include diarrhea, gas, excess urination and/or skin rashes.  The level at which these side effects kick in can vary from person to person, but I find that my body seems happiest when I take one 1,000 mg packet of Liposomal vitamin C twice per day.

GREEN FOOD

We have a tendency when we get sick to crave carbohydrate-rich comfort foods even though we know they aren’t as good for us as other things we could be eating.  Somehow it doesn’t seem to matter how often we’re told to drink lots of water and eat lots of fresh vegetables – when there is cake to distract us from our misery.

Green food powders give our bodies what they need to function at their best when we are battling illness. These so-called superfoods are chock full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, plant fibre and trace nutrients.

They do several things that are important when battling Lyme, including boosting your immune system, improving mental function, aiding digestion, increasing energy levels, balancing pH, cleansing cells and helping you to better cope with stress. They’re available in powder form from most health food stores and, when mixed into water, tend to look an awful lot like pond scum and, I imagine, taste an awful lot like it, too. But you’ll learn to love green superfoods because, unlike the cake, the good feeling they give you lasts.

Several brands are available, including Greens+ by Genuine Health and Greens Force by Prairie Naturals.  Follow package directions for best results.

APPROPRIATE EXERCISE

Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a chronic Lyme patient quite like the prospect of exercising. After all, many of us have spent long stretches collapsed on couches, beds or floors.  Moving more than the minimum required to sustain life can feel like we’re being complicit in our own torture.

Still, the fact remains that you won’t truly feel like yourself again until you start to address the impact which the loss of conditioning has had on your body.  Exercise does a lot of things that are beneficial: it raises energy levels, boosts stamina, lifts mood, controls weight, improves sleep quality, increases strength and flexibility, enhances immune function and generally improves your quality of life.

This doesn’t mean that I’m advocating that you go out and run a marathon.  Even if you were inclined to try it, strenuous aerobic exercise can have a deleterious effect when you’re battling a long-term infection.  Instead, you need to start with simple stretching exercises that work every major muscle group. Yoga is excellent for this.

My initial attempts at yoga were limited to relaxation postures and even those were a strain. Now I can do a full ninety minutes of yoga every other day.  It took me two years and a whole lot of determination to get to this point, but I’m glad that I stuck with it because there are moments every day when, in spite of whatever else might be happening healthwise, my body feels like my body and not like some broken-down heap from which I’d love to escape.

MASSAGE THERAPY

Like many people who live with chronic Lyme, my initial attempts at exercise were far from successful.  Even doing something as basic as a forward bend would leave me exhausted and in pain. The combined effect of the damage that the disease had caused, and a profound lack of use, had left my body prone to injury. I can honestly say that I don’t think I would have stuck it out if it wasn’t for the assistance of a registered massage therapist.

Massage therapists use the systematic application of pressure and movement to manipulate the body’s soft tissues in an effort to improve relaxation, speed up injury recovery, soothe aching muscles, stimulate nerves and increase the flow of blood and lymph.

At my first massage therapy appointment, I listed suffocating fatigue as my number one complaint.  Just two sessions in, the fatigue had started to dissipate and a few months later it was no longer a major issue.  I won’t make the claim that it’s entirely gone, but it’s such a minor problem now that it doesn’t impact my life in any significant way.

At the same time, the pain which wracked my muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments whenever I exercised started to ease off.  Soon I was able to work out without experiencing any negative impacts and my muscles slowly but surely regained their elasticity.

It’s only improved from there.

7 Comments

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  1. John
    December 27, 13:19 John

    Misinformation. You have written magnesium instead of manganese… big difference

    Reply this comment
    • JJ
      January 03, 20:13 JJ

      Incorrect correction, John.

      Magnesium is the supplement Lyme sufferers require. Manganese is used in very small doses in the body, and primarily for preventing rust in metallic mixtures. Magnesium is correct, for all the reasons Vanessa stated. I have Lyme. I take Magnesium Threonate. It stops my muscle twitches, irregular heartbeat, and my brain fog/blurry vision/headaches go away.

      Be more careful for others when you claim “misinformation”. Especially when you are the one misinforming with the correction.

      Reply this comment
  2. Dr. Val
    March 29, 09:35 Dr. Val

    Sorry to burst your bubble JJ, but John is correct. You need to actually read what he said and be more informed in this subject.

    According to our joint studies here at Johns Hopkins, with the University of Texas, and WHOI, (which is what the original author Vanessa was referring to,) we have confirmed that the pathogen that causes Lyme disease unlike any other known organism can exist without iron, which is what all other life needs to make proteins and enzymes. Instead of iron, the bacteria substitute MANGANESE to make an essential enzyme, thus eluding immune system defenses that protect the body by starving pathogens of iron. I believe Vanessa simply misread our findings.

    John did not say anything about Lyme patients not requiring magnesium. I totally agree with you that magnesium is beneficial for Lyme patients and manganese is used in small doses.

    I encourage you to READ our studies, and then once you have wrapped your mind around the actual science, you may “try” to correct people’s corrections.

    Valeria Culotta PhD
    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    Johns Hopkins University

    Reply this comment
    • tickcatcher
      June 18, 12:51 tickcatcher

      Thank you for all the information everyone. Lets work kindly with each other to get all the correct info out there. Its confusing, even for me and I am an RN. AND there is a lot of wrong information out there which makes it worse.

      Reply this comment
  3. chicken sandwich
    June 30, 08:10 chicken sandwich

    after reading your claim about magnesium I did some reading,turns out that lymes,unlike other parasites uses magnesium rather than as in most cases iron from our body.Within a couple days I was feeling better from taking it.I actually feel human again instead of something that should be taken out behind the barn and shot

    Reply this comment
  4. Lucky Lineman
    July 12, 20:39 Lucky Lineman

    All I can say is I so want this disease to be gone. I’ve never tested positive, but I had a tick on my penis in 1996 and about 2/3 weeks later I had a dark red but more purplish ont the end of my penis and it appeared to be spreading. I was frantic and went straight into see a doctor because I thought it was some bad kinda STD because I had some I’m protected sex a week earlier and had not had sex with any other partners for a few years. So I thought oh my gosh I got something from this woman and totally forgot about the tick. So tested for all the STD’s which come back all negative, but the DR prescribed me like a weeks worth of Doxycycline because I obviously had something wrong. Purple goes away everything was fine but in all reality I was getting fatigued and irritable and about a year and a half later I all of a sudden get psoriasis reslly bad and I’m back and forth to the Doc’s and he’s like well it’s eather stress or alcohol or heredity blah blah blah. Then right in that same time frame I start getting a reoccurring prostate infection and I keep getting antibiotics and it goes away and comes back again for about a two year period. And I mention the tick thing to my family doctor and ask about Lymes disease…..He laughs and says I do not have Lymes disease. So back and forth I go my prostate hurts my skin is all plaqued up and I feel like shit,This is in Washington state, but I got the tick in Missouri trimming a big oak tree for my mother and flew back to Washington 2 days afterwards and noticed the tick, it was really a tiny one. We’ll aim a journeyman lineman and was 31 years old when it happened…so back to the Dr visits so I’m back in with the prostate and my doctors gone and I see the PA and tell him about the tick and the Lymes disease snd he says well the treatment for chronic prostatitus and Lymes is almost identical so I go on a month of antibiotics 3 different kinds and bam prostatitus goes away and within 6 months the psoriasis pretty much goes away. So out of sight out of mind.. Well for a while st least , you see I’ve got ADHD and for the life of me after feeling healthy agsin I forgot about the Lymes for years but have been feeling like shit for years like joints hurting, muscles aching, psoriasis agsin the list is endless my lower legs have sores thst are plaqued up for years now, edema in my legs, bloated, pooping terrible and have a couple sores that won’t go away and when I pick them they have like these white roots on them. And thinking back like 15 years ago I had sores like these on my scalp and they had the same root like things on them so it’s the same symptom as what I have now and IM 53 now so I’m researching my ailments and I see something that looks exact like what I have and it s morgellons do I’m reading snd I see the link about the spirochete in the biopsy of the morgellon patients and that 24 of 25 have Lymes. Well bingo that’s me to the T. I’m working in Long Island NY as a Lineman and can somebody please HELP ME? I don’t want to see just any doctor becsuse I’ve had a couple mention parasitosis do I don’t trust them and I want the diagnosis because I have it and right now it’s gaining on me and I’ve had it way too long in diagnosed. This is the first time I’ve blogged ever about it because I’ve actually become a little anti social with this disease…

    Reply this comment
    • Rayshawne
      July 14, 04:04 Rayshawne

      Hello! I visited Florida (from California) and had a tick in me but didn’t know what it because it was engorged (full of my blood meal) and it was flesh color. I’m pissed off about this whole Ordeal. I have so much anger inside of me. Thinking back I thought it was a infected bite & ignored it. 3 weeks later I Had massive stop you in your tracks tingling and burning on my hands and feet , extreme fatigue flue like symptoms and red spots with I thought was mosquito bites which hindsight was the EM rash while in Disneyland. Came back home & I teasted positive for Lyme Igg with EBV. I’m 1 year post bite and no help. Antibiotics for 4 weeks but still have symptoms when under stress. I’m told symptoms can linger for years. But how do one know for sure if that is true . Feel lost and husband Wants me To believe it’s gone but I don’t believe it is. I research nonstop and don’t have interest in anything else fun. I wish I could help you but our stories are different my reason for responding is I Just wanted you to know I’ve (someone) read it and my prayer is that you get the answers you need!! Stay in prayer

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