Everyone with Lyme disease knows how important things such as taking antibiotics and finding an excellent health care practitioner can be.
There are, however, many other factors involved in fighting Lyme that also make a huge difference. In my struggles with the disease, I can think of 10 things that have helped a lot.
I’ll start with love, as it is often called the great healer.
You might think this is obvious. Having Lyme disease, however, can make it much more difficult to receive and generate love. The Lyme patient needs to recognize this and place a priority on maintaining and deepening important relationships.
Many people don’t understand how serious Lyme can be. Lyme sufferers are often sicker than people with cancer, but friends and family sometimes don’t realize this. In most cases, everyone rallies around a cancer patient. Often, this doesn’t happen with a Lyme patient.
In many instances, a person with Lyme must reach out to family and friends to keep relationships in good condition. It isn’t easy to accomplish this when you have little energy. If you can do it, however, it’s worth the effort.
Living in a Healthy Place
Most people spend the majority of time at home. This makes it critical that your home is a healthy place to live.
Because various Lyme-related issues have forced me to move many times, I’ve learned which type of places are healthiest for me. The places I like allow for lots of light and fresh air. They tend to have hardwood floors, not carpets.
It’s important to keep living spaces clean and uncluttered to limit problems with allergens such as dust and mold. As well, I find relatively small houses and apartments much easier to keep clean and free of allergens. I also place special emphasis on the bedroom when creating a healthy living space, as, like most people, I spend much of my time there.
Many top Lyme physicians say mold is a leading reason some patients don’t get well despite taking large quantities of antibiotics.
Strict avoidance is the best approach to mold. Stay away from places that smell moldy or musty. If your house or apartment is moldy, seek out a mold expert who can determine which measures you should take. If you try to remediate the problem, proceed cautiously, because a poor job of mold removal can release many toxic mold spores and make things worse.
You can learn more about this subject at http://www.survivingmold.com. Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, a mold treatment pioneer, founded this site.
We live on a toxic planet. There are toxins in the air, in food, in household chemicals, in building supplies, and just about everywhere else.
It can seem overwhelming, but it’s important to avoid toxins whenever you can. That means educating yourself. Two helpful resources are Create a Toxin-Free Body & Home Starting Today, by Dr. W. Lee Cowden and Connie Strasheim, and the Environmental Working Group’s website, www.ewg.org.
Your mother was right when she said it’s a good idea to sleep eight hours each night. Nearly every Lyme doctor will tell you that proper sleep is essential to getting well.
Research shows that the most beneficial sleep hours come before midnight, so it’s best to retire by 10 p.m. or earlier. Sleep experts recommend turning off the electrical circuits to your bedroom and keeping the room as dark as possible. It’s also best to keep televisions, computers, and other electronic devices out of your bedroom. If that’s not possible, turn them off an hour before bedtime.
Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt is one of many holistic Lyme physicians who urge patients to deal with their emotional and spiritual issues. Traumatic things that happen to a person, often in childhood, can cause emotional blockages that weaken the immune system and allow disease to flourish.
Many healing modalities address these issues, such as psychotherapy, prayer and various forms of counseling. The American Holistic Nurses’ Association website, http://www.ahna.org, provides a list of modalities along with a brief description of each.
Cold and Flu Avoidance
You can’t get well if you’re always getting sick. This truism resonates with Lyme patients whose taxed immune systems can’t afford to contract a cold or the flu.
While natural and over-the-counter cold and flu remedies can help, hand washing is the key to avoiding these illnesses. Jason Tetro, a microbiologist and author of The Germ Code, says you should wash your hands when you return home and whenever you touch anyone or anything you suspect harbors cold or flu germs. He recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
Fresh Air and Sunshine
Tetro also advises opening windows whenever possible. He says letting fresh air into the house cuts down microbial levels and gives your immune system a break.
Sunshine is a great way of increasing Vitamin D levels. Well-known physician Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum recommends getting lots of sunshine while at the same time avoiding sunburn.
It’s not enough to know how to fight Lyme. You need the self-discipline to make yourself do what you need to do.
Making checklists helps me with this. I have one checklist that details the supplements I take and another checklist that has items like exercises, stretches, meditation, and deep breaths. Checking items off makes sure I get things done, and each check mark brings with it a small sense of accomplishment.
Dr. Cowden developed an herbal supplement program to fight Lyme, but herbs aren’t the only part of his regimen. He also encourages patients using the program to make several positive lifestyle choices, including looking for ways to laugh every day.
Dr. Don Colbert, the author of many health books, prescribes 10 belly laughs a day for his patients. Along with this, he advocates watching classic situation comedies like The Lucy Show.
These physicians believe laughter is among the best medicines available. Fortunately, finding laughs is easy. You can, of course, watch comedy shows on television, or search for funny items at YouTube, at iTunes, or at http://www.archive.org, the Internet Archive.
Photo: Eric Davidson