Lyme disease is tricky – the symptoms can vary and the diagnosis is often missed or delayed, but time is of the essence in effectively treating this disease. In this article I will give the most important basics to understanding what it is, different signs and symptoms (not everyone has the same symptoms), how to prevent getting this infection and what to do if you do have it from a naturopathic perspective.

Lyme disease is a multi-system infection that affects your skin, immune system and if it spreads or lingers long enough, it can affect your neurological and cardiovascular systems and your joints. Lyme disease is the result of a tick bite which transmits a specific bacteria (called Borrelia burgdorferi) which is a type of black-legged tick present across most of North America (also Europe, Asia). The animals that most commonly carry (host) these ticks are field mice, deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks, weasels, foxes, shrews, moles, chipmunks, squirrels, and horses. There are about 30,000 reported annual human cases in the USA and about 1000 in Canada, however, the exact numbers are likely ten times that amount; so, it’s more common than you might think.

Common early signs of Lyme disease

• Painless rash that looks like a bull’s eye and gets larger
• Low-grade fever
• Tiredness
• Headache

Atypical signs of Lyme disease

• No rash, just a fever and headache
• Bluish-purplish rash, like a bruise

Signs of progressing Lyme disease

• More rashes appearing in other parts of the body
• Ongoing fatigue and overall weakness
• Stiff neck and severe headache
• Numbness, weakness, or pain in the extremities
• Difficulty with walking or vision

Late signs of progressed Lyme disease

• Swollen and painful joints, especially the knees; can affect other joints
• Poor memory and concentration
• Irregular heart function

If you or your loved ones experience some of these signs or symptoms, it’s important to get checked at your primary health care provider. If the tick is still lodged in the skin, use a fine-tipped tweezer placed near the skin on the tick and pull away from the skin – keep the tick in a bag/bottle and bring it to your doctor for analysis.

Lyme disease Prevention

Basically, you want to prevent getting bit by these ticks. Keep in mind that these ticks tend to rest at the edges of tall grasses and shrubs, so it’s ideal to avoid brushing against these types of growth. Here are some tips for avoidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
• Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment.
• Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
• Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents that ticks feed on).
• Keep playground equipment, decks and patios away from yard edges and trees and place them in a sunny location, if possible.
• Remove any old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard to avoid tick hiding places.

When outdoors in natural habitats, wear long loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs, tuck your shirt in your pants, and pants in your socks/boots and wear a hat and closed shoes (not sandals). Applying a bug repellant before going outdoors is a good idea. Standard 20-30% DEET repellants help deter the ticks, natural-based repellants to consider include rosemary and spearmint. During your visits to parks or upon your return, get into the habit of checking your skin including scalp in the mirror or with your companions – hot spots to check include your scalp and hair lines, near your watch, ankles and waist-lines. You can prevent an infection by removing the tick within 36 hours of it biting.

Management of Lyme disease

The diagnosis is based on the judgement of the doctor but some blood tests may be ordered, typically checking for antibodies against the bacteria. Once diagnosed, the standard treatment is a course of antibiotics for several weeks or months. Of course, the sooner it is detected the better the outcome. In most cases the symptoms resolve within four weeks, however it can last for many months. If you have lingering symptoms, it’s possible that you may have been re-infected.

Supportive naturopathic treatments can help support your immune system and help manage the various symptoms of Lyme disease. This may include dietary changes, nutritional supplements, herbal or homeopathic medicines. For example, a whole-food based, nutritionally-dense diet with supplements of omega-3 fats can be helpful. Herbs such as elderberry, astragalus or medicinal mushrooms may be recommended for supporting the immune system. Anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric and holy basil can help with the inflammation/pain symptoms, magnesium may help with encouraging sleep or muscle relaxation. Participating in support-groups and counseling can also be beneficial when handling the persistent cases of Lyme disease.

Help support your immune system with Bell Lyme Immune Defence.

• Natural antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.
• Helps the body fight against the Borrelia bacteria which is the main cause of Lyme disease.
• Supports and enhances the immune system during times of illness.

About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or