THE BORDER LIFE

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                    RIVERDAVE'S FIVE LEVEL HERBAL APPROACH FOR THE TREATMENT OF LYME DISEASE
                                                                                   JULY 2013 - DURHAM, NC
 
       This summer of 2013 I completed my second full year of herbal treatment for my Lyme Disease. The following is a list of herbs that proved helpful.  This list does not include herbs that I started, but then stopped taking because of either no noticeable usefulness or unwanted side effects.  In my five level, phytotherapy approach, I used only fresh or dried whole herbs.  I chose not to follow a chemical therapy strategy of isolated compounds, so-called "active" constituents, standardized plant extracts, mineral supplements or vitamins. As a result of my use of these whole medicinal plants, I feel that my condition has stabilized and I can now shift my focus to different herbs that can help build up lost energy, focus and stamina. 
 
       I do not offer this list as a general prescription or protocol for treating Lyme Disease, as no dosage or timing is mentioned. Instead, this is simply a reference to the herbs I found to be useful in my particular case. It is important to consult with an experienced herbalist before making any herb a part of one’s individual treatment plan.  Please note that originally I intended to do this treatment for only one full year, but then found myself reinfected with Lyme only two months after the end of my first year's treatment. Consequently, I had to repeat the entire process for a second full year, but with some fine tuning based on what I learned the first year. 
 
       I am satisfied to report that I was able to maintain this entire two year herbal treatment at a cost of less than one dollar per day.  How did i do it?  I ordered bulk herbs by the pound. I stirred these powdered herbs into a pudding that I took each morning and sometimes also in the evening. This is the most economical way to take herbs.  If I had bought encapsulated herbs in pill bottles, the markup is tenfold - in other words, it would have cost me ten dollars a day. If I had bought prepared tinctures, it would have cost me $20 a day.  I did some wildcrafting as well and when needed, encapsulated my own herbs and made my own tinctures.  But for most folks, the key to inexpensive herbal treatment of Lyme Disease will be to purchase herbs bulk, either cut and dried or powdered and take them by the teaspoonfull in puddings, juice, water and in teas.  In fact, most of my medicine I took as food and can more accurately be counted as part of my food bill!  For details of my most common means of ingestion click here: Medicine Pudding  
 
      I must also give credit to a number of family members, friends and health practitioners from whom I received important support - including a physician and several nurse practitioners, herbalists and body workers.
 
1 - Herbs for balancing excess wind: (wind or vata - an Ayurvedic energetic term for a cold, dry and agitated state which becomes especially aggravated by vatagenic Lyme Disease) I used the following dozen warming (but not hot) herbs on a regular basis in my food: turmeric, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, ginger, black pepper, long pepper, anise, nutmeg, cumin, fenugreek and mustard. I also used the following moistening oils both internally with food and externally, applied directly to my skin or added them to bath water: olive, sesame and coconut. 
 
2 - Herbs for immune support: American ginseng root, ashwagandha root, eleuthero root, cat's claw bark, slippery elm, kelp leaf, astragalus root
 
3 - Herbs for specific symptoms: 
 
a: neurologic or head related symptoms of ear ringing, eye flashing and floaters, brain fog, loss of memory and migraine headaches: brahmi leaf, gotu kola leaf, coffee bean, chocolate bean, coca leaf, green tea leaf, peppermint leaf, ginkgo leaf, tobacco leaf, damiana leaf, bilberry, eyebright leaf;  chyavanprash - a multi herb Ayurvedic formula
 
b: pain management for joints and migraine headaches: Devil's claw root, meadowsweet leaf, honeysuckle flower
 
c: heart support: hawthorn berry
 
d: sleep management and calming wind: chamomile leaf, mimosa flower, Queen Anne’s lace flower
 
e: flu-like symptoms: echinacea root, licorice root, elecampane root, marshmallow root, sage leaf, elder flower and berry
 
f: lower abdominal distress: white oak bark, acacia gum, aloe vera leaf, triphala - a multi herb Ayurvedic formula, St. John's wort infused in olive oil for external use
 
g: general fatigue and low energy: shatavari root, suma root, maca root, pine pollen 
 
4 - Herbs for detoxification: chanca piedra leaf, smilax root, sarvia root, milk thistle seed, nettles leaf
 
5 - Herbs with antiparasitic action: teasel root, black walnut hull, olive leafgarlic, papaya seed, Japanese knotweed root - with this last one, which I wildcrafted and found very useful as an antiparasitic, I also ran into trouble as its high oxalate content eventually brought the onset of kidney stone symptoms     


TEN ADJUNCT NATURAL THERAPIES FOR TREATING MY LYME DISEASE


The Use of Animal Products 

        Although I have followed an olive oil based Mediterranean diet for decades, I've found the following animal products helpful in dealing with my Lyme symptoms: 

1 - Ghee acts as an herbal carrier, directing other herbs faster to deeper tissue levels.  I have made herbal ghee infusions to reduce pain and increase blood circulation.  It’s oily character also pacifies wind.  I took two tablespoons each morning in my smoothie and massaged it often into my skin.

2 - honey - one teaspoon in my smoothie as herbal carrier and pacifier of wind.

3 - sardines - a four ounce can twice a week - low mercury, oily fish, and wind pacifier. 


Physical Rest 

        I reduced my work load to near zero over the first six months of my herbal treatment, then increased it gradually over the following year and a half.  Slowing down my life to a virtual halt was a humbling, but very important step for me to take. I had to finally acknowledged to myself that I was seriously ill, after three years of observing the onset of my Lyme symptoms in a state of mental denial. 


Emotional Stress Reduction  

        I inventoried the emotional stress factors in my life and took steps to reduce them. But recently I have been enlightened by the book Meaning-Full Disease by Dr. Brian Broom.  His approach to somatic metaphor may turn out to be the single most important factor in understanding my challenge of Lyme Disease. I strongly recommend consideration of his approach.

 

Hot Bath

       I am fortunate to have a large, claw foot bath tub in my home.  In the winter I soaked at least twice a week with the oils mentioned above.  Also, in the course of my two treatment years, I made three trips to Hot Springs, North Carolina for several days of soaking in natural mineral springs. Sweating was very helpful as a means of detoxification.


Summer Eno RIver Dips and Meditations 

       I spent almost every evening by the Eno River below my cabin from May through October.  It was therapeutic to dip in the cool flowing river and then experience the warming of my body while seated on a rock facing the mild late afternoon sun. This became my most important meditation ritual for my two years of Lyme Disease treatment. 


WInter Wood Stove Warmth, Aromatherapy and Sun Salutations

       Sitting next to my wood stove during the winter months and gazing into the dancing flames was very supportive of my need to stay warm with my vata aggravated, windy and cold condition. I placed sage, eucalyptus leaves and conifer tree needles directly onto the top of the stove for daily aromatherapy.  On mild sunny winter days I did standing sun salutations in my backyard dressed only in shorts, a form of moving stretch that I learned from my Thai Medicine teacher.


Wind Gate Therapy 

       This is another technique I learned from my Thai Medicine teacher for relief of Lyme joint pain symptoms.  It is best experienced by having another person gently apply pressure to the pulses found on the back sides of joints such as underneath the knees, armpits and wrists - places where Lyme arthritic pain often manifests.  I would experience remarkable immediate relief after a treatment.

       Without a Thai Massage specialist to help, one can open one’s own wind gates by stretching the backs of the legs with one’s feet up a wall or with arms extended over the head while lying on the back. Deep breathing “into” these exposed areas also helps to release trapped wind and to reduce join pain.


Massage 

       Throughout my treatment period my wife helped me with energy balancing Thai Massage that we are both trained in.  In addition, I practiced a Thai self massage routine I had learned from my Thai Medicine teacher.  I also made use of ghee massage, self administering it into my joints and muscles and on occasion with help from family and friends.  


Healing Crisis Dreams 

       On a number of occasions I dreamt that friends were intervening energetically for my healing.  Upon waking from these dreams I felt significantly better and intuitively knew that I had “shifted” to a new level in the long term healing of my Lyme condition. I suppose there is really not much one can do to generate these spontaneous dreams, except to be aware of the fact that they do happen, and to carefully monitor and record one’s dreams while wrestling with Lyme.

 

Walking

      After losing my ability to run with the onset of Lyme symptoms six years ago, walking has become my main form of exercise.  Over the past two years a three mile walk seemed to work best for me. This was a very important part of my detoxification and rejuvenation.