Those suffering from chronic Lyme and/or co-infections can be ill for many years. Treatment may feel like eternity, but now you are finally feeling better. At this point, most are tempted to discard supplements, ditch the doctor, and proceed with their lives. As a Lyme doctor who has also been that person, I recommend making sure that the infections are truly eliminated, and taking steps to restore your nervous system, detoxification pathways, energy, and immune system to preserve lasting health.
Issues That May Need to Be Addressed
1. Rebuilding Your Mitochondria.
Mitochondria are the organelles (cell structures) responsible for cellular energy production. Loss of mitochondria or mitochondrial dysfunction can result in fatigue, premature aging. It is found in most longer term illnesses such as CFS, chronic infection, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autoimmune diseases, and more. Mitochondrial dysfunction arises when there is an inadequate amount of mitochondria, a dysfunction in electron transport due to a lack of necessary nutrients, or oxidative damage. Those with mitochondrial dysfunction may suffer from decreased resilience, increased inflammation, cognitive dysfunction, exercise intolerance, low energy and insomnia. Mitochondrial support such as CoQ10, NAD, D ribose, antioxidants, N acetyl Carnitine, and exercise are some of the approaches to rebuilding mitochondria.
Talk to your practitioner about the best way to get started safely.
2. Repair and Restore Gut Health.
Many people have been on antibiotics and/or dealt with gastrointestinal dysfunction during their illness. For those who have suffered from IBS, Gluten intolerance, Antibiotic therapy or chronic constipation, you may be suffering from Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO. I would recommend treating this to optimize your immune system, reduce inflammation, reduce candida and decrease stress on the liver. Long term effects of SIBO include B vitamin deficiency, weight gain, Rheumatoid Arthritis, (NASH) Non Alcoholic Steatosis Hepatitis, rosacea, thyroid autoimmunity, mood, cholesterol, blood sugar, weight, sleep issues, and non-responsive celiac.
3. Challenging Your Immune System.
I recommend challenging the immune system with various herbal antibiotics. If you can do this with no symptoms, then you can feel more secure that your infections are cleared.
4. Revisit Previous Tests.
If you had any abnormal test results, it is a good idea to retest and make sure they are now in normal range. This isn’t necessary for all testing. Talk to your doctor and make sure that your important markers have come down into normal range.
5. Detoxify Your Body.
Consider a program of detoxifying liver, kidneys, lymph, and colon. Depending on how much detoxification support was taking place during your treatment period, this will be different for everyone. Glutathione, an antioxidant and important detoxifier is often reduced during chronic infection. To help rebuild the immune system, clearing out toxins such as mold, heavy metals, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals will free up the immune system to be more available to fight infection, and reduce oxidative stress, the main cause of chronic illness. Incorporate detox methods such as sauna, exercise, colonics daily or weekly. Removing toxic products or foods will lower your overall toxic burden overtime. Check out Environmental Working Group to see the health ratings on the household products you use.
6. Finding Your Optimal Diet.
Most have already done this already, but if you haven’t, establish a healthy diet of organic, non-GMO vegetables, meats, and limited grain and sugar. Some may need to follow a diet such as Ketogenic, low lectin, low histamine, low fodmaps diet, blood type or gluten free diet. Consult your doctor to find out if one of these diets would be beneficial for your overall health.
7. Healthy Aging with Genetic Analysis.
Genetic analysis of genes involved in nutrition, methylation, detoxification, antioxidants, and neurotransmitters is valuable in discovering hidden weaknesses your body may have. Methylgenetic Nutrition Analysis pioneered a research study with 1000 Lyme patients which determined common genetic variants in the Tick borne illness population. (Do you have a link to the study or an article about it?) Discovering what your genetic variants can be very useful in supporting and maintaining health as you age. After the majority of infection has been cleared is the optimal time to begin optimizing your genetic health.
8. Trauma Support.
Dealing with a chronic illness can be extremely traumatic. Traumatizing events during this time can include: being alienated from friends and family, symptoms of chronic pain or debilitating fatigue, being dismissed from medical doctors who can’t diagnose you, financial stress from being unable to work, and dealing with the unknown of whether you will recover or not. These traumas are very real and there are numerous therapies to help you recover, such as Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, Annie Hopper-DNRS, Neurofeedback, and surrounding yourself with friends and family that support and believe you.
Good sleep is critical to maintaining a healthy nervous and immune system. If you are still dealing with insomnia, explore treatment options with your doctor. Options might include hormonal therapy, adrenal treatment, anti-microbial therapy, changing sleep habits. Sleep can be improved by using a blue light filter on your computer or phone or wearing glasses that filter the blue wavelengths. Exposure to high amounts of blue light can suppress the production of melatonin by the pineal gland. Ideally, avoid your phone or computer at least 2-3 hours before bedtime and turn off WIFI while sleeping.
10. Optimize hormonal levels.
Mold toxicity and chronic illness can deplete your sex and adrenal hormones especially for those in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Estrogen, testosterone, progesterone should be tested and optimized for resilience, mood, energy, sleep, maintaining lean body tissue, brain health, and anti-aging.
10. Energize Your Life.
For some who have been sick for years, the limitations placed on you may make you feel as if you missed out on life. It is natural for life to get smaller during this time. Now that you are having increased energy, it is a good time to celebrate, and symbolically bring in new energy to support your improved wellbeing. Ideas include: take up a new hobby, get creative with art or writing, make some changes in your environment, paint your house, change up your furniture, plant a garden, take a nurturing vacation.
In my practice, I see many former Type A people with Lyme, and I was also that person. By Type A, I mean those always pushing their limits or dealing with high stress for long periods of time. Navigating chronic illness teaches one to slow down, focus within, and listen to the body.