When you talk about chronic Lyme disease and Morgellons, you’re talking about two very misunderstood conditions. Both have a somewhat controversial standing within the mainstream medical community; in fact, both disorders are not recognised as fully legitimate by any official medical body, despite thousands upon thousands of cases cropping up all over the world. Both are complicated to treat, and the full spectrum of symptoms for both are not completely understood. But until recently, there was no reason to think that Morgellons disease was a symptom of Lyme disease. However, new research has suggested the opposite. Are Lyme disease and Morgellons linked? And if so, does Lyme disease cause Morgellons, is Morgellons a symptom of Lyme disease, or is there some other connection between the two?
First of all, let’s look at each disease individually, starting with the one we understand better. While there is plenty of confusion surrounding chronic Lyme disease and its symptoms, we certainly have a better grasp of it than Morgellons. Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia strain of bacteria, spread to humans mainly via tick bite. The first stage of Lyme is known as the acute phase, and unless you’ve actively realised you’ve been bitten, you may simply write it off as a bout of flu. The tell-tale symptom unique to Lyme is the bullseye rash that forms at the site of the bite; but if you’re unaware of it, it’s easily missed. The acute phase recedes after a few days or weeks, and at this point starts to transition to the chronic phase. The bacteria may lie dormant for many weeks or months before re-emerging in the chronic form. Patients rarely conflate the symptoms with Lyme, as it’s so far removed from the initial bite.
The symptoms caused by chronic Lyme disease are varied, and differ from patient to patient. They can also range in severity, making it hard to pinpoint exactly where one begins and the next ends. However, we do understand the basic mechanism behind the disease, and why it’s so hard to treat. In chronic Lyme, the bacteria’s role recedes, and the symptoms caused by infection lessen. In their place, symptoms caused by inflammation, i.e. the body’s response to the infection, increase dramatically. Faced with a long-term invasion it can’t seem to overcome, the immune system kicks into overdrive, causing chronic symptoms like irrepressible fatigue, joint pain and muscle aches, as well as potential neurological complications. There is no easy way to cure chronic Lyme; treatment must comprise of tackling the inflammation and infection aspects simultaneously.
Morgellons is an altogether more mysterious disease. Discovered and named in 2001 by Mary Leitao, the disorder results in some of the strangest symptoms possible, and yet still bizarrely is considered an outlier condition stemming from mental health issues. Patients of Morgellons report various symptoms, all unpleasant. The most prominent are the lesions and sores that cover the patient’s body. These usually cause constant itching sensations, and often are made worse by the inevitable incessant scratching. More bizarre still are the threads of coloured material which seem to emerge from these lesions; coloured predominantly blue, red, white and black, these threads can sometimes be identified underneath skin, and other times emerging from the lesion itself. In addition, patients often think there is some insect-like infestation under the skin, and report constant irritation alongside fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
Morgellons has regularly stumped any medical professional who’s examined it, leading many to write it off as delusional parasitosis – a purely mental disorder where patients believe that bugs are crawling around inside their skin. But this completely ignores the physical manifestations of the disorder, which are extremely prominent in sufferers. As the medical community grappled (and continues to grapple) with Morgellons, research was conducted that suggested that the disorder was related to chronic Lyme disease. But are Lyme disease and Morgellons linked? Or is it just an attempt to align a confounding, controversial disorder under the umbrella of another? Well, the research would suggest that the former is true. In a study titled ‘Clinical evaluation of Morgellons disease in a cohort of North American patients’ published in Dermatol reports, 1000 Lyme patients were tested for Morgellons disease. 60% were found to have the disorder. This number definitively concludes a link between Lyme disease and Morgellons, and implies that Morgellons is in essence a potential symptom of a chronic Borrelia infection.
According to the report, as well as many doctors who have taken the time to study and examine Morgellons and its patients, Morgellons disease is a dermatological condition whose affects are associated with spirochetal infection. The disorder is associated with overproduction of keratin and collagen in cutaneous tissue, hence the strange-coloured threads of fibre that seem to grow out of the patient’s body. Unfortunately, like chronic Lyme, treating it is no easy task, and the first goal is always to have it medically recognised as a legitimate disorder. The Charles E. Holman Foundation is doing great work at a grassroots level, providing support for patients while simultaneously researching the disease, its causes and its effects. German company Make Well has recently added a Morgellons-specific product to their line-up, named MRG Derm. This joins their array of all-natural supplements intended to support the treatment of chronic conditions like Lyme disease and Morgellons and has been specifically designed to aid wound healing for skin lesions. Further research like the study above will hopefully cement Morgellons as a potential side effect of Lyme disease, and encourage more studies into its successful treatment.
What Is pH?
The pH scale is a way of measuring how acidic or basic (alkaline) a water-based solution is. Chemically speaking, your blood, for example, is actually a water-based solution, although not all of its components are dissolved. Your blood plasma contains 90% water, and it makes up more than half of your overall blood volume.
The range of the pH scale is between 0–14. A pH reading of 7 is neutral. Below 7 is acidic and anything higher than 7 is alkaline or basic. As the pH is based on a logarithmic scale, the difference between each number is quite significant. For instance, a pH of 3 is 10 times more acidic than a pH of 4, and a pH of 12 is 10 times more alkaline than a pH of 11. Therefore, a pH of 13 is 100 times more alkaline than pH of 11, and so on.
The Ideal Blood pH
The blood’s pH balance must be within a certain, very limited range in order to maintain overall health. Your body carefully regulates the pH levels of your blood, with the lungs and the kidneys playing an important role in controlling these levels. The body’s most important buffering system is the bicarbonate buffering system.
The healthy range of blood pH is slightly alkaline at 7.35 to 7.45. Several factors may alter the levels of blood pH, such as food and anything else you ingest. Abnormal kidney, lung and endocrine function can lead to an imbalance of blood pH, and so can the excessive loss of body fluids (vomiting, diarrhoea, sweating) and some infections.
If the strictly regulated blood pH falls under 7.35, the body is in a state of acidosis. It is important to distinguish between respiratory acidosis (wherein not enough carbon dioxide is lost via respiration) and metabolic acidosis (as occurs in chronic kidney disease or diabetes, as the buffering systems cannot buffer occurring acids anymore). On the contrary, a blood pH above 7.45 is considered an alkalosis. Both are serious conditions and are not to be confounded with regular food-related acid base metabolism.
Blood pH and the Immune System
Normal levels of blood pH are essential for the immune system to operate at its full capacity. If the blood becomes too acidic, immune function weakens.
A reading of blood pH that’s outside the healthy range may indicate some form of illness. Medical conditions that can cause an imbalance of blood pH include diabetes, heart disease, asthma, gout, haemorrhages and abnormal bleeding, poisoning or drug overdose.
Altered blood pH levels affect the ability of white blood cells to respond to any potentially harmful intruders, such as viruses and bacteria. As a result, the entire immune system may become disrupted due to an excessive extracellular pH imbalance. Acidosis may also damage the kidneys, bones and muscles.
Blood pH and Chronic Illness
All of the cells in your body generate certain waste products as part of their natural metabolic processes. Most of these waste products are acidic, and they are eliminated from your system via various channels, such as urination and perspiration. That’s why urine and sweat are slightly acidic.
A healthy blood pH balance is crucial for your body’s waste elimination mechanisms to function properly. The accumulation of these acidic waste products is assumed to be linked to a variety of health problems, including weight gain, clogged arteries, arthritis, kidney stones and a number of other chronic illnesses.
If you already have a chronic illness, such as Lyme disease, a blood pH imbalance makes a complete recovery more difficult. Chronic Lyme disease may rear its head months or even years after the transmission of the infection through a tick bite. When this happens, it’s caused by the weakening of the immune system due to another medical condition, stress or environmental factors. Since an abnormal blood pH leads to the disruption of immune function, restoring it to its healthy levels can boost the body’s natural defences against the bacteria – making the relationship between blood pH and Lyme disease an important one.
Testing for pH
The pH level of urine is frequently measured by many patients. However, only free acids can be determined, which only account for approximately 1%. Hence, the blood pH or a chronic latent acidosis cannot be concluded from urine pH results. Nevertheless, measuring the urine’s pH several times throughout the day may give hints about the overall acid-base balance. Urine pH test strips are available at pharmacies, allowing you to check your pH levels at home.
Although your saliva is also generally more acidic than your blood, it is a fair indicator of your body’s pH balance. A reading of saliva pH can provide information about extracellular fluids and their alkaline mineral reserves. The ideal pH range of saliva at least two hours after a meal is 6.4 to 6.8. If your reading is lower than 6.4, that means your body doesn’t have enough alkaline reserves available to regulate your pH levels effectively. Just after a meal, the saliva’s pH should increase to 7.8 or above. If your reading doesn’t rise accordingly, that indicates a deficiency in alkaline minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. These mineral deficiencies mean that your body is unable to absorb and assimilate food efficiently.
The Importance of the Acid Base Balance
It’s important to restore the body’s pH balance as soon as possible after diagnosing latent acidosis. Those wondering how to balance blood pH might have come across common treatments such as intravenous fluids and sodium bicarbonate; making some changes to your diet can also help balance your pH.
Some experts recommend cutting down on strongly acid-forming foods and drinks, such as grains, animal-derived products, vinegar and most alcoholic beverages. You can also take a teaspoon of baking soda (another name for sodium bicarbonate) with a glass of water once a day, since baking soda is strongly alkaline.
In general, it can be said that an overall base-forming diet contains mostly vegetables and low-sugar fruits, no refined flour, sugar or alcohol, and a moderate intake of animal-derived products.
Morgellons disease is a rare and poorly understood disorder. Its main characteristics are unexplained slow-healing sores and the appearance of multi-coloured fibres under the skin. The fibres are of unknown origin and composition. Since there’s limited evidence showing that they’re produced by the patient’s body, some health professionals insist that the fibres are merely bits of textile from clothing or bandages stuck in the open wounds.
People with Morgellons also often experience crawling, stinging and biting sensations on and under their skin. These symptoms can be very painful, and they may interfere with the patient’s day-to-day activities and take a significant toll on their quality of life.
A large proportion of Morgellons patients also exhibit various symptoms characteristic of Lyme disease, such as fatigue, joint pain and neurological disorders. According to one study, as many as 98% of people with Morgellons tested positive for either Lyme or another tick-borne disease. Another study carried out in Australia found that 6% of Lyme disease patients had signs and symptoms of Morgellons disease.
Although some medical experts consider Morgellons disease to be a physical illness, many others assert that it’s actually a mental health disorder. It’s often classed as an example of delusional parasitosis, which is a psychosis causing a person to think and feel that parasites have infected their skin.
Some doctors refer to the condition as an unexplained dermopathy, which is a term that describes a skin condition with an unknown cause. It’s also sometimes called fibre disease.
The name ‘Morgellons’ originates from a letter written by 17th century physician Sir Thomas Browne, who’s believed to have been the first to describe the disease. A 2012 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) didn’t find a common cause of illness among Morgellons patients. However, a medical paper published in 2013 presents results showing that the mysterious fibres contain keratin, collagen and other proteins produced by the human body. These findings indicate that Morgellons is in fact an actual dermatological condition, and the fibres aren’t made of foreign material.
Other, more recent studies have shown that the disease may even be more than merely a skin disorder. Some research suggests that Morgellons is a multisystemic illness affecting a number of different systems or organs in the body, including the nervous system. Due to its association with tick-transmitted illnesses, some medical experts believe that an underlying infection may be triggering the symptoms.
Due to the great deal of uncertainty surrounding the illness, a lot of patients tend to feel confused about their situation and disappointed in their doctor – especially since the question of how to treat Morgellons disease effectively has largely gone unanswered. As a consequence, Morgellons sufferers may experience severe stress and anxiety, exacerbating any pre-existing neurological and mental health conditions.
What is Pantothenic Acid?
Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble vitamin of the B-vitamin group, commonly known as vitamin B5. The human body can’t produce it, so it must be supplied through food. The recommended intake level for adults is approximately 6 mg of B5 per day. It can be found in large amounts in yeast, meat, eggs, milk, cheese, vegetables, legumes and whole-grain cereals. Normally, we are well covered in vitamin B5 via nutritional intake; however, deficiencies may occur in cases of alcoholism, chronic inflammatory diseases or diseases of the gut.
Pantothenic acid is commercially sold as D-pantothenic acid, dexpanthenol and calcium pantothenate. It’s often used in combination with other B vitamins in dietary supplements containing a vitamin B complex. In addition to vitamin B, the vitamin B complex normally consists of vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin/niacinamide), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) and folic acid (a form of vitamin B9). However, the exact ingredients widely vary, and some products don’t contain all of these different vitamins, while some may include others.
Pantothenic acid is also crucial for the healthy growth and maintenance of skin and hair. Panthenol or pro-vitamin B5 is a compound made from pantothenic acid, and it has a broad range of cosmetic applications. It serves as an important ingredient in a lot of skin and hair products due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and hydrating properties.
Can Pantothenic Acid Treat Morgellons Disease?
Your adrenal glands require pantothenic acid in order to be able to produce some essential hormones, such as cortisol. Vitamin B5 also has an antioxidant effect and helps reduce inflammation in the body, together with bioflavonoids, vitamin C and healthy omega fats.
Moreover, pantothenic acid plays a vital role in the process of building up and breaking down fats, carbohydrates and proteins in all tissues. It helps release energy from food and contributes to the production of disease-fighting antibodies. However, it requires vitamins A, B3, B6, B9 and B12 in order to function properly.
Pantothenic acid can support the skin’s ability to regenerate. Research has shown that it can aid the healing of wounds and sores by boosting collagen production and reducing inflammation. So it’s easy to see a potentially beneficial link between pantothenic acid and Morgellons disease – patients may benefit from taking dietary supplements containing pantothenic acid. If the slow-healing sores are caused by bacteria, these supplements can complement the use of antibiotics in the treatment of the infection. Due to its anti-inflammatory effect, the vitamin may also help in the management of the autoimmune symptoms of Lyme disease.
MakeWell is one of few manufacturers of nutritional supplements covering Morgellons disease and specifically, wound healing. The product MRG derm combines extracts from black cumin, gotu kola and pantothenic acid to support wound healing in Morgellons patients. It may also be combined with other anti-parasitic remedies to tackle Morgellons disease.
It’s summertime, and that means playing outside, enjoying the fresh air, and running through the grass barefoot. Wait, but what about all the ticks?! This has become a huge concern for people who enjoy spending time outdoors in nature, as tick populations are on the rise and accounts of tick-borne illnesses are becoming increasingly common. People are more and more concerned when spending time outdoors, and are taking more precautions when it comes to protecting themselves, their children and their pets.
So, what are these nuisances known as ticks? Ticks are part of the arachnid family, meaning that they are closely related to spiders, mites and scorpions. They are equally as creepy as these bugs, too! The tricky part about ticks is that they are incredibly tiny, which makes them very hard to spot out in nature or even on your own skin. Often, they can be mistaken for a freckle or spot of dirt, when in fact they’ve burrowed down to begin feasting on your blood.
While originally thought to be a problem contained within North America, accounts of tick populations and tick-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease and Morgellons disease, are now present throughout the world, making it a global concern. Ticks tend to frequent grassy areas like fields and forests, as they wait on the ends of a blade of grass for a host to pass by before latching on to them. This technique is called ‘questing’, and it is how ticks attach on to their host, be it an animal or human. Areas with high tick-risk would include parks, forests and anywhere that doesn’t tend to have a lot of foot traffic, so the ticks are able to wait for their host. Once they latch on, ticks will feed on their host for up to several days, before dropping off to moult into the next phase of their life cycle. It could be that a tick stays on a host for up to five days, if it is continuing to feed. They bury their head into their host and use their mouths to ingest the host’s blood; this is known as their ‘blood meal’.
Should you happen to be the chosen one for a tick to latch on to, not to worry! There is a simple way to remove a tick and prevent possibly contracting any tick-borne illness. If you notice a tick on yourself or your loved ones, don’t be tempted to try any home remedies you might have read about after searching ‘how to remove a tick’, such as smearing it with Vaseline or burning it. Many medical websites strongly discourage the use of home remedies to get a tick to withdraw out of the body, as these tricks often don’t work and can cause the tick to release bile into the host’s body, which could be contaminated with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria known to cause Lyme disease. Instead, simply get a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, and grab hold of as much of the tick as possible. Using a firm but gentle motion, pull the tick straight out of the skin. Do not pull, jerk or twist when extracting the tick, as you run the risk of the head breaking off and being left inside. Once you’ve removed the tick, dispose of it by drowning it in rubbing alcohol, sealing it in a plastic bag, or flushing it down the toilet.
You’re probably wondering what to do if a tick’s head breaks off during removal. This is a gruesome yet common and sensible question in regards to how to deal with a tick, as many people are concerned about the possibility of leaving a bit of the tick in the body. If a tick’s head comes off, do not panic, as the potential for disease transmission at this point is minimal. If you can still get to the piece that broke off, use the tweezers again to try and pull it out. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do advise against picking at the pieces and digging around in the skin; not only is this painful, but you run the risk of causing more of a skin infection that way. Instead, get what you can with the tweezers and clean the area with rubbing alcohol. In a few days, your body will expel the remainder of the head on its own. If it doesn’t, and the area is becoming red, sore or infected, visit your doctor immediately. If you begin to show symptoms of Lyme disease, such as feeling poorly with flu-like symptoms and/or a bulls-eye rash on your body, visit your doctor immediately to begin a course of antibiotics.
The best prevention against tick bites is to use insect repellent with at least 20% DEET and 0.05% permethrin, as both of these ingredients help to repel ticks the best. Try to avoid long, grassy areas and places that are off the beaten path, as that is where ticks tend to hang out, waiting for the next unsuspecting host. Don’t be that unsuspecting host – be prepared!
Lyme disease is one of the most prevalent diseases in the world, and it shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the number of cases continues to rise every year, across both Europe and North America. Lyme is undoubtedly a controversial topic; the chronic form of Lyme disease has yet to be fully legitimised by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), despite numerous overtures in recent years. Yet all medical professionals agree exactly where Lyme comes from. Bacteria from the strain of Borrelia, in many cases Borrelia burgdorferi, are the offending bacteria, which can be spread to humans through tick bites – specifically those of the black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick. Many other vector-borne diseases can be defended against with vaccines. So why is there no vaccine for Lyme disease?
The first thing to realise is that Lyme disease isn’t going to go away on its own. While there is some disagreement over chronic Lyme disease, acute Lyme, the initial stage of the disease, is accepted as medical fact. Tick populations are living longer thanks to global warming, with longer summers allowing them to migrate further. It’s no surprise to specialists that Lyme cases are increasing rapidly on a yearly basis. In truth, the number of cases is probably much, much higher. As chronic Lyme exists in a medical grey area, there are a huge number of suspected misdiagnoses, as well as numerous cases that are simply never reported. One would suspect that a Lyme disease vaccine would be big business for pharmaceutical companies. The disease was first discovered in 1975; why is there still no concrete remedy on the market?
There are two distinct types of vaccinations. They can be categorised as active and passive immunisation. Active immunisation relies on introducing weakened pathogens that are incapable of reproduction into the patient’s system, in order to trigger an immune response without the actual infection taking root. The immune system then develops memory cells for the pathogen, and is able to resist it in the future. Passive immunisation takes place when a patient has already been infected with a certain pathogen, but no immunisation exists. Here, antibodies from other immune donors are injected to fight the infection. Contrary to active immunisation, no immunologic memory remains.
A potential vaccine for Lyme disease would have to be the active type. This would require bacterial proteins that the immune system can recognise as antigens, and in order to work successfully, the proteins have to be very specific to be recognised. This process is very difficult when it comes to the Lyme-causative bacteria Borrelia due to the specificity of those antigens. Compounding the problem is the variability of the antigens, as a number of different variants of Lyme-causing bacteria exist. This makes pinning down and developing one ‘fix-all’ vaccine problematic.
A Lyme disease vaccine does exist for dogs, which is protective against B. burgdorferi, B. afzelii and B. garnii. This vaccination is effective in the tick itself. Antibodies that are developed by the dog's immune system are transferred into the tick while it is sucking, disarming the bacteria in the tick's gut.
There was also a Lyme disease vaccine for humans called Lymerix, introduced in the 1990s. Based on the same principle, it was administered in three doses, with the patient’s chances of defending against the disease increasing with each successive jab. Despite these positive numbers, LYMErix didn’t last long at all. Problems that occurred after few years and led to the market abandonment of the vaccine were, on the one hand, great uncertainty in the population and low vaccination numbers, on the other hand, the similarity of the OspA antigen to a body protein which was suspected to trigger autoimmune reactions. Additionally, LYMErix was unfortunately introduced at the very moment an upward swing in the anti-vaccine trend occurred. This movement swelled in the late 90s and into early 2000s; indeed, the published reports (now proven to be false) that sparked the vaccine backlash provided the foundations for the same anti-vax movement that exists to this day.
This essentially spelled the end for LYMErix, as it got whipped up in burgeoning anti-vaccine frenzy. The company behind the vaccine had no choice but to pull the product as sales rapidly decreased. This occurred in 2002, even though cases of Lyme across America were demonstratively on the rise. Unfortunately for future patients all over the globe, the Lyme disease vaccine was lumped in with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, and tarred with the same disingenuous brush.
In 2019, LYMErix is still approved and licensed for the American market, but has not been reintroduced as of yet. Because the dangers of chronic Lyme are not fully realised by the general public, many people are under the impression that the symptoms are not that severe, or at least not severe enough to warrant risking a vaccine. However, the symptoms of chronic Lyme can be extremely debilitating, and even sometimes fatal. A safe, effective vaccine for Lyme is crucial as the disease continues to spread. As it stands in 2019, there are a couple of avenues being explored by various researchers. French company Valneva are building upon the foundations created by LYMErix, and hope to produce a vaccine that can combat all five major strains of Lyme disease. Recently, they have received encouragement from the FDA (Food and Drug Agency in America) and the EMA (European Medicines Agency), and are moving into the second stage of clinical trials. Over in the U.S., researchers have been experimenting on mice, hoping to develop a vaccine that can be administered with food.
But we are still more than likely a long way off from a true vaccine for Lyme disease. In the meantime, we have to protect ourselves from Lyme, and also consider the patients who already have it. As always, the best form of treatment is prevention; if you can stop yourself getting bitten by a tick, you can avoid the risk of catching Lyme disease. For patients already suffering from chronic Lyme, don’t give up. There are Lyme specialist doctors out there who understand exactly what you’re going through, and work with other specialists to provide optimum treatment. For example, the team at Make Well produces a line-up of all natural supplements and works with doctors to support the treatment of numerous chronic diseases such as Lyme. Antibiotics simply aren’t enough when the disease reaches chronic stage; the body’s own immune system plays an important role, and inflammation symptoms must be tackled in tandem. Until a successful Lyme disease vaccine is developed, this kind of treatment is the primary force in the fight against Lyme.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted via the bites of certain types of ticks. As a multisystemic illness, it can affect many different tissues and organs. It can be difficult to diagnose, because its symptoms can mimic a variety of other illnesses, especially viral infections.
The only distinctive sign of Lyme disease is the erythema migrans rash. The red, circular rash resembles the shape of a bull’s eye and usually appears at the site of the tick bite within a few days or weeks. However, it may be observed elsewhere on the body, and in 20–30% of patients it doesn’t appear at all. The rash normally begins as a small red area around the bite, which then slowly expands and loses its colour in the centre. It’s not painful or itchy, but it may feel warm to the touch.
The initial symptoms of Lyme disease tend to be flu-like, such as fatigue, fever and headache. Some patients also experience facial palsy and joint pain shortly after the infecting tick bite.
Early diagnosis is crucial, as the sooner the infection is recognised, the easier it is to cure with antibiotics. The available laboratory tests are often unreliable, so doctors tend to diagnose the illness by taking several factors into account, such as any physical signs, symptoms and the patient’s history of possible exposure to infected ticks.
Lyme disease tends to become increasingly difficult to manage if left untreated in its initial stages. If the illness remains undiagnosed and the bacteria spread to different organs, more serious symptoms may present months or years later, including cognitive impairment, heart disease, arthritis and eye symptoms.
Homeopathy is a contentious type of alternative medicine that’s been around since the 18th century. Formulated by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, the principle of ‘like cures like’ is the foundation of homeopathic therapies. According to this principle, when a substance is taken in a very small amount and in a diluted form, it can cure the symptoms it would cause when taken in larger amounts.
A lot of homeopathic remedies contain substances that have been diluted in water hundreds of times. As a result, there are only very tiny, hardly detectable amounts of the original substance left in the solution.
Practitioners of homeopathy claim that their methods can cure both acute and chronic conditions. They believe a holistic and personalised approach is necessary, which involves treating the whole person, rather than just a particular disease. An estimated 200 million people use various homeopathic remedies worldwide in an attempt to treat a wide range of illnesses, including both physical and mental health problems.
What Science Says About Homeopathy
Scientists and medical professionals have been studying the effectiveness of homeopathy for a long time. Doctors are generally sceptical about the efficacy of these alternative treatments as no reliable, good-quality evidence has been produced in their favour.
There’s some evidence that certain forms of homeopathy may help manage some medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, when taken alongside conventional medicine. Nevertheless, these results don’t necessarily prove that the homeopathic medicine itself was effective. Rather, it could have been the interplay of various factors that helped patients feel better, such as the reassuring nature of the personalised approach and a placebo effect.
Homeopathy and Lyme Disease: How Ledum Is Used to Treat Lyme
Ledum is one of many homeopathic remedies for Lyme disease. So what is ledum?
The plant Ledum palustre is an evergreen shrub related to rhododendron, mountain laurel and wintergreen. It’s also known as wild rosemary, marsh tea and Labrador tea. The plant has traditionally been used for puncture wounds, bruising and insect bites or stings. It’s also believed by many to relieve symptoms of arthritis and aid recovery from ankle sprains. For the last 20 years, homeopathic practitioners have also touted it as a treatment for Lyme disease, which, unlike antibiotics, doesn’t upset the balance of good bacteria in the gut.
Homeopaths claim that the medicinal properties of ledum can cure Lyme disease in both animals and humans. They also assert that preparations of the plant can help prevent the onset of the illness when first taken as soon as possible after the infecting tick bite has occurred and continued daily for a week.
Lyme nosode is another homeopathic remedy believed to help manage Lyme disease. It’s made using killed Lyme-causing bacteria, applying the ‘like cures like’ principle. It’s diluted to the point that almost nothing of the actual organism remains.
The Verdict: Does Ledum Work in the Treatment of Lyme Disease?
Originally, veterinarians had prescribed ledum for the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs, horses and other domestic animals. Although it’s now also widely recommended to help treat the same symptoms in humans, there’s only scarce anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness.
Some literature does suggest that ledum can cure Lyme disease in dogs, but even these pieces of evidence aren’t sufficiently scientific. No studies have managed to show that any form of homeopathy is any more effective than placebo. More research is necessary in order to establish whether there’s any truth in claims made by practitioners about the effectiveness of ledum in aiding the recovery of Lyme patients. So as always, if you’re someone who has Lyme disease, it’s always best to work with your doctor to find out how both traditional and homeopathic medicine might help in your treatment.
What Are Ticks and Where Do They Live?
Ticks are small parasites that feed on blood. Despite popular belief, they are not actually insects. They belong to the arachnid family, which also includes spiders, scorpions and mites. Like most arachnids, ticks have eight legs, and they can’t fly or jump. Instead, they usually stay on grass or the leaves of bushes and trees, waiting for a human or animal to come close enough to them. Once they’ve latched onto a potential host, they crawl around in search of a thin area of skin near a small blood vessel, where they can easily extract blood. Tick bites are not painful and can remain unnoticed in many cases.
Ticks can be found all around the world, but they are the most common in warm and humid climates. You are at the greatest risk of tick bites when visiting forests, moorland and areas with tall grass during warm months, when ticks are the most active. They can transmit a variety of infections through their bites. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in the northern hemisphere. Other infections passed on by ticks include babesiosis, anaplasmosis and rickettsiosis.
Are Ticks Dangerous?
Not all ticks carry diseases. Infection rates vary greatly across the globe, but anywhere you are, being bitten by a tick doesn’t mean that you’ve caught something. Nevertheless, you should see a doctor if you develop a rash anywhere on your body within days or weeks after a tick bite, or if you have flu-like symptoms shortly after visiting a high-risk area, even if you don’t recall being bitten.
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is caused by infection with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is spread by sheep ticks in Europe and deer ticks in the United States. It can usually be treated effectively and completely with a course of oral antibiotics. However, the later it is diagnosed, the more difficult it is to cure.
Early symptoms include a slowly expanding rash at the site of the tick bite or elsewhere on the body, fever, fatigue and headache. If not treated early, more serious joint, muscle, neurological and heart symptoms may present months or years later.
Each year, an estimated number of 65,000 new infections occur in Europe and 300,000 in the United States. In Europe, the countries Slovenia and Austria have the highest infection rates, but the illness can be contracted almost everywhere on the continent and in the United Kingdom.
Can Ticks Live on Clothing?
Ticks can’t survive for a long time in places with low humidity. Although they can potentially live on clothing for a short time, unfed ticks are extremely unlikely to survive for much longer than 24 hours in a typical home.
Ticks on wet clothing can possibly survive for up to two or three days. Ticks that have previously fed on a host’s blood may live a little longer, but they will certainly die before they could bite again, which would normally be in over 30 days.
What Should You Do if You Find a Tick in Your Clothing?
If you find ticks on any pieces of clothing, or just as a matter of precaution after being outside, you should put them in a tumble dryer for an hour. Do this first, even if you need to wash the clothes! This is because ticks may survive in the washing machine, and only dry heat will definitely kill them.
What Should You Do if Someone Has Been Bitten by a Tick?
If you, your child or your pet has been bitten by a tick, you should remove it immediately. Use fine-point tweezers to take hold of the tick as close to the skin as possible. Then carefully pull it straight out. Afterwards, clean the skin around the bite with rubbing alcohol, and wash your hands with soap and water.
Store the tick in the freezer in a sealed container. It may help your doctor in the assessment of your infection if you develop any symptoms.
How Can You Prevent Tick Bites?
The risk of being bitten by ticks and contracting Lyme disease is the highest in the warmer months. But it’s best to be careful and avoid high-risk areas, such as forests with high grass, throughout the year. If you do go hiking somewhere like that, always stay in the middle of the trail. If you go camping, avoid sitting on the ground or walking through thick piles of leaves. Wear light-coloured clothes, long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, and boots or hiking shoes. For extra safety (though not extra fashionability), tuck your trousers in your socks!
Use an insect repellent with at least 20% N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET). You can also treat your clothes with a product containing at least 0.5% permethrin.
After returning home from a potentially tick-infested area, carefully check yourself, your children and any pets for ticks. Also inspect all clothing and any equipment you had with you. Then take a warm shower as soon as possible!
Lyme disease is a controversial condition at many levels. From diagnosis to treatment, there is no unifying consensus on the best way to handle it. This might sound strange, as Lyme disease is simultaneously one of the most prolific vector-borne diseases in the world. It has been discovered in every mainland state in the U.S., as well as almost every country in Europe. Over 300,000 new cases are reported to the American CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) every year, with many more going undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or ignored. All this confusion, complicated by the unique nature of Lyme, makes the treatment of the disease a thorny subject. As it’s an infection, the logical answer would be to use antibiotics. But are they necessary? And if not, are there alternative ways of treating or even helping to cure Lyme disease?
In the first instance, it’s important to define what Lyme disease is, and what it isn’t. In some ways, it’s surprising that there is so much controversy surrounding the condition, as we know exactly where it comes from and how humans are infected with it. The black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick, is the primary carrier of the disorder. Lyme is transmitted to humans through a tick bite, which introduces the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria into the system. It is also important at this stage to identify the two distinct stages of Lyme. They are one of the prime reasons why there is so much murkiness surrounding the disease, and the categories contribute significantly towards treatment decisions. They are known as the acute Lyme disease and chronic Lyme disease.
The first stage, acute Lyme, starts to take root immediately after infection. Some hours or days after the tick bite, patients might present with flu-like symptoms, including headache, fever, chills, fatigue and a general sense of malaise. It’s important to note that these symptoms are not necessarily severe, and in fact can actually be quite mild. If the patient doesn’t realise they’ve been bitten, then they may simply write it off as a bout of flu. Acute Lyme can also cause a rash at the site of the bite; this distinctive rash is known as a bullseye rash, and takes the form of a central circle surrounded by a red ring. If this can be identified, it is a surefire indicator of Lyme disease. But as ticks seek out crevices on the body where they are unlikely to be found, the rash can easily be missed.
As acute Lyme develops into chronic Lyme, someone unfamiliar with the disease might assume that any symptoms inevitably degenerate. This is not actually the case. Acute Lyme symptoms often clear up after a number of days or a couple of weeks, further inclining patients to write off the bout of illness as flu. If Lyme is caught in these early stages, then it can be successfully and easily treated with the use of antibiotics. Antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease at this juncture is non-invasive and straightforward, as the infection is acting like a normal infection. Catching Lyme disease before it can turn chronic, however, is absolutely crucial for both patients and doctors alike.
Chronic Lyme is a much more complicated disorder than its acute form. Indeed, there are a number of factors to consider, the primary one being that chronic Lyme bears very little resemblance to acute Lyme. In most cases, acute Lyme is likely to be a distant memory, as the incubation period between the two stages can be weeks, months or even years. Symptoms, when they emerge, are non-specific, derivative and often wildly varying depending on the patient. They can potentially include muscle and joint aches, dominating fatigue, neurological complications (both mild and severe) and cardiac issues. At this stage, it is not a question of whether you can treat Lyme without antibiotics; the truth of the matter is that antibiotics are not enough.
Why is this? Why does the disease seem to evolve so much between the acute and chronic stages? The answer lies in the body’s response to the long-term infection. Chronic Lyme symptoms are produced by the immune system’s response to bacteria it just can’t seem to eradicate. Eventually, the immune response becomes so aggressive that inflammation occurs, and the mechanism intended to defend the body from attack ironically ends up attacking itself. Even trace amounts of the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria can maintain the aggression of the immune response. This is why antibiotics aren’t enough to tackle chronic Lyme, and why we need to look to alternative ways to provide treatment for Lyme disease.
One of the primary methods of combating inflammation is through diet and nutrition. Certain foods help sustain inflammation, while others combat it. By adjusting a patient’s dietary intake with the aid of supplements, nutritionists and doctors can reduce inflammation and quell some of the more prominent symptoms. Make Well produces a range of all-natural supplements, regularly working with medical professionals to support the treatment of chronic disorders like Lyme. Reducing inflammation is key to progression in chronic Lyme treatment. Antibiotics may combat the initial infection, but they will prove entirely redundant against the body’s own inflammation response.
Essentially, chronic Lyme disease is the product of a body at war with itself. This is what makes Lyme so threatening, and why many patients suffer from this debilitating disease for years upon years. Antibiotics are part of the answer, but they are not the full solution. Medical professionals all over the world should be examining holistic treatment for Lyme disease, to use in tandem with more traditional medicinal methods.
Morgellons disease is a controversial disease that medical professionals struggle to understand and diagnose. According to the Morgellons Research Foundation, more than 14,000 families are affected by Morgellons disease, or MD. (Source) The disease originated in the 17th century, when painful eruptions of coarse hairs on the backs of children were referred to as ‘morgellons’. In 2002, the condition reemerged, and this time it was linked with a sensation of crawling skin, originally diagnosed as being delusional parasitosis, which is the false belief that bugs are crawling in the skin.
Due to the psychiatric component of the disease, and the possibility that the skin-crawling sensation is possibly a result of an underlying psychiatric condition, doctors are hesitant to diagnose patients with MD, which in turn causes frustration, isolation and despair in the patients who feel that they are misunderstood and not believed. It is a very difficult condition to manage, and the sores on the skin can be very painful. The primary symptoms of MD are the presence of small white, red, blue or black fibres under, on or erupting from sores or unbroken skin, along with the feeling that something is crawling on or under the skin. (Source) However, additional symptoms can also include fatigue, joint pain, difficulty concentrating, depression and insomnia. These symptoms all correlate to the symptoms associated with Lyme disease, which is what first made scientists question whether it was, in fact, another tick-borne illness like Lyme disease.
Due to the similarities between the two diseases, further studies have been conducted recently, and a link has been found between Morgellons disease and the tick-borne bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, which is known to cause Lyme disease. While Lyme disease can be detected in people of all ages, Morgellons disease is primarily diagnosed in Caucasian females between the ages of 35 to 50 years old. Some physicians, who feel that it is best to treat underlying symptoms such as depression and anxiety, may go the route of psychiatric medications, cognitive behavioural therapy or psychotherapy. Other physicians who feel that MD is caused by an infection may treat patients with a course of antibiotics, such as they would in cases of Lyme disease. No one is certain what the best treatment is, and patients are often left feeling frustrated and alone, exacerbating the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The skin sores that erupt due to the fibres can be very painful indeed, and combined with a constant itch and irritation, can cause people to scratch relentlessly, causing even more damage. This can severely impact a person’s lifestyle and quality of life, as they are left feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed by the open sores on their body. While there are lots of ‘home remedies’ available on the internet that claim to treat MD, none of these have been proven effective, and some can be downright harmful.
There are, however, numerous foods that can help to promote skin healing, if only just to lessen the discomfort and prevent scarring from the sores. The best foods one can consume to help with skin healing are those that are high in protein. Protein is present in every cell in the body, so replenishing those cells with additional protein can help the skin to repair and replenish itself quicker and more efficiently. The body also needs Vitamins A and C to help with healing, so eating foods that are high in those vitamins are an excellent choice as well.
1. Citrus Fruits and Green-leafed Vegetables
Consuming citrus fruits is a great way to incorporate vitamin C into your diet, and fruits like oranges, lemons and limes are very high in vitamin C. The same goes for green-leafed veggies as spinach, cabbage and pak choi.
Legumes such as lentils, black beans and split peas are incredibly high in protein, and they are very versatile and easy to incorporate into your daily diet. However, not all patients (especially Lyme disease patients) tolerate leguminose plants well. Experiment in small doses to find out your individual tolerance threshold.
Nuts are very high in protein – walnuts, cashews and almonds have the highest amounts of protein. They make a healthy snack alternative, and the protein in them helps to repair skin cells.
Broccoli is incredibly high in antioxidants and also vitamin C, which can help tremendously with skin healing. Cauliflower is also very beneficial, but does not pack the same punch as broccoli.
It is very easy to incorporate eggs into your diet, as they are so versatile. While they are high in protein and skin-healing capabilities, egg yolks are high in cholesterol, so care must be taken if there is any history of heart-related conditions.
Chicken is an excellent source of protein, and it is one of the healthiest forms of meat protein available. There are countless ways to prepare chicken, and just getting some of it into your daily diet is helpful.
Drinking a glass of milk each day can add some extra protein into your diet that will in turn aid in wound healing. Due to the tolerability, fermented dairy products such as yoghurt or kefir might be preferable.
Tomatoes are very high in vitamin C, and they are easy to incorporate into your diet, either in salads, sliced up on their own, or consumed in the form of sauces or tomato juice. Histamine intolerant and sensitive people should be careful with tomatoes.
9. Dark green, leafy vegetables
Green, leafy vegetables such as kale, Romaine lettuce and Swiss chard are incredibly high in both vitamins A and C, as well as many other vitamins and minerals that are beneficial.
10. Red meats and seafood
Zinc is another mineral that is very helpful in aiding skin healing and regeneration. Consuming foods that are high in zinc, such as red meat and seafood, can be very helpful as well.
While there is currently no cure for Morgellons disease, and very little understanding about its causes, symptoms and treatments, there are small things that patients can do to help deal with the disease on a day-to-day basis. Developing a long-term, trusting relationship with a physician who is willing to look into all options can help patients to feel more positive about their situation, as they feel believed and validated. MakeWell Nutritionals, a supplier of high-quality nutritional supplements is one of the first supplier with Morgellons-specific products on the market. The MRG derm product, for example, contains a unique mixture of black cumin, centella asiatica extract and pantothenic acid to improve and quicken skin healing. Eating healthy foods like the 10 listed above as part of a general balanced diet can help to repair your skin from the inside out. Maintaining a positive attitude and outlook, practising mindfulness and meditation, and just taking care of oneself as much as possible can also help tremendously.
The concern about ticks and the illnesses they can carry has been growing exponentially recently, due to a rapid increase in the number of bites and tick-related illnesses across the globe. While we have learned a considerable amount about ticks and how to prevent getting bitten, there is still lots to learn about how to best protect ourselves, our kids and our pets from possibly contracting an illness such as Lyme disease.
Ticks are part of the arachnid family and are closely related to spiders, mites and scorpions. They are often incredibly tiny and hard to spot on skin or clothing, which makes it very hard to detect them before being bitten. While there are many different species of ticks living in Britain, the most common ticks that tend to bite humans are the sheep tick, also known as the castor bean tick, as this tick is known to feed on a wide variety of mammals and birds. The hedgehog tick and the fox or badger tick are also known to bite humans. All of these species of ticks have the possibility of carrying Lyme disease.
The biggest concern with ticks, of course, is the risk of contracting Lyme disease through one of their bites. The good news is that only a small percentage of ticks carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease – however, with numbers on the rise, it is still very important to take proper precautions. Lyme disease is an infectious, or parasitic, disease that is passed on to humans through a bite from a tick carrying the bacterium. Unfortunately, symptoms do not usually begin to present themselves until 10–14 days after the bite, which again makes it very hard to detect right at the beginning, making prevention that much more crucial. The symptoms can last for several months, and the bacterium can even remain in the system without presenting any symptoms, only to resurface again later. A very sneaky illness, indeed.
Another difficulty with tick bites is that the symptoms of Lyme disease present themselves as just a simple flu at first, so it is hard to make the connection back to a tick bite, especially if you’re unaware you’ve been bitten. The unlucky recipient of the bite will likely just feel unwell, with flu-like symptoms including achiness, sore muscles, extreme fatigue, headache, upset stomach and difficulty sleeping. If caught and treated in time, usually antibiotics will prevent the person from developing chronic Lyme disease. However, if the illness is severe enough, it can even cross into the central nervous system, causing a whole range of additional problems.
While we have been busy checking our skin after being in an area that could be high in tick populations, we don’t always necessarily check our clothing very closely. Unfortunately, ticks can also hitch a ride on clothing and shoes, and wait to crawl onto their unsuspecting host. It is important to check your footwear and clothing when coming inside after being in areas where ticks would frequent. Ticks can usually live on clothing for 2–3 days, and they usually hang around on clothing for at least 24 hours. So, how do we get rid of these little pests and ensure they don’t end up biting us?
The trick is to dry your clothes before washing them. Yes, that definitely sounds counter-intuitive, but it is what people have found works best. You need to put your clothes in the dryer at high heat for at least 10 minutes. Then, proceed to wash your clothes and dry them again. This will ensure that the heat has killed any possible ticks on your clothing. If the clothing is really soiled and must be cleaned first, be sure to wash the clothing in water temperatures greater than 54°C (130°F), and then dry them on high temperature. It is very important that the water in the washer is hot, as studies have shown that 100% of ticks can survive a cold-water wash, and 94% of ticks survived a warm-water wash. (Source)
With ticks, it has been shown that prevention is the best course of action over treatment. Whenever you are heading outside, be sure to spray yourself with insect-repellent that has a minimum of 20% DEET and 0.5% permethrin, both of which are strong chemicals that help to repel ticks. Don’t just spray your skin, either; be sure to cover your socks, shorts, shirt, and any other clothing as well. This will help to prevent the ticks from catching a ride on your clothing and being brought into your home.
If you do happen to notice that you have been bitten by a tick, do not panic! There is a simple way to remove the tick safely. Using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, grab hold of the part of the tick that is sticking out, and pull firmly but slowly, lest the head of the tick remain embedded, causing more damage and the possibility of the bacterium being released. Once the tick has been removed, dispose of it by drowning it in rubbing alcohol, put it in a sealed bag, or flush it down the toilet. Clean the bite with rubbing alcohol, and monitor for any flu-like symptoms over the next few weeks. If you happen to notice any symptoms, visit your doctor and let them know that you have been bitten by a tick.