Make Well - citrus fruits

This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany*

One of the most important systems we have in our bodies is the immune system. By fighting off infection and working to keep us healthy, it’s a vital part of battling illness. People with chronic conditions such as Lyme disease have to take even better care of their immune systems to ensure that their immunity doesn’t become compromised. Even benign colds or a standard flu can wreak havoc on the health of a person living with a chronic illness. So, what things influence the immune system? There’s actually a whole range of factors that affect immunity – and some might be a little surprising. Read on to learn more about the surprising factors that can influence the immune system.

 

What things affect the immune system?

If you find yourself wondering what things influence immunity, here’s a rundown of some factors that could be affecting your health.

 

1. Feeling negative emotions

Negative emotions can play a huge part in our overall wellbeing. They can also significantly impact our immune system. Feelings of loneliness, depression and grief are often linked to a compromised immune system. One of the most damaging negative emotions is stress, which plays a huge role in many people’s lives. Everything from work struggles to busy family life can increase stress, which then creates heightened levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in the body. Increased cortisol can appear as weight gain, acne, fatigue, muscle weakness, slowed healing, and other symptoms. It can impact our diet, mood, sleep patterns, and activity levels. All of these aspects also mean your immune system could be weakened.

 

2. Experiencing positive emotions

On the flip side, positive emotions can also affect your immunity – but in a good way. Research has shown that laughing can actually help to activate natural killer defence entities such as Secretory IgA (Immunoglobulin A) levels in saliva, as well as gamma interferons, which measure immune function. Making sure you’re getting plenty of hugs and sunshine can boost your mood along with your immune system. Likewise, positive, relaxing experiences such as massages and meditation can also improve your immunity.

 

Make Well - washing hands
Image by offthelefteye on Pixabay: Washing your hands frequently can help protect you from germs that can wreck your immune system.

 

3. Paying attention to cleanliness

When thinking about what things affect immunity, you probably think of the things you do to keep yourself safe from germs. One of the best ways to remain germ-free is to wash your hands often. The Centers for Disease Control in the US recommends 15 seconds of scrubbing your hands with soap in order to get rid of germs after using the bathroom. However, maybe people don’t realise that it’s important to wash your hands at other times too, particularly when you’re at an increased risk of exposure to microbes, such as when you pet a dog or cat, handle money, cough or sneeze.

By washing your hands more frequently, you could be helping your immune system to avoid germs. However, it’s also important to not overdo it completely. Our immune systems develop and flourish properly when we come across germs and then let our immune system fight them off – so don’t get too paranoid about using hand sanitiser constantly or washing your hands excessively.

 

4. Getting enough sleep

There are so many reasons why sleep is essential for a healthy body (and mind!). The immune system is heavily influenced by the sleep-wake cycles of our circadian rhythms. Studies have shown that when we sleep, we have decreased levels of cortisol. We need some cortisol in our systems to keep up immune function. While we sleep, we have signals that activate the immune system. Without proper sleep, those signals can become lessened. Most adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep at night in order to function at an optimal level.

 

5. Getting too much or not enough exercise

Being physically active is essential to a healthy lifestyle. It helps our cardiac system, lowers blood pressure, keeps our weight down, and protects against lots of different diseases. Getting enough exercise helps your immune system by promoting good circulation (which allows the immune system to do its job well). On the other hand, if you’re getting too much exercise, you could actually be harming your immune system. Intense exercise seems to produce certain hormones that temporarily lower immunity. Plus, with additional cortisol and adrenaline in your body, your blood pressure and cholesterol levels could rise. This, in turn, can actually work to suppress your immune system. This means that physical activity should be done in moderation. Make sure to still be active, but not to push yourself or overdo it.

 

Make Well - mushrooms
Image by Harshal S. Hirve on Unsplash: Eating foods filled with vitamin D can help boost your immune system.

 

6. Eating immune-friendly foods

Having a balanced diet is also key to living as healthily as you can. There are many foods that boost the immune system (which is why that old wives’ tale about eating citrus or chicken soup when you have a cold does have some truth to it!).

  • Shiitake mushrooms or vitamin D mushrooms: Vitamin D is excellent for boosting the immune system.
  • Parsnips, onions, carrots, and black salsify: These root vegetables are all high in vitamin C.
  • Citrus: Fruits like oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons, limes and clementines have lots of vitamin C to help fight off infections.
  • Bell peppers: These have twice as much vitamin C as citrus does!
  • Broccoli and spinach: These are both packed with lots of nutritious vitamins.
  • Yoghurt: The live active cultures in yoghurt stimulate the immune system and fight off disease, as well as provide the body with vitamin D.
  • Almonds: Nuts offer vitamin E, which helps the immune system thrive.
  • Turmeric: Works as an anti-inflammatory.
  • Green tea: Has lots of antioxidants and high levels of EGCG, an antioxidant that enhances immune function.
  • Poultry: Chicken soup really can help you feel better! Poultry can improve symptoms of a cold because it’s high in vitamin B-6 (which can also help form new, healthy red blood cells).
  • Shellfish: Foods like crab, clams, lobster and mussels are all full of zinc, which can boost immune function.

As long as you’re paying attention to the above factors, you can always take care of your immune system and work to become the healthiest version of yourself!

Featured image by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

 

*This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany which has specific requirements which can be found on our German website: www.makewell.de.

This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany*

Lyme disease is currently reaching epidemic levels across the globe, causing doctors, scientists and politicians to sound the alarm. There are 30,000 cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year in the US; however, many estimate that the true number of infections may be ten times this amount (that’s 300,000!). In the UK, there are currently 2,000–3,000 annual reported cases with real numbers estimated at closer to 8000, and while official figures in Europe suggest 85,000 cases of Lyme, research from Germany’s BCA-lab suggests that there could be 100,000 cases in Germany alone and over two million in Western Europe.

With the seemingly exponential growth in Lyme infections, now is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the disease, how it’s transmitted, its symptoms and treatment plans for patients who have contracted the illness.

 

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by the body’s immune reaction to an infection brought on by the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria, which is spread to humans through bites from infected ticks.

The chance of developing Lyme disease from a tick bite ranges from 0–50% and depends on the type of tick, where in the world the bite occurred, and how long the tick was attached. Even if you live in a low-tick-risk area, it’s important to take preventive measures when out in traditional tick habitats (like the woods or long grass), and check yourself thoroughly afterward. If you have been bitten by a tick and develop the tell-tale bullseye rash on your skin, you should get straight to a doctor for testing and possible treatment.

 

The Difference Between Acute And Chronic Lyme Disease

Acute Lyme disease will usually present with symptoms between three and 30 days after a tick bite. This stage is much easier to spot, with obvious reactions like the bullseye rash and flu-like symptoms. If caught in the acute stage, Lyme is usually easily treatable with a short course of antibiotics.

Other less-common symptoms of acute Lyme can include widespread chronic pain, facial paralysis, joint swelling and arthritis. It’s important to note any symptoms that may be traced back to a tick bite.

As ‘Lyme literacy’ is not yet widespread throughout the public or even medical community, Lyme can often be left untreated; this can move patients through to the chronic stage. It’s also worth noting that in about 10% of cases, patients who contract Lyme disease continue to experience a wide array of additional symptoms even after undergoing antibiotic treatment.

Chronic Lyme disease requires long-term antibiotic treatment, often in conjunction with a range of other supplementary therapies in order to provide relief from a wide range of sometimes crippling symptoms.

 

Make Well - herbal remedy
Image by nastya on Unsplash: Patients can use natural remedies for Lyme disease relief.

 

Natural Remedies For Lyme Disease

Below we’ve outlined 12 natural remedies that have been shown to help Lyme disease patients increase the efficacy of their treatment, fight the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium itself, provide relief from certain Lyme symptoms, or boost the immune system so that it’s in a better position to fight off invading pathogens.

  1. Polyporus umbellatus: Considered to be the oldest antibiotic in the world, this fungus has been shown to boost immune function and may even help to relieve inflammation.
  2. Artemisia annua: Otherwise known as sweet wormwood, Artemisia annua was traditionally used to treat malaria, but has also been shown to be effective in combatting the effects of bacterial infections associated with Lyme disease.
  3. Andrographis paniculate: Also known as Indian echinacea, Andrographis paniculata works to reduce inflammation and regulate the immune system.
  4. Gou Teng: This plant is reported to help strengthen the central nervous system and stimulate the immune system.
  5. Usnea barbata: A kind of lichen, used both as an antibiotic and an immune stimulator.
  6. Lapacho: A tree bark that stimulates the immune system and has antibiotic properties.
  7. Marshmallow root: Reduces inflammation and pain and can also heal the lining of the gut.
  8. Gentian root: Also known as bitter root, Gentian root has been used for centuries to treat certain digestive ailments and can also cleanse the liver.
  9. Gotu kola: Works as a brain booster and can reduce the symptoms of memory disorders such as brain fog and difficulty finding words.
  10. Cat’s claw bark: Helps regulate the immune system.
  11. Pau d’Arco: Works against microbes, fungi and parasites while reducing joint pain.
  12. Yarrow: Antimicrobial and helps to reduce inflammation and pain while helping to boost your immune system.

 

Make Well - sauna
Image by Denny Müller on Unsplash: Read on for some alternative treatments for Lyme disease.

 

What Are Some Alternative Treatments for Lyme Disease?

Some patients have had success using alternative treatments for Lyme disease symptoms. In order to help clear your body from ongoing pain and discomfort, you may wish to look into the following options.

  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Breathing pure oxygen through a pressurised tube or in a specialised treatment room can help destroy the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Although you may experience uncomfortable side effects as the bacteria die off, the positive benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy can last for months.
  • Light Therapy: Using light-emitting diodes or LEDs has been shown to improve damaged brain cells, and may help reduce the mental effects of the brain fog experienced with chronic Lyme disease.
  • Heat Therapy and Sauna Treatments: These are moderately effective therapies for treating Lyme disease. Raising the body temperature in saunas, hot tubs or steam rooms can detoxify the body of microbes and inhibit the further growth of bacteria. In addition, taking a hot bath after drinking a tea of yarrow or ginger may accelerate cleansing.
  • Immunoglobulin Antibodies: When antibiotics aren’t effective, chronic Lyme disease symptoms have shown improvement with immunoglobulin antibodies given intravenously.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: The extensive neurological damage that can be caused by the Borrelia bacteria when it reaches the chronic stage can, in some cases, be repaired using stem cells. However, this treatment can be expensive and difficult to obtain.

How Well Do These Remedies and Therapies Work?

While antibiotic treatment will remain the gold standard for treating Lyme disease, supplementing treatment with a combination of holistic remedies along with other alternative therapies may bring you lasting relief from the various symptoms of chronic Lyme disease.

Featured image by fotoblend on Pixabay

 

*This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany which has specific requirements which can be found on our German website: www.makewell.de.

Make Well - chronic disease

This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany*

Everyone with any experience of Lyme disease knows that it can be severely debilitating in multiple ways. Patients have to deal with numerous symptoms – and that’s even if they’re lucky enough to be diagnosed in the first place. It’s estimated that thousands of cases of Lyme go misdiagnosed every year, though of course the exact number is hard to quantify. With misdiagnosis rates so high, it’s logical that there are also huge numbers of patients who simply go undiagnosed, and receive no treatment whatsoever. This can be extremely frustrating and disheartening, leading to bouts of depression and anxiety on top of the direct symptoms. While the turmoil is great on this personal level, it can also be extremely difficult on a social level. This is true not just for Lyme disease, but any chronic illness that patients all over the world struggle with.

So today we’re asking the question: ‘Is it time for social policy to consider the growing incidence of chronic disease?’

 

Make Well - government
Image by Marco Oriolesi on Unsplash: Is it time for social policy on chronic illness to change?

 

Lyme As A Chronic Disease

Lyme makes a good case study as a socially problematic chronic illness, as it has another level of invisibility compared to other diseases. Lyme is spread by ticks, which infect the host with bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi. The first stage of Lyme is its acute stage; this manifests much like the flu, presenting with a bullseye rash in the majority of cases. Acute Lyme is treatable with antibiotics, but if it progresses to the chronic stage, treatment becomes extremely difficult.

Although micronutrients and herbal remedies may help to improve symptoms, the truth is that doctors who truly understand Lyme are few and far between. Chronic Lyme is the long-term stage of the disorder, and manifests as both infection symptoms and inflammation symptoms. The former is caused by the overriding Borrelia infection, while the latter is caused by the body’s own immune response. The ratio of these two sets of symptoms can vary wildly from patient to patient; in some, the infection spreads to many parts of the body, while in others, the haywire immune response can be crippling.

 

Social Policy On Chronic Lyme

Chronic Lyme has a major visibility problem. This stems from the fact that it is not really recognised as a legitimate disease. That might sound strange, as acute Lyme very much is recognised; however, this is the state of play in 2019. The result is a widespread lack of education around Lyme, in both patients and doctors alike. This extends to the wider social policy around chronic Lyme, which is virtually non-existent, as the disease doesn’t legitimately exist in the eyes of many.

Let’s take one aspect of the social problems that come with Lyme: the ability, or inability, to work. If people are suffering from a condition that isn’t deemed to be real, they often can’t get any relief from their jobs, whether that comes in the form of sick days or disability provisions. Lyme is a serious illness with the ability to totally incapacitate some patients, either through restricting mobility or compounding neurological functions. This can legitimately leave people unable to work, but forces them to struggle on thanks to a total lack of visibility.

 

Social Policy On Chronic Illness

There is no social safety net for Lyme patients, and that’s if they’re lucky enough to even receive a correct diagnosis. Many suffer in total silence, either not knowing what they have or having their illness misdiagnosed as another chronic condition. But it is not the only chronic condition to be rendered invisible by lack of education and awareness. The social policy on chronic illness is largely ineffective for most people, as they’re either forced to work regardless, or live on (and potentially treat their condition with) disability payments alone. Most are not lucky enough to even qualify for this kind of relief, or they don’t know how, and many don’t have a surrounding family capable of picking up the slack. When it comes to chronic illness, it is all too easy to slip through the social cracks.

There has been some discussion recently about a Universal Basic Income (UBI), which would allow people to turn down jobs they don’t want instead of accepting work out of pure desperation. Although it is often talked about in relation to the advent of automation, a UBI could potentially help thousands upon thousands of chronic patients across the globe. A functional, global UBI policy is, of course, many years off, if it happens at all. However, it is not hard to see how this could benefit chronic disease sufferers, as well as many other people who routinely struggle to make ends meet.

 

Make Well - money
Image by Josh Appel on Unsplash: The implementation of a UBI could help patients of chronic disease around the world.

 

Potential Measures Against Chronic Illness

Most chronic diseases do not occur in isolation. Many are the result of environmental, cultural and behavioural factors. These elements can be addressed through a focus on public awareness. Take Lyme disease, for instance; we know exactly where Lyme comes from. It’s transmitted through tick bites. It is also easily treatable if it’s caught early. In lieu of any direct policies addressing the effects of Lyme, a first step should be to educate.

Lyme conferences could be an essential foundation to this movement. Public awareness could be used to leverage pressure on politicians to address the difficulty of living with these conditions, which would in turn lead to new policies being presented and Lyme advocates at a higher level. For those already suffering from the disease (and their families and loved ones), Lyme support groups could also be an essential resource for coping with the much-understated emotional impact of a chronic Lyme diagnosis.

Featured image by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

 

*This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany which has specific requirements which can be found on our German website: www.makewell.de.

Make Well - milk thistle

This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany*

 

The liver is one of the most important organs in the entire body. It’s also the largest, dominating much of the right side of the abdomen. Everybody knows that our diet directly contributes to how our bodies function, and that good nutrition is an important part of keeping healthy. However, it can be hard to keep track of which foods benefit which organ, especially with all the recent focus on healthy eating habits. While a great foundation for any diet plan is to follow the old dictum ‘too much of anything is bad’, it’s sometimes helpful to get specific. Keeping your liver healthy will benefit your entire body, so with that in mind, here are ten foods that benefit liver function!

 

What Does The Liver Do?

So, what exactly does this huge organ do for us? Well, over five hundred different tasks overall, but one of its main roles is to filter the blood that comes in from the digestive tract before transferring it over to the rest of the body. The liver is classed as a gland and is technically a (very large) component of the lymph system, where it plays a significant role in immune function. It creates bile, which helps the small intestine to absorb fats and lipophilic substances, and also breaks down and metabolises carbohydrates and proteins. It additionally functions as a storage unit of vitamins and produces albumin. These are just some of the more important tasks the liver undertakes.

 

Foods That Are Good For Your Liver

When it comes to keeping your liver healthy, fortunately there are a lot of good foods that fit the bill. Although the liver is quite robust, keeping it in premium condition with plenty of healthy, nutrient-bearing foods can really have a positive effect on your overall wellbeing.

 

Grapefruit

Grapefruit contains two important antioxidants: naringin and naringenin. Research suggests that these can help protect the liver by reducing inflammation and safeguarding liver cells. It may also help tackle fat build-up in the liver and increase production of crucial enzymes that burn fat. Despite its positive effects, don’t forget to keep in mind that these ingredients may also interact with certain antibiotics. During oral antibiotic intake it’s advisable to consume grapefruit in small quantities only, and in distance to the antibiotic.

 

Make Well - grapefruit
Image by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash: Grapefruit is one of the most common foods that benefit liver function.

 

Porridge

Fibre is a critical component of digestion, and one of the handiest ways to add it to your diet is via gluten-free oats. The specific fibres that oats provide may be especially beneficial to the liver. They may also help to modulate the immune system and tackle inflammation.

 

Coffee

Coffee sometimes gets a bad rap in the health stakes, but a 2013 review in Liver International suggests that daily coffee consumption may help to reduce the risk of liver disease, and specifically protect against fatty liver disease, a condition where fat builds up in the organ. In addition, the compounds in coffee have been found to potentially stimulate the liver enzymes to rid the body of cancer-causing substances. However, stay away from instant or convenience coffee products, as the beneficial effects only account for organic, freshly brewed coffee without added sugars.

 

What Foods Are Good For Liver Repair?

The liver can undoubtedly take a lot of punishment, but it’s never good practice to push it to its limits. Fortunately, it is one of the few organs that can actively regenerate itself and recover from damage.

 

Plant-based foods

Foods like avocado, broccoli, watermelon, carrots and banana are all helpful for the liver, and contain compounds closely linked to liver health. They can stimulate the liver to be more productive, potentially causing it to regenerate itself faster.

 

Grapes

Grapes are an exceptionally healthy fruit that are rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants may help to reduce inflammation (which is stimulated by the immune system) and prevent liver damage. Grape seeds in particular are especially rich in these antioxidants, and can easily be added to the diet.

 

Fatty Fish

While anything with the word ‘fatty’ in might be mistaken as something to be avoided in a healthy diet, fatty fish is a different prospect altogether. This superfood is crammed with omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation. They’re also particularly beneficial in the liver, as they prevent the build-up of excess fats and regulate enzyme levels.

 

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is regularly used as a supportive therapy by people who suffer from liver damage due to its liver-protecting effects. It contains the ingredients silymarin and silybin, which are hepatoprotective. Hepatoprotective foods are important components of a diet for people with weak or damaged livers.

 

Make Well - milk thistle
Image by annca on Pixabay: Milk thistle can aid in liver repair.

 

The Liver and Chronic Disease

While any of these foods will benefit a normal person looking to bolster their diet, people suffering from chronic disease should be especially conscious of their liver. Take a disease like chronic Lyme; many of the symptoms are instigated by a faulty immune system. Widespread inflammation and fatigue are commonplace with Lyme disease. This variety of symptoms are caused by the immune system’s response to the infection, meaning that antibiotics will have zero effect. To combat these symptoms, patients need to start by looking at their diets and nutrition plans. In the majority of cases, simple changes won’t be enough, and treatment should be supported by a supplement.

Make Well produces a range of all-natural supplements, many of them also containing natural herbs and plants (some of which are listed above). As the liver is one of the most crucial elements in the immune system, it makes sense to support it as much as possible. Beside useful supplementation and a healthy diet, this includes an overall good lifestyle with physical exercise and sufficient water intake.

Featured image by Maja Petric on Unsplash

 

* This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany which has specific requirements which can be found on our German website: www.makewell.de.

Make Well - what makes a good dietary supplement

In 2019, the world is more health-conscious than it’s ever been. This has translated into widespread vegetarianism and veganism, a boom nutritionist industry, and the rise of dietary supplements. The latter in particular is enjoying a lengthy spell in the sun, with a recent U.S. study estimating that 75% of American adults availed of dietary supplements in 2018, compared to just 65% a decade earlier. But as with any industry, especially one that’s on the up and up, there are varying levels of quality among supplements.

Although consumer trust in the market remains high, how can you be sure you’re getting the most out of your supplements? And in 2019, with so many brands and businesses competing for customers, what makes a good dietary supplement?

 

Make Well - dietary supplements
Image by pina messina on Unsplash: What makes a good dietary supplement?

 

Nutritional Vs. Herbal Supplements

Anything added to your normal diet in an effort to improve or maintain your health is considered a supplement, in that it is literally supplementing your regular intake. However, when we talk about dietary supplements as a whole, we can roughly break it down into two distinct groups: nutritional supplements and herbal supplements. The nutritional kind contains vitamins and is used to fortify any deficiencies the body might have in those areas. Herbal supplements are entirely natural and contain extracts from plants and herbs. As well as being a valuable option for those looking to bolster their diet, herbal supplements can be specifically used to support the treatment of chronic diseases.

This is the particular aim of Make Well, a German company that produces a varied range of all-natural and plant-based supplements for different applications.

 

Best Practices for Nutritional Supplements

Do dietary supplements work? It very much depends on what’s in them. Nutritional supplements can contain all kinds of varied ingredients, but what is most important is the quality of the ingredients. This can be quantified as the specific chemical make-up of the vitamin, the mindful composition, how bioavailable it is, and in what kind of dosage it exists as.

Bioavailability is an important concept with vitamins, as it determines how useful a supplement will be to a person’s body. A particular supplement might contain an impressive amount of ingredients but have very limited bioavailability, therefore proving no use to the person who takes it. It is also important that nutritional supplements don’t contain any artificial fillers or E numbers.

Lyme disease patients in particular should be careful around nutritional supplements; many of them contain B6 as filler. Hence, if many supplements are taken in combination, very high dosages of B6 may be ingested, which can result in negative side effects.

 

Make Well’s Approach To Herbal Supplements

Herbal supplements, like the ones Make Well offers its customers, contain no synthetic ingredients or artificial fillers. This means that producers have to be keenly aware of how they create their supplements in order to ensure they’re going to be beneficial to the user or patient. In Make Well’s case, they work closely with doctors and nutritionists to validate the quality of their products. They also consult with patients in an effort to understand what products would serve best to support treatment, and which symptoms they could address.

Once they have a plan for a particular herbal supplement, Make Well conducts a lot of research to identify the most suitable herbal compounds. Questions asked at this stage include, ‘Are scientific studies available for a particular plant?’, ‘What is the mechanism of action and what is the actual bioactive ingredient?’ and ‘Were the studies consulted based on humans or animals and how relevant are they?’.

 

Make Well - nutritional supplements
Image by Michele Blackwell on Unsplash: Lots of research goes into answering the question 'Are dietary supplements safe?'.

 

Are Dietary Supplements Safe?

Once the above questions are answered, there are obviously legal regulations that have to be met before the product can go to market. As a Germany-based company, Make Well needs to be certain that the plants they intend to use are legal on the German market and in line with EU regulations. In addition, the team obtains and regulates information about daily dosages and recommended length of intake, as well as any extra info about the use of the products by children or pregnant women, if it’s available. This ensures that Make Well’s products are safe and totally compliant with industry regulations.

Once the formulas have been settled on, the ingredients are sourced from the world market. All ingredients are tested for heavy metals, pesticides, environmental toxins and other contaminants before they’re put to use. Furthermore, Make Well pays specific attention to extract ratios and standardisation of the extraction of biologically relevant ingredients. They do not use allergens or animal-based products in any capacity.

Make Well is also aware of the high levels of certain vitamins in patients (B6, for example, in Lyme patients), and they keep these absent from their products. No artificial fillers, flavours or colourings are used either, which keeps the supplements 100% natural.

Dietary supplements can be a complex business, but in order to get the most out of your supplements, you need to access them from a company you trust. Make Well works exclusively with doctors to ensure their products are distributed thoughtfully and in line with the care that people are already receiving. In this way, Make Well supports an easy and safe application of all combinations of their products amongst themselves, or alongside conventional medicine.

Featured image by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

Make Well - Morgellons disease

There are few medical conditions that have been as instantly controversial as Morgellons disease. It was discovered in 2001 by a woman named Mary Leitao, whose young son complained of ‘bugs’ crawling under his skin, and presented with sores around his mouth. When Leitao examined these sores, she discovered strange fibre-like objects (red, blue, white and black in colour), which appeared to grow out of the sores. Doctors examined her son and found nothing wrong, dismissing Leitao’s claims as hysteria and recommending her for psychiatric evaluation to boot. But as her son’s condition worsened, Leitao came up with her own name for the disease, taking the title from an obscure old medical journal. In the 18 years since, Morgellons has become no more legitimate in the eyes of many; yet there have been many, many more patients than just Leitao's son.

 

What is Morgellons Disease?

The exact nature of Morgellons is very difficult to determine, as we know so very little about it. It appears to be some form of skin condition that agitates the skin and causes lesions to appear. These lesions can occur anywhere on the body, but also be focused on one location specifically. Bizarre fibres seem to grow out of these lesions and can sometimes be seen under the skin. In addition, patients will be plagued with itching sensations, often feeling like there are bugs crawling around under their skin.

This last symptom is often what gets Morgellons disease written off as an imaginary condition, as the remit for delusional parasitosis is identical: the feeling of something moving around under the skin. However, Morgellons also comes complete with very real, very tangible physical symptoms, making it hard for patients to feel like they’re being properly heard by their doctors.

 

Potential Legitimisation of Morgellons Disease

Ever since Mary Leitao was dismissed by doctors 18 years ago, many other people have recognised the symptoms and come forward claiming they also have Morgellons disease. The internet was an essential tool in bringing patients together; the symptoms are so bizarre that many people were left feeling isolated and depressed about their unknown condition.

 

Make Well - research
Image by Walter Otto on Unsplash: More research is required to contribute towards the potential legitimisation of Morgellons disease in the future.

 

Throughout the 2000s, the visibility of the disease ramped up, to the point where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stepped in to conduct some official research. The study took five years, commencing in 2007, with results released in 2012. Unfortunately, the study did not conclusively determine the legitimacy of Morgellons as most advocates hoped it would. In the wake of the investigation, Morgellons was ruled an invented condition by the majority of medical professionals, and patients were left to self-diagnose through support sites online.

 

What Are the Stages of Morgellons Disease?

As with everything surrounding this strange disorder, even self-diagnosing is complicated. Because the disease is so under-researched, the exact stages of Morgellons disease are hard to ascertain to any degree of accuracy. However, as it is a condition of the skin, the effect it has on that area specifically can be broken down somewhat.

First, the patient begins to feel crawling sensations under their skin. This can be particularly acute around the face and scalp, though it can occur anywhere on the body. Patients have described the sensation as akin to insects or bugs crawling right underneath the skin. This is a somewhat dangerous symptom, as it’s right in line with delusional parasitosis, and purely mental at this stage.

The second development involves an intensifying of the initial sensation, with the patient feeling like something is actively biting or stinging them, producing a general chronic itching feeling.

The third stage is physical, as skin damage becomes visible. Blisters, lesions and sores emerge on the skin, which can all be exacerbated by constant scratching. At this point, the fibres can start to emerge; these can be detected actually protruding from the sore, or be identified under the skin of the sore.

Numerous other generalised symptoms may accompany the disease, including fatigue and pain. These can also be compounded by anxiety and depression, as patients struggle to understand what they’re suffering from and contemplate the possibility of never finding a cure.

 

Make Well - anxiety
Image by Fernando @dearferdo on Unsplash: Anxiety and depression can be one of the stages of Morgellons disease, particularly if misdiagnosis is experienced.

 

Future of Morgellons

Fortunately, there are many people who take Morgellons seriously and are constantly working hard to advance both its visibility and legitimacy. The Charles E. Holman Foundation is a grassroots initiative that aims to support patients and promote research of the disease, while German-based company Make Well produces MRG-derm, a skin cream directly aimed at supporting those suffering from Morgellons.

In addition, recent research has linked Morgellons with Lyme disease, another controversial and largely misunderstood disorder. In one study, all Morgellons sufferers were found to be infected with the Lyme-causative bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, although not everyone with Lyme was found to automatically have Morgellons. This crucial piece of research could pave the way for a better understanding of the disorder in the future, and may lead it to be classified as an offshoot of chronic Lyme disease.

Featured image by StockSnap on Pixabay

Make Well - protective clothing

It can be wonderful to spend time in the great outdoors, communing with nature. However, being in nature can sometimes be dangerous if you’re heading straight into tick habitats. Because ticks can be carriers for Lyme disease, it’s important that you know how to protect yourself from them all year round. Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about how to keep yourself safe from tick bites.

 

What are ticks?

Ticks are bugs that are related to spiders and mites. They have eight legs and flat, oval bodies that swell after a feeding. They feed on the blood of animals (including birds, deer, mice and, unfortunately, humans). Ticks are very small and can be as tiny as a poppyseed, making them super hard for the human eye to spot. There are a variety of different species that exist, depending on their location in the world, but all of them have the potential to be carriers for Lyme disease.

 

Where are ticks most commonly found?

Ticks have been spotted in pretty much every country around the globe. In fact, because of global warming, researchers are learning that the tick population is growing and consequently spreading to even more corners of the world. Ticks thrive in warmer temperatures; they’re the most inactive when the temperature stays low. If the ground isn’t completely covered in snow and if soil temperatures reach above 7°C, ticks can become quite active (which explains why global warming means more ticks are present).

Tick season in the past has been between April and September, but people shouldn’t let their guard down during other parts of the year in case there are still ticks present. An extended tick season with warm temperatures means there are now even more opportunities for tick bites and for Lyme-related disorders to be on the rise.

 

Make Well - woodpile
Image by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash: Ticks often make woodpiles their home.

 

Where do ticks live?

Ticks like to make habitats in vegetation, such as in tall grass or bushy areas. They can also typically be found in leaf litter, woodpiles and cut grass. Ticks also prefer hanging out near stonewalls, areas planted with ground cover, and lawn perimeters (especially near forested areas). Ticks usually climb up tall grass blades or overgrown areas so that they can latch onto passing animals or humans in order to feed. Forests or wooded areas away from marked paths can be some of the most tick-laden places in nature.

 

Are ticks dangerous?

Because they can be carriers of infections, ticks can be super dangerous. Along with carrying Lyme, they can also transmit co-infections such as Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis.

In order to avoid contracting any of these illnesses, you’ll want to make sure you’re steering clear of any ticks.

 

What clothing can protect me from ticks?

If you’re going to be outdoors, you should wear clothing that will protect you from ticks. These items can include long-sleeved shirts and trousers that don’t leave any skin exposed, closed-toe shoes, and hats to protect your scalp. It’s also a good idea to tuck your socks into your trousers so that ticks won’t be able to crawl up your legs. One other tip is to wear light-coloured clothing if possible so you can easily spot any ticks that might have latched onto your clothes. Some people choose to take an extra step to ensure they’re protected and spray their clothes with a tick-repellent like permethrin. This can give you some peace of mind so that you feel extra protected when you head out into nature.

 

Make Well - man in field
Image by Joshua Ness on Unsplash: It’s always a good idea to wear long sleeves and trousers when you’re out in nature.

 

What you should do if you’ve been bitten by a tick?

Any time you come in from spending time outdoors, you should do a thorough check to see if any ticks have attached themselves to your clothing or to your skin. Don’t forget to examine less obvious places on your body like your scalp and behind your knees. If you spot a tick, gently remove it immediately from your skin with tweezers or a tick-removal kit. Clean the area with alcohol, too. There are some early warning signs of infection you can look out for if you suspect you have been bitten by a tick. Symptoms of Lyme disease infection can include:

  • Red, bullseye rash (around the site of the tick bite)
  • Flu-like symptoms (such as headaches, fever, malaise)
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Extreme fatigue or tiredness
  • Changes in mood, sleep, or appetite
  • Cognitive difficulties (including problems with memory or concentration)

Not everyone will develop each of these symptoms, but it’s always a good idea to pay attention to your health to see if you’ve observed any of these symptoms. It’s also important to get checked out by a Lyme-literate doctor. Many people get misdiagnosed (mostly because Lyme disease symptoms can look like so many other conditions), so it’s important that you inform your doctor that you’re concerned about Lyme disease, or that you make sure you’re seeing a doctor who truly understands the condition. If you’ve removed a tick yourself, you do have the option of sending it into a lab to see if it’s a Lyme carrier. A typical treatment for Lyme disease is antibiotics, but there are some people that end up with chronic Lyme disease, so it is imperative that you consult with healthcare professionals and follow their recommendations in order to achieve a full recovery.

Even taking small steps like wearing long-sleeved shirts or closed-toe shoes can help make you less of a target to ticks. Always be on the lookout for ticks (even in winter months when they’re less likely to be active) so you can continue to do your best to protect yourself against contracting Lyme disease all year round.

Featured image by Toomas Tartes on Unsplash

Make Well - skin biopsy

Morgellons disease is a controversial skin condition, and the search for the true cause has stumped the medical community worldwide. No medical researcher has been able to find scientific evidence of where the disease’s tell-tale signs originate. It has led to a divide in the medical community’s stance on the disease, right down to the most basic facts – like whether the illness is physical or, in fact, mental. People living with Morgellons disease may report side effects that impact them mentally, but for these patients, the physical symptoms are also very real. In fact, people believing they have Morgellons disease may have trouble finding a practitioner to diagnose and treat them because of how little is known about the causes and cures. However, there are symptoms of Morgellons disease that are very unique and have been similarly reported worldwide, so the question of how Morgellons is diagnosed is certainly a topic worth exploring. The mysterious symptoms provide us with a definitive jumping-off points to launch an exploration.

 

Morgellons Disease: Key Characteristics

Morgellons disease is characterised by itchy skin, and many people living with Morgellons disease report feeling as if there are insects crawling or stinging them from underneath their skin. Another key characteristic is the protrusion of what is described as fibres or threads, which sometimes emerge from unbroken skin. At other times, the fibres emerge from sores or lesions on the Morgellons sufferer’s body. Several colours have been reported, from black to red, white or blue. Other symptoms, on the other hand, are immaterial. When doctors consider how to diagnose Morgellons disease, they’d be wise to involve a patient’s mental health in their overall analysis. Depression, fatigue and confusion often accompany the physical symptoms of patients. Quite understandably, the search for answers to exactly what causes this painful skin ailment can leave patients feeling desperate and isolated.

 

Make Well - needle
Image by Creators Collective on Unsplash: How to diagnose Morgellons disease is still undiscovered. But since it’s the go-to test for so many other skin conditions, can a biopsy diagnose Morgellons?

 

Fibres, Skin and Morgellons Disease Diagnosis

The fibres that patients with Morgellons disease report finding in their skin is the biggest piece of the unexplained Morgellons puzzle. An in-depth study was conducted in 2006 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after an increasing number of people, including a paediatrician from Florida, reported symptoms of Morgellons disease. Unfortunately for people living with the illness and their doctors and caregivers alike, the research didn’t leave the medical community with any concrete ways to diagnose Morgellons disease, let alone cure it. So, if we don’t know where they’re coming from, what have we learned about what the fibres that define Morgellons disease are made of?

According to a 2016 study from the International Journal of General Medicine, the fibres, or filaments, are composed of keratin and collagen. Keratin is a fibrous structural protein found in human nails, skin and hair. Collagen, which is often considered beneficial to maintaining healthy skin, is a naturally occurring substance in most mammals. The consensus? Nothing particularly alarming or unusual has been found in the fibres growing out of a patient’s skin. It seems the strange filaments growing from painful sores are not composed of anything that researchers wouldn’t expect to see in a normally occurring, run-of-the mill hair.

 

Make Well - results
Image by EVG photos on Pexels: After pressure from American patients in the early 2000s, doctors struggled to answer one simple question: what is Morgellons disease?

 

Can a Skin Biopsy Diagnose Morgellons Disease?

A skin biopsy is a common practice that can be used to diagnose all types of dermal maladies. Usually performed by a dermatologist, it involves taking a sample of a growth on the skin for the purposes of conducting lab tests and search for the cause of the growth. Skin cells can tell us a lot about a person’s health. They reveal what pathogens may be living on the skin or below its surface, and biopsies can help catch potentially fatal illnesses like cancer if they’re done at critical junctures. It’s not uncommon for dermatologists to want to take a closer look with a skin biopsy if there is a mysterious lesion or irritation present on a patient.

Sadly, the confusion surrounding the cause and diagnosis of Morgellons disease often leaves everyone involved with more questions than answers, and many patients suffering from Morgellons in need of treatment. Nevertheless, experts are getting more and more alert about Morgellons, starting investigations and looking for treatment options. This may be underpinned by rising numbers of participants in conferences regarding both the US and Europe.

Featured image by Lucas Vasques on Unsplash

Make Well - meditation

Battling chronic Lyme disease is no easy task. The disease is surprisingly debilitating and continues to worsen over time. Any and all measures that help stem the flow of Lyme are recommended, and many patients find that a multi-pronged approach is necessary. But part of the problem with treatment is the lack of qualified doctors. As chronic Lyme is not recognised as a fully legitimate condition in many circles, there is a distinct lack of medical expertise surrounding the disorder. This can be extremely frustrating for both patients and doctors alike; as a result, misdiagnosis rates are high. Recently, patients have been exploring methods for controlling their symptoms. One of the most popular options is partaking in meditation, deep breathing and yoga. But is meditation good for Lyme disease?

 

Make Well - yoga
Stress-reducing exercises like yoga, meditation and deep breathing can be used to treat Lyme disease symptoms. Let's find out how.

 

One of the main things to consider when assessing whether stress-reducing activities can help treat Lyme disease is how stress contributes to the disorder. Lyme comes into two very different stages. It is transmitted to humans via tick bite, specifically from the deer tick in Europe and the black-legged tick in the U.S. The key bacteria the tick transmits is called Borrelia burgdorferi. This Lyme causative agent infiltrates the system and at first presents much like any other infection. Fever, chills, headache and fatigue are common complaints at this stage, but the distinctive symptom is a bullseye rash, found at the site of the bite. Unfortunately, this tell-tale symptom is missed more often than not, leading the patient to feel like they’ve just come down with a bout of flu.

Acute Lyme is easily treated by antibiotics, but ignoring it will allow the infection to develop into the second, long-term stage of the disorder: chronic Lyme disease. Chronic Lyme symptoms stem from two distinct factors: infection and inflammation. Infection symptoms are usually the lesser of the two, unless the Borrelia bacteria has breached the blood-brain barrier (a relative rarity). More debilitating are the inflammation symptoms, which stem from the patient’s own immune system. Borrelia is remarkably durable bacteria, and when the immune system can’t eradicate it, it goes into overdrive. The resultant symptoms typically include joint pain, constricted movement, muscle aches and crippling fatigue. This inflammation must be treated simultaneously with the infection, as even minute traces of the bacteria can cause a misguided immune response to flare up.

But how does chronic Lyme affect a patient’s lifestyle on a day-to-day basis? It works in two ways. Primarily, and most obviously, a patient has less energy because their body is constantly expanding it fighting an unwinnable battle against Borrelia. That’s a physical reminder of Lyme’s presence. The mental toll is more subtle, but no less damaging. Because the disease is barely recognised at all, patients can feel like they have no treatment options and will be stuck in their current state for the rest of their lives. Doctors will often downplay symptoms or misdiagnose the disorder, adding to the stress the patient is experiencing in a variety of ways. Stress-reducing activities can help deal with this mental onslaught.

Stress exacerbates all illnesses in one way or another. We don’t really understand the mechanisms of stress very well, but we can say with confidence that its effects are far-reaching and complex. It can affect all the body’s various systems, even manifesting new symptoms in patients, all of its own accord. Meditation is a great tool to try and help control this stress. By taking a few minutes of each day to sit and focus your mind, you may help your body rebalance itself. You can meditate whenever suits you; some people do it as soon as they get up, others do it before they go to bed, and some choose both. There is no right time to meditate. The goal is to take 10 or 15 minutes out of your day and clear your mind of clutter.

 

Make Well - deep breathing
Deep breathing and meditation can help alleviate stress, which is important for those tackling Lyme disease.

 

Deep breathing is very similar to meditation, and can even be incorporated into it. When we breathe, much of the time we use our upper torso. Deep breathing encourages people to breath all the way down to their lower abdomen, promoting de-stressing and a sense of relaxation. If you’re worried about your discipline, you can always join a yoga class, which will have much the same effect on your body stress-wise. Choose whichever option feels right for you. What’s important to keep in mind is how much your mental state can contribute to your condition. Whether it’s fear of the unknown, worrying about how your illness will affect future tasks, or even fear of relapse when the going is good, stress can be a significant factor in many chronic diseases.

In addition to stress-reducing exercises, natural supplements from outlets like Make Well can help support inflammation treatment, pairing with antibiotics to tackle all the symptoms of chronic Lyme head-on. Addressing one symptom and not the others is a prime mistake that most Lyme-illiterate doctors continually make. If you fear you may be suffering from Lyme, take the steps to fortify your mental health today. Once that’s in hand, you can investigate ways to tackle the physical symptoms more effectively.

Make Well - medical diagnosis

Morgellons disease has a fabled history that makes it a sensitive subject among patients and practitioners alike. Aside from puzzling physical symptoms, Morgellons disease is often accompanied by changes in a patient’s mental functioning as well, causing it to frequently be misdiagnosed as a form of mental illness – like Munchausen syndrome or delusional parasitosis. Whether a practitioner chooses to treat the physical symptoms or focus instead on treating the mind is a key difference in the patient experience. The best route for treating a person suffering from Morgellons disease is still being researched.

Morgellons Disease: Signs and Symptoms

Patients with Morgellons disease report a skin sensation to the feeling of bugs crawling beneath or stinging the skin, causing the skin to itch and become irritated. Another consistent symptom is painful sores, and patients report tiny black, red, and sometimes blue tendrils that resemble fibres or strings emerging from the sores or from healthy skin. Other patients with Morgellons disease report feeling fatigued and confused, and experience memory loss and depression.

 

Make Well - Morgellons disease
The appearance of strange fibres emerging from the skin is one of the symptoms of Morgellons disease.

Morgellons Disease vs. Munchausen Syndrome

Unfortunately, patients often have Morgellons disease misdiagnosed as Munchausen syndrome. Munchausen syndrome is a disorder wherein patients are dishonest with practitioners about having certain symptoms. Some people suffering from Munchausen even go as far as to self-harm to induce symptoms. This is typically characterised as attention-seeking behaviour. Children are particularly susceptible to experiencing Munchausen syndrome by proxy if a caregiver has convinced the child that they are ill when there is no evidence to support the notion.

Because the physical symptoms of Morgellons disease have yet to be thoroughly explained by the medical community, some practitioners are unlikely to ever diagnose a patient with Morgellons. Instead, it seems that Munchausen syndrome is a popular diagnosis for practitioners who don’t understand Morgellons disease. It can be very discouraging for someone who is genuinely ill to experience what might be Morgellons disease misdiagnosed as Munchausen syndrome.

Delusional Parasitosis

A second common diagnosis received by patients presenting with symptoms consistent with Morgellons syndrome is delusional parasitosis. Delusional parasitosis is a psychotic illness causing patients to have the false belief that parasites, worms, or other insects have infested the patient’s skin. Since a person believing themselves to have Morgellons usually reports feeling incessantly itchy, some practitioners who don’t classify Morgellons disease as a real physical condition instead feel the symptoms are a result of mental illness, pursuing with psychiatric treatment options. Delusional parasitosis is rare, but usually occurs in people with hypochondria, and occasionally alongside other mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. It can sometimes be a symptom of withdrawal from drugs or alcohol.

Mary Leitao brought Morgellons disease into the contemporary public eye in the early 2000s after her son was diagnosed with delusional parasitosis. The young man repeatedly complained of feeling bugs under his skin, and Leitao reported pulling fibres from sores on her child’s face, consistent with what other Morgellons disease patients report. After finding little support from the medical community, she initiated a very public campaign pressuring American Congress and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate Morgellons further. She was successful, but the CDC eventually concluded that Morgellons disease is more consistent with delusional parasitosis than any other theory.

The Toll of Misdiagnosis

The experience of having Morgellons disease misdiagnosed can be very damaging to a person’s mental and physical health. When a patient doesn’t feel heard or respected by their health practitioner, it can discourage a patient from following up when the treatment plan for a misdiagnosis inevitably doesn’t work. A series of misdiagnoses can lead to serious self-doubt, and for someone experiencing illness, that doubt can snowball into depression. What’s more, a patient runs the risk of beginning a treatment plan that can potentially do their body more harm than good if they involve unnecessary supplements and medications, or the wrong type.

 

Make Well - depression
Having Morgellons disease misdiagnosed as Munchausen syndrome or another condition can lead to patients experiencing depression, as well as many other medical complications.

 

What to Do if You Think You Have Morgellons Disease

If you are patient who feels they are living with Morgellons disease, but you’ve been misdiagnosed with Munchausen syndrome, delusional parasitosis or another ailment, there are a few ways that you might choose to proceed. The first step is to be sure to take care of any broken skin or open sores. Practitioners will be able to help you identify whether or not you’re at risk for infection if you have broken skin from scratching, and may prescribe something to prevent infection. Practitioners should always prioritise your health, and should assist you without judgment if you are in any obvious danger of infection or sepsis.

There is an extensive online community that can provide emotional support and share stories about things that have worked for them, but do proceed with caution as any medical information gathered there may not be scientifically sound. A combination of taking care of yourself physically and emotionally should be considered when seeking solutions. A mind-body approach to recovery will ensure that you’ve adequately considered your health from the inside out.