When it comes to chronic Lyme disease, sometimes the neurological symptoms can be more troubling, and more dangerous, than the physical manifestations. Lyme is a complex disorder with a vast number of potential complications. The disease manifests itself in different ways on a patient-to-patient basis, and also differs wildly in severity.
One of the most concerning aspects of Lyme can be when the causative bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, permeates the blood-brain barrier and infects the brain. Although this is not seen in the majority of chronic cases, it represents a severe complication for patients and a diagnostic problem for doctors. Brain fog is one of the most common symptoms of this manifestation; but exactly what is Lyme brain fog and what may help to reduce it?
A Brief History of Lyme
Lyme disease is a relatively new disease, but it represents one of the most significant global threats in our world today. It was discovered in 1975 in the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut. The north-eastern states of America remain a hotbed for Lyme activity 45 years later. The bacteria that causes Lyme, Borrelia burgdorferi, is transferred to humans via tick bite, specifically by the black-legged tick in the U.S. and the castor bean tick in Europe.
Although it’s such a prominent disease, many of the specific mechanics of Lyme are still shrouded in mystery. This is because Lyme comes in two forms: acute and chronic. Acute Lyme is widely accepted as a legitimate disorder, but chronic Lyme exists in a medical grey area, with no real legitimisation. Unfortunately, the chronic variant of Lyme represents a far greater threat.
Acute Vs. Chronic Lyme
The acute form of Lyme is actually relatively simple to treat. Symptoms appear soon after the initial bite, and resemble the flu. Usually, they aren’t even too severe, constituting a fever, headache, fatigue and generalised pain. The key symptom is a bullseye rash, which develops at the site of the bite. This resembles a small red circle with another larger circle surrounding it. This is a tell-tale symptom indicative of Lyme disease; if you see it, it’s a sure sign of Borrelia infection. However, if you see this rash, it also provides you with enough time to treat the disease. Antibiotics will clear up acute Lyme totally in the majority of cases. If this window is missed, however, the disease ca transition to its chronic form.
Chronic Lyme represents a myriad of diverse symptoms stemming from both infection and inflammation. The body’s response to the sustained infection often results in widespread inflammation, which is especially painful at the joints. Other symptoms depend on where the infection has permeated. This makes chronic diagnosis very hard, especially if the initial tick bite that transferred the infection wasn’t caught. One potential complication is called neuroborreliosis, where the Borrelia bacteria infects the brain. One of the initial and persistent symptoms of this complication is brain fog.
What is Lyme Brain Fog?
Brain fog is a complicated concept to define. A general way to describe it is ‘mild cognitive impairment’; often temporary, brain fog can hamper a person’s short-term memory, sense of surroundings, speech or concentration. Essentially, it is diminished mental capacity. It is like it sounds: a fog over your mind, clouding your thinking and depriving you of clarity. But why do Lyme patients suffer from this?
When the Borrelia bacteria has been in a person’s system for an extended period of time, it can cause much more damage as it’s afforded the chance to spread further. Lyme brain fog occurs when the bacteria breaches the blood-brain barrier, and starts interfering with the neurons there. It can be extremely disconcerting for patients, adding to the significant stress of dealing with the illness on other fronts. So, now you know what it is, what helps treat Lyme brain fog?
How to Lessen the Symptoms of Lyme Brain Fog
Recovering from chronic Lyme is not an easy process. It’s a complex disease with many moving parts. To tackle brain fog, the best approach is to tackle the whole disease at large. The first problem is diagnosis. Many chronic Lyme patients remain undiagnosed, because the condition is so elusive. It covers a vast and intimidating spectrum of symptoms, many of which don’t suggest a Lyme infection. Antibiotics are necessary to clear the infection symptoms. These will help flush the Borrelia from the brain and the body at large. Herbal supplements are usually necessary to counteract the widespread inflammation, which can also be present in the brain. Make Well produces an all-natural range of supplements specifically designed to support the treatment of chronic diseases like Lyme.
A specifically designed anti-inflammatory diet can also help to decrease any signs of inflammation, although the process won’t happen overnight. Consult with your doctor and a nutritionist to make sure you’re dieting correctly. It’s important to keep in mind that it might require a trial-and-error approach of removing and adding foods before you find the right balance. Rest is also very important when it comes to brain fog; patients usually report flare-ups after strenuous mental activity, and most can feel it coming on before it hits. At these moments it’s important to rest, sleep or partake in a quiet, calm activity so that you give your mind every chance to ‘fight the fog’.
Getting the vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health can be extremely difficult through natural diet alone. Even some foods that appear to be obvious whole foods can lack in the essential nutrients due to widespread soil depletion caused by over-farming.
The nutritional content in everyday food becomes even less pronounced the more processed it is, and in the quick and hurried age of pre-packaged meals and fast food convenience, it’s almost impossible to get everything the body needs without taking some form of supplement. Around 75% of Americans use dietary supplements – and for good reason. However, not all supplements are the same, and many factors go into how much and how often those supplements need to be taken.
Supplement dosage for body size
Supplement dosage by weight will vary greatly. Because weight plays a huge role in the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals for optimal health, weight is one of the biggest factors that should be taken into account when choosing and dosing supplements.
Supplement labels generally outline a one-size-fits-all dosing system, but body weight plays an important role. In the specific case of vitamin D, one study showed that those who were overweight or obese according to their BMI had significantly lower levels of vitamin D in their body following the treatment period than those of their underweight or normal weight counterparts. This outlines the correlation between weight and specifically fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D: these can be stored in our fat tissues and lead to lower levels of their circulating active forms, as the majority of our body’s storage is trapped.
Supplement dosage based on gender
The dosage needed per day for essential vitamins and nutrients also differs depending on the sex of an individual. The supplement dosage for males, for example, is quite different than females, not just because of average size, but because men need things that women do not and vice versa.
For example, calcium is needed by both men and women, but the supplement dosage for females will have much higher values in a women’s multivitamin than a man’s. One of the biggest differences in multivitamins for men and women is iron, because women tend to lose a lot of iron during menstruation – thus they need an extra dosage to keep their iron levels in check. Men and women are also susceptible to different cancers, so multivitamins may contain different levels of compounds that could help ward off these diseases.
Supplement dosage by age
Certain multivitamins also market themselves for older adults because as people age, the amount of nutritional deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals can grow. Therefore, older people need higher or lower amounts of certain things to help the ageing process go as smoothly as possible while maintaining an overall level of health.
Specifically, as people age, their body’s ability to absorb vitamin D and vitamin B12 becomes compromised. Supplements made for ageing adults will have higher levels of these vitamins to assist the body in its absorption and make up for lost nutrients over time.
Choosing the right supplements
Going into the vitamin aisle at a local pharmacy can be nothing short of overwhelming due to the sheer number of brands and types of vitamins available. Supplements often come in pill form, either in sublingual form (melt under the tongue) or capsules to swallow whole. They can also come in powder form, liquid form and chewable tablets.
Liquid and powder supplements are often good to take if you need a personalised amount of the vitamin or mineral – for example, if you’ve been told you are deficient by your doctor following a blood test.
Water-soluble vitamins are also not stored in the body the same way fat-soluble vitamins are. This means that it’s unlikely that a person can have too much of a water-soluble vitamin in their body, leading to complications. When it comes to fat-soluble vitamins, however (such as vitamins A, D, E and K), build-up can be dangerous if it reaches high levels.
Name brands and no-name brands often have the same ingredients, so choosing based on a name doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be getting a better vitamin. Always read the label to ensure the dosage amount is correct for you and what you need.
How to dose supplements
It’s also important to know where your levels are before choosing a supplement. If you are not deficient in vitamin D, for example, supplementing too much with that vitamin can be dangerous. Also, if your levels are particularly low in something and you are unaware, taking the recommended daily dose may not be enough.
Choosing the right dose of supplements also depends on lifestyle. In a busy, fast-paced lifestyle, it might be hard to take vitamins in liquid form because they aren’t as convenient. It’s also important to remember the absorption rate (bioavailability) of supplements when choosing a dose. The factors that determine bioavailability differ from person to person depending on their age, digestive system, overall health, sex, and what time of day the supplement is taken.
The average range of absorption of different vitamins and minerals can vary greatly depending on the chemical combination in which the mineral or vitamin is presented. Knowing the right amount for you is crucial in deciding how much of the vitamin you need per day and how much of the caplet, liquid or powder form your body will actually absorb.
When it comes to fighting chronic disease, the balance of nutrients and minerals that are present in our system can play a huge part. By definition, they are all necessary for our individual health, but they become particularly important when our bodies are fighting long-term illness. They serve a variety of different purposes in areas all over our bodies and their internal systems. A deficiency in any one of these will have a knock-on effect for the rest. But exactly what do trace minerals do for your body? And how can they aid in the fight against chronic disorders?
What Are Trace Elements and Minerals?
Before we look at how minerals can help fight chronic disease, let’s define what minerals and trace elements are. They are necessary in preserving our overall health; our body keeps stores of them to assist in many different tasks it engages in on a daily basis. Minerals are stored in our bodies with a quantity of 50 mg per kilogram of bodyweight or above. They include elements such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and chloride. Trace elements include zinc, copper and many others; they are required in much smaller amounts than minerals and have lower body storage capacity (<50 mg per kilogram of bodyweight). The only exception is iron, which counts as a trace element despite its body storage of 60 mg per kilogram.
In 1981, Earl Frieden proposed a classification system for trace elements, which ranked them into three groups: essential, probable essential, and physically promotive (non-essential). He thought the essential trace elements, considered crucial for normative development and growth, should be composed of boron, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc.
What Do Trace Elements Do For Your Body?
Trace elements provide a number of important functions in the human body. Deficiencies in any one can prove problematic – sometimes even fatal. Copper allows many critical enzymes to function at their full capacity, but a rapid overdose of copper can cause nausea, vomiting and sweating. When copper is excessively acquired over a long period of time, it can cause cirrhosis, hepatitis and azotaemia. A deficiency in copper, especially during growth stages, will result in many serious conditions such as anaemia, defective keratinisation and pigmentation of hair, hypothermia, mental retardation and defects in the askeletal system.
Iron is another crucial trace element that most people know is necessary for a healthy body. It is vital to the proper functioning of haemoglobin, a protein used to transport oxygen from the blood. It also plays a role in a number of other important processes in the body. A common symptom of iron deficiency is anaemia, a condition where the red blood cells are compromised and unable to carry enough oxygen to the body’s tissue. Over a long period of time, iron deficiency can be fatal, as it can lead to heart failure. On the other hand, prolonged accumulation of iron in the body can lead to diabetes, arthritis and hepatic failure.
A final example of a critical trace element is zinc. Broadly, zinc helps the immune system fight off invading pathogens and aids the body in constructing proteins and DNA. It is especially important during pregnancy, infancy and childhood, as it helps promote healthy growth and development. Zinc deficiency can cause loss of appetite, growth retardation, impotence and impaired immune function. High levels of zinc can potentially cause kidney and stomach damage, as well as decreased immune function.
What Do Minerals Do For Your Body?
The function of minerals is less specific than trace elements, but no less important. Calcium is necessary for the healthy development and maintenance of bones and teeth, regulating blood pressure and blood clotting. A deficiency of calcium can cause nerve spasms, muscle and abdominal cramps and extreme fatigue. Potassium is required for proper fluid balance and muscle contraction; a deficiency of this mineral can result in weakness, fatigue, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, muscle aches and spasms, among other things. As a final example, magnesium is required for constructing protein, nerve transmission and immune system maintenance. Magnesium deficiency can result in muscle cramps and twitches, mental disorders, osteoporosis, fatigue and high blood pressure.
The Importance Of Maintaining Healthy Levels Of Minerals And Trace Elements
Just by touching on the above examples, you can see how crucial minerals and trace elements are to a healthy body. They become even more important when you’re fighting a chronic disease. Usually, the body can absorb all the elements it needs from a healthy and balanced diet. But any disease that has a detrimental effect on the body’s metabolism will result in mineral and trace element imbalance. This is important to correct, as many studies correlate the importance between these levels and a quicker recovery.
However, more research needs to be done in this field to link the exact effects of a particular mineral or trace element deficiency with a particular disease. It is a very complex subject, but one that makes logical sense on a base level. Many chronic diseases impair the immune system, which in turn has a detrimental effect on recovery. Many minerals and trace elements help to bolster the immune system, and therefore can be a key component in fighting back against long-term disorders.
The Role of Supplements
Nutritional intervention is an important component of treatment for many chronic issues, but if your diet is insufficient, you can utilise supplements to make sure you’re getting the minerals you require. Choosing the right supplement can be a difficult task, however; many different brands and variations line the shelves in 2020. Ideally, you should be looking for the most natural, most bioavailable supplements you can find. This reduces the risk of contamination and means that your body will be able to absorb the very best out of the supplement.
The multivitamin and supplement industry is as big in 2020 as it has ever been. Many companies also produce dietary supplements specifically designed for children, and the idea seems to be working; it’s estimated that around one third of kids in the U.S. take some form of dietary supplements. It makes sense – we all want our kids to be as healthy and robust as they can be, and eating healthily on a daily basis isn’t always possible. So dietary supplements are a great way to ensure your kids are getting the vitamins and minerals they need to maintain their energy and health. But are they safe? Just because there are so many of them out there, it doesn’t necessarily make them all uniformly safe or equal. When it comes to children’s health, every parent wants to be as informed as they can. So let’s investigate: are vitamins safe for kids?
What Are Dietary Supplements?
Before we answer that question, let’s take a look at what exactly dietary supplements are, and what they aren’t. Essentially, dietary supplements are substances people take to add key vitamins, minerals, fibres, amino acids or herbs into their diet. Ideally, all of these would come from a well-rounded and balanced diet – but unfortunately, our busy lifestyles don’t always afford us the chance to avail of three nutritious daily meals. Dietary supplements are utilised to make sure we get the ingredients we need to maintain our health. They come in a variety of forms, including pills, capsules, powders, gels, extracts or liquids. They do not require a doctor’s prescription and can be bought over the counter in most supermarkets and pharmacies. However, best practice would be to check with your GP before you start taking multivitamins regularly, especially if you have an underlying health condition or take regular medication.
Soil Depletion and Bioavailability
Supplements are particularly valuable in 2020 because of a trend known as soil depletion. Food grown decades ago has been proven to have a higher nutritional value than food grown today. Essentially, this is because continued use of the land is robbing it of its natural goodness; the natural nutrients of the soil have been siphoned off by modern agricultural methods. This shines a new light on the benefits of supplements, and might even make them a necessity in future as the nutritional value of soil continues to deplete. However, not all supplements are created equal. Some are better than others, and the gauge of their use can be determined by something called bioavailability.
This is the term used to describe the absorption and application of a particular nutrient, and it applies to supplements in the same way. The higher the degree of bioavailability, the better the supplement is for you. The way manufacturers go about this is quite complex, but essentially, the more natural the ingredients are in the supplement, the better. Take vitamins, for example. In the majority of supplements, vitamins are produced synthetically, and are not naturally occurring. To get the most out of what you’re putting into your body, you should always look for the supplements with the highest amount of organic complexes and the lowest amount of additives like colourants or emulsifiers.
Are Dietary Supplements Safe for Children?
The most important thing for parents to know about dietary supplements is that, because you can purchase them over the counter, they are less regulated than other medications. When they are created from natural sources, this is less critical, but those that use synthetic ingredients can potentially pose more of a risk. Also, ‘natural’ doesn’t necessarily translate to ‘safe’, as there is always a chance the product has been contaminated during the manufacturing stage or side effects/reactions might occur. Generally, dietary supplements are considered safe for children, though they might not always be necessary. The American Academy of Paediatrics doesn’t recommend multivitamins for children and adolescents who eat a varied and healthy diet. Too much of anything is bad, and giving your child multivitamins each day can lead to exaggerated levels of iron, zinc, copper and vitamin A and C. Further, it’s important to know that daily average intakes given on labels always refer to healthy adults with a respective caloric intake of approximately 2000 kcal. As these dosages are frequently too high for children, make sure you look for weight-adapted supplements or those specifically developed for children.
What Are the Best Vitamins for a Child’s Immune System?
In some cases, vitamins may be beneficial, however. If your child is vegan, multivitamins can provide a much-needed source of B12, which is vital for healthy growth. Vitamin D is increasingly being shown to be of critical importance to our physical and mental health, and children often have low levels during the winter, due to the lack of sunlight. A vitamin D supplement can help make a child’s immune system more robust, and make sure levels stay optimum during the winter months. The gut is also an important component of a healthy immune system; when it is compromised by a stomach bug, constipation or diarrhoea, a probiotic can help restore the balance and encourage faster recovery. Lastly, a child often doesn’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids, which are obtained through fish. This can be another beneficial supplement to promote brain activity and development.
Ultimately, each child is different. Some may require dietary supplements and some may not. If you’re planning on using supplements over the long term, this is also an important consideration. Two basic tenets to keep in mind when it comes to dietary supplements for kids are to look for the most bioavailable options designed specifically for children in your child’s age bracket, and to talk through your intentions with your GP before you start.
Probiotics have often been hailed as necessary components to overall optimal health. They are the live bacteria and yeast that can be attributed to helping with a healthy gut flora and digestive system. Probiotics are a type of bacteria, and since the body needs certain good bacteria to thrive, they are considered to be on the good side of things.
Probiotics aren’t only useful for the treatment of digestive issues, though. Often they can also help with a variety of other health issues, such as counteracting the negative impacts of the intake of antibiotics.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an illness contracted via bite from an infected tick. The disease presents itself with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, and muscle and joint aches in its earliest stages. The earliest stages are known as acute Lyme, but if left untreated, can progress to chronic Lyme.
The symptoms of chronic Lyme disease are persistent, and include fatigue, chronic pain, lowered cognitive function, joint and muscle pain, and issues with speech. Since Lyme disease can mimic other illnesses such as MS (Multiple Sclerosis), fibromyalgia or ALS/MND (Lou Gehrig’s disease), it hasn’t been known and studied for very long. The earliest instance of the disease dates back to the 1980s, but early fossil records of ticks show that it’s been around for millions of years.
The treatment of both acute and chronic Lyme is an antibiotics course, with the strength and administration (capsules versus intravenous) differing depending on how far the illness has progressed.
Probiotics and Lyme disease
So can probiotics help treat Lyme disease? It has been said that, although probiotics aren’t in any way a cure for the illness, they can help aid in recovery from it. This is due to the fact that probiotics are a form of healthy bacteria, and a lot of healthy bacteria often gets wiped out during the heavy antibiotic treatment required to rid the body of Lyme disease.
As the antibiotics make their way through the body, they kill as much bacteria as possible without discrimination. When the good bacteria in the body is killed off with everything else, the body becomes out of balance, thus threatening the digestive system along with the immune function and the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
People who suffer from Lyme disease are especially at risk of having decreased function because their immune system is already heavily compromised. When this happens, it makes the body’s ability to fight off the Lyme disease bacteria that much harder.
Which probiotics are good for Lyme?
There are many different types of probiotics on the market, all of which promise to help restore the healthy gut flora needed for the body to function properly. There are different strains of bacteria in different versions of probiotics as well, some that serve different purposes. Lactobacillus rhamnosus is one of the positive lactic acid bacteria of our commensal flora. It is often found in yoghurt and may benefit the immune system and brain function.
Not all probiotics are made equal, though, and they come in a wide variety of different forms. The dosages come in colony-forming units (CFU) and are generally effective between 1–2 billion per day. For those fighting chronic illness, upwards of 20 billion CFU may be required, as their level of healthy bacteria is much lower.
Types of probiotics that may be helpful in treating the brain, heart and immune system issues that happen because of a Lyme infection are of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium variety. The best probiotics to take are ones that come with ‘live cultures’, but if they come in pill form, they have a higher likelihood of not surviving the trip into the stomach. The best way to ingest probiotics is through foods such as yoghurt, cheese and fermented foods.
Despite the probiotics being different in their exact composition, the presence of different strains of lactobacteria is important. Also, the combination with prebiotic substances (like inulin from psyllium seed husks) may not only benefit digestion, but also favour the growth of the live bacteria.
The role of the microbiome in combating chronic Lyme
The microbiome (the genetic material that makes up all the microbes in the body) is essential healthy function. It plays an important role in helping the body regulate the immune system and protect itself against harmful viruses and bacteria; it also helps to digest food and essential vitamins and nutrients.
When the microbiome isn’t doing its job, the body will not function properly because it won’t be able to properly absorb essential vitamins, and the immune system will function at a lower level. This is especially true in chronic illnesses such as Lyme disease. The only true treatment for Lyme so far is via antibiotics, and a strong course of the medicine can often throw off the proper function of the microbiome by killing off good bacteria that it needs to thrive. When it comes to Lyme disease treatment, the microbiome needs to be running at its best so that the immune system can do what it needs to do to alleviate and rid the body of the damage the Lyme bacteria has done during its hostile takeover.
In the case of chronic illness, the microbiome tends to take a longer time to function properly, if at all, and thus the illness lingers over a long period of time. Doing things that will help restore the microbiome, such as taking probiotics, can lead to the alleviation of chronic illness symptoms in those who suffer from them.
The treatment of chronic Lyme can often be a long, complex process. In its acute stage, Lyme can usually be fully treated with antibiotics. However, this narrow treatment window is often missed, which affords the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria the opportunity to embed itself further into the patient's system. This shift is known as the chronic form of Lyme. Symptoms at this stage are a mix between infection and inflammation as the body’s immune response goes into overdrive. Antibiotics alone won’t treat chronic Lyme, and other avenues of remedy need to be considered to address the disease. Inflammation is a naturally occurring symptom as opposed to an invading pathogen, and so needs to be treated accordingly. Could essential oils have a place in that treatment plan?
What are Essential Oils?
Before we explore how essential oils might help Lyme patients, we should examine what exactly they are. Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants, which preserve the plant’s scent, or ‘essence’. The oils are obtained from the plant via steam and/or water distillation, or by cold pressing, where the oils are literally pressed out of the plant. Once extracted, the natural plant oils are combined with a carrier oil, to create the end product. Essential oils have three main characteristics in common: they are soluble in fat and alcohol, they are fleeting, and they are very specific in their smell. The method used for extraction is important; an oil is only considered essential if it has been obtained naturally through this process, as opposed to by chemical means.
Essential oils are primarily used in aromatherapy, a branch of alternative medicine that uses the oils to cultivate general wellbeing and health. Like most forms of alternative medicine, anecdotal evidence that promotes the use of essential oils is strong, whereas scientific evidence is a little thinner on the ground.
Can Essential Oils Help Treat Disease?
The use of essential oils to treat maladies dates back thousands of years, to 3,000–2,500 B.C. It’s hard to say if the Egyptians or the Chinese were the first to use essential oils for medicinal and wellbeing purposes, but their use can be traced back to these two ancient civilisations. India was also an essential oil pioneer; they used oils in conjunction with Ayurvedic medicinal practises. Following in their footsteps, there is also evidence that the ancient Greeks and Romans utilised essential oils. Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, prescribed aromatic treatments for fallen soldiers on the battlefield, utilised aromatic fumigation to combat the plague in Athens, and promoted their health benefits to the wider public. The Romans enjoyed using oils as perfumes, bathing lavishly in them and applying them over their hair, bodies, clothes and bedding. There are even references to aromatic oils in the Bible; the most famous of these is undoubtedly the gifts of frankincense and myrrh the Wise Men bring to the newborn Jesus.
Although there is not enough concrete scientific evidence to advocate the use of essential oils to treat medical conditions, the practice of using them medicinally has endured for centuries. Some studies indicate that essential oils can be beneficial for a number of conditions, while others maintain that they’re not. Many doctors maintain that if essential oils may benefit a patient, there is no harm in trying them out. If the least they do is put you in a calmer, improved mood, then that can only be a good thing as far as your wellbeing is concerned. Essential oils, when inhaled, help stimulate your limbic system, an area of your brain that helps regulate emotions, memories and behaviours. They can also be absorbed by the skin and are used routinely in skincare.
Can Essential Oils Ease Symptoms of Lyme Disease?
Treatment for the inflammation symptoms of chronic Lyme revolves around nutritional changes supported by supplements. But could essential oils have a place in the treatment plan? Recent studies suggest they might. One particular study found that oregano, cinnamon bark and clove bud were the most active essential oils against stationary B. burgdorferi, completely eradicating the bacteria with no regrowth. In particular, carvacrol (found in oregano) was found to be the most effective ingredient against the pathogen. This ingredient could potentially be more effective than the current drugs used to combat the disease, though more studies need to be conducted.
The results, published in Antibiotic, also posit that no less than ten essential oils can be detrimental to B. burgdorferi, including oils derived from garlic cloves, myrrh trees, thyme leaves, cinnamon bark, allspice berries, cumin seeds and eucalyptus, among others. While this represents exciting developments in the continuing battle against Lyme, more studies are required before these oils can potentially have widespread application.
Essential Oil Uses
As it stands, there are plenty of ways to utilise essential oils in your day-to-day life, whether you suffer from chronic disease or not. Lavender oil is a great way to relax; it’s often utilised to reduce stress and anxiety and promote sleep. Tea tree oil can be a great way to ease muscles and treat skin conditions like eczema and acne. Peppermint oil has long been linked to digestive health and might help ease tension headaches when applied topically. The zesty aroma of lemon oil routinely makes people feel more alert and brightens their mood, as do chamomile and jasmine oils.
While most of these uses are strictly palliative, that shouldn’t diminish the benefits they have for people. If a particular essential oil improves your general health and wellbeing, it is worth applying or inhaling. If you’re apprehensive about essential oil usage, simply check with your usual doctor or GP before beginning.
People who live in big metropolis areas aren’t often overly concerned with ticks and tick-borne illnesses. The small disease carriers tend to live in heavily wooded areas, so it’s safe to assume that if one is surrounded by nothing but pavement and high-rises, a tick wouldn’t be anywhere close enough to bite.
Although it is true that the risk of contracting Lyme disease from a tick bite in a big city is rare, it can still occur. Many cities are building up green spaces to give the citizens of these concrete jungles places to get back into touch with nature. This, coupled with the fact that climate change has been linked to increased numbers of tick populations, could lead to a higher risk of infection in more populous areas.
Are there ticks in cities?
Ticks are mainly found in heavily forested areas, and for good reason. The smorgasbord of animals to feed off is high, giving ticks ample opportunity to feed and multiply. Depending on the area, there can also be a lot of foot traffic from unsuspecting nature lovers in sprawling wooded areas due to the upswing in hiking popularity.
The over urbanisation of areas and the expansion of cities can be connected with the spread of ticks throughout metropolitan areas. Bigger animals such as deer and foxes are misplaced when houses go up and suburbs take over formerly vegetative land, but because mice no longer have to worry about their populations being hunted by the predators that used to live in their area, their population grows – and so does the inner-city population of ticks.
The tick life cycle depends heavily on whether or not they find something – or someone – to feed on, and when mice run rampant, it gives ticks the perfect breeding ground to feed and grow in population.
Can you get Lyme disease in the city?
In the city, the ticks that are found in backyards and other green spaces can be infected with Lyme disease just as easily as those found in the forest. In fact, tick populations in the city tend to grow with mice populations after urbanisation projects displace the natural predators of the mice, and because white-footed mice are generally the main host for ticks, this could mean that city ticks are even more heavily diseased than country ticks.
Ticks are natural disease carriers because of the way they feed. They bite and suck the blood of their host, and if a pathogen is present, they spread it to the next host they feed on. The most notable tick-borne illness is Lyme disease. Lyme disease was first diagnosed in 1975 in rural Connecticut after being mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis in patients exhibiting the symptoms prior to that date.
Acute cases of Lyme often exhibit as flu-like symptoms and a bullseye rash at the bite site. Even if Lyme disease is treated early with antibiotics, it can still become chronic. Chronic Lyme disease sufferers exhibit fatigue, inflammation, cognitive issues such as memory problems or an inability to concentrate, and problems with speech.
Who is at risk for Lyme disease?
It’s an unfortunate truth, but anyone can be at risk for Lyme disease as long as they are bitten by a carrier and the pathogen enters their bloodstream. In the city, it seems less likely to be bitten by an infected tick, but that’s not necessarily the case.
People who spend more time in their backyards, or in the green spaces throughout their cities, often increase their risk of being bitten by a tick with Lyme disease. Children are especially vulnerable to tick bites and Lyme disease if they spend a lot of time outdoors and rolling around in grassy areas.
According to a report released by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), in the year 2018, the most confirmed cases were between the ages of 60–64 (although the report doesn’t say why the older group was more susceptible).
What areas have Lyme disease?
Lyme disease has been confirmed across the globe in North America, Europe and Asia, with 38 countries having cases in the last few years. The most notable places ticks are found include the Midwest of the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe where there are heavily forested areas.
Ticks are most active during the warmer months, and due to climate change and the increased warmth of areas across the globe, the time allotted for them to feed and multiply has grown, thus raising populations. In North America, Lyme disease is more often attributed to the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, and in Europe and Asia, to Borrelia garinii.
What to do if you’re bitten by a tick
When out and about in areas that could be populated by ticks, whether in the middle of a city green space or in a forest in the middle of nowhere, it’s important to be aware that ticks are always looking for a new host. Since they are very small (adults grow to around ¼ of an inch), they are hard to detect – and most often, their bites go unnoticed.
After being outdoors in any area that may be populated with ticks, doing a tick check is recommended. If you do find that you have been bitten by a tick, remove it immediately using tweezers in a slow, steady pulling motion. If it’s possible, it’s also recommended that you keep the tick in a container and freeze it in case the onset of symptoms arise. A doctor can then test the tick. Following removal, wash both the site of the bite and your hands.
If you develop any early signs or symptoms of Lyme disease, such as the larger bullseye rash or flu-like symptoms, it’s important to contact your doctor right away. If Lyme disease is present, the earlier it is caught, the better it is for you.
The human body is a complex machine that requires a lot of internal and external upkeep to run at its most optimal level. Vitamins, minerals, nutrients and physical activity are all key factors in the ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ sentiment, and all are required to ward off disease, chronic pain and other ailments humans suffer from on a regular basis. Things such as poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies can all lead the body down a tough path in terms of overall health.
One of these vitamins that the body needs to function is B1, otherwise known as thiamine.
What is Thiamine?
Thiamine is an essential, water-soluble vitamin needed to regulate carbohydrate metabolism throughout the body. The body needs carbohydrates as source of energy to function. They are used as the main energy source for the cells and to help keep depletion of protein down for optimal muscle mass. To help the body’s functionality run smoothly in terms of carbohydrate processing, a certain level of thiamine is needed.
Thiamine also aids in the proper function of the metabolism, nerves and heart. Here it functions as a phosphate donor for optimal stimuli transfer along the nerves. It is carried through the bloodstream to get all the cells what they need to keep the body at its best. Each person needs a certain daily amount of thiamine, which depends on a few different factors. Due to its close association with energy metabolism, our daily intake needs fluctuate depending on our energy intake in kilocalories. Average recommendations for males over the age of 18 are 1.2 mg per day, while adult females require 1.1 mg. During pregnancy, the requirements increase.
What is Vitamin B1 good for?
Aside from processing carbohydrates, Vitamin B1 is an important factor in the overall function of health and in the avoidance of certain chronic ailments. It is also a known key factor in the prevention of diseases such as beriberi (a rare heart and circulatory system condition, mainly occurring in developing countries) and peripheral neuritis (brain nerve inflammation).
Those who are deficient in thiamine may experience problems such as declined cognitive function, unintended weight loss, an enlarged heart and weak muscles. Treatment using thiamine can also be beneficial for people with a wide variety of ailments. Those who suffer from ulcerative colitis or digestive issues (such as chronic diarrhoea) can benefit from taking a daily dose of the vitamin.
Other conditions thiamine has been said to help with include cataracts and other vision problems, diabetic pain, heart disease, motion or morning sickness in women who are expecting, and a less-than-adequate immune system. A possibly fatal illness called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome can also develop in alcoholics because drinking too much can lead to a severe B1 deficiency. This disease is neurological in nature and affects cognitive function and mental health.
Foods Rich in Thiamine
In general, your natural supply of thiamine should satisfy the body's requirements, as it is contained in numerous animal- and plant-based foods. Reasons for a deficiency may be a poor diet, pre-existing health conditions or alcohol abuse. The best way to ensure the body is getting the proper amount of Vitamin B1 is to eat foods rich in thiamine, including sunflower seeds, pork, whole grains and fish.
Other foods rich in thiamine include eggs, potatoes, cauliflower, orange, asparagus, kale and liver. The level of the vitamin varies from food to food, with the highest amount being found in pork products such as pork chops, tenderloin or cured ham. Other foods that contain high levels of B1 include beans, seeds and nuts, and green peas.
Where to Find Vitamin B1
Our bodies can produce minor amounts of thiamine in the intestine. This, unfortunately, is usually irrelevant and does not help us to meet our daily requirements. Hence, a daily dietary intake is important.
The problem with getting Vitamin B1 into the system through diet comes when cooking the food. Because the vitamin is water-soluble, when certain foods are boiled or heated, the vitamin dissolves into the water used to cook it. This depletes the food of its thiamine stores, thus making it that much harder to get the daily recommended dose. Eating fortified cereals could help, as there is over 100% of the daily intake needed in many types.
Supplements are a good option for people looking to increase their thiamine intake; generally, if taken with a balanced diet, the required amount of the vitamin is reached through both supplements and foods. In people who suffer from severe thiamine deficiency, high-dose supplements or even injections at the doctor’s office may be introduced. As many B vitamins are cross-linked through metabolic pathways, for general patients without a diagnosed, specific deficiency of B1, a complex of B vitamins is recommended.
Thiamine and Chronic Disease
Like with other B vitamins, marginal or subclinical deficiencies can occur due to food processing or an imbalanced intake.
An optimal level of thiamine in the body can increase our ability to fight chronic disease and to function at our best.
1) Roasted Chestnuts
Winter is the high season for chestnuts, making them the perfect snack to munch on while wandering Christmas and winter markets. They can also be prepared easily at home, either on a grill, if available, or in the oven. They taste best when untreated and hot, meaning no other ingredients, other than chestnuts, are required for these wintery nibbles!
- Fresh, unpeeled chestnuts
Slit each chestnut slightly open. Soak them for a few minutes in warm water then place - some distance apart - on a baking tray or a grill (preferably over an open fire). If prepared in the oven, roast for approximately 15 minutes at 200°C. Enjoy hot!
2) Energy balls
Energy balls are small energy-boosting natural sweets packed with plenty of healthy ingredients. Usually, they combine the natural sweetness of dates with different nuts and seeds and can be decorated with things like dried edible flowers or sesame seeds. They make a perfect treat on a cold day and can be prepared quickly and easily, lasting up to 5 days in the fridge!
Ingredients (for 20-25 pieces):
- 100g dried dates
- 100g dried apricots
- 100g oat flakes
- 80g sunflower seeds
- 80g sesame seeds
- 80g minced hazelnuts
- 50g minced almonds
- 50g minced pumpkin seeds
- Edible flowers
- Cocoa powder
- Crushed pistachio nuts
- Ground cinnamon
- Dark chocolate sprinkles
Mix all ingredients in a food processor until a sticky dough has formed (if the mix is a little dry, add a splash of almond milk). Form the mixture into small balls using the palms of your hands then roll in the decoration of your choosing. Keep cool and dry in an air-tight container in the fridge!
3) Falafel pops with yoghurt dip
Falafel are not as complicated to prepare as some people may think. They are, however, rich in protein, which makes them a perfect healthy and hearty snack for cozy evenings at home or a fun addition in your children's lunchbox!
Ingredients (20 pieces):
- 20 wooden sticks
- 2 cans of chickpeas
- 1 medium-sized red onion, finely diced
- 1 small carrot, grated
- 100g fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 50g fresh coriander, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- Juice of one lemon
- 4 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons rape seed oil, for frying
- Salt & pepper, for seasoning
For the dip:
- 150g natural yoghurt or yogurt alternative
- 50ml of full fat milk or milk alternative
- 10g fresh garden herbs, finely chopped
- Salt & pepper, for seasoning
Drain and rinse chickpeas before transferring to a mixer. Add all ingredients into the mixer and mix until a nice, sticky dough has formed. Roll dough into small balls using the palms of your hands. Fry the balls in a little rape oil until a nice golden brown crust has formed. Stick each falafel on a wooden stick. To prepare the dip, mix the yogurt and milk in a lockable box (makes storage and transportation easier) then add the salt, pepper and fresh herbs to taste. Enjoy the popsicles and dip lukewarm or cold!
4) Curly kale crisps
Vegetable crisps/crackers from the supermarket are trending. However, even though they appear to be healthier than regular potato chips, they’re actually just as rich in unhealthy fats. A genuinely healthy alternative are self-made curly kale crisps, made using high quality oils!
Ingredients (for approximately 2 baking trays):
- 1 medium sized organic green curly kale
- Salt, pepper & chilli (if wanted), for seasoning
- Extra virgin olive-oil.
Wash the curly kale and dry as best you can. Tear the leaves into mouth-sized pieces and place on a banking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Toss gently to ensure even coverage. Bake in the oven at 100°C for 45 minutes. Check at regular intervals to ensure you don’t burn the kale. Enjoy plain or with a dip!
TIP: This recipe is even easier with a professional fruit and vegetable dryer.
5) Chicory ships with yoghurt and mandarin
This recipe is bittersweet and an ideal combination of vitamin C, natural yoghurt and bitter compounds. Bitter compounds increase digestion, meaning that this recipe is not only a healthy snack but also a perfect appetiser.
Ingredients (for approximately 20 ships):
- 2 organic chicory
- 5 small ripe mandarins
- 150g natural yoghurt
- Handful fresh mint leaves, finely sliced
Chop off the chicory leaves and wash under warm water. Turn them around so the stem is on the bottom and the upper part can be filled. Peel and chop the mandarins. Fill each ‘ship’ with 2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt, 1-2 teaspoons of the mandarins and a sprinkle of mint.
6) Sugar-free gingerbread cookies
Nothing says wintertime quite like gingerbread cookies. Try this sugar-free alternative for a healthy twist on this childhood favourite.
- 2 tablespoons of natural apple puree (self-made is best)
- 100g of dates
- 2 tablespoons of fair-trade dark cocoa powder
- 200g of ground hazelnuts and almonds (100g each)
- 100g of full grain flour (can use spelt, or another gluten-free alternative for GF cookies)
- 2 tablespoons of baking soda
- 2 tablespoons of organic gingerbread spice
- 70 g soft butter
- 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
- Cookie cutters of your choice
Soak dates in water for 1 hour. Drain and puree them with the soft butter to a creamy mass. Mix Cocoa powder, nuts, gingerbread spice, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Add dates and apple puree then mix with a wooden spoon to form a dough. Mould the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour. Remove from the fridge and leave at room temperature until softened. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with parchment paper. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3-4mm then, using the cookie cutters, cut out your cookies. Lift the biscuits onto the trays and bake for 10-12 minutes. Once done, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
7) Cinnamon baked apples
Wintertime calls out for warm desserts but it’s easy to overdo it in the sugar department. Try these warming cinnamon baked apples for an indulgent treat that’s healthy to boot!
Ingredients (4 People):
- 4 large organic apples
- 100g minced hazelnuts
- 100g minced almonds
- 100g minced walnuts
- 80 ml organic maple syrup
- 4 teaspoons organic cinnamon
Wash and core the apples. Mix the nuts and maple syrup in a bowl until a sticky mass has formed. Stuff the mix into the apple cores. Sprinkle apples with cinnamon and bake in the oven at 180°C or until the apples appear soft and wrinkly. Served alone or with a little vanilla cream.
8) Rice cracker canapés (two options)
Creating healthy canapés for entertaining is easy with these two recipes!
Ingredients: (5 People)
- 10 plain rice crackers (preferably unsalted)
- 1 large avocado, diced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- Juice of ¼ lemon
- 50g of fresh horseradish
- 100g sour cream
- 50g of smoked organic salmon
- Black cumin seeds, for decoration
- Fresh herbs of your choice (such as dill or coriander), for decoration
Mash avocado, garlic and lemon juice into a creamy guacamole. Put 1 tablespoon of guacamole on a rice cracker and decorate with black cumin seeds. Grate the horseradish and mash with sour cream and fresh herbs of your choice in a bowl. Spread one teaspoon of horseradish paste onto a cracker and top with a little smoked salmon. Decorate with fresh dill and serve. Enjoy!
Winter is filled with all kinds of magical things: the holidays, getting cosy by a fireplace, playing in the snow. But it’s also the prime time of year when you’re most likely to get sick. If you’re constantly asking yourself, “How can I avoid getting sick in the winter?”, you’re not alone. A pesky cold or flu can take anyone out of commission, but it can be even more serious if you’re living with a chronic condition like Lyme disease. You might have more severe symptoms or take much longer to recover than other people. So read on for some helpful solutions on how to keep illness at bay this winter!
How can you protect yourself from being sick?
It can sometimes feel hard to avoid getting sick during the colder months (especially when it seems like everyone around you is unwell!). But it is possible to ward off some illnesses by boosting your immune system and living an overall healthy lifestyle. You can do this by:
Eating a healthy diet
Make sure you’re hitting all those major food groups, while doubling down on foods with vitamin C (oranges, broccoli, kale, etc.) and other immune system-boosting foods such as spinach, almonds, turmeric and yoghurt. Foods that are high in nutrients and antioxidants will work to bolster your immune system. Try to avoid too many saturated fatty acids or highly processed foods that can slow your whole system down.
Being active will help you feel better overall, but it can also keep you from getting sick since it can improve your circulation and allow the immune system to work more efficiently. Living a sedentary lifestyle means your body can’t flush bacteria from the lungs as effectively, which results in you having a higher likelihood of catching a cold or flu.
Staying at a healthy weight
Both of the factors listed above work to keep you at a healthy weight. Having too much excess body fat can trigger pro-inflammatory messenger production, which promotes inflammation and causes your immune system to work against you. For people with chronic conditions that cause them to be at a low weight, being underweight can be just as harmful to your immune system. Your body needs all the strength it can get to help ward off illness!
Getting enough sleep
Your body needs to be getting adequate rest in order to have a healthy immune system. Sleep deprivation can actually cause weakened immune function, so make sure you’re getting enough sleep. A general recommendation is eight hours of quality sleep per night.
Skipping your vices
People who smoke or drink excessively probably notice they get sick more often than most people. Smoking and drinking large amounts of alcohol can inhibit the immune system. It also lowers the resorption of crucial nutrients and may harm our gut – a very sensitive system tremendously important to overall health. Try to eliminate these habits if you want to encourage a stronger immune system.
Of course, this is easier said than done. But being emotionally overwhelmed or rundown means you’ll run a much higher risk of contracting illnesses – your body just won’t have enough stamina to fight off infection. Make time for relaxation and self-care and conscious living and try to eliminate as many stressful aspects of your life as you can.
How can we stay healthy in winter months?
While you should be doing the above-mentioned suggestions year-round, there are some additional steps you can take during winter to decrease your chances of getting sick.
Wash your hands
Washing your hands more often and more thoroughly during cold and flu season can be an effective way to avoid germs. This is especially true if you’re spending time around someone who is already sick. Scrub hard with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. One trick is to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice to yourself to make sure you’re washing for an adequate amount of time.
Use hand sanitiser
Using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser can help you get rid of cold and flu germs if you can’t immediately wash your hands.
Skip shaking hands
Although you don’t want to come across as rude, avoid shaking hands if at all possible, to help lower the risk of transmission of germs. If you explain why you’re forgoing the handshake, most people will understand, and you can limit your exposure to germs.
Keep your surroundings clean
Wipe off surfaces and doorknobs at home and at work to get rid of germ contamination. It’s a task that takes less than a minute but could end up helping you cut down on the germs you’re exposed to.
Try to avoid people who are sick
This one seems like pretty good common sense. Steer clear of people who already have symptoms and who might be contagious. It’s believed that you should stay around six feet (or two arms’ length) away from any sick individuals to prevent yourself from catching anything.
There are other minor lifestyle changes you can try during winter as well. Try keeping warm with lots of layers to help you conserve your energy. It can also be a good idea to keep the air moist in your home. A room or whole-house humidifier can keep harmful particles from getting transferred to you. Some people also like to take more supplements in the winter to avoid getting sick. Extra doses of vitamin D or Z could decrease your chances of catching something.
If you need the answer to how to keep illness away this winter, follow the tips above to get through the season illness-free!