Here’s my remedy for Lyme-related insomnia

By Shona Curley

I have had Lyme disease since 2014. I am slowly recovering, and a few weeks ago I decided I could handle an experiment. I had been reading about autophagy, and how intermittent fasting can increase it. Autophagy is a natural, cellular process of detoxification and renewal – and it increases our stamina. Maybe it would help eliminate my afternoon fatigue?

For my experiment I finished dinner by 6 pm, had matcha tea blended with ghee for breakfast (sounds awful, but it was delicious), and waited till 11 am for lunch. Well, this backfired on me big time. My blood sugar plummeted, and Lyme insomnia came back with a vengeance.

I felt terrible for two weeks. This little relapse reminded me how debilitating and horrible Lyme insomnia is. Not only is it awful not to be able to sleep, but lack of sleep ruins the next day as well. I know you Lymies know what I mean! The lying awake while exhausted, the anxiety, the gruesome nightmares…what a mess.

I believe insomnia is one of the most crippling symptom of Lyme disease. Once we start sleeping, we start healing. Sleep’s restorative power beats intermittent fasting any day. Lesson learned.

I used my background in experiential anatomy and meditation to put my sleep cycle back in order over the course of two weeks. Now I am back to sleeping my usual ten hours a night. When I sleep this much, day by day I feel better. I have made sleeping my priority, and I truly hope the following tools help you as well.

Restorative, restful meditation

You can use meditation at night to train your body and your brain to sleep again. Lyme disrupts this basic rhythm, and it takes work to train ourselves back into healthy sleep patterns. With this training, you will avoid the trap of worrying about not sleeping – lying awake, exhausted and anxious, further patterning stress into your nights.

The brain is habit-based. Whatever we practice enough eventually becomes habit and sticks. With this meditation practice, you will bring your nervous system slowly back to its natural home in deep relaxation and comfort. Here are my suggestions for repatterning beautiful sleep.

Create parameters for your sleep, and honor them whether you are actually sleeping or not!

  • Go to bed at the same (early) time every night
  • Get up at the same time in the morning.
  • Create ritual around going to bed, such as giving yourself an oil massage or a bath beforehand.
  • Make your bed beautiful, welcoming, cozy – a respite from the world.
  • Use essential oils in a spray or diffuser to make your bedroom smell amazing.
  • When you settle in each night, it should feel like exactly where you want to be, even if you are just there to rest and meditate.
  • Set aside a solid ten hours to rest in bed, and let resting for ten hours be your only goal.
  • You control this – you don’t control sleep – so let go of expectations or goals around actually sleeping.
  • Remind yourself that meditation has been proven to be just as restorative as sleep, when we get into a deeply relaxed state.
  • As you lie in the dark, as comfortable as you can be, bring your attention to your breath. Feel your inhale, feel your exhale.
  • When you start thinking about something else (as you most assuredly will—such is the nature of the human mind), be kind to yourself. Simply withdraw your attention from the distracting thoughts, and gently return it to the feeling of your inhale and your exhale. Let your awareness drift through your body, bathing in your breath rhythm.
  • Feel your heart center. Feel your breath moving through your heart center. Bring the people or animals you love most into your mind, and let your love flow through your heart. Let your body release into the physical sensation of love, and of breath. This practice will restore you on many levels. You may drift off to sleep, and you may not. Either way, it is OK.
  • Just resting, feeling your breath, feeling your love – this is balm for the body and soul. You are bathing your brain in soothing chemicals such as dopamine and oxytocin, and this stimulates the immune system to heal as well. (See the book “Molecules of Emotion”, by Candace B. Pert.) We may not be able to force sleep, but we can achieve meditative rest. This is something we control. Eventually, the practice of deep rest will lead to actually sleeping. It always has with me.

If you need help, try listening to guided meditations. You don’t have to take in all the words, just let them roll over you. You may fall asleep in the middle of listening, and that is terrific! Let listening remind your nervous system how to reset, and find restorative, peaceful rest. While I was struggling, I left my phone by my bed cued to a guided meditation, and whenever I needed help, I turned it on. (Editor’s note: We recommend having your phone in “airplane mode” to minimize EMF exposure.)

For me, a guiding voice works like magic, training my brain back to feelings of comfort and deep relaxation. After a week or so, I no longer needed the guide and could relax my mind and body by meditating. After two weeks, I was asleep all night.

When I get strong enough, perhaps I will revisit ghee and green tea. The benefits of autophagy still appeal to me! But if nothing else, Lyme teaches patience. For now, I’ll be focusing on dreamland, and wishing all you Lyme Warriors hours of meditative rest as well.

Shona Curley co-owns Hasti Pilates in San Francisco, which specializes in rehabilitation, conditioning, and pain management. A long-time meditator, she also owns Red Kite Meditations, which offers healing meditations that can be downloaded on your computer.


For more:  A whole list of things to try.

On a personal note…..

Insomnia is a hallmark symptom of tick borne illness.  The things that helped me:

I remember talking to my elderly mother about insomnia and was surprised to hear she suffered with it too, although she was completely healthy.  Hearing how she didn’t get upset about it helped me to calm down and realize that, “This too shall pass.”  Dropping the anxiety about not sleeping helped tremendously.  

I found two tricks seemed to work for me:  1)  I would get up and read about TBI (tickborne illness).  This groundwork of spending hours reading in the wee hours of the night is the backbone of my knowledge base.  I read articles & studies off the internet as well as books – basically anything I could get my hands on.  2)  I used a form of imagery when the pain took over.  I visualized my “happy place,” and slowed my breathing down, and purposely & meticulously looked around my chosen environment in my mind.  This place needs to be a place that evokes a strong sense of peace for you where you feel safe & at rest.  See if you can even “hear” and “smell” the sounds and smells in this place.  This technique, once down, can be repeated at will and will help you in untold ways.  Try and focus on details.  Don’t rush it.  The whole purpose of this exercise is to force you and your body to slow down and relax.

Things that worked for my husband:

  • Gabapentin
  • 5-HTP

And lastly, you may want to learn more about binaural beats:

Binaural beats were discovered in 1839 by physicist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove.  With a pair of ear phones on, your left earpiece plays one tone at a set frequency and your right earpiece plays another.  Your brain creates a third tone called a binaural beat.   The frequency of the binaural beat is the difference between the frequency of the two tones that your ears hear, so if your left hear hears a frequency of 200 Hz and your right ear hears a frequency of 210 Hz. That gives the binaural beat a frequency of 10 Hz.  Since different frequencies of brainwaves are associated with different behaviors and feelings, it is theorized that you can use binaural beats to guide your brainwaves into stimulating certain mental states, such as sleep.

Your Brain Waves
  1. Delta Waves (0.1 – 4 Hz)  deep dreamless sleep.
  2. Theta Waves (4 – 8 Hz) REM sleep (dreams), & deep meditation.
  3. Alpha Waves (8 – 14 Hz)  conscious and relaxed
  4. Beta Waves (14 – 30 Hz) focused attention
The theory of Binaural Beats and Brainwaves

You can use binaural beats to cause your brainwaves to run at a frequency related to your current activity. A higher frequency binaural beat can be used to help improve focus and concentration. A lower frequency binaural beat can be used to help calm and relax your mind.

The best frequency of binaural beats for falling asleep would be 4 Hz or less. This frequency will cause your brainwaves to mimic Delta waves, the same brainwaves that you experience during deep dreamless sleep.

Whether binaural beats can actually help you fall asleep is up for debate.

In one study, 15 young soccer players used binaural beats as they fell asleep over a period of 8 weeks. Another 15 sports students replicated the process without binaural beats. When surveyed, all 15 people who used binaural beats reported improved sleep quality.

Another study took a look at how binaural beats impacted anxiety prior to a medical operation. A triple blind study showed that binaural beats significantly decreased anxiety levels in patients suffering from chronic anxiety.

For some examples:  Tone only for pain relief/relaxation








April 10, 2018 Approx. 41 Min

Rage, Extreme Irritability and Lyme disease

Dr. Daniel Cameron, a leading Lyme disease expert, discusses the impact Lyme disease has on a patient’s emotions. The tick-borne infection can trigger extreme irritability, anger and even episodes of rage.


For more Lyme Hangouts with Dr. Cameron:

LYME SCI: What to eat when you’re allergic to everything?

by Lonnie Marcum

What are you going to do, when everything your child eats makes her sick? As I’ve explained in my earlier posts about mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), virtually anything my daughter put in her mouth triggered a serious allergic reaction.

However, with the help of an incredible medical team and my daughter’s determination to succeed, we found a path to healing. I’m sharing what we did in hopes that it can help others in the same boat.

This is part four of a series on mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) triggered by Lyme and co-infections. Part one, “When the immune system goes haywire,” serves as an introduction to MCAS; Part two, “The agony of mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS),” reviews the five-step process I used to help my child begin healing from MCAS; Part three, “More about healing from mast cell activation syndrome,” outlines the essentials to finding and eliminating food triggers.

I have been writing for since 2016. This series on MCAS has generated more comments and questions than anything else I’ve written. By far, the most frequent question I’m getting is how to survive a food intolerance crisis.

Today I will share how we got my daughter past her extreme food sensitivities. Future posts will include identifying mold, environmental and cosmetic triggers, how stress affects mast cells and the immune system, and getting your life back.

Food Crisis 101

At the beginning of this MCAS journey, our routine was very stringent. Once we found the right combination of antihistamines, and she was able to go three months without an allergic reaction, we could relax a little. Believe me, I do know what it’s like to be in food crisis, so I’ve laid out a sample of some of our favorite low-histamine foods below to help others learn the process.

In my daughter’s case, the foods we chose were specific for her genetics and their high nutritional value. Her diet is also gluten-free, dairy-free, low in sugar, low-histamine, low-oxalate, and low in sulfites. Depending on your specific needs, you may not need to eliminate all of the above ingredients, or you may need to eliminate these plus others —like foods high in salicylate, a chemical found naturally in certain foods.

The key for us was to make everything from fresh, wholesome, organic ingredients. During her crisis we went with frequent small meals. Because the act of chewing and digesting requires histamine, smaller doses were less triggering. We also eliminated all leftovers, because “aged” foods are higher in bacteria and will trigger more histamine. For a complete list of low-histamine foods click here:

As things improved, I cooked two meals at a time. She’d eat one immediately, I’d refrigerate the other in a glass container (no plastics), and she’d eat the next meal within 3-5 hours. (This allowed me to get other things done.)

We also made sure each meal contained one protein, one carbohydrate and at least one fruit or vegetable. The following are a few suggestions of low-histamine foods that we rotated every three to four days during my daughter’s food crisis. Keep in mind if you are adding new foods the name of the game is low-and-slow, as I laid out in my previous post.

Low Histamine Guidelines (adapted from SIGHI)


  • Fermented products (e.g. alcoholic beverages, vinegar, yeast, bacteria)
  • Produce with uncertain freshness (e.g. packaged chopped lettuce, bean sprouts)
  • Canned, finished or semi-finished products (e.g. canned tuna, meal kits)
  • Reheated food (especially fish, meat and mushroom dishes)


  • Meals from restaurants, snack bars, fast food (due to potential cross contamination of ingredients, uncertain freshness, and uncertain storage time)


  • Wholesome, fresh, unprocessed or lightly processed foods.
  • The more perishable and protein-rich the food, the more important it’s freshness (e.g. fish that is caught, cleaned and flash frozen at sea, then refrigerated uninterruptedly until cooked is best)
  • Leftovers must be refrigerated immediately and eaten within hours or frozen.
This is what worked for us


  • Gluten-free oatmeal, quinoa or white rice with a dash of coconut milk or coconut oil
  • Apple, blueberry, nectarine or peach (baked is easier for her to tolerate)


  • Sautéed meat in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO*) with seasonings**
  • Gluten-free brown rice noodles or quinoa noodles
  • Boiled carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, or peas (I throw them in with the noodles)


  • Baked pumpkin or sunflower seeds (soak 6-8 hours, rinse, bake in EVOO at 300 degrees for15-25 min., till done)


  • Baked meat, coated in EVOO* and seasonings**
  • Baked butternut, acorn or summer squash, sweet potato (the white one)
  • Sautéed arugula, asparagus, butter lettuce, or watercress (boiled artichoke is another good option)

*I use 100% extra virgin olive oil to sauté or bake everything. If you are salicylate-intolerant, you may have trouble with EVOO. Coconut oil and nigella sativa oil (black seed oil) are also recommended.

**Seasonings: Sea salt, pink pepper, ginger, chives, garlic (small amounts), basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and sage (dehydrated herbs are more tolerable when in a crisis.)

Note: I am not a doctor. Food allergies are unique to each individual, so it’s important that you work closely with your doctor or a registered dietitian to find and eliminate your food triggers, then design a balanced plan that works for you.

LymeSci is written by Lonnie Marcum, a Licensed Physical Therapist and mother of a daughter with Lyme. Follow her on Twitter: @LonnieRhea  Email her at: .


SIGHI-Leaflet Histamine Elimination Diet Simplified histamine elimination diet for histamine intolerance (DAO degradation disorder)


For the previous articles by Marcum on MCAS:




_______________   Our LLMD uses LDA/LDI for those with immunoconfusion with success.  More about the treatment within this link.  The many benefits of MSM – including allergy symptoms:  

*Reduces cytokines & inflammation (in vitro studies show MSM reduces IL-6 (a marker implicated in chronic inflammation as well as suppressing NO and prostanoids) *antioxidant *free radical scavenger *kills gastrointestinal, liver, and colon cancer cells *restored normal cellular metabolism in mouse breast cancer and melanoma cells *helps wounds heal *increases blood flow *reduces muscle spasms *antiparasitic properties (especially for giardia) *normalizes the immune system *cholinesterase inhibitor *alleviates allergy symptoms *increases energy *improves condition of hair, nails, and skin

Comparative Diets to Address Chronic Inflammation


The following is the first half of a two-part article on nutrition that addresses chronic inflammation.

One of the hallmarks of many chronic diseases and disorders is unresolved inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can develop when the immune system’s normal inflammatory response to an implied threat continues unabated rather than turning off once the threat is gone.1

Chronic inflammation is a common link among autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis; in cardiovascular disorders that lead to heart attacks and strokes; in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and epilepsy; and in mental disorders such as depression and schizophrenia.1 Vaccination has been reported to trigger the development of autoimmune disorders associated with chronic inflammation. 2

Infections and Vaccination: Two Different Kinds of Inflammatory Responses and Immunity

Infections and vaccines stimulate different kinds of inflammatory responses in the body to produce antibodies that confer two different kinds of immunity. Naturally acquired active immunity is attained after a person experiences a viral or bacterial infection and the body mounts an inflammatory response to stimulate the production of antibodies and confers long lasting natural immunity. Artificially acquired immunity, which is not identical to naturally acquired immunity, is attained when a person receives a vaccine and the body mounts an inflammatory response to produce antibodies and confers temporary immunity. Booster doses of vaccines to re-stimulate inflammatory responses are often given to lengthen artificial vaccine acquired immunity. 3

Depending upon various genetic, biological and environmental risk factors, some people do not resolve inflammation either after an infection or vaccination and can develop chronic inflammation in the body that leads to chronic health problems.45 In addition to lab altered viruses and bacteria, there are many recognized toxins in childhood vaccines that either singly or in combination cause inflammation in the brain and other parts of the body, including mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, MSG, antibiotics, polyethylene glycol (antifreeze), squalene, virus like particles and adventitious agents.67

Acute inflammation is easy to recognize: heat, swelling, pain and redness at the site of injury or infection. Chronic inflammation is not quite so obvious, but there are common symptoms that indicate its presence. Some of the most frequently reported include headaches and brain fog, bloating and other digestive problems, joint pain, rashes, fatigue, weight gain, gum disease and mood issues8—many signs familiar to parents of autistic and/or vaccine-injured children.9

Diets Address Chronic Inflammation in Vaccine-Injured Children

The childhood vaccine schedule used in the U.S. has been questioned as a potential factor in the development of inflammatory chronic brain and immune system disorders in children.10

It is an unfortunate fact that those who question the safety of vaccines often “come to the table” following a firsthand experience with a vaccine reaction… in other words, too late to avoid the potentially devastating impact such a reaction can have on their own life or the life of their child. Since conventional medicine rarely acknowledges the connection between vaccination and chronic brain and immune disorders in children, it can be difficult to know where to turn after a vaccine reaction has occurred and there is often lag time before parents find a supportive network. In the search for healing, one of the first avenues explored by parents and doctors specializing in biomedical and holistic health interventions involves nutrition therapy.

Diet is among the most basic of approaches to addressing chronic inflammation. The connection between diet and the risk for developing inflammatory disorders has been recognized for at least 50 years, though studies have been inconclusive about the role played by specific foods and nutrients.11 Nevertheless, harnessing the power of food often can help counteract a chronic inflammatory process and improve some of the related symptoms.

Dietary Fundamentals for Reducing Inflammation

With all the “named” diets available, it can be daunting to decide which direction to turn. Most anti-inflammatory diets share certain basic tenets: avoid sugar and processed foods; stay away from refined flour, wheat, white foods like pasta, rice and bread; and eliminate unhealthy fats. Foods that are often recommended to reduce inflammation in the body are fresh fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, high-quality proteins like cold-water fish, and healthy fats. Some nutritionists suggest that the so-called nightshade foods, which include tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, goji berries and white potatoes, may trigger inflammation in some people,9 and commercial milk products may also cause inflammation in people who are sensitive to lactose or milk proteins.11

Food additives, including dyes, preservatives and artificial flavorings and sweeteners, and high-fructose corn syrup have been pinpointed as problematic for many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)12 and some nutritionists suggest avoiding them when trying to reduce systematic inflammation through dietary changes.

The Difference Is in the Details

Some of the most well known diets that surface in an online search for foods that fight inflammation include: the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), Paleo, Mediterranean, Atkins, DASH, TLC, Mayo Clinic, Weight Watchers, Raw Food, Keto, The Zone, Whole30, Autoimmune Protocol, Dr. Hyman’s Detox and Dukan…to name just a few.  The annual U.S. News & World Report review of dietary rankings13 and other reviews14of current diet trends can provide an overview for understanding different dietary approaches.

What Do the Experts Say?

The choice of an “anti-inflammatory” diet that limits foods, which have been identified as “pro-inflammatory,” depends on consideration of individual factors, such as specific food sensitivities, personal taste preferences, or the simple desire to try a dietary regimen that sounds interesting.

According to Harvard University’s HealthWatch, “Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.”15 Included in the HealthWatch list of pro-inflammatory foods that should be avoided to reduce inflammation include:

  • Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • Margarine, shortening, and lard

Anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
  • Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges


For More:  In this talk Cyndi O’Meara discusses challenges with wheat.  Diagnosed with MS, Dr. Terry Wahls received the best standard medicine had to offer. After declining to the point of being in a wheel chair, she took matters into her own hands and learned how to properly fuel her body. Using the lessons she learned at the subcellular level, she used diet to cure her MS and get out of her wheelchair.



by Dr. Jay Davidson

Article Summary:

  • The lymphatic system, a vital part of the immune system, is comprised of lymph nodes, glands, and vessels, which gather waste and interstitial fluid. The lymphatic system also transports white blood cells into the bones and transports fatty acids.
  • Your spleen is part of your lymphatic system, working to filter blood, and house white and red blood cells and platelets. Your tonsils, another part of the lymphatic system, contain B cells that fight infections, and your thymus gland helps T cells, a type of lymphocytes essential to the immune system, to mature.
  • Those with chronic illness, sedentary lifestyle, or recent surgery can suffer from stagnant lymph. Some signs that lymphatic fluids might not be flowing well within your body include swelling, constipation, tender nodes, weight gain, frequent infections and viruses, and chronic congestion or sore throat.
  • Your lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump (like the heart) to move fluids throughout the body, so it relies on gravity and movement. One of the best things you can do for lymph movement is exercise: yoga, running, team sports, or whatever gets you off the couch and moving your feet. Any type of movement, even vigorous household cleaning, can be helpful.
  • Self-drainage massages, myofascial releases, and professional lymphatic drainage massages also act as a pump to encourage lymph fluid from remaining stagnant. If you’re doing one at home, make sure to use soft, gentle pressure.
  • Rebounding is another excellent activity for lymphatic drainage. You can buy an inexpensive, personal-sized trampoline and bounce on it for just 5-10 minutes a day.
  • Eating organic vegetables, fresh fruits, and homemade juices, along with staying hydrated, are additional ways to give your body an edge with lymphatic health.

What Does Lymph Do in the Body?

The lymphatic system is an important part of the immune system, consisting of lymph nodes, but also the spleen, thymus gland, tonsils, bone marrow, and lymphatic vessel (which transports the lymph).

It runs parallel to the circulatory system, much of it flowing against gravity (in the direction from your feet to your chest). Because the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump like the circulatory system does with the heart, it relies on movement, muscles, and joints to keep it flowing.

Stagnant lymph is a huge problem, especially those who face chronic illnesses, like Lyme disease. When your lymphatic fluid is not moving through the body, toxins and waste will build up since the body is not properly draining, causing unpleasant symptoms. When your lymph is stagnant, it gets thick and heavy. Think about dumping thick bacon grease down your drain instead of just water—everything will start to slow down and back up. Here are some other functions of the lymphatic system:

-Aids in removing toxins and waste
-Removes fluid (lymphedema)
-Produces immune cells that fight infection and disease
-Absorbs fatty acid and transports fats

How Do I Know if My Lymph Is Stagnant?

Because one of the primary jobs of the lymphatic system is waste removal, it can be compared to the garbage disposal in your kitchen sink. When everything is working properly, the disposal removes leftover foods, vegetable tops and peels, and unfinished drinks easily, with just the flip of a switch. The leftovers are then sent off to your septic system and water treatment plant for further processing and purification. When the lymphatic system is stuck, though, old foods and liquids (lymphatic fluid and waste), build up in your sink and cannot be processed correctly. And after just a day, your sink starts to smell. Before, water flowed down the drain nicely, without effort. Now, food and liquid have combined to make a thick, sludgy soup that the disposal isn’t able to get rid of. So you call a plumber to plunge it or use Drain-o, in the same way you physically manipulate your lymphatic system through massage or very clean eating and juicing, to get the whole system on track and working properly again.

Commonly, lymph nodes in the back of the neck or under the armpits are the ones that feel congested or tender when you’re sick. But you have lymph nodes all over your body! In fact, only recently did researchers discover that the brain has its own lymphatic fluid, called “glymph.” The “G” in glymph refers to glia, Greek for “glue.” Glial cells help form myelin (a fatty compound that insulates nerve cells) and support neurons. The glymphatic system processes waste and toxins from the central nervous system through cerebrospinal fluid. This is why sleep is so vital to healing, because it’s during sleep that the brain and nervous system can process all of this glympathic fluid.1 This neurotoxic waste removal is important for anyone, but especially those dealing with Lyme disease and co-infections, which have an affinity for the brain, causing neurological symptoms. Along with keeping the lymphatic fluid flowing, it’s important that your glymph drains each night and does not get congested.


Lymphatic Congestion

Unless you have a very painful lymph node, you might not be aware of a lymph stagnancy problem in your body. There are countless clues your body provides that might alert you to the issue. Here are some of the common signs of stuck lymphatic fluids:

-Swollen, painful lymph nodes
-Enlarged glands
-Clogged ears
-Sore throat
-Inflamed tonsils
-Itchy or dry skin
-Frequent viruses or infections
-Retaining fluids
-Unexplained soreness
-Confusion or brain fog
-Food or chemical sensitivities
-Weight gain
-Increased allergies

Activating your lymphatic system doesn’t require a trip to the doctor or a prescription. Though it is possible to get a professional lymph drainage massage, there are plenty of ways to move lymphatic fluid right from the comfort of your home. The biggest focus for lymphatic health is movement—any type of exercise, yoga, or stretching can be beneficial to boost your body’s natural drainage and detox capabilities. Other lifestyle choices, like eating a clean diet, dry brushing, and using essential oils, can help, too.

Ways to Keep Lymph Flowing

Rebounding: Buy a small, personal-sized trampoline and bounce on it for 5-10 minutes a day. While burning a lot of calories and strengthening your skeletal system and muscles, this also works as a pump for your lymphatic fluid. It’s also a great way for those with joint pain to get cardio and aerobic exercise, without pounding the pavement and going for a jog. Because of the changes in gravity while bounding, you’ll experience increased oxygen to the cells and potential improved function of pulmonary circulation.2

Castor Oil Packs: Pour a few tablespoons of cold-pressed, organic, hexane-free castor oil onto unbleached flannel and place it over your liver, which is found on the bottom of your right ribcage. Then, cover it with an old towel and an infrared heating pad, or any other heat source available. Relax for 30-60 minutes. You may hear gurgling and growling noises, which is great! That means the liver and gallbladder are moving, and hopefully, toxins are leaving. You can use the packs anywhere on your body in the same way—on your abdomen, your neck, or other places. For best results, use castor oil packs immediately before bed (many report better sleep after packs) and for three or four nights in a row.

Frankincense: A few drops of Frankincense, with a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil, can be applied to lymph nodes to reduce swelling, encourage movement, and improve blood flow. WO China Healing Oil is another wonderful oil for the lymphatic system.

Dry Skin Brushing: Using a natural bristle brush, glide gently over your skin, always moving toward your heart. Focus especially on places where lymph can become stagnant, like your armpits, neck, chest, and groin. This stimulates lymph nodes and circulation. Dry brushing is best done immediately before a shower, because showering washes away all dead skin cells that get removed in the brushing process.

Herbal teas: Warm herbal teas, like ginger, astragalus, red root, or cleavers, can help stimulate lymphatic movement, as well as keeping you hydrated. Ginger tea is a universally helpful one for digestive issues and overall cleansing.3 Astragalus is beneficial for Skin-Associated Lymphatic Tissue, boosting the immune system and potentially reducing congestion-related skin rashes.4 Red root can improve fatigue and lymphatic-related digestive issues by cleansing the intestinal lymph ducts. Cleavers contains antioxidants and properties to stimulate activity in the lymphatic system, while cleansing the blood.5

Drinking Water: One of the most common reasons for lymphatic congestion, besides your body fighting an infection, is due to stagnation or dehydration. Make sure you’re getting enough water throughout the day. Lymph is a clear-to-white liquid made of water, chyle (fluid from the intestines), proteins, and fat. Without consumption of water, the fluid does not flow well. To make sure you’re hydrated, boil some filtered water and keep it in a thermos for the day, taking small sips of it every 15 minutes. This technique, recommended by Dr. John Douillard, will rehydrate the lymphatic system within just a few weeks.6 Dr. Douillard, alongside Deepak Chopra, co-directed an Ayurvedic center. He also believes stress is an important factor contributing to lymphatic congestion, and encourages eating with the seasons and practicing stress-relief techniques.7

Clean Diet/Juicing: Eating a clean diet, with minimal processed foods and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, will keep the lymph flowing and waste flushing from your body. Juicing low-sugar fruits and vegetables, like kale, chard, parsley, celery, ginger, lemon, watercress, and cilantro can help, too. Green vegetables are alkalizing, which also reduces the burden on your system. Our blood has a pH of about 7.4, which tips on the side of alkaline versus acidic (7 is a neutral pH, while 0 is the most acidic and 14 is the most alkaline). However, because of environmental factors, chronic illness, and an acid-heavy diet, many people have a low pH, trending toward acidic. Alkaline foods include broccoli, chard, cucumber, watercress, lettuce, and most green vegetables. Acidic foods, ones you’d likely want to avoid anyway because of their lack of nutrition and inflammatory properties, include corn, corn syrup, soda, artificial sweeteners, processed breads and cereals, frozen meals, and cakes for example. Acidic foods can trigger acid reflux, kidney stones,8, fibromyalgia and pain,9 hormone imbalances, congested lymphatic fluid, and other health issues, while alkaline foods can promote healing and lymphatic flow.

Beets: Beets help thin the bile and cleanse the digestive system. They also contain betacyanin, a strong antioxidant that helps flush lymph. Any red fruit or vegetable is used in holistic medicine as a lymph mover, so along with beets, reach for strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate, cranberries, cherries, and even turmeric to support your detoxification pathways.

Lymphatic Massage or Self-draining Massage: Either a massage done by a professional, or a self-draining massage can stimulate the lymphatic system physically, prompting it to drain. Lymphatic massage and myofascial release have helped patients with idiopathic and systemic pain find release, according to studies. Swedish massage, probably the most common type, which rubs muscles in long, sliding strokes, did not show the same mood-boosting, joint- and pain-relief benefits.10 Instead of focusing on muscles and relaxation, a lymphatic massage instead targets the lymph nodes, promoting drainage, fluid movement, reduction of swelling, and congestion relief.

Legs Up The Wall: Much lymphatic fluids flow counter to gravity, so any type of inversion is beneficial to encourage natural movement. While lying on the floor on your back, swing your legs straight up and rest the backs of your legs (from thighs to heel) against the wall for support, creating a 90-degree angle with your body. Do some deep breathing exercises and relax. This is a great practice to do before bed, after a yoga practice, or if you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

Yoga: Yoga encourages types of movements that you might not do on a daily basis, like twists and stretches, which help your circulation. In particular, twists, leg lifts, inversions, and even classic sun salutations encourage varied movement on the mat, helpful for the lymphatic system. For chronically ill, cat-cow, downward dog, and forward bends are gentler poses that are still fantastic.Yoga is also beneficial for improving general circulation, which also, in turn, helps the lymph flow to remove toxins. Along with poses, breathwork, or pranayama, can encourage proper lymphatic function, especially in the stomach and chest. Deep breathing increases oxygen, and can also improve mood and energy, too. An easy way to test your breathing is to place your hand on your stomach and the other on your chest, while standing. Take a few normal breaths, and notice what happens in your body. Are you breathing through your chest? Did your shoulders or stomach move? Many people breathe shallowly, through the chest, when instead, we should be breathing through the abdomen. Lying down and focusing on breathing through your belly can encourage lymphatic fluid to fill up the thoracic duct, located around the twelfth vertebrae to the base of the neck.

Any Exercise or Movement: Any type of exercise or movement, whether it be tai chi, walking, playing frisbee, or even weightlifting, is great for supporting movement of your lymphatic fluid. In a study on dogs, lymphatic flow was measured while dogs ran on a treadmill from 0-10 miles per hour. It took just one minute of exercise at 1.5 mph to notice a significant increase in lymphatic flow, which grew with each increase of speed.11 The act of exercising can especially increase flow in the thoracic duct, or the Van Hoorne’s canal, which is the biggest lymphatic vessel in the entire body, between 38-45 cms. Nearly three quarters of all lymph in the body must pass through this duct, including lower legs, abdomen, and the entire left side of the body. Aerobic exercise like walking or running, keeps this duct in particular, primed and functioning.

Warm Epsom Salt Baths: Epsom salt baths are an excellent detox tool to keep in your toolkit, since they also help promote drainage and stimulate circulation. Add 1-2 cups of Epsom salts to a warm bath. If you wish, you can add additional detoxification aids, like a few tablespoons of bentonite clay, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, or essential oils. Soak for 20-30 minutes, then rinse the salts off your body. You should feel relaxed afterward.If you have a negative reaction to Epsom salts (ie: you feel more fatigued or a little dizzy after), make sure the water isn’t too hot. You can also switch to Magnesium Chloride flakes, which can also help up the magnesium levels in your body. You may be sensitive to sulfates (Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate), if you have certain gene SNPs (like CBS) and if your transsulfuration pathways are blocked. If even regular showers or baths aggravate your symptoms, you can add the same ingredients to a large tub and detox through a foot bath.

Reduce Chemical Exposure in your Home and Environment

Your lymphatic system is like the trash removal service in your body. And when it’s overburdened, we want to do our best to intake less “garbage” and give it less work to do. An important point about health of the lymphatic system, besides exercise and diet, also includes looking to your environment.

Eliminating toxins in your home can be a huge help to your overall health and lymphatic health, especially with chronic illness. This means choosing organic produce and hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, ditching the chemical cleaners and perfume, finding cleaner alternatives to the makeup you wear.

Self-Massage for the Lymphatic System

It’s possible to do a self-massage on your head and neck to relieve swollen glands and promote lymphatic flow. You want the pressure to be gentle and light, rather than aggressive and strong. During or after the massage, you may feel drainage release from your nose and sinuses make its way down your throat. This is normal!

Most lymphatic massages involve circular motions on or around the lymph nodes, pumping them physically to help with movement and toxin removal.

Men and women might have different lymph nodes that become blocked and painful, due to physiological differences. Men, for example, may accumulate lymph in the inguinal nodes, near or above the front hip crease, due to activity in the prostate gland. Women, on the other hand, likely experience blocked, painful nodes in the axillary area, near the armpit toward the breast. 12

Light Beam Therapy and Lymphatic System Light

If home treatments aren’t enough, certain medical practitioners and naturopaths provide Light Beam Therapy for the lymphatic system. These light beams are specially designed to aid the body in moving lymphatic fluid through negative-charge light photons and low currents.13 During or after this therapy, stagnant lymph pathways should open up, releasing proteins and other fluids from the nodes and to the detoxification organs for processing.

The lymphatic system is a crucial part of the immune system, and one we don’t often consider when tending to our health and wellness. Even if you don’t experience chronic swelling, tender lymph nodes, congestion, itching, and weight gain, it’s never too early to start focusing on lymphatic health. Eating healthy and getting exercise is a great start, but consider some of the other tools mentioned here to optimize the flow of your lymphatic fluid and boost the health of your immune system. After all, you don’t want it to get backed up!


  1. Asprey, Dave. “How To Detox Your Brain By Hacking Your Glymphatic System.”Bulletproof. Bulletproof, 13 Apr. 2017. Web. 11 Jan. 2018.
  2. Stanghelle, J., N. Hjeltnes, H. Bangstad, and H. Michalsen. “Effect of Daily Short Bouts of Trampoline Exercise During 8 Weeks on the Pulmonary Function and the Maximal Oxygen Uptake of Children with Cystic Fibrosis.” International Journal of Sports Medicine 09.1 (1988): 32-36. Europe PMCWeb. 11 Jan. 2018.
  3. Haniadka, Raghavendra, Elroy Saldanha, Venkatesh Sunita, Princy L. Palatty, Raja Fayad, and Manjeshwar Shrinath Baliga. “A Review of the Gastroprotective Effects of Ginger (Zingiber Officinale Roscoe).” Food & Function 4.6 (2013): 845-55. PubMedWeb. 11 Jan. 2018.
  4. Nalbantsoy, Aye, Tuna Nesil, Özlem Yimaz-Dilsiz, Gezide Aksu, Shabana Khan, and Erdal Bedir. “Evaluation of the Immunomodulatory Properties in Mice and in Vitro Anti-inflammatory Activity of Cycloartane Type Saponins from Astragalus Species.”Journal of Ethnopharmacology 139.2 (2012): 574-81. PubMedWeb. 11 Jan. 2018.
  5. Bokhari, Jasia, Muhammad R. Khan, Maria Shabbir, Umbreen Rashid, Shumaila Jan, and Jawaid A. Zai. “Evaluation of Diverse Antioxidant Activities of Galium Aparine.”Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy 102 (2013): 24-29. PubMedWeb. 11 Jan. 2018.
  6. Jockers, David. “10 Ways to Improve Your Lymphatic System Function.” Cancer Prevention. The Truth About Cancer, 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 11 Jan. 2018.
  7. Douillard, John. “The Miracle of Lymph.” Dr. Douillard’s LifeSpa. LifeSpa, 08 Jan. 2018. Web. 11 Jan. 2018.
  8. Wagner, CA. “Urinary pH and Stone Formation.” Journal of Nephrology 23.16 (2010): 165-169. PubMed. Web. 11 Jan. 2018.
  9. Vormann, Jorgen, Michael Worlitschek, Thomas Goedecke, and Burton Silver. “Supplementation with Alkaline Minerals Reduces Symptoms in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain.” Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology 15.2-3 (2001): 179-83. PubMedWeb. 11 Jan. 2018.
  10. Yuan, Susan Lee King, Luciana Akemi Matsutani, and Amelia Pasqual Marques. “Effectiveness of Different Styles of Massage Therapy in Fibromyalgia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” Manual Therapy20.2 (2015): 257-64. PubMedWeb. 11 Jan. 2018.
  11. Desai, Pratikkumar, Arthur G. Williams, Parna Prajapati, and H. Fred Downey. “Lymph Flow In Instrumented Dogs Varies With Exercise Intensity.” Lymphatic Research and Biology 8.3 (2010): 143-48. PubMedWeb. 11 Jan. 2018.
  12. “Lymphatic Therapy (Light Beam Generator).” Medicine Services. Center For New Medicine, 2017. Web. 11 Jan. 2018.
  13. “Lymphatic Therapy (Light Beam Generator).” Medicine Services. Center For New Medicine, 2017. Web. 11 Jan. 2018.


by Jennifer Crystal


Q. You once mentioned that a scan helped doctors to learn that you weren’t getting enough oxygen to the left side of your brain. What type of scan was it? And how did doctors know the poor oxygenation was caused by Babesia and not by another tick- borne illness?

A. I have had both MRIs and SPECT scans. It was the SPECT scan that allowed my doctor to specifically see that the left side of my brain was not getting enough oxygen. That SPECT scan was done 11 years ago; you may want to talk to your doctor to see if that is still the most accurate scan you can get.

As I described in my Air Hunger post, Babesia is a parasite that feeds on the oxygen in the red blood cells, depriving the patient of much-needed oxygen. In my case, my doctor knew the infection had flared up again because of the scan. I was also having symptoms of babesia including air hunger, post-exertional fatigue, and hypoglycemia. It’s important that you find a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) who can accurately diagnose and treat you, and who will know your case if and when you relapse.

Q. How long does a Herxheimer reaction last, and is there anything that will help speed up the process or lessen its effects?

A. A Jarish-Herxheimer reaction commonly referred to as a “Herx”, is when bacteria dies off faster than the body can eliminate them, making the patient feel worse before they feel better. This can seem counter-intuitive because when you take medication for an infection, you expect to feel better. But when you’re killing off a lot of spirochetes—especially if you’ve been sick for a long time—a Herxheimer reaction is natural and can be viewed as a good sign that the medication is working.

That said, a Herx can feel awful. Your fatigue is worse, your body feels laden with toxins, and you can barely move from bed except to run to the bathroom. The actual elimination of dead bacteria can be surprisingly intense; the first time I had a Herxheimer reaction, I couldn’t believe how often I was in the bathroom, or what was coming out of me. I can only describe it as “toxic bodily waste.”

For me, Herxheimer reactions tended to last up to a week or two, and then pass. Sometimes they were just a couple days long. It all depends on the patient, though. I know patients who have Herxed for a month or more. No matter how intense your Herxheimer reactions are, though, there are a few things you can do to lessen your suffering. These techniques worked for me:

  • Pulse your medications: Some doctors will have their patients take their antibiotics for a certain number of days or weeks, or then have them stop for a while to allow the body time to eliminate the dead bacteria. Other doctors switch up medications at certain intervals. Personally, I took single day breaks from medication when the Herxheimer reactions were especially intense.
  • Figure out which of your medications is causing the Herxheimer reaction. Herxheimer reactions can be caused by herbal supplements, not just by antibiotics or antimalarial medication. I find it’s best to only change one thing at a time in my own protocol; if I increase a homeopathic drop, I wait awhile to see how that goes before altering the dosage on a medication.
  • Eat foods that are known to help you detox: For me, lemon and onion work well; other patients use apple cider vinegar, or even intravenous Vitamin C, though this last option did not work well for me. Remember, everyone is different and you and your doctor need to figure out what’s best for you.
  • Drink lots of water to help flush your system.
  • Sweat: Those pouring night sweats are annoying, especially when you’re changing pajamas and sheets several times a night, but it means the infection is leaving your body. Some people find that light exercise helps. For me, though, exercise only made me feel worse. Others use infrared saunas to increase sweating. Personally, I can not handle the intense heat.
  • Electrolytes: Because you’re sweating so much, your electrolytes may become depleted. I find it helps to drink an electrolyte-infused beverage (try ones that are just water-based, without added sugar) to keep my sodium and potassium levels balanced. Sweating out spirochetes or parasites isn’t all that different from doing an intense cardiovascular workout, so you should consider how the electrolyte water is helping you to replenish your body.
  • Lymphatic drainage: When I’m herxing, bacteria tends to back up in my head, and my integrative manual therapist does lymphatic drainage and cranial sacral therapy to help open up flow from my brain. He also does neurofascial processing on organs that help the body detox, such as the liver. Note: avoid deep tissue massage at these times since it can hold toxins deeper in your body, making you feel worse.

These are only the detox methods that have worked best for me. There are many others recommended by both patients and doctors. At the 2017 International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society conference in Boston, I heard about curcumin, also known as turmeric, a member of the ginger family that acts as an anti-inflammatory and which has many uses to help mitigate Herxheimer reactions. Talk with your LLMD, and with other patients, about what works best for you.

Q. I know you’ve explained that you can’t give medical advice, but can you please tell me what your protocol was?

A. When you hear a story of someone in remission, it’s natural to want to know what they did to get there. But as I’ve explained in previous posts, telling you my specific protocol (which is ever-changing) is not the point, because every single case of tick-borne illness is different.  Even if your symptoms are similar to mine, our individual cases are guaranteed to be different in terms of how long we were sick, how long we went undiagnosed, whether our infections spread to the central nervous system, where else in the body the infections have spread, whether we have co-infections (and which particular ones), and, most importantly, how we responded to any given treatment. An antibiotic that worked well for me might not work at all for you. My protocol is tailored to my specific case, and yours needs to be, too. You and your LLMD may want to check out Dr. Richard Horowitz’s books Why Can’t I Get Better?and How Can I Get Better? Both books outline specific treatments for specific combinations of tick-borne illnesses.

In closing, let me say that in the past I’ve written about the big picture of what has helped me the most: a combination of medication and homeopathic supplements; nutritional supplements; a gluten-free, sugar-free diet; cognitive behavioral therapy; integrative manual therapy; talk therapy; and neurofeedback. I recommend a holistic or integrative approach that encompasses both Western and Eastern modalities as well as adjunct therapies. I recommend lots of rest and self-care. I recommend seeking out a helpful support system of concerned individuals. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend specific medications, and I hope you will understand that I withhold that information in the hope that you will find the right protocol fly working with your LLMD.

jennifer crystalOpinions expressed by contributors are their own.

Jennifer Crystal is a writer and educator in Boston. She is working on a memoir about her journey with chronic tick-borne illness. Contact her at


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Persistent Borrelia Infection in Patients with Ongoing Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Marianne J. Middelveen 1, Eva Sapi 2OrcID, Jennie Burke 3, Katherine R. Filush 2, Agustin Franco 4, Melissa C. Fesler 5 and Raphael B. Stricker 5,* OrcID

Published: 14 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lyme Disease: The Role of Big Data, Companion Diagnostics and Precision Medicine)

Introduction: Lyme disease is a tickborne illness that generates controversy among medical providers and researchers. One of the key topics of debate is the existence of persistent infection with the Lyme spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, in patients who have been treated with recommended doses of antibiotics yet remain symptomatic. Persistent spirochetal infection despite antibiotic therapy has recently been demonstrated in non-human primates. We present evidence of persistent Borrelia infection despite antibiotic therapy in patients with ongoing Lyme disease symptoms. Methods: In this pilot study, culture of body fluids and tissues was performed in a randomly selected group of 12 patients with persistent Lyme disease symptoms who had been treated or who were being treated with antibiotics. Cultures were also performed on a group of ten control subjects without Lyme disease. The cultures were subjected to corroborative microscopic, histopathological and molecular testing for Borrelia organisms in four independent laboratories in a blinded manner. Results: Motile spirochetes identified histopathologically as Borrelia were detected in culture specimens, and these spirochetes were genetically identified as Borrelia burgdorferi by three distinct polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based approaches. Spirochetes identified as Borrelia burgdorferi were cultured from the blood of seven subjects, from the genital secretions of ten subjects, and from a skin lesion of one subject. Cultures from control subjects without Lyme disease were negative for Borrelia using these methods. Conclusions: Using multiple corroborative detection methods, we showed that patients with persistent Lyme disease symptoms may have ongoing spirochetal infection despite antibiotic treatment, similar to findings in non-human primates. The optimal treatment for persistent Borrelia infection remains to be determined.


Figure 1  (A) Top left:  Darkfield microscopy of blood culture showing live spirochete and spherules.  Magnification 400x.  (B) Botom left:  Fieterle silver stain culture fluid from Case 10 showing live spirochetes  Magnification 1000x.  (D) Bottom right:  Typical dermal filaments from patient with Morgellons disease.  Magnification 100x


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