The Gut-Lyme Connection (and how to fix both naturally)
Creating gut health is one of the two foundational pillars of holistic Lyme treatment. It goes hand in hand with detoxification, the other pillar of successful holistic treatment. Without these two systems working at the highest level possible, recovering from Lyme (or other complex chronic) disease will be slow-going to say the least.
Yet together, when functioning optimally, these two systems create the conditions inside the body that empower it to fight off infections and heal.
Once these aspects of treatment are fully in place, you are far better equipped to handle antimicrobial regimens and successfully implement other aspects of treatment that will propel your healing forward.
The Gut is the Center of Health & Healing Power
In many ways, the gut is central to the health of the entire being. In Lyme and other multi-infection disease syndromes, it is also a crucial battleground where the struggle between the Lyme and our immune system is fought.
Chronic Lyme is intimately related to the following 4 issues:
- Weakened immunity
- Diminished cellular function
- Systemic infection
Gut health impacts all of these. The degree to which a person’s gut is functioning optimally impacts all of these conditions either positively or negatively.
Gut-Associated Lymphoid Tissue
The gut houses the GALT, or Gut-Associated Lymphoid tissue which comprises approximately 80% of the immune system and 70% of lymphocytes, including those all-important Natural Killer cells, so it is home to our primary line of defense against infection.
This fact really speaks to how much the GI tract functions to keep harmful elements from entering into the body, and why it’s so devastating when these tissues are compromised.
What makes the difference between a quiet daily co-existence with bacteria, fungi, viruses and rogue cells – versus the explosion of full-blown disease – is your immune system, and by association, gut health.
Nutrient Transformation & Absorption
The gut is responsible for nutrient transformation and absorption so that the entire body may receive nourishment and building blocks for physical strength, energy, cellular fuel, and tissue repair.
In the face of Lyme-Borreliosis and other infections, the body needs the support of high-level nutrition. It needs to be able to effectively make use of what is being ingested so that the cells have the resources to function properly, clean house and repair. This requires a healthy functioning gut!
The Gut is our 2nd (or 3rd) Brain
Following the heart and the brain, the gut is highly innervated by the nervous system. It is compromised by a tense or inflamed nervous system, and strengthened by a peaceful, flowing nervous system. The gut-brain axis is a 2-way street, therefore psychological or other nervous system stress has a major impact on GI function and motility.
Meanwhile, the microbiota and gut function heavily impacts mood and cognition because, to give just 1 of many examples, 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut.
The gut microbiome has systemic effects and is involved in regulation of the heart, liver, brain, prostate, kidney, lung, pancreas, and inflammation. Changes in the gut microbiome have been implicated in diseases from obesity to infections to cancer.
Restoration of a healthy gut microbiome is another aspect of whole body health.
The Gut & Emotions
From the traditional Chinese perspective, the gut is the center of our personal universe. It is governed by the Spleen (an organ readily damaged by Babesia and Bartonella), and directly relates to our ability to think, absorb nutrients, discern what we should let in versus what we should keep out (on all levels of our being), and our ability to create energy, among other things.
The gut is the seat of all feeling. It is where many aspects of being are interwoven – the microbiome, the digestive system, immune function, the nervous system, the emotional body and the mental body.
Poor Gut Health + Lyme Disease = Downward Spiral
The GI system can become an ongoing source of inflammation, perpetual dysbiosis, and weakness that extends out to all other parts and systems of the body.
It is very common among modern people that the GI tract is a place of stagnation, fermentation, bacterial overgrowth, and becomes an enormous source of toxicity and inflammation.
Add a diet that contributes further to inflammation (high carb, high sugar and/or high in inflammatory fats), and it’s easy to see how the disease-causing bacteria quickly gain an upper hand within our bodies.
Ultimately we can see that the gut is both a major source of – and a foremost solution for – inflammation in tick-borne disease.
Furthermore, the gut is a dynamic organ – it can be damaged and it can be healed!
5-Part Plan to Heal GI Weakness & Heal Chronic Lyme
- Utilize supplements to restore gut functionality & ease symptoms.
Digestive symptoms are uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing at best, and completely debilitating at worst. Bloating, gas or constipation, can make one’s entire being feel blocked and sluggish. Chronic diarrhea can inhibit a person’s ability to leave home or attend meetings without concern that they will have an accident if they can’t get to the bathroom in a hurry. Nausea, vomiting, and stomach pains can make eating a good diet virtually impossible.
There are some good natural stop-gap measures for GI symptoms such as betaine HCl, pancreatic enzymes, bile salts, and soothing herbs that serve to both support proper functioning and alleviate symptoms until the deeper causes of dysfunction are fully dealth with.
- Move stagnant food and waste matter.
Stagnation of food, waste, mucus and gas inside the GI tract is very common, and it is what creates an ideal breeding ground for pathogenic bacteria. Food and waste stagnation leads to lots of uncomfortable symptoms and the progression of GI diseases.
Clearing stagnation also allows gut healing treatments to work better, so you don’t want to skip this step. Examples of ways to do this include regular colonics or enemas, the use of herbal laxatives, laxative foods, supplements such as magnesium, and consuming less solid food overall.
- Address malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies.
When your digestive system is weak, you don’t digest and break down your food well. This leads to mal-absorption of nutrients, which in turn leads to a weakening of the entire body, including the vital and sense organs, the muscles and joints, immune system, hormones, and all the tissues and cells. The body can’t operate properly without the enzymes, nutrients, and building blocks that it has to acquire from food.
Addressing know nutrient deficiencies with supplementation is important, as is juicing and utilizing superfoods in your diet in easy to absorb forms (think liquid food!) to help replace what is lacking.
- Eliminate all food allergens and sensitivities.
When your food is not fully digested and broken down in the small intestine or if it is triggering an immune response, proteins from undigested food can pass into the colon and cause irritation and inflammation. This irritation and inflammation can cause pain, spasm, mucus in the stool, and diarrhea. Over time this compromises the delicate lining of the small and large intestine, which is only 1 cell thick.
As the gut membrane is compromised and breaks open in places, toxic waste and other inflammatory particles can seep into the bloodstream and massively increase the level of inflammation in the body. This is why the gut can be a major source of inflammation that accelerates degeneration and disease processes including Lyme, and also increases pain levels throughout the body.
In order to heal gut problems + Lyme disease, it is very important to eliminate all allergenic foods, at least until the final stages of healing when some foods can be re-introduced and improved tolerance and digestibility is likely.
- Eliminate infections and correct dysbiosis.
This is about both getting the microbiome back into a healthy proportion where the health-promoting and neutral bacteria are dominant over the potentially pathogenic microbes.
We start with treating active infections that are wreaking havoc in the gut and system as a whole, such as yeast, parasites, Lyme, CMV and more.
These protocols need to be targeted to the specific organisms that are known or suspected to be plaguing the body. We utilize a multi-pronged anti-microbial approach that includes herbs such as Chinese scutellaria, olive leaf and black walnut hull; liposomal essential oils such as oregano, clove and fennel, and biofilm-busters to eradicate these infections.