Archive for the ‘Herbs’ Category

Heavy Metals & Their Impact on Health Podcast

Cindy Kennedy, FNP, is joined by the dynamic duo of Jane Barlow and Dr. Brandon Nielsen, who discuss how using select nutrition and herbal support can assist the body in eliminating heavy metals.

Jane Barlow is an herbalist who owns and runs Barlow Herbal Specialties. She lives in Salt Lake City where she enjoys hiking all over the mountains of Utah and teaching fitness classes. Jane loves everything natural, holistic, wellness, fitness and nutrition oriented and believes it is our right as humans to be vibrantly healthy and that if given the right tools our body knows how to heal.She believes that each of us are responsible for ourselves and the love, joy, spiritual and physical health that we experience.

She is the 2nd oldest of 14 kids and grew up in rural Idaho. Jane has two grown sons and two grandchildren.

Dr. Brandon Nielsen graduated with his doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine from SCU and his second doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from the American Naturopathic Institute of Medicine. He has been practicing functional medicine for the past 15 years and is the founder of Emotional Stress Release. He currently resides in Utah with his wife and 4 children. He has the blessed opportunity to live by his motto of, “Living In Wholeness Every Day” by Restoring the Health of the Family.For information on a special event Dr. Nielsen has coming up, click here.

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What are heavy metals?
Where do heavy metals come from?
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Lymph Detox For Lyme Disease

Lymph Detox for Lyme Disease: How to Cleanse Your Lymphatic System | RawlsMD

Lymph Detox for Lyme Disease: How to Cleanse Your Lymphatic System

by Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio
Posted 3/5/20

If you’ve dealt with Lyme disease for any length of time, you’re already aware of the value that adding detoxification strategies to your treatment protocol can deliver. Detox can help you combat aggravating Herxheimer reactions, lessen inflammation, boost your energy, improve sleep, and so much more.

Most people think of the liver and digestive system when they consider where detox happens in the body, but there’s another system that plays a crucial role in detoxification that you might not be as familiar with: the lymphatic system. It’s a vast drainage network of organs, vessels, and other structures throughout the body, including:

  • Spleen
  • Tonsils
  • Thymus gland
  • Adenoids
  • Lymph nodes
  • Lymph ducts
  • Lymph vessels
  • Lymph capillaries
  • Mucous membranes of the bowel

These well-coordinated structures actively move the lymph, a colorless fluid containing pathogen-fighting white blood cells (WBCs), proteins, and salts, throughout your body. The entire lymphatic system is an integral part of your immune system. If you can keep it operating efficiently, you’ll be better-equipped to fight off Lyme disease and coinfections like bartonella, babesia, or mycoplasma.

Let’s take a closer look at some facts and information about the lymphatic symptom, and what you can do to keep it working smoothly.

What is The Lymphatic System?

Similar to the action of the cardiovascular system, many of the functions of the lymphatic system happen without much awareness on your part. However, if you’ve ever had a cold (and who hasn’t?), you’ve probably felt swollen, bean-shaped bumps in your neck — those enlarged lymph nodes are a sign your body’s working to fight an infection on your behalf.

full body diagram of lymphatic system

The function of the lymphatic system is that of a waste management center for the body. It transports lymph to the lymph nodes where it removes cellular garbage like metabolites, excess fluid, worn-out red blood cells (RBCs), toxins, infections, and other harmful substances. There, the lymph nodes evaluate the waste using immune cells (called lymphocytes), then clean and discard it.

Each of us has approximately 600 to 700 lymph nodes; the number varies depending on the size of each node, the side of the body the nodes are located on, and whether a person is male or female. Lymph nodes are located in clusters, and the main areas are:

  • Neck
  • Chest
  • Armpits
  • Abdomen
  • Groin

Once the lymph fluid leaves the lymph nodes, it is returned into the cardiovascular system by way of the right and left subclavian veins, a pair of veins found deep in the neck. Then, the whole process repeats itself.

If the lymphatic system didn’t complete the task of removing your body’s fluid surplus, the fluid would accumulate, and you’d notice swelling. Each day, the lymphatic system cleans and drains up the 3 liters of lymph.

When Lyme is Part of the Picture

In a perfect world, the lymphatic system could diligently perform its duties without interruption. But there are several factors that can throw a wrench into its sophisticated operations, including Lyme disease.

When Lyme or other chronic illness is mixed with our toxic and fast-paced world, our bodies have to contend with more cellular debris than they can handle. This leads to congestion in the elaborate lymphatic drainage system and produces symptoms like:

  • Body aches
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Brain fog or Lyme brain
  • Swelling
  • Sore throat
  • A feeling of puffiness or bloating

Inflamed lymph nodes. Sick black guy suffering from sore throat at home, touching his neck, panorama with free space

It’s important to make mention of a more extreme case of an impaired lymphatic system: Lymphedema. This condition occurs when a blockage in your lymph system causes the protein-rich lymph fluid to accumulate in tissues of the body, resulting in severe swelling. Lymphedema most often occurs in one part of the body — such as an arm or a leg — but there could be instances where it develops bilaterally.

The most well-known causes of lymphedema are cancer related, such as when a cancerous tumor impedes lymph flow, or when lymph nodes are removed as part of cancer treatment or other surgical procedure. However, lymph nodes can become blocked by other means as well, such as an infection by bacteria, viruses, or parasites, and by congenital abnormalities.

Although lymphedema may not be a classic symptom of tick-borne diseases, Lyme patients can potentially develop it. Indeed, you may have heard patients describe this distressing symptom, but it’s not widely understood which of the stealth microbes may be the culprit.

Treatments for lymphedema usually involve pressure-gradient wrapping techniques, compression garments, and manual lymph drainage (MLD) from a certified therapist. But for this article, we’ll focus on minimizing lymph congestion, the milder variation of an overtaxed and overworked lymphatic system, and supporting healthy functioning.

How to Support and Cleanse Your Lymphatic System

Unlike the cardiovascular system, which has a distinct pumping mechanism that causes the heart muscle to contract and relax cyclically, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a central pump. Instead, the flow of lymph throughout the body is determined in two main ways:

  1. The contraction of surrounding muscles, tissues, and joints
  2. The contraction of specialized muscles that reside in the lymphatic vessel walls

What does this mean for you? It means that engaging those key muscles, tissues, and joints are key to supporting your lymphatic system and promoting immune health. Plus, if you needed an excuse to indulge in a massage, you’re about to get one!

Read on to learn some easy ways to detox your lymphatic system and ease congestion.

1. Get Moving.

Since your lymphatic system doesn’t have that central pump, it’s important to engage in movement and exercise as much as your body tolerates. The reason: Contracting and relaxing your muscles and moving your joints aids lymph flow. And there’s no one type of activity you must do — the sky’s the limit, depending on your own personal capabilities and preferences.

Active senior man doing gentle exercise at home.

If you’re having a rough day symptom-wise, simple range of motion (ROM) exercises like raising your arms, marching your feet in place from a seated position, and calf raises are a great place to begin. As you feel stronger, you can add in low-impact activities like yoga, Pilates, walking, biking, or swimming.

Eventually, you can move up to more intensive activities like running, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or weight training. Exercises like rebounding on a trampoline or vibrational activities like Power Plate are thought to be particularly beneficial for increasing lymph flow and stimulating the lymphatic vessels.

Ultimately, choose an activity that’s right for your current level of fitness and the symptoms you’re trying to manage without causing a flare-up. When it comes to stimulating the lymphatic system to work more effectively, any movement is better than none at all.

2. Stay Hydrated.

Yarrow tea in a glass teapot on a green napkin, fresh yarrow flowers on a background of pale wooden plank

To keep the juices flowing (literally), you’ll want to minimize your intake of dehydrating beverages like alcohol and caffeine, in favor of more hydrating drinks like purified water, mineral water, and herbal teas. Why? The composition of lymph fluid is mainly water (a whopping 95% or so), so maintaining adequate fluid levels helps to keep lymph moving and minimize congestion and sluggishness.

Bear in mind that conditions like POTS that sometimes overlap with chronic Lyme can make maintaining appropriate fluid levels a bit tricky. In that case, adding trace minerals or a pinch of sea salt to your water can be an easy hydration fix for some people.

3. Take Supportive Enzymes and Herbs.

green sarsaparilla leaves and buds forming from ground

Taking the right natural supplements can help ease inflammation that might clog up your lymphatic system, as well as break down, bind to, and dispose of proteins, bacteria, toxins, and other substances that can lead to dysfunctional lymphatic flow. Some top recommendations from Dr. Bill Rawls, Medical Director of RawlsMD and Vital Plan, include:

  • Bromelain, papain, and peptidase: All are protein-digesting enzymes. “Having these in your system helps break down some of the proteins that contribute to inflammation,” Dr. Rawls says.
  • Turmeric: Responsible for the bright yellow color in curry, turmeric helps balance inflammatory responses.
  • Sarsaparilla: Derived from the bark of a thorny vine found in South America, sarsaparilla binds to and helps dispose of endotoxins that are released from microbes during die-off.
  • Red root: This herb is another one that binds to toxins and flushes the system. “But note that red root is a coagulant and can thicken the blood, so avoid it if you have a history of cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Rawls.

4. Dry Brush Your Skin.

At roughly $15 to $20, a dry brush is an affordable way to detox the lymphatic system, and it’s easy to track one down at a local health food store or online retailer. Using one to create a brushing action against bare skin is thought to stimulate the lymphatic system, remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and improve circulation.

drawing of woman body with circular arrows overly for dry brushing motions

For some people, dry brushing may have an invigorating effect. The best part of dry brushing? It takes a matter of minutes to complete — a bonus for people who have fatigue as a major symptom of Lyme disease. Here are the steps to get you started:

  1. Start by brushing one foot, using smooth strokes in the direction of your heart.
  2. Next, move to your legs — first brushing all sides of your lower legs, followed by all sides of your upper legs. Always brush in the direction of your heart. Repeat on the other leg. When you get to the backside of your legs, don’t forget to include your buttocks and back, too.
  3. Then, move to your upper extremities, brushing both sides of your palms, forearms, upper arms, and shoulders toward your heart.
  4. Finally, brush your chest and abdomen. Ease up on the pressure a bit for these areas (especially the chest), because they tend to be more sensitive than other parts of the body.
  5. If possible, follow your dry brushing routine with a shower, and use a natural moisturizer to hydrate your skin.

To find the right dry brush, opt for one with natural bristles (usually boar’s hair or vegetable fiber) instead of a synthetic one; the bristles in synthetic brushes can be too harsh on the skin. Although you can use any size brush to stimulate the lymphatic system, one with longer handles will help you reach your back more easily.

5. Explore Manual Lymph Drainage.

Manual lymph drainage (MLD) is a therapeutic massage technique that gently supports and activates the lymphatic system. A trained therapist employs a variety of hand techniques (circles, pumping and scooping motions, soft strokes, gliding, etc.) to target lymph nodes and vessels.

The type of technique used varies depending on the area of the body that’s being treated. The mild friction across the skin encourages lymph to flow less effortlessly, so no massage oil is used during a session. A typical appointment may last 45 to 60 minutes, and there’s a general sequence that each massage should follow.

Guasha face lymph draining massage with jade stone roller

In addition to its ability to detoxify the lymphatic system, MLD may also be a good fit for you if you’re looking for relief from pain or digestive dysfunction, trying to tone your parasympathetic nervous system (the calming and restorative branch of your nervous system), or exploring how different types of massage might improve Lyme symptoms. To find a certified therapist in your area, check out the MLD Institute International for massage therapists, or the Lymphedema Association of North America (LANA) for certified healthcare professionals like nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists.

Certainly, there’s still a lot to learn about the benefits the lymphatic system has on our health. But as you work to optimize this intricate network within the body, you’ll begin to experience more energy and vitality, and you’ll have yet another tool in your toolbox to help you heal from chronic Lyme disease and coinfections.

Dr. Rawls is a physician who overcame Lyme disease through natural herbal therapy. You can learn more about Lyme disease in Dr. Rawls’ new best selling book, Unlocking Lyme.
You can also learn about Dr. Rawls’ personal journey in overcoming Lyme disease and fibromyalgia in his popular blog post, My Chronic Lyme Journey.

1. Földi M, Földi E. Földi’s Textbook of Lymphology for Physicians and Lymphedema Therapists. 2nd edition. Munich: Urban & Fischer; 2006.
2. [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. What are the organs of the immune system? 2010 Nov 30 [Updated 2016 Jan 20]. Available from:
3. Lymphedema. The Mayo Clinic website.
4. Lymph System. Medline Plus website.
5. Moore JE Jr, Bertram CD. Lymphatic System Flows. Annual Reviews in Fluid Mechanics. 2018;50:459–482. doi:10.1146/annurev-fluid-122316-045259
6. Pastouret F, Cardozo L, Lamote J, Buyl R, Lievens P. Effects of Multidirectional Vibrations Delivered in a Horizontal Position (Andullation®) on Blood Microcirculation in Laboratory Animals: A Preliminary Study. Medical Science Monitor Basic Research. 2016; 22: 115–122. doi: 10.12659/msmbr.900654

Lessons Chronic Lyme Taught Me

By Dr. Bill Rawls Posted 02-21-2020

At 62 years old, I’m finding it difficult to judge how old I feel. Instead of collecting symptoms over time like most people do, I’ve spent the past decade shedding them. Every year, my health has improved.

That said, let me be clear: I haven’t stopped aging — the cells of my body are still getting older. But they’re aging more slowly because I’ve learned how to properly take care of them, and I’m not being compromised by debilitating symptoms. Considering my body was a total wreck just 10 years ago, getting to this point has been a remarkable journey in itself.

The Health Crisis That Saved Me

My journey started more than 30 years ago as a conventionally-trained physician practicing obstetrics and gynecology. I chose that specialty because it was associated with promoting wellness and bringing life into the world, both of which inspired me. Oddly, however, the job itself was anything but healthy — being an OB/GYN came with a tremendous amount of stress and a rigorous night call schedule that left me severely sleep deprived much of the time.

When I was in my 30s, I could handle it. Not getting enough sleep and eating on the run was just part of the deal. From juggling a busy job in the medical profession to raising a family and being a weekend warrior, I prided myself on being able to do it all. As I moved into my 40s, however, things started to change — the resilience of youth began to fade.

Gradually, symptoms started creeping in. Less pep and stamina. A bit of stiffness in the morning. Achiness after an average workout at the gym. Indigestion. Loss of focus and mental sharpness. I chalked it up to aging, but as symptoms kept accumulating, my ability to function plummeted.

By age 47, I crashed. My whole body was falling apart. I woke up and ended every day feeling like I had a severe flu with body aches, fatigue, brain fog, and intestinal dysfunction. My stamina was at rock bottom. My knees and hips hurt so bad that it was often uncomfortable to walk. I lost the ability to sleep normally, even when I wasn’t on call.

My condition gradually deteriorated to the point that I lost the ability to take night call, which ultimately forced me to leave the medical practice I was in. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time. I still had kids in college and expenses to pay. Talk about stress — mine was through the roof!

Visits to doctor’s offices became like a revolving door. My internist ran every test and diagnostic protocol known, but they were all negative. The only significant finding was that my thyroid gland wasn’t functioning properly, but taking thyroid hormone did nothing to improve my symptoms.

Repeated visits to various specialists also failed to turn up a reason for my misery. I even had a cardiac catheterization because of constant chest pain and irregular heartbeats. My coronary vessels were clear, and all the doctors had to offer was yet another prescription to add to the growing list of prescriptions for all my other symptoms.

For the next several years of my life, I was trapped in the uncertainty of being dependent on the medical system, but not being helped by it either. It was a dead-end street that was carrying me nowhere. I just wanted my life back.

In the meantime, however, I had to find a way to generate income. Without a firm diagnosis, I wasn’t able to file for disability. Somehow, deep down, I felt my purpose in life was figuring my situation out. I knew that if I could restore my own health, I might be able to help thousands of other people caught in a similar situation. Too many people end up in a state of chronic illness managed with drugs — alive, but not living.

Ultimately, I did the only thing I thought I could do: I started a solo practice in gynecology and primary care. It relieved me of night call, and gave me the control I needed to figure out my situation. The theme of the practice was “promoting wellness,” though I still wasn’t quite sure what that meant.

Some things were obvious, however. I had to admit that I’d been driving myself into the ground for many years. Though I had always promoted healthy eating in my practice, I rarely followed my own recommendations. I liked being busy, rarely took downtime, and often let the stress in my life add up until it was oppressive.

My biggest issue, however, was chronic sleep deprivation. I had rarely slept when I was on call, but I also didn’t allow time to sleep adequately when I wasn’t on call. As a result, I had become dependent on sleep medication. All those things had to change.

Dr. Rawls at work as a doctor while also sick, talking to people

It would take years to get free of relying on sleep meds, but eventually I was able to enjoy the benefits of normal sleep again. Even exercise, which had been my one health virtue, had to change — I had to learn to exercise in a more gentle and restorative way that didn’t aggravate my inflamed tissues.

I was well versed in nutrition and knew what constituted a healthy diet; now I just had to stick to it. So I switched to organic foods where it mattered, and took other steps to clean out toxins from my living environment. I couldn’t totally eliminate stress, but I found ways to cope with help from qigong, yoga, and meditation.

Improved health habits alone, however, were not enough for me to regain my health. I also recognized that drugs were just masking my symptoms, and that the medical system writ large is too focused on bandaiding health concerns instead of identifying and addressing the underlying causes. I wanted my health and my life back, which meant finding therapies that restored the natural healing capacity of my body. There had to be other options, and I was determined to find them.

I devoured books on alternative medicine and studied different types of alternative therapies. I attended numerous conferences on holistic and integrative medicine, and ultimately became certified in holistic medicine. I explored anything that might be credible and didn’t pose significant risk. I worked with energy healers, had acupuncture treatments, took elaborate regimens of nutritional supplements, detoxed, fasted, and tried a variety of different diets.

With my newfound knowledge and plenty of trial and error, my health improved, and just as importantly, I learned new ways of helping my patients overcome illness without being overly dependent on medical therapy. But despite all my progress, I wasn’t where I wanted to be in terms of personal health. I still felt like I was dragging a ball and chain on most days, and couldn’t figure out why.

Turns out, life had one more curveball for me: I discovered that I was harboring the microbes associated with Lyme disease. For a short while, I thought I’d found the answer to my misery, but after multiple rounds of antibiotics left me sicker than when I started, I had more questions than answers.

Oddly enough, however, my Lyme disease diagnosis ended up being my final turning point. It opened a door to better understanding of chronic illness in general, and led me to the one therapy that ended up being my ultimate salvation: Herbal therapy.

In my search for alternative solutions to Lyme disease, I became aware that many people have had success overcoming chronic Lyme using herbal therapy. You might be thinking, herbal therapy isn’t strong enough to do anything. That’s what I thought at first, too. I had tried various herbal preparations from the grocery store, primarily to alleviate symptoms, but found them wanting.

Retrospectively, I shouldn’t have had high expectations for the low quality herbal preparations I was using. Once I dug into the modern research and rich traditional history of herbs, and started using high quality extracts in the combinations and doses that had shown benefit for other people, my health started improving immediately.

Dr. Bill Rawls riding his bike, smiling

I saw a significant change within a few months, and in the following years, I got my health back completely. The herbs were addressing every aspect of my illness: They calmed the runaway inflammation that was making my life miserable; they suppressed the Lyme microbes; they restored the ability of my immune system to manage my microbes. I came to deeply appreciate their natural defenses.

That’s not where my story ends, however. The close of this chapter led me right into my second chapter, where I discovered that all the lessons I fought so hard to learn revealed the answer to another, universally human question. It was one I hadn’t dared to ask myself when I was so ill: How can I keep living as long as possible and enjoy it with plenty of energy and vitality — instead of with all the symptoms and decline that can make getting older so miserable?

Turns out, I already had the answer — I just didn’t know it yet.

Beyond Illness: The Real Reasons We Age Too Fast

As my life continued its turn for the better, I began to recognize that not only were my symptoms of chronic Lyme retreating, but so were those I had just assumed were the unavoidable side effects of getting older — joint issues, feeling drained, mood changes, lack of mental clarity. And the more consistently I took the herbs, the better I felt both physically and mentally.

I was so intrigued by what was going on beneath my skin’s surface, that I immersed myself in the study of how herbs might be affecting the processes of aging, too.

My timing was good. More is known now about why the body ages than ever before, and there has been an enormous amount of research verifying traditional uses of herbs and exploring how they work. That said, aging is an incredibly complex process, and I won’t pretend otherwise, or that eliminating it is even possible. But I do think I can pinpoint the main causes of aging, and more importantly, some key factors that accelerate it.

Abstract human cells in division phase

In short, we age because our cells die. We’re made of trillions of living cells, all working in harmony to keep us alive and going, that accumulate until we reach peak adulthood around age 20. After that point in time, the number and quality of cells in the body gradually decline.

How long you will live is a function of how many cells you start with at peak adulthood, and how fast you burn up cells as you go through life. If cellular burnout occurs at a rate that overwhelms the immune and detoxification systems in the body, symptoms — and eventually illness — occur.

So what increases the rate of cellular burnout? Stress — but not just the kind you’re thinking of. The modern world has become dominated by five stress factors that play different but pivotal roles in how quickly cells deteriorate.

The 5 Key Aging Accelerators

System Disruptor_unnatural diet

Poor Diet

The excess of refined carbohydrates and bad, polyunsaturated fats that have become a signature of the modern processed-food diet are extremely damaging to cells and all systems in the body. For starters, you’re likely not getting all of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables that your cells require to function properly.

Plus, all those simple carbs and unhealthy fats do damage by a variety of mechanisms:

  • Carbs are highly reactive molecules that stick to other molecules, especially proteins, and gum up the operative machinery inside cells. This collapses collagenand other supportive molecules, stresses cells, and accelerates their burnout.
  • Excess carbohydrates also cause chronic elevations in insulin, the hormone that regulates glucose. High insulin causes a cascade effect that disrupts all other hormone pathways in the body and has been associated with immune dysfunction and diabetes.
  • Starches and sugars flood mitochondria with fuel and accelerate the burnout of mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells that turn nutrients into usable energy. It’s like pouring coal into the engine of a steam locomotive while it’s sitting on the tracks with the brakes on — the engine is going to overheat and burn out.
  • Excess dietary carbohydrates stimulate growth of unfavorable microbes in the gut, causing digestive dysfunction and a leaky gut that overwhelm and stress the immune system and generate systemic inflammation.
  • Fats that are refined using heat and chemicals break down into potent free radicals that damage the membranes of cells, which are essential for healthy cellular functions.

System Disruptor_toxic environment

Environmental Toxins

There are as many as 200,000 manmade chemicals in our environment today that did not exist 100 years ago. Most are derived from burning coal and the use of petroleum and petroleum products, and they have varying levels of toxicity.

Though concentrations of specific toxins are rarely high enough to be lethal, cumulative exposure has been shown to impair cellular health. Here are some of the ways toxins wreak havoc in the body:

  • Bind with macromolecules (DNA, RNA, proteins), causing direct cell injury and possibly cell death (cytotoxicity)
  • Inhibit normal enzymatic processes in the body
  • Damage cell membranes
  • Cause gene dysregulation (turn on bad genes)
  • Inhibit normal immune function
  • Create free radicals or act as free radicals, increasing the burden of oxidative stress
  • Mimic chemical messengers in the body, disrupting biological processes
  • Mimic hormones in the body (i.e., xenoestrogens from plastics and pesticides increase risk of hormonally active cancers such as breast, prostate, and uterine cancers)
  • Toxic heavy metals including aluminum, lead, mercury, and uranium directly poison enzymes, adversely affecting all functions in the body.
  • Contribute to decline in liver function with aging

System Disruptor_chronic stress

Chronic Stress

The act of surviving amidst the elements has always been a struggle for humans. But the nearly nonstop psychological stress of living in a world with a 24-hour news cycle and constant digital connection to our bosses and inboxes escalates the stress of daily living to a whole new level.

Chronic stress over-activates the fight-or-flight response, which drives cells harder and burns them out faster. It also disrupts communication systems in the body, including hormones and the nervous system, creating inefficiencies that stress cells and cause them to burn out faster. And chronic stress slows gastric and intestinal mobility, which compromises digestive function and promotes overgrowth of unfavorable bacteria in the gut.

Most importantly, chronic activation of the fight-or-flight response disrupts sleep — the body cannot repair itself without the downtime allowed by sleep. The immune system is especially vulnerable to the negative effects of chronic stress and sleep deprivation.

System Disruptor_sedentary lifestyle

Sedentary Lifestyle

Historically, this category — which is really about physical stress to the body — would have been marked by acute trauma to the body, excessive physical exertion that breaks the body down, and extremes in temperature or pressure. But in the modern world, the chief physical stress is being too sedentary.

Today, most people have desk jobs, and prolonged inactivity is characteristic of modern life. The human body, however, is designed to move. If regular physical activity doesn’t happen, the body becomes sluggish, toxins back up, and inflammation ensues. Over time, excessive or ongoing inflammation contributes to the breakdown of healthy cells and normal tissue.

System Disruptor_microbes


All living organisms are colonized by microbes, some of which have always been a threat to human life and health. But that threat is growing, thanks in large part to the first four cellular stressors, discussed above. They damage immune cells just as much as other cells, and over time, the damage becomes bad enough to disrupt the immune system’s ability to keep a healthy balance of good and bad microbes.

As a result, bad microbes are able to thrive, and they become a primary stressor to cells. In fact, the more I learned about the microbes we harbor, the more I realized just how big a threat they are to our longevity.

Microbes Are the Most Overlooked — and Underrated — Factor in Accelerated Aging

The sum of all the microbes that inhabit the human body is referred to as the microbiome. With 40,000 different species possible, the microbiome is much more complex than anyone ever imagined. Though it was once thought that microbes were isolated to the skin, nasal passages, and gut, a growing body of research has shown that the microbiome extends to all tissues of the body — including the brain.

It’s true, studies have shown that microbes can travel from the gut to other parts of the body through the bloodstream. They can also travel from nasal passages into the brain. Several studies have confirmed that brains from healthy people contain hundreds of species of microbes.

Borrelia infection in the blood. Borrelia bacteria.

Microbes also have been found in joint, heart, and other tissues in the body — not just in people who are ill, but in healthy people, too. All the evidence points to the fact that having microbes in tissues is a normal state.

What the microbes want is to pirate vital nutrients and resources — they must have a living host like you to survive. Though we have a mutually beneficial relationship with most microbes that inhabit the body, we all harbor potentially aggressive microbes that can cause harm if given an opportunity.

You depend on a healthy immune system to keep your microbes in check. If your immune system is healthy, you won’t hear from any of them. But if your immune system falters, the microbes gain strength in numbers, and they start robbing cells of nutrients, resources, and energy.

This stresses and weakens cells, causing them to age faster. And you start to feel it, quite literally. It can manifest as stiff and painful joints, brain fog and memory loss, digestive distress such as constipation or abdominal pain, notable changes in mood, and all sorts of other symptoms we generally attribute to aging.

In particular, microbes further weaken the immune system and disrupt cellular communications. When the cells don’t communicate properly and can’t work in synchrony, everything in the body becomes dysfunctional, and wastes back up. Early on, you might experience mild symptoms like fatigue and malaise, but as conditions worsen, it can turn into full-fledged chronic illness — like it did for me.

Here’s the biggest catch: Your immune cells age, but your microbes don’t. What I mean by that is, your immune cells age just like all the other cells in your body, often accelerated by the stress factors I discussed above (poor diet, toxins, stress, and inactivity). Your microbes, however, don’t age in the same way that your cells do.

Microbes have incredibly low mutation rates, which means the new microbes they generate tend to be just as functional as the old ones. Essentially, they stay forever strong. This means keeping your immune system strong becomes increasingly more important as you age to prevent your microbes from overrunning your cells. One example of just how steadfast microbes are: When we die, and our immune system is no longer wrangling microbes, they take over and consume our body — that’s decomposition.

Learning this revealed to me why herbs can be such a vital ally for longevity — and why I had been experiencing such a resurgence in my own energy and health levels just as they were supposed to be waning.

Why Herbs are the Missing Link to Optimal Aging and Vitality

Of course, I can’t credit herbs entirely for my recovery or my new lease on life. I know that all the other efforts I made to eat a more whole-foods diet and to minimize stress, toxins, and inactivity were a key part of restoring strength to my immune system and all the cells of my body.

But I also know that those lifestyle changes only got me so far, and that introducing herbs to my daily regimen gave me the leg up I needed to get over that final hump. I saw the same thing in the thousands of patients I’ve helped overcome chronic illness with herbs, who’ve gone on to enjoy active and fulfilling lives. Now, after so many years of research on herbs and the human body, I understand how the plants deliver such vital benefits.

tan herbal supplement in a wooden bowl

The benefits of herbs come from biochemical substances called phytochemicals. A plant produces several types of phytochemicals to protect itself from stress factors, including (but certainly not limited to):

  • Antimicrobials: These phytochemicals defend against microbes like bacteria and fungi that threaten plant health.
  • Immunomodulators: They not only stimulate NK (natural killer) cells and other key white blood cells of the immune system, but they also reduce damaging inflammation.
  • Antioxidants: These protect the plant’s cells at every level from free radicals, which can damage parts of the cell such as the outer membrane, proteins, DNA, and mitochondria.
  • Anti-inflammatories: antioxidants found in herbs counteract inflammation, but herbal phytochemicals also downregulate the inflammatory process.
  • Regulators: Phytochemicals also have regulatory functions that help balance all of the plant’s hormones and signaling mechanisms. Because plants and animals evolved together, the same substances balance hormone pathways, such as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis or HPA axis, which facilitates the body’s stress response and secretion of hormones, like cortisol (a stress hormone), quickly and efficiently. This normalizes circadian rhythm, supports normal sleep, and improves tolerance to stress.

All of these phytochemical powers take the stress off plant cells and enable them to function better and use energy more efficiently. When cells are less stressed and more energy efficient, they burn out at a slower rate. That translates to healthier cells and a reduced rate of cellular loss.

And here’s the exciting news for us humans: Because plants and animals coevolved, when we consume the protective plant phytochemicals by taking herbs, we gain all the same age-decelerating benefits. In essence, we adopt the plant’s natural defenses and protective properties.

Which herbs you take, however, matters, as types and levels of phytochemicals can vary significantly from plant to plant. When I was in the middle of my struggle with Lyme, I chose herbs that stimulated the immune system and provided significant antimicrobial properties. After my health was restored, I shifted to herbs called adaptogens, which are known for their restorative and normalizing properties.

Adaptogens are a subset of tonics, a category of herbs that help contribute to a longer life by having an overall balancing or normalizing effect on all the functional systems of the body. They improve your resilience to all types of stress, and give you an extra leg up on achieving wellness at any age. Though definitions vary slightly, I believe adaptogens share these three key characteristics:

  • All adaptogens have antistress qualities that help provide stabilizing effects on the neuroendocrine system, especially the HPA axis and Sympathoadrenal System (SAS), which plays a crucial role in our response to external stimuli.
  • All adaptogens help modulate and/or enhance the immune system.
  • All adaptogens inhibit mitochondrial dysfunction induced by the stress hormone cortisol.

Best of all, because adaptogens don’t cause dependency or have drug-like properties, they are typically well tolerated when taken on a daily basis and have a very low incidence of side effects and toxicity. My three favorite adaptogens include rhodiola, reishi mushrooms (not technically herbs, but just as potent and beneficial), and shilajit, a byproduct of plant materials that have been compressed into the earth.

pink and yellow rhodiola flowers growing off tall stems

I would recommend taking these adaptogens daily to anyone who wants to boost their longevity and overall vitality. For even more impressive results, pair them with adaptogen companions like turmeric and gotu kola, which have some but not all of the same characteristics, plus they complement and enhance adaptogen’s powers.

Does taking these herbs relieve you of having to improve your diet, exercise more, and minimize stress and toxins in your life? No. But they can help pick up the slack of the occasional burger and fries or lazy weekend of binge-watching Netflix. After all, no one is perfect — and what’s the point of living longer if you can’t treat yourself to a favorite guilty pleasure every once in awhile?

Since learning about the wonderful benefits of herbs, and particularly adaptogenic herbs, I’ve made it my life’s mission to teach others about herbs, and to get them into the lives of as many people as possible. It’s such a simple yet profound way to enhance your cellular and overall wellness!

I want everyone to enjoy the same exhilarating level of vitality that I’m experiencing now in my 60s — and that I thought I’d lost forever when I was 50 and struggling with chronic illness. I’ve learned firsthand that when you take control of your health, and focus on achieving balance and resilience (instead of just trying to quiet your symptoms), you can experience true vitality and add more life to your years.


Overcome Lyme Brain – Causes & Solutions

How to Overcome Lyme Brain: Causes and Solutions | RawlsMD

How to Overcome Lyme Brain: Causes and Solutions

by Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio
Posted 2/17/20

Forgetful. Zoned out. Unable to concentrate. These are just a few ways people describe the disconcerting constellation of neurological symptoms associated with chronic Lyme disease known as Lyme brain, a muddled mental feeling that impairs some degree of a person’s cognition.

Although the exact prevalence of the condition isn’t known, the majority of chronic Lyme patients will cycle through episodes of Lyme brain from time to time. It can be frustrating and debilitating. Missteps like showing up to a doctor’s appointment on the wrong day, forgetting to refill a prescription before it runs out, or desperately searching for your glasses only to discover they’ve been on top of your head all along can make you feel as though you’re losing your mind. Some people will even notice problems with word finding, reading comprehension, and writing.

Is there a way to stop it? Here, we look at some of the underlying causes of this neurological phenomenon, plus ways to help improve the distressing symptoms.

Cause #1: Untreated Infections

Lyme disease and Lyme coinfections like babesia, bartonella, and mycoplasmacontribute to metabolic and immune changes in the body because the microbes can be low-grade and persist for long periods of time. While no system of the body is off-limits, the central nervous system and the endocrine system are particularly vulnerable.

Germs in the blood. Leukocytes attack the virus. Immunity of the body. 3D illustration on medical research

“When pathogens invade the nervous system, white blood cells — immune cells like lymphocytes and plasmocytes — flood into the white matter of the brain and the spinal cord,” says Dr. Bill Rawls, Medical Director of RawlsMD and Vital Plan. “This causes a cascade of inflammatory immune messengers, called cytokines, in cerebrospinal fluid.”

This influx of proinflammatory cytokines causes neuroinflammation in the brain, which can contribute to a range of neurological symptoms, including those associated with Lyme brain. Because most Lyme patients have a compromised immune system, the body struggles to keep the offending pathogens in check.

The outcome? You continue to experience a prolonged inflammatory response and resulting symptoms until you’re able to suppress the harmful, stealth infections.

Solution: Suppress Harmful Microbes and Support Brain Health

To improve brain function, you’ll have to address persistent, low-grade infections. There may be a time and a place for heroic therapies such as antibioticsgut microbiome, too.

wooden spoon with herbal supplement on top, leafs underneath

A more restorative approach to subdue harmful pathogens is using herbal therapy, which has a balancing effect on the microbiome and the various systems of the body. Plus, some herbs can safely pass into the brain.

Not sure where to begin? Dr. Rawls’ preferred herbs specifically for brain health include:

  1. Lion’s Mane: This mushroom contains compounds called erinacines and hericenones, which cross the blood-brain barrier. There, they support normal levels of nerve growth factor (NGF), a peptide produced by the body that’s essential to nerve cell growth, maintenance, and survival. When NGF levels are in a healthy range, you notice that you have improved mental clarity, focus, and memory.
  2. Cat’s Claw: Native to the Amazon, cat’s claw has a long history of traditional use for the treatment of a wide range of inflammatory conditions, and it’s well-known among Lyme disease patients. The herb supports immune function and helps balance the body’s microbiome.
  3. Bacopa: A traditional Indian herb, bacopa has been used to bring balance and calm to the nervous system for thousands of years.
  4. Ashwagandha: Native to India and Africa, ashwagandha is used for its ability to balance, energize, and rejuvenate. Ashwagandha is a calming adaptogen that is particularly useful in balancing the HPA axis in the brain (the control center for hormone regulation), which leads to improved stress resistance, better sleep, and reduced brain fog.
  5. Ginkgo biloba: Ginkgo is one of the oldest living trees on earth. Current and traditional uses of the herb include enhancing blood flow, protecting brain and nerve functions, and supporting cognition.

Cause #2: Toxic Build-Up

As you treat Lyme disease, you’re likely to experience a Herherimer reaction (or herx). With the use of any antimicrobial (prescription or otherwise), a large number of bacteria die off, causing an inpouring of dead bacteria called endotoxins throughout the body. This forces the immune system’s inflammatory response into overdrive.

Bacterial die-off can also produce byproducts that are toxic to the nervous system (neurotoxic) like quinolinic acid, ammonia, and acetaldehyde, which can exacerbate cognitive symptoms like brain fog. These toxic byproducts can also come from a microbiome imbalance such as a small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO) and candida overgrowth.

Solution: Augment Your Body’s Detoxification Efforts

Start with the antioxidants glutathione, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). These were shown to help to support the liver’s ability to detoxify, mitigate the neurocognitive symptoms of Lyme disease, and lessen the accumulation of toxins as a result of treatment in a 2018 article in the journal Healthcare.

Raw yucca starch on the wooden table - Manihot esculenta.

Additionally, supplementing with molybdenum and yucca root can be beneficial, too. Molybdenum is a trace mineral that is normally present in small amounts in the body, similar to magnesium, iron, or manganese. Though a molybdenum deficiency isn’t common, adding a small amount of molybdenum — prepared in microgram doses — may help to neutralize excess ammonia and acetaldehyde and curb Lyme brain.

Similarly, the herb yucca root can be used to decrease ammonia levels. Typically, yucca comes in a capsule or powder.

Cause #3: Poor Sleep

Stress, inflammation, and infections can all disrupt your sleep, which only serves to worsen the symptoms associated with Lyme brain. Indeed, some short and long-term consequences related to poor sleep that are reminiscent of Lyme brain include mood disorders, cognitive dysfunction, memory problems, and performance deficits, among others, according to a 2017 review in the journal Nature and Science of Sleep. Sleep dysfunction alone could be the cause of Lyme brain in certain individuals.

Although it’s easy to see how a lack of sleep could be a significant factor contributing to neurocognitive issues, knowing how to improve the situation is a whole different battle. Generally, it will take some trial and error to find the repertoire of tricks and sleep hacks that will be helpful to you, but practicing solid sleep hygiene is paramount to decreasing the symptoms of Lyme brain.

Solution: Implement Good Sleep Hygiene

woman asleep in her bed, night time, white sheets

Going back to the basics of sleep hygiene can help you get a better night’s rest. They include:

  • Maintain a consistent bedtime routine. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even on the weekends.
  • Get exposure to sunlight. The majority of us spend a substantial part of our day indoors. But getting sunlight throughout the day, especially in the morning, can help to reset your circadian rhythm so you’re tired when you’re supposed to be.
  • Wind down at night. Many people with Lyme disease experience a tired-but-wired feeling when they try to go to bed — they’re utterly exhausted, but their bodies won’t calm down enough to let them drift off. If this describes you, try spending 10-15 minutes before your bedtime doing some gentle stretching to relieve muscle tension, reduce pain, and bring on the calm.
  • Turn off electronics by 9 PM. When you’re lying in bed wide-awake and waiting for sleep to come, it can be very tempting to pass the time by watching your favorite TV show or scrolling on your phone. But the blue light that’s emitted from electronic devices can disrupt the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. So, instead of helping you fall asleep, electronic devices may be contributing to wakefulness. If you must be on your computer or phone at bedtime, try blue-light-blocking devices such as filters or glasses to keep your exposure to a minimum.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable bed. If you notice that you feel stiff or have greater pain in the morning, that’s a clue that your mattress could be an obstacle to quality sleep, and it might be time to invest in a new one. Most mattress companies will offer financing options so that you don’t need to shell out the funds all at once if you don’t have them.

Cause #4: Exposure to Mold

About 50% of homes have experienced some amount of water damage and contain mold. When exposure to toxic mold is coupled with Lyme disease and Lyme coinfections, all of your symptoms can intensify, including the cognitive issues that accompany Lyme brain, such as:

  • Trouble focusing
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Mood swings
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Forgetfulness

Solution: Locate and Clean Up Moisture and Mold

cleaning of room wall from mold with metal brush

To avoid further exacerbating your symptoms, you may need to consult with a professional to safely find and remediate sources of mold in your home — a good idea in general, since doing it yourself will ramp up your exposure. In the meantime, here are some things you can do on your own:

  1. Place a HEPA air purifier in the areas of your home where you spend the most time, especially your bedroom. Reducing your exposure to mold while you sleep may help you wake up feeling more alert and refreshed.
  2. Reduce your humidity levels to as low as possible — ideally, between 30% to 50%. Dehumidifiers and air conditioners can be useful tools to keep in check the humidity mold loves.
  3. Routinely inspect your heating and air conditioning systems for mold, and if necessary, have them cleaned.
  4. Consider eliminating rugs or carpet in rooms that are known to contain high levels of moisture, such as the bathroom or basement.
  5. Keep your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry rooms well ventilated.
  6. If you have an attic, make sure the space is dry and doesn’t contain moisture.

There’s no doubt that Lyme brain can be a frightening and overwhelming symptom of Lyme disease, and many of the potential causes overlap with one another, which can make sorting things out a bit tricky. But begin to chip away at the causes as best you can. Over time, you’ll start to notice clearer thinking, improved memory, and better cognitive functioning. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and you can recover!

Dr. Rawls is a physician who overcame Lyme disease through natural herbal therapy. You can learn more about Lyme disease in Dr. Rawls’ new best selling book, Unlocking Lyme.  You can also learn about Dr. Rawls’ personal journey in overcoming Lyme disease and fibromyalgia in his popular blog post, My Chronic Lyme Journey.

1. Bransfield RC. Neuropsychiatric Lyme Borreliosis: An Overview with a Focus on a Specialty Psychiatrist’s Clinical Practice. Healthcare. 2018 Sep; 6(3): 104. doi: 10.3390/healthcare6030104
2. Basic Facts about Mold and Dampness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
3. Horowitz RI, Freeman PR. Precision Medicine: The Role of the MSIDS Model in Defining, Diagnosing, and Treating Chronic Lyme Disease/Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome and Other Chronic Illness: Part 2. Healthcare. 2018 Dec; 6(4): 129. doi: 10.3390/healthcare6040129
4. Medic G, Wille M, Hemels MEH. Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nature and Science of Sleep. 2017; 9: 151–161. doi: 10.2147/NSS.S134864
5. Overview of Minerals. Merck Manual website.

The Gut-Lyme Connection (And How to Fix Both Naturally)

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:

  1. Weakened immunity
  2. Diminished cellular function
  3. Systemic infection
  4. Toxicity

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.

For more:

Latest Look at Lyme – Dr. Waters

latest look at Lyme july 2018Paper Here

Written by Dr. Robert Waters,


Waters’ 8 pronged approach to treating Lyme/MSIDS:  All of which are discussed in the paper above.

He also discusses typical deficiencies patients have and the importance of supplementation to boost the body’s ability to fight for itself.

For Doctor Waters’ presentation:

You can also watch videos, read published papers, and read newsletter on various topics.

How Do I Prevent Getting the Influenza?

How do I prevent getting the Influenza?

Darin Ingels, ND, FAAEM, FMAPS

It’s January and the people who have been visiting my practice, the last couple weeks, have symptoms related to a cold or Influenza. Its flu season, it’s definitely in full force, and I’m hearing it from people who are local as well as people who live around the country. I want to give you my top tips for treating the flu, because if you’ve ever had the flu it’s absolutely miserable. Your body hurts, your head hurts, you’re tired, you just don’t want to get out of bed. It’s a virus typically caused by different forms of influenza virus; I think this year it’s influenza A. It tends to alternate years between influenza A and influenza B, this year seems to be influenza A.

We know from the research on the influenza vaccine, it’s not very effective this year.

Even if you got the shot, there’s a good possibility if you get exposure, that you might actually develop symptoms.

Oscillococcinum for the Flu

One of my favorite remedies for dealing with flu is a homeopathic remedy called Oscillococcinum It’s really long, it comes in a big wide box, and you can find it in most health food stores such as Whole Foods, or your local health food source. It comes in a big wide box, and there’s several tubes in it.

Basically you take one tube under your tongue. They’re little sugar pellets, they actually taste good. Even for kids will take it. And you can give a dose every couple of hours, and it really helps mitigate the flu symptoms. It’s not going to necessarily get rid of it 100%, but definitely can help reduce the fever, stop some of the body pain, and just help get it through a little bit faster.

Oscillococcinum is safe for adults and children. You can find it at pretty much any health food store, and it’s not super expensive either. I recommend you keep taking it until you get to a point where you start to feel better. There are lots and lots of other homeopathic remedies that are indicated for flu, and if that’s something you choose to pursue I would recommend you work with a homeopathy that really understands the individual remedies, to give you something that’s very specific for you or your child. Oscillococcinum is definitely at the top of my list.

Elderberry for the Flu

Elderberry is an herb, and actually it’s a berry so it tastes good. Again, kids will take it. It typically comes as a syrup. Be aware that a lot of elderberry syrup actually comes in a base of honey. If you have a child under the age of two, be careful. You don’t want to give honey to children under the age of two because of the risk of Botulism.

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I personally have never ever seen that, but it’s one of those warnings that goes out there, so please be careful.

They do make elderberry syrup that isn’t in a honey base, but a lot of the commercial products are, so just be mindful of that. And again, for children you can give anywhere from a half a teaspoon to a full teaspoon every couple of hours. Again, it’s not toxic, it’s safe, and it really helps.

It’s a natural antiviral, and since we’re dealing with a virus this is just another way to shorten the course of flu.

Wet Sock Treatment for Colds and Flu

I actually wrote an article on it in one of my previous blogs. It’s one of these things that sounds honestly very strange. And when I first heard about it, I thought it was kind of kooky. Having used it on numerous patients over the last 20 years; for some people it works really well.

It involves getting some cotton socks, put them in cool water, ring them out. Put them on your feet, and then get some big wool socks, put them over the top of that, and then go to bed. When you wake up in the morning those socks are going to be bone dry, and often it helps drop the fever, people report that their body pain feels better. This is an old naturopathic therapy. It’s something we’ve used for years, and for some people it works really well.

The trick is just do it before bedtime, and in the morning people often do feel better. You can do it each night, or you can do it during the day. It’s just overnight you’re not moving around. Walking around with wet socks probably wouldn’t be very comfortable. This is a very inexpensive, easy thing to do.

Herbs for the Flu

There are a lot of herbs that are really helpful in treating viruses. Influenza is a virus, so we use herbs like:

  • Andrographis
  • Echinacea
  • Lomatium

I think the challenge with herbs, particularly with kids, is that some of them are kind of bitter, they don’t taste great. If you can get them in, it does help shorten the course. Certainly as an adult, they make a lot of these as encapsulated products, so as long as you can keep things down. A lot of people when they get the flu, they’re nauseous, they’re vomiting, they don’t want to keep anything down, so that’s always the challenge with flu is how can we just get things in the body? But if you can stomach it and if your child can stomach it, they sell these herbal preparations at most health food stores.

I am a big fan of Andrographis, particularly for adults. It comes as an encapsulated product, I’ve used it for just any kind of upper respiratory virus, I’ve used it for flu, and clinically I find it works pretty well.

For kids I like a product called Lomatium Isolate, it’s made by a company called Eclectic Institute. It comes as a little bottle, and then you just use drop doses, you can mix in a little bit of water or juice. Lomatium is a very potent antiviral, so it works really well.

Vitamin D for the Influenza

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Vitamin D is actually a hormone, it’s not a vitamin. I find that a lot of people tend to be vitamin D deficient, particularly in the Wintertime because you get most of your vitamin D from being out in the sun. And even here in sunny California, it’s actually been pretty cool, so a lot of people are indoors. And when they are outdoors, they have a jacket, they’re covered, they’re not really getting that skin exposure to raise their vitamin D levels.

Supplemental vitamin D can be very beneficial. For children this time of year, up to 2,000 IU’s is very safe. And for adults, anywhere from five to 10,000 IU’s a day is safe. Make sure you take vitamin D with a little bit of food just to help improve the absorption. Vitamin D is a hormone, actually is an immune modulator. It does actually help boost your immune system, so just adding that extra vitamin D can definitely make a difference.

You can use some of these things, particular the botanicals as a preventive measure. Certainly if anyone in the house has the flu, make sure everybody’s washing their hands, it’s very important. This is very easy to pass, so the more you wash your hands, it just reduces that risk of passing it from one person to the next. I hope these tips help.

Darin Ingels, ND, FAAEM, FMAPS

PS: Are you having unexplained symptoms like fatigue and muscle soreness? Concerned you may have Lyme disease? Take the Lyme Solution Quiz! Make meals to support and boost your immune system! Download my recipe book, “Immune-Boosting Recipes” at NO COST!