Archive for the ‘Sleep’ Category

Melatonin Miracle

Why You Should Listen

In this episode, you will learn about the miracle molecule know as melatonin.

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About My Guest

My guest for this episode is Dr. John Lieurance.  John Lieurance, ND, DC is a naturopathic and chiropractic neurologist who has been in private practice for over 27 years.  He directs Advanced Rejuvenation, a multi-disciplinary clinic, with a focus on alternative and regenerative medicine, naturopathic medicine, functional neurology, functional cranial release, Lumomed, Lyme disease, mold illness, and many other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, degenerative neurological disease, and inner ear conditions. He travels internationally teaching other doctors about the benefits of melatonin and various protocols using melatonin as well as other modalities.  Dr. Lieurance founded, a web based educational portal, which sends out weekly videos on health and wellness tools for overcoming disease and fostering longevity and vitality.  He has been featured in many podcasts and documentaries.

Key Takeaways

  • What is melatonin?
  • Where is it produced in the body?
  • What properties does melatonin have that go beyond sleep support?
  • How might melatonin help the body to mitigate stress?
  • Can melatonin help with autonomic nervous system balance?
  • Does melatonin support the mitochondria and production of ATP?
  • Does melatonin support the brain’s ability to detoxify and minimize neurodegenerative conditions?
  • Can melatonin support autophagy and balance mTOR/autophagy?
  • Might melatonin have a role in dealing with chronic infections?
  • How might melatonin support detoxification of heavy metals?
  • Does melatonin help to balance the immune system?
  • Is melatonin a reasonable tool to consider in those with autoimmune conditions?
  • How important is it to decalcify the pineal gland?
  • How might melatonin be helpful in those with SIBO?
  • What forms of melatonin work best?
  • What is high-dose melatonin?

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Interview Date

August 24, 2021


Transcript Disclaimer: Transcripts are intended to provide optimized access to information contained in the podcast.  They are not a full replacement for the discussion.  Timestamps are provided to facilitate finding portions of the conversation.  Errors and omissions may be present as the transcript is not created by someone familiar with the topics being discussed.  Please Contact Me with any corrections. 


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How Much Melatonin Should I Take?

Aug. 27, 2021

How much melatonin should I take for sleep? Dr. Bill Rawls explains why most people take the wrong dose and type of melatonin and how that can backfire and disrupt sleep, plus he shares just how much melatonin to take and when to help you fall and stay asleep. Learn more about natural sleep aids here:… 

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Pulsing Antibiotics, Diet and Itchy Rashes, and Insomnia

Every few months, Jennifer Crystal devotes a column to answering your questions. Do you have a question for Jennifer? If so, email her at

Is it helpful to pulse antibiotics?

Pulsing is a method of antibiotic administration where the patient takes the medication for a certain amount of time (for example, two weeks) and then stops it for a period (say, another two weeks), and then repeats the cycle. Some people have found great success with this method (Steven Phillips, MD talks about it in his new book Chronic: The Hidden Cause of the Autoimmune Pandemic and How to Get Healthy Again). He writes about patients who were on antibiotics all the time for years and only reached a certain level of wellness, but then felt completely better after switching to a pulsed regimen. Pulsing allows the body to detox, especially after intense Herxheimer reactions, and gives the gut a break, too.

That said, pulsing doesn’t work for everyone. Some feel that doing so allows the spirochetes to build up a stronger load during the off-period, making them harder to kill (and causing worse Herxheimer reactions) during the on-periods. My own body has difficulty adjusting to any kind of on-off regimen (for example, if I’m weaning off a medication, it never works for me to take it every other day; this just causes a jerking effect). For others, that method works just fine. The bottom line is that you need to speak with your Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) to see if pulsing is the right choice for you, and you may need to do a little trial-and-error to find out.

I’ve been battling Lyme for four months and just started getting rashes and hives on my legs at random times. It seems it may coincide with something I ate. Did you have any trigger foods, and did you find anything to help rashes and hives long-term?

Lyme is an inflammatory disease. As I explain in my post “Stop the Itching! Lyme and Hives,” Lyme can cause an inflammatory response anywhere in the body, manifesting as redness, swelling, heat, pain, or loss of function. I started getting hives four years after getting a tick bite, but it would be another four years before I got accurately diagnosed and started treatment. Once I did get proper antibiotic treatment, the hives stopped.

Before then, itchiness and redness could sometimes be triggered by exercise. After a run, my legs might turn bright red and grow incredibly itchy. The reaction was never triggered by food, but one of two things may be going on for you. You may simply be having an allergic reaction to something you’re eating (try to find a common denominator in your meals, and see an allergist who can test for food allergies). Or, maybe you are eating an inflammatory food that is exacerbating the inflammation you’re already experiencing from Lyme. (See my post “The Lyme Diet” for information on inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods). It helped me to switch to an anti-inflammatory diet, which I’ve been on for over a decade. What helped the most with my inflammation, though, was proper treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication. If you are not already seeing a LLMD, I encourage you to find one who can address your systemic inflammation, check for co-infections, and help you consider dietary changes. (To find a good LLMD in your area, please click here).

Before sleep medication, can you describe your insomnia? Was it every night? For how long?

Once tick-borne illnesses crosses the blood-brain barrier, they can cause a host of neurological issues, including sleep disturbances. Before I was accurately diagnosed with and treated for Lyme disease, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis, I had horrendous insomnia. At one point, I was literally awake for weeks. I tried everything: meditating, counting sheep, using lavender oil, taking over-the-counter sleep aids, but nothing worked. Despite my exhaustion, my brain would not turn off. I had word and song iteration—words and songs playing in my head like a mash-up, over and over again. It felt like my body was in park and my brain was in overdrive.

Some nights I did sleep, but it wasn’t restful. I experienced hallucinogenic nightmares that left me more tired when I woke up than when I went to sleep. Sleep disturbances went on for a couple years before I was accurately diagnosed, and persisted (with some improvements) for a few months during the start of treatment. These issues came back when I relapsed. The first step in getting them under control was to treat the infections that were causing it. I saw a sleep specialist who did neurofeedback, taught me good sleep hygiene, and figured out, through some trial-and-error, the best medication to help me sleep.


Jennifer Crystal

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own. Jennifer Crystal is a writer and educator in Boston. Her work has appeared in local and national publications including Harvard Health Publishing and The Boston Globe. As a GLA columnist for over six years, her work on has received mention in publications such as The New Yorker,, CQ Researcher, and Jennifer is a patient advocate who has dealt with chronic illness, including Lyme and other tick-borne infections. Her memoir about her medical journey is forthcoming. Contact her via email below.




This post took me back in time.

The crazy manifestations of this complex multi-faceted illness can not be overstated.  They are unbelievable.  This is one of the reasons main-stream medicine thinks we are all nuts.  I’m sure it appears that way when we frantically diatribe through our litany of bizarre symptoms.  It truly takes a special practitioner to quietly listen to patients, believing that there is a real, physiological cause behind it all.  To believe that thousands upon thousands of patients are saying similar things are all crazy is a lazy way out.

I’ve pulsed antibiotics successfully and taken them everyday successfully.

Pulsing is based upon the fact that Lyme disease has a 4-week cycle, where every 4 weeks patients experience a symptom flair. Burgdorfer found this in mice studies, and IGeneX found the same thing in urine antigen studies.Borrelia grow and are active, then become inactive.Four weeks later they activate.This has been shown recently in vitro. Think of Bb as a slow relapsing fever.This nuance is important because antibiotics only kill during the active phase.You need a minimum of a month to bracket a whole generation cycle. 

Slightly different than pulsing, is something called “cycling”, used when patients reach a plateau. You discontinue antibiotics until symptoms return.  Then, when symptoms return, go to full treatment until symptoms are gone again. Dr. Burrascano states that many patients become symptom free after 4 of these cycles.  He used this on himself as well with success.  Burrascano found 3 other physicians doing the exact same thing with patients. This approached worked for all of them despite the different geographical areas they were in.

But, like all things Lyme/MSIDS, this doesn’t work with every patient.  But – it’s still worth trying!

My LLMD states Lyme/MSIDS causes all sorts of rashes – everywhere on the body.  I had one that looked like ring-worm that was on my derrière.  It expanded outwardly until finally it disappeared.  I believe treatment resolved it.


A reminder that the EM rash is diagnostic for Lyme.  If you have the EM rash, you have Lyme, but many never see or get the rash.  This graph beautifully demonstrates that getting the “classic” EM rash is highly variable.

Insomnia is a real pain.  

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What Helps Improve Cognitive Function for Lyme Patients?

When Lyme disease bacteria (spirochetes) cross the blood-brain barrier, they can cause myriad neurological impairments and nervous system inflammation. Neurological Lyme disease can manifest as brain fog, memory loss, word and song iteration, confusion, anxiety and depression, sleep disturbancesand more. “Lyme brain” is terribly frustrating for patients who could once multitask, but now lose their train of thought mid-sentence, or can’t find their way to the store. Many have written to me to ask what helped me improve cognitive function. Here’s what helped the most:

  • Pharmaceutical treatment: Lyme is a bacterial infection, and you can’t improve cognitive function without killing the bacteria that’s causing it. Sometimes symptoms can get worse as bacteria die off faster than your body can eliminate them (a Herxheimer reaction), but in my experience, the payoff is worth the temporary increase in discomfort and decrease in capabilities. Your doctor may want you to pulse antibiotics in order to give your body time to recover. There are particular antibiotics that work best to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and improve cognitive symptoms. Because every single case of tick-borne illness is unique, there is no set protocol, but your Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) can tailor one to your needs.
  • Supplements: Certain supplements can help reduce inflammation and neurotoxins. Glutathione and Essential Fatty Acids are two that are commonly used (but again, I can’t give specific medical advice; you need to check with your LLMD about which supplements, and what dosage, would be appropriate for you). I’m wary of doctors who sell supplements themselves (you want to make sure your health, not their financial gain, is their top priority). Though supplements may seem good because they’re “natural,” they can have side effects and contraindications, so don’t always assume that natural is better. For me, I’ve needed a combination of both pharmaceutical treatment and supplements to improve all of my symptoms of Lyme disease, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis.
  • Rest: Your body needs adequate sleep to heal. This can be really hard to come by for Lyme patients, and it also can be aggravating and downright boring to be in bed all the time. But your body is working really hard to fight infection, and it needs all the rest it can get in order to do so. Even now, a decade into remission, I still can get neurologically overstimulated and experience a flare-up of cognitive symptoms. When that happens, I need to wind down, give myself some quiet time, and get extra sleep.
  • Anti-inflammatory foods: In my post “The Lyme Diet,” I discuss foods that help with reducing inflammation. There are good foods to avoid, like gluten and processed sugar, and good foods to include, like fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Certain foods have antioxidant properties. Whether eating them has helped my cognitive function, I can’t say for sure, but I know it hasn’t hurt, and I’ll take any excuse to have a piece of dark chocolate!
  • Pacing: It can be enticing to keep reading a book that you’re really into, or to binge watch a show, but doing either can be taxing on a Lyme-riddled brain. Often, I don’t know I’m overstimulated until it’s too late. I feel fine reading one page, and then another, and then all of a sudden, my head feels like it’s full of molasses. I’ve learned to stop while I’m ahead. You might tell yourself, “I have to stop reading after two pages, even if I feel fine, and rest for twenty minutes.” Eventually, as your infections get better, you’ll be able to do more, but you have to think of improving cognitive function as a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Making lists: Because memory can be so impacted by tick-borne illness, it can help to make to-do lists for each day. You can literally write down tasks like “shower” and “eat lunch,” and check them off when you’ve done them (it’s especially helpful to set reminders, either in writing or on your phone, to take your medications). Write out only what you can handle for one day at a time, and put other items on lists for later in the week. Remember to include self-care items, too, like “rest” or “take a bath.”
  • Neurofeedback: This non-invasive brain training program helps your brain to work optimally (the system I use is called Neuroptimal). I use it to help quiet my brain down; others use it to sharpen their thinking. The process uses your brain’s own information to figure out what it needs. It’s a relaxing process that involves watching kaleidoscope images on a screen (you can close your eyes if those feel overstimulating) and listening to gentle music while sensors are attached to your head. You’ll hear occasional skips in the music, which are signals that help your brain get back to its optimal state. Neuroptimal is great because it works on the whole brain at once. The neurofeedback practitioners I’ve worked with have cautioned against doing neurofeedback that only works on one section of the brain at once, saying this can actually worsen Lyme brain. I first got connected with my practitioner through a sleep clinic (which meant that sessions were covered by insurance). Your LLMD may want to do a sleep study, or refer you to a practitioner; you can also find one through the Neuroptimal site.
  • Body work/cranial sacral massage: I do a type of hands-on therapy called Integrative Manual Therapy, which encompasses cranial sacral therapy and neurofascial processing. This gentle, light touch helps lymphatic drainage, and often calms my limbic system Easing these symptoms reduces my brain fog, allowing for better cognitive function. Some physical therapists offer this type of therapy (which again means that insurance can cover it).
  • Play word and memory games: To help sharpen my brain (and keep me busy), a friend used to play writing games with me over email. He’d set rules such as, “Tell a story about a dog using only three syllable words” or “Tell me the name of someone we went to school with, and then come up with another using the first letter of that person’s last name.” I think these games helped improve my memory. It was nice to do them over email because I could take as long as I needed to complete them.
  • Recall the music or games of healthier times: Memory care units for the elderly sometimes use music therapy to help prompt long-term memory. People struggling with short-term memory are often able to recall and sing entire songs from their youth. In the midst of convalescence, I played an old card game, “Scrooge.” This elaborate version of double solitaire requires memory, quick thinking, and strategy. These were not functions that I could generally execute well in those darkest days of illness, but while playing that card game, I suddenly could. When I won handily, my opponent quipped, “There’s nothing wrong with that brain of yours!”
  • Limit stimulation: I quickly learned that loud noises, crowded rooms, and flashing screens would stimulate my brain to the point of shut down, and then brain fog would settle in. By limiting the amount of time I spent on screens, and avoiding particularly fast-paced shows, I was able to keep my brain calm so I could engage in other activities like writing and reading.
  • Accept that there will be setbacks: Healing from tick-borne illness is not linear. You will regain some cognitive function, and then have periods of brain fog, and then start improving again. Eventually, if you follow your doctor’s protocol and stick to some of these tips, you should start to see more good days than bad. I still sometimes struggle with cognitive issues, but they are slight now. When I was at my sickest, I couldn’t read or watch TV. I mixed up my words. My head ached. Now, I can write, teach, read and watch TV in short segments, and generally carry on with good cognitive functioning, so long as I work to maintain my health.

Jennifer Crystal


Opinions expressed by contributors are their own. Jennifer Crystal is a writer and educator in Boston. Her memoir about her medical journey is forthcoming. Contact her using her email.


Good Night, Sleep Tight

Good Night, Sleep Tight

By Women’s International Pharmacy

Sleep is the one thing that humans are unable to give up for any length of time. Even more so than water or food, our body simply shuts down when deprived of it. Yet, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), “more than 100 million Americans of all ages […] regularly fail to get a good night’s sleep” for one reason or another, leading to “a lowered quality of life and reduced personal health.”

Sleep is essential for tissue and cell repair, detoxification, and replenishing energy. Yet, while seemingly at rest, it also allows us to sort and store our memories and experiences, and somehow contributes to enhanced learning and mental performance. The growing field of research is beginning to uncover the details of what happens when we are “at rest,” and we still have much to discover about how it “works” to restore our bodies and minds. (See link for article)


For more:  

Lastly, for an interesting read on how time-restricted eating can help with fatigue:


  • One of the most effective ways to optimize your energy and combat fatigue is to implement time-restricted eating (TRE), as it improves your mitochondrial health and metabolic flexibility
  • TRE is a form of intermittent fasting in which you restrict all of your food intake to a certain number of consecutive hours each day. Keeping your eating to a window of six to eight hours a day is an achievable goal for most people
  • Your food intake, which impacts the circadian rhythm of your gut microbiome, and other circadian rhythms are intricately connected, and the more you can realign these circadian rhythms, the better your whole body will function, including your mitochondria
  • You also need to remove dietary and lifestyle factors that cause the energy depletion in the first place. Electromagnetic field exposure is one environmental factor. Leaky gut, caused by lectins in your diet, is another factor that needs to be addressed
  • When food particles are able to cross your gut lining, they cause chronic inflammation that requires a lot of energy to combat, thus causing fatigue and general malaise

For those of you unfamiliar with Dr. Gundry, he believes lectins in plants are killing us.  One must always question ideas that fly in the face of thousands of years of history.  Please see this article for a balanced review of this premise. (Most lectins are neutralized by cooking)  As always: discuss these issues with your practitioner as there may be a good reason for you to avoid them – or not.  Diet, is extremely individual and you need to do what’s best for your body.

Dreaming of the Past- and the Future

By Jennifer Crystal

People who haven’t had late-stage Lyme disease sometimes ask what the worst symptom I experienced was.

Without hesitation, it was insomnia. The Lyme bacteria had burrowed so deeply into my nervous system that my brain was on overdrive; despite bone-crushing fatigue, I could not shut my brain off to sleep. At one point, I was awake for three weeks straight. Worse, when I did sleep, I had hallucinogenic nightmares that were more exhausting than my waking hours.

Most of my dreams were non-sensical, and I had so many of them in a night, in such vivid detail, that it was hard to recall them all. But certain ones stick with me to this day. There are the good ones, the ones with meaning, like the recurring dream I described in “Missing the Summer of Life”.

And then there are the awful ones. I’m not talking about the worst of the nightmares, in which I was shot, burned, or raped. Those were traumatic in their own right. But more awful to me were the realistic dreams, those that played out the fatigue I felt in real life, in the context of things I could no longer do. Sometimes I would dream about lying in the middle of my former college campus, too tired to talk to friends walking by. Sometimes I’d be at the bottom of a ski hill, too tired to open my eyes or sit up, as healthy skiers whooshed past. I felt fatigue in my sleep as deeply as I felt it when I was awake. Not only were nights not restorative, but I woke feeling sad and anxious, longing for my old abilities and wondering if life would just pass me.

But as treatment for Lyme disease and the co-infections babesiosis and ehrlichiosis began to work, inflammation in my brain decreased. My waking energy improved, and my dreams shifted. Many nights I still had the awful nightmares, but peppered among them were better dreams about feelings I’d once experienced, but had long forgotten in my years of convalescence. Instead of lying at the bottom of a ski hill, I zoomed down it, without air hunger or a headache. My legs, which had felt so achy and weighted for so long, were light and strong in these dreams. I skied for hours, never tiring. The rush I used to feel from skiing in real life came back to me in these dreams, and I woke smiling.

Other nights my dreams reminded me of the euphoria of being in love, or of the giddiness of being tipsy. I didn’t only feel healthy in these dreams; I also got to experience the emotions that come with joy and fun. I wasn’t yet able to ski, or date, or go to a party in real life, but my dreams made those activities feel within reach. Instead of longing for what I’d lost, I started feeling hopeful about what I might someday be able to do.

I was once again dreaming of living, and those dreams worked as a nice metaphor for the possibilities that opened up to me as I got healthier and healthier. Eventually, I was able to ski, albeit slowly. I started socializing more. I laughed.

My journey to wellness wasn’t linear, and neither was the trajectory of my dreams. When I had physical setbacks, my dreams often mirrored them. Or, sometimes they’d forewarn them. For example, I might dream about driving a car too fast and not being able to hit the brakes. These dreams told me that I was pushing my body a little too hard; if I didn’t slow down, I might crash. As I wrote in this post, sometimes rest was the most important message of my dreams.

Dreaming of the past can be difficult, but it’s a way for us to mourn what we’ve lost. Dreaming of the future gives us hope, and lets us grasp feelings we can’t yet access in real life. Joy, fun, happiness, silliness—they’re hard to come by when you’re sick, but with proper treatment, rest, and time, they can shift from dream to reality.

jennifer crystal_2

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.

Jennifer Crystal is a writer and educator in Boston. Her memoir about her medical journey is on submission. Contact her at