How to Protect Yourself From Lyme Disease

protect yourself from Lyme disease

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The lemon daffodils and grape hyacinths barely had a chance to push through the chilly soil when we noticed that ticks debuted in the garden as well. Honestly, I would much rather kneel in my garden, plucking weeds and cutting blossoms without having to worry about Lyme disease. But that’s no longer a reality. This year, you can take a few steps to protect yourself from Lyme disease.

On the heels of navigating our way through a global pandemic without a roadmap, we now face a Tickpocalypse.

The tick timebomb detonated, spreading the black-legged crawling culprits of tick-borne diseases to 83 U.S. counties. An alarming number of tick species now carry the Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), the bacterial spirochete, or Lyme Borreliosis (LB), which is the bacteria that causes Lyme disease and other co-infections.

Ticks are Everywhere

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 476,000 Americans are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease each year.

Most people find ticks on their bodies after being in the backyard. Gone are the days when you only found ticks crawling up your arm after hiking in the woods.

Lyme disease and the co-infections affect numerous body systems. It can cause immune dysfunction, metabolic and hormonal imbalances, and neurological and cognitive dysfunction—to name a few.

So, it’s not if you get a tick bite, but when you get one, what should you do, and how can you protect yourself.

protect yourself from Lyme disease

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease results from the bite of a tick infected with the bacterial spirochete, which lives on cute little mammals such as squirrels, mice, and rabbits. More recently, birds and amphibians are carriers of Bb, which explains the geographical explosion of Lyme disease. Yes, you can live in Arizona and still contract Lyme disease.

The ticks feed on the blood of the host animal and then become infected. Then, the ticks transmit the infection to other hosts like humans. As the ticks engorge themselves in a blood feast, they release the infection into the host.

Tick saliva contains immune suppressors that spread the bacteria throughout the host’s body. And, because ticks feed on many different animals, they can spread the disease widely.

It’s a scary disease and not one to be ignored. The CDC estimates that 476,000 people contract Lyme disease in the US every year. Many people go undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or untreated.

protect yourself from Lyme disease

Prevention

Protect yourself as though every time you venture outside, you will encounter a tick.

There is not always a target-like or bulls-eye rash that alerts you of the crawling invader. Because only 20%-40% of Lyme disease cases exhibit a rash, you must be vigilant in checking yourself for ticks after being outside.

What Clothing to Wear

Barely the size of a poppy seed, the silent, blood-sucking ticks are everywhere these days.

When you hike, stay on cleared trails instead of walking across grassy fields. Wear shoes or boots, socks, long pants, and long sleeves. Tie back long hair and wear a hat. If you venture off, paths make clothing is light-colored, which helps you spot ticks before they cause trouble.

Clothing now comes with permethrin manufactured into the clothing fibers. Permethrin is an insecticide in the pyrethroid family. Pyrethroids are synthetic chemicals that act like natural extracts from the chrysanthemum flower. Because it is synthetic, it has the potential to interfere with thyroid hormones.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) states that “permethrin is not without some concern. It is neurotoxic, and the EPA classified it as a likely human carcinogen. It is highly toxic to the environment, especially to fish and other aquatic life.”

How to Protect Yourself From Lyme Disease

After being outside, shed clothes and put them in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes. Take precaution a step further by showering right away so that you can wash away unattached ticks. A quick rinse offers a good chance to inspect yourself thoroughly.

Using mouthparts with barbs and serrated-like spears, the tick can easily embed into the host. As you inspect your skin, feel for raised bumps which could be a tick.

Pay careful attention to hidden places, including groin, armpits, back of knees, navel, and scalp.

Use the Right Repellant

Insect repellants that ingredients like pyrethrum, a naturally occurring insecticide found in the chrysanthemum family, are safe. It’s becoming more common to find insect sprays that contain essential oils and other plant-based ingredients.

Naturopathic physician and acupuncturist Alexis Chesney suggests applying a combination of essential oils like Cedarwood and Lemon Eucalyptus on the skin are effective as a personal tick-repellent spray when in tick habitat.

Tick Repellent Recipe

Ingredients:

10-15 drops of Cedarwood essential oil

10 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil

Unscented witch hazel

Instructions:

Fill a 40z glass bottle 3/4 full with the unscented witch hazel. Add the essential oils. Shake vigorously. Then add 5 more drops of each essential oil. Shake again. Spray generously on exposed skin areas.

A Few Words About Insect Repellents

Many insect repellents contain the synthetic form of pyrethrum—permethrin.  Permethrin has the potential to interfere with thyroid hormones. 

The growing popularity of permethrin-treated clothing should come with a warning label attached to garments. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that permethrin is neurotoxic, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies it as a likely human carcinogen. 

When You Find an Embedded Tick

It’s essential to know what to do when you find a tick buried in your skin. You can take protective measures right away before consulting your healthcare provider.

Using fine-point tweezers or a special tick-removing tool, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. If you don’t have tweezers, protect your fingers with a tissue. Carefully remove the tick.

The longer a tick stays attached to the skin of the host, the greater the chances for the spread of tick-borne infection. Lyme Science writer Lori Marcum explains, “there are at least nine other tick species in the U.S. known to transmit pathogens to humans, many of them within 24 hours.

protect yourself from Lyme disease

Also, the idea that you have a 36-48 hour grace period before ticks transmit the Lyme bacterium is misleading.

If you suspect Lyme disease or another tick-borne illness, you could use an herbal tick recovery treatment like Samsara.

Herbs That Activate the Immune System

Locate a prophylactic treatment that contains herbs that “activate the immune system in a beneficial way in the face of those pathogens”:

Dokudami– traditional Chinese herbal medicine and Ayurveda, well known for its strong antibacterial and antiviral effects

Cats claw -traditional Chinese herbal medicine and Ayurveda, well known for its strong antibacterial and antiviral effects.

Gou-Teng – Chinese doctors created a drug used for the management of brain and heart conditions.

Andrographis paniculata is an herb long used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, also known as the “Indian echinacea.” Lyme disease expert Dr. Horowitz supports the use of this herb to manage Lyme disease. It has “strong scientific backing in patients with ongoing symptoms and inflammation.”

Sida Acuta – Used in traditional Indian medicine as a potent herb against malaria, fever, and various brain conditions.

Alcho cordifolia stops bacteria from reproducing.

Always discuss treatment with your trained healthcare professional.

essential oil

Should you Get Tested?

Once you remove the tick, continue to pay attention to see if you exhibit any symptoms or side effects of Lyme disease. If you suspect that you have Lyme disease or demonstrate any symptoms, you can get tested for a tick-borne disease.

Without hesitation, make an appointment with a Lyme literate medical practitioner (LLMD, LLMP).

Face Tick Season Prepared

The chorus of spring peepers serenades the message that winter’s icy grip is melting. She opens her gate to life that’s burrowed and hibernated. As we cross the threshold into my favorite season, bunnies hop into action, and robins perch on cherry blossom branches.

I adore spring and everything it offers and represents: new beginnings, longer days, perfumed lilacs, and grape hyacinths.

There is a handful of trepidation that accompanies the joy of the season. This annual trepidation grips me just about the time I set my clocks back.

Lyme disease ravaged my body for almost a decade, so it’s fitting I should be proactive about tick prevention. Pinky promise that you will take tick season seriously.

Resources to Protect Yourself From Lyme Disease

 

 

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