Lyme Disease supplements play an important role in a treatment approach. A successful protocol will reduce inflammation, rebuild & support what Lyme has damaged, kill bacteria and aid detox. The right supplements play a role in all of those, apart from killing bacteria.
The issue I frequently run into is the mindset that the right supplement will relieve a symptom, fix a problem or make treatment more successful. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In the west we are conditioned to believe that a pill will solve all our problems, but this is a relatively new way of thinking. In eastern systems such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, practitioners have long understood that illness arises out of imbalances in the body. Treatment aims to re-balance the body and empower it to heal itself.
The TOWL Approach
Our view at Ticked Off With Lyme is that healing from Lyme Disease involves so much more than simply killing bacteria. As such, supplements play an important role in a successful protocol, but without the other elements like lifestyle, diet and health habits, you may find yourself fighting an uphill battle.
Let’s take a look at probiotics as an example. Probiotics can play a vital role in maintaining healthy gut flora, but if you continue to live off McDonald’s and Coca-Cola and not feed your body what it needs, that probiotic pill becomes pretty useless, pretty fast!
With that said, let’s take a look at the Top 10 Supplements for Lyme Disease.
The Top 10 Supplements for Lyme
One of the most debilitating symptoms of Lyme Disease can be fatigue. Fatigue can often prevent us from doing those things that would be so helpful for our recovery, if only we had the energy to do it!
Siberian Ginseng is a herb, most often found in tincture form, which is exceptionally good at reducing fatigue. In high doses (1:1 or 1:2 tinctures) it tends to act as an immune stimulant. In cases of severe fatigue this can be extremely useful, although once you overcome the initial fatigue, switching to a lower, tonic dose of 1:5 is recommended.
Note: You shouldn’t take Siberian Ginseng if you have high blood pressure, as it has a hypertensive action.
Milk Thistle has long been used as a liver tonic, and is widely recognised as being the most effective liver tonic available. It works to support the detoxification pathways that are compromised in chronic Lyme.
Whilst many choose to take the dry herb, it’s widely accepted that a standardised extract is more useful. This is to ensure that you know how much of the important compound you’re getting – which is called silibinin.
Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory which acts throughout the body. Multiple peer-reviewed studies have found this compound to be more effective that anti-inflammatory drugs in the treatment of arthritis. Most Curcumin supplements are combined with Black Pepper which aids absorption.
Reducing inflammation should be the first step in any successful Lyme Disease protocol, and I cover this off in more detail here.
Research is showing that gut health is more important than we’ve ever given it credit for. Did you know that around 70% of the body’s serotonin is made in the gut, not the brain? Serotonin deficiency is thought to be a key reason for depression, and anti-depressants aim to fix this balance. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were an alternative to hard hitting pharmaceuticals? After all, depression can be an all-too-common part of chronic illness.
Additionally, the gut plays a much larger role in overall immunity than previously thought. Allowing beneficial bacteria to flourish is key to that. Our western diet is lacking whole, plant based nutrition but full of sugary, processed foods. Taking a high quality probiotic can go a short way, but combining this with a dietary overhaul will help to rebalance your gut.
Alpha Lipoic Acid – an often overlooked addition to a Lyme Disease protocol. ALA is a fatty acid which is naturally produced by our cells, but this production decreases with age and illness.
ALA plays a vital role in converting glucose into energy, and as such it shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone suffering with fatigue. It’s also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. As such it can be incredibly useful when experiencing a herxheimer reaction.
Chinese skullcap is a potent synergist, which means that it enhances the action of other herbs. It is also a powerful cytokine inhibitor, so it reduces inflammation in the body. This is an excellent supplement for Lyme Disease due to its broad anti-inflammatory effect.
Note: Due to its ability to enhance the effect of other herbs and medications, you should consult with your GP if you are taking other medication or avoid use of this herb.
Also known as Pueraria lobata, Kudzo is another powerful cytokine inhibitor, except it is specifically indicated for protecting the cells of the Central Nervous System. It’s an essential addition for anyone with a neurological presentation of Lyme like twitching, pins & needles, headaches and numbness.
Note: This herb cannot be taken with methotrexate, which is a common treatment for autoimmune conditions such as lupus or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Red Sage is also called Salvia miltiorrhiza. It is a cytokine modulator, so instead of inhibiting cytokines, like Chinese skullcap and Kudzo, it normalises them. When cytokine production is too high, it lowers it. When production is too low, it increases it. Pairing this herb with the previous two is a good idea, to ensure that all bases are covered.
Aside from this, red sage is also strongly protective of the spleen, whilst enhancing the spleen’s immune function. This is especially important for co-infections, like Bartonella, which have a direct negative impact on the spleen.
Magnesium has many wonderful benefits for those with Lyme. It can either be taken as an oral supplement or applied topically. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that magnesium is absorbed much more readily via the skin.
Magnesium deficiency is a common ailment, even in those without Lyme. Its symptoms include muscle twitches, cramps, muscle fatigue, insomnia, anxiety & depression, high blood pressure and fatigue.
The best way to supplement magnesium is to add 2 cups of Epsom salts to your bath. This had the added benefit of being a wonderful detox tool, as it will draw toxins out through the skin. If you’re unable to do this, then a magnesium oil spray is another brilliant method.
When supplementing magnesium transdermally (through the skin) you may experience an uncomfortable tingling sensation. This will subside and is thought to be a sign that you are indeed deficient in magnesium.
Note: When purchasing magnesium for transdermal absorption, you must ensure to buy a high quality product which contains only magnesium. Anything included in the product, like perfumes, preservatives and additives will also be readily absorbed by your skin. This can somewhat defeat the objective of detoxification!
Boneset tea – an acquired taste but one well worth acquiring. Originally used by the Native Americans to treat rheumatism, dropsy, dengue fever, malaria, pneumonia, and influenza, Boneset has many uses for those with Lyme.
It’s main action is as an antipyretic, which meas that it reduces fevers. This makes it especially useful for the co-infections Bartonella and Babesia. Drinking boneset tea throughout the day can help to alleviate many of these symptoms.
Do you take supplements for Lyme? If so I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below.