treatment part 2: supplements

Mix of vitamins

My dear Lymie friend,

Part of the disappointment of any medical treatment is the possibility that not only will this treatment not help, but that it also might hurt (i.e. antibiotics having bad side-effects). There are, however, things that you can try in Lyme treatment that can only help. Today, I want to talk with you about vitamin, mineral, and a few herbal supplements.

Because Lyme compromises your immune system, you are also likely to develop deficiencies. You may need to consume extra of many vitamins, minerals, and herbs to get what you really need. Your doctor can run blood tests to see where you have deficiencies. In a later post, I’ll talk about getting some of these nutrients from your food intake, but getting all the nutrients you need from food takes time and practice. In the meantime, you may want to start with pills. Some of the common supplements your doctor may ask you to start taking are:

Vitamin C – it’s a powerful antioxidant that helps protect sells from invaders. Sounds useful, huh? It supports overall immune system health. It is likely your doctor will want you to take several thousand milligrams of Vitamin C daily.

Iron – It’s very common to become iron deficient when you have Lyme. Iron helps your body make oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Without healthy red blood cells, your body can’t get enough oxygen, which hurts your chances of getting better.

Vitamin B Complex – Vitamin B is responsible for turning your food into usable energy, and that’s only the beginning. It also supports your nervous system, aids in the development of new red blood cells, and more. A vitamin B complex (a supplement carrying all 8 forms of Vitamin B) will help your body turn food into energy. Since Lyme is characterized by intense fatigue, it is no wonder that a Vitamin B deficiency is common.

Vitamin D – Vitamin D is necessary for your body to consume calcium and phosphorus. Not only that, but it also is linked to your immune system, helping you to withstand certain diseases. Yes, this too, is a common deficiency for Lyme patients.

Garlic – Taking garlic supplements (and consuming it fresh in your food) will make your life a lot better. It’s one of those things that has about 50 benefits including: maintaining healthy liver function (very important if you’re on heavy meds), fighting fatigue and stress, and useful in the prevention and treatment of many diseases.

Magnesium Complex – Magnesium is imperative for healthy bones, nerves, and muscles. It also regulates blood sugar, blood pressure, and making proteins. Yes, you definitely need this. On a personal note, I take it daily, but I also take it when I’m having significant pain in my face. My doctor suggested this trick: break open the capsule and put the magnesium powder under your tongue. Put just a bit of water on the magnesium. It will get hot. Hold it in your mouth as long as you can (a minute is good). You should start feeling relief in about 5 minutes. If not, take one more capsule the same way. This trick enables the magnesium to enter your blood stream faster, giving you quick relief.

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Ginger – Ginger is a great supplement to take for nausea. Generally speaking, it helps with a variety of stomach upset. Take it. You will be happier.

Curcumin – Curcumin is a great anti-inflammatory. Not only that, but it is also a great source of antioxidants. Yippy skippy! Another helpful supplement. I take this daily for my swollen, hurting muscles.

Berberine – Berberine is a supplement that is often used to aid the treatment of bacterial infections (Ding! Ding! Ding!), intestinal issues, and inflammation.

Krill Oil – This one smells bad, but don’t be deterred. This supplement gives you your Omega-3 fatty acids. It decreases swelling, lowers cholesterol, and improves heart health. Because heart problems are common with Lyme, it’s specifically useful.

Probiotics – Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, particularly your digestive system. If you are taking antibiotics, it is especially helpful to take probiotics, so that the good bacteria in your gut that the antibiotics killed will be replaced. They can be found at your local health food store or somewhere like Whole Foods.

Grapefruit Seed Extract – GSE breaks up cysts (Lyme bacteria forms into cysts to protect itself from antibiotics). Breaking up the cysts allows your antibiotics to kill Lyme and co-infection bacteria.

Gamma-Amino Butyric acid – GABA is an essential amino acid that works in your central nervous system. It essentially calms down nervous activity in the brain by inhibiting nerve transmission. In Layman’s terms, sometimes with Lyme the neurotransmitters in your brain are firing too quickly, and GABA helps slow it down to what it should be. GABA is already a naturally occurring substance in your body, but us Lymies sometimes need extra.

Mitochondrial Energy Optimizer – Basically, each cell in your body has mitochondria, which helps produce cellular energy. If mitochondrial function decreases (which can be common with many diseases), organ function can decrease as well. Taking this supplement makes your mitochondria happy again.

Now, I say all of this to be helpful, but obviously… I’m not a medical professional. Don’t start taking these on your own. I’d strongly urge you to ask your doctor about any that interest you, and see what he/she thinks. These have all been recommended to me by my doctor (notice I didn’t tell you the frequency or dosage), but she has the full picture of everything that is going on in my body. She has told me to get them, because they are specifically helpful to MY Lyme and co-infection battle. I would imagine that many of these are helpful across the board. However, your doctor will have the best thoughts about what will help you.

One last thought: not all vitamins and minerals are created equally. Don’t just look for the cheapest option. This is another reason talking to your doctor is helpful. He/She may have a specific brand that they want you to use. What I do is find out which brand, dosage, and frequency my doctor wants me to take. Then, I go on Amazon to see if I can get it at a better price than my local health food store. Since just getting out of bed can be a chore, I’m happy when I can get it shipped to my door for free with Amazon Prime.

There’s a lot more to talk about with treatment options. Stay tuned.

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