For those of you who might be new to Lyme, let me explain a bit more. Lyme Disease is caused by the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria, which is a corkscrew shaped bacteria that has a habit of burrowing its way deep into the tissues of the body. When you begin to kill this bacteria with antibiotics of any sort it releases toxins as it dies. This is a strange analogy, but if you've ever encountered a stink bug you'll know that when you kill them they release an awful odor. This bacteria is much the same, but when it dies it releases a cloud of toxins into the blood stream and surrounding tissues. Your liver, kidney & lymphatic system work really hard to get these toxins out of your system, but there is often an overload of toxins which can't be cleared fast enough on its own. So what ends up happening is that these toxins build up, stick around in your body, and start to cause some pretty terrible symptoms. This is called a herxheimer reaction, and it typically feels like an extreme flare up of your symptoms or like you have a really really terrible flu. Herxheimers have landed people in the ER, and can get very severe, so detoxing is of the utmost importance.
A herxheimer is normal and par for the course of Lyme Disease treatment, because no matter how careful you are the bacteria inevitably release more toxins than your body can naturally clear. It's one of the unavoidable parts of Lyme treatment, but in a way it's good because you know that your treatment is working. Pretty much every Doctor who treats this disease tells their patients, "it will get worse before it gets better," and that can't possible be more true.
I am often asked for suggestions on detox methods: which ones are the best, which ones are the most gentle, and which ones are my favorite. So today I thought I would do a round-up of the best detox methods I have found, along with step by step info on how to use them all. Through the course of my Lyme journey I have used a ton of methods, and I've pretty much tried it all.
I'm going to group these methods into categories, and also give it a rating from Low-High on how gentle it is. Some methods are very gentle and others are more hardcore (for more intense detox). Every body is different, and at my most fragile I only tolerated very gentle detox methods. So, you know your body best and will be able to pick which feels right for you.
Burbur Detox - Very Gentle
Epsom Salt Bath - Very Gentle
Lemon Essential Oil/Lemon Juice - Very Gentle
Dry Skin Brushing - Very Gentle
Charcoal Poultice - Very Gentle
How to do it: You will need pure activated charcoal powder for this, and its crucial that it is pure powder without any fillers. Then you take about 1-3 tbsp charcoal powder and mix it in a small bowl with some water (go teaspoon by teaspoon), until you create a paste. You want it to be thin enough to spread, but still thick enough to stay in place where you put it on your skin. You have two options to application: either put it directly on the skin, or take a cheesecloth material and put it on your skin, and place the paste on top. I will warn you that the paste does stain the skin temporarily, but putting it directly on the skin is stronger than via the cheesecloth. The cheesecloth however is an easier clean up, so it's up to you. I always did it via cheesecloth, and I still got a great result. Then over top of the paste you will place a wet warm paper towel (enough to cover the area), then a piece of Saran Wrap to seal in the moist heat, and finally place a heating pad on top of all of that to keep it warm and drive it into the skin. Lie like this for 20-30 mins and then remove. It's as easy as that! This can be done 2x daily and is incredibly gentle yet very powerful. It will pull the toxins out and unburden your liver/pancreas.
Activated Charcoal & PectaSol - Gentle
Molybdenum - Gentle
Milk Thistle - Gentle
How much should you take? If you want to do a more powerful liver detox then 150 milligrams one to three times a day is good. But for ongoing liver support, a dose between 50-150mg daily is best. You know your body best, so adjust it based on how you feel. I recommend a lower dose liquid supplement so you can adjust it easily as needed. I also love a good Milk Thistle tea, this works just as well as a capsule supplement.
Lymphatic Massage - Medium
A lymphatic massage is like a regular massage, except it is altered to be more gentle and surface level. The massage therapist will also massage in a way that moves the lymph fluid up towards the heart in the way it typically flows. This means they will work up the legs, up the arms, up the stomach and down the chest. You need to make sure that your massage therapist knows what they are doing and specialize in lymphatic massage, because someone who is uneducated in it could make things worst by using too much force. I ranked this as 'Medium' because you have to make sure you are very hydrated before hand and then stay very hydrated afterwards too so that your body can flush out the toxins that have now been mobilized. If you don't do this you may end up feeling worse. There are also some people that feel like they flare up for the first 24 hours and then get much better afterwards. Everybody is different, and you do need to be careful and start slow. I received lymphatic massages from 2 different massage therapists, and one did an amazing job that helped me while the other just made me feel worse. Sometimes it requires trial and error.
Bentonite Clay & Cholestyramine - Medium
Bentonite is a light grey colored clay that consists of volcanic ash called "Montmorillonite." Because of this it contains a high amount of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, sodium, and potassium. On top of that it has the ability to absorb and remove toxins, heavy metals and impurities from the body. It comes in two forms: 1. A powder you need to mix into 8-16oz of water and drink 2. A pre-mixed ready to take liquid that you mix a tablespoon of into about 4oz of water. It comes down to preference, but they both do a great job. This is a stronger detox than charcoal, but not too strong. Just make sure you are drinking plenty of water with it and start slow. When you start to latch on to toxins its a careful balance, because if you do it too quickly your body will dump more toxins out of the tissues and into your blood stream to fill it back up. This can quickly get out of hand, so I recommend starting at about 1/4 of the dose on the bottle and working up.
Cholestyramine is a prescription powder that was originally created for those with high cholesterol. They soon realized it was also really helpful for patients after gallbladder removal by soaking up the extra bile that may irritate the stomach. During this process they noticed that it did a fantastic job of absorbing bile and holding onto all the toxins in it until its excreted. I would say Cholestyramine is the strongest binder of them all, and my favorite too. I wrote a whole post about how it works HERE. Cholestyramine is very useful for mold illness too, as it holds onto mold toxins and helps flush them out of the system better than any other binder. It is a prescription, and typically comes in packets from the pharmacy. However the trouble with those is that they contain a lot of sugar and fillers that often make patients detoxing feel worse off. It is recommended to obtain Cholestyramine only from a compounding pharmacy where it is pure and without any filler. This is what I have done, and its allowed me to use smaller amounts and achieve the same results. It's crucial to start slow with Cholestyramine because it's strong at first, but once it gets working it works amazingly well.
Coffee Enema - Medium
If you are sensitive to caffeine you might have a thought to simply use decaf coffee instead, but it won't work. Oddly enough the caffeine portion is exactly what's needed to make the whole process work. However, the coffee used for enemas isn't the same as what you would get at Starbucks. It's completely different, relies on high amounts of cafestol & palmitic acid (to open the bile ducts) and is balanced in a way that the caffeine content is just right. As always though, if you have a heart condition and are sensitive to caffeine then proceed with caution.
So, now do coffee enemas work? When you fill an enema up with coffee and start to let it flow the hemorrhoid veins absorb the caffeine. From there it goes up (very quickly) to the portal vein which carries it right up to the liver and gallbladder. Once the liver receives the caffeine and palmitic acids it immediately reacts because the caffeine is an irritant to the liver. This makes the liver open its bile ducts and start dumping bile out quickly. Since toxins are stored in the liver this process of draining the bile from the liver dumps all of it out into the stomach so it can be shuttled out of the body. For best practice drinking a binder after a coffee enema will help soak the toxins up so that they cannot be reabsorbed while its making its way through the intestines. Also, many people ask if you can just drink coffee instead and get the same results and the answer is no. It must be given via an enema because there is a direct portal to the liver and it's the only way this process works. It's also a quick process, taking less than about 20 minutes. If it's your first time I recommend a Coffee Enema Kit that will have everything you need, and also Enema Coffee which is balanced and made only for enemas. I marked this as 'Medium' because it mobilizes a lot of toxins all at once, and you have to be ready for that.
Zeolite - Medium
I prefer to use the Zeolite spray because I trust that it is pure and the nano particles absorb very well, but many people prefer a powder form that they mix themselves.
Castor Oil Pack - Medium
Next up lets discuss how this oil is used, and then I will explain the logistics of why it works. Castor Oil packs are made by taking a piece of wool cloth and coating it in castor oil. This is then placed on the abdomen (usually directly over the liver), covered with a piece of Saran Wrap, and then topped with a heating pad to drive the oil into the skin. You lie like this for about an hour to let it work and then clean it off of your skin. It's a relatively easy process, but its also a messy process. Castor oil is sticky and will stain clothes so you need to use towels underneath you and wear old clothes. The good news however is that you can re-use the castor oil pack over and over by storing it in a sealed glass container without needing to add more oil to it.
So, how does it work? When the castor oil is applied topically over the abdomen it is absorbed through the skin into the tissues. With the use of the heat it helps drive the oil even deeper so it's able to increase lymphocyte production and increase the circulation of the lymphatic system. Using it over the liver also stimulates the liver the dump bile, so you get a two in one benefit that way. I marked this as 'Medium' because it can also cause a quick detox, and if you are in a very fragile state it might be a bit too much for your body. It's not harsh by any means, but it's somewhere in the middle of the intensity scale.
Castor Oil packs come in a really handy kit that has everything you need in one place, which makes it very convenient. This is what I have and I like it because I also trust the purity of this brand to be very clean. Alternately you can also buy the items separately and make your own kit if you'd like, but the kit is pretty inexpensive. Just remember to use old towels and clothes when you do decide to do it!
Ionic Foot Bath - High Intensity
I rated this as 'High Intensity' you can actually feel a small shock when the machine turns on, because its sending an actual current through the body. Just like the salt water is needed for conduction with the array, our bodies are also largely made out of water and electrolytes. This provides the perfect atmosphere for the currents to travel through. I would not recommend this to someone who is very sensitive or ill. There are also some warnings about pacemakers and the such which would make you unable to use the machine.
Many clinics have foot baths which you can pay for by the session. These are typically the higher end machines. There are also some modest priced models out there which you can purchase for at home use. If you want to do these often then owning one will be a better value. A warning through, if you buy a very cheap or inexpensive unit there are risk that it might make you feel worse off. That's because the difference between a $100 model and a $1500 model are the frequencies which are produced. The right frequency should put your body into a parasympathetic state of relaxation and detoxification. The cheaper models though are no better than a 9-volt battery with some copper wires, as they often produce a frequency that stresses the body, puts it into fight or flight mode, and only shuts down detoxification. So always read reviews and be choosy with which machine you use.
Infrared Sauna - High Intensity
Infrared Sauna's work simply by creating a kind of infrared ray that heats your body up by penetrating very deep. This deep penetrating heat goes into your tissues and gets them to dump their toxins into the blood stream. Also, as you sweat you are releasing all the toxins currently circulating in your body as well. This is a very effective detox method, but it is definitely 'High Intensity.' For starters, since it heats up your entire body it will dump toxins from your entire body out too. You need to be ready and prepared for this by staying very hydrated and making use of binders. However, if you are new to detoxing then I do not recommend this at all. You need to go slow, because a sudden dump can make you feel awful. If you tolerate an infrared sauna though then it can be a real miracle worker, and most people report feeling better about 24 hours after a session (once the toxins have cleared).
You have a few options to accessing an infrared sauna. Some gyms and spa's offer them in packages, so you can do that if you have a location nearby. You can also buy your own infrared sauna for your home because they come in two sizes: 1. Wooden Units 2. Portable Units. I had enough room in my home for a stationary wooden unit (this is the one I got), but the portable ones work just as well and do cost less. Some people prefer the portable units actually because your head is left out and they can tolerate the heat better if their head stays cool. It's all about personal preference!