If you’ve had Lyme for a while you know how important detoxing is. If you are new to Lyme, you may not. I didn’t know about the importance of detoxing until over a year into treatment! But let’s back up a few steps. Detoxing is not only important for those with Lyme disease, it is important for EVERYONE. Why? Because our environment is filled with toxins that are getting into your body! How? Through pollutants in the air, the water you drink (if it is from the tap it contains antibiotics, pesticides, heavy metals, and other chemicals), the products you put on your skin (if not using all natural products), and the food you eat (especially if you are not eating organic).
Everyone needs to detox as our environment in general is filled with chemicals that your body isn’t meant to have in it. But many of those with Lyme also have compromised detoxing systems so we need to do EXTRA to get not only these chemicals out but also the toxins from the buggers. As you kill Lyme bugs through treatment, they give off toxins as they die which are VERY stressful on your body. This is what causes a herx and can make you feel worse before you feel better. Detoxing helps pull those toxins out quicker and make you feel better! Our little Lyme bodies can’t handle much more overload so the more we can do to decrease the load on our organs and systems by detoxing, the better.
I am living proof that detoxing works and is important! But it does take consistency and time. I am the most impatient person in the world and if I don’t feel the effects of something immediately I assume it’s not working or worth my time. You will usually feel at least some benefit almost immediately from many detoxing techniques but doing them for a prolonged period of time will work wonders. I’ve been consistent with my detox routine for a few months and I am just now starting to feel the real benefits. I feel like my toxin load is truly lifting and allowing me to move forward with treatment. So read on for a very important health PSA :).
There are A LOT of things you can do to detox and I am going to go through many of them here. Of course, it is important to detox your environment, too, but that is a whole other post! I will be focusing on how to detox the systems in your body. Some I have tried, some I have not (I will mention that after I discuss each one). There are also probably more out there that I don’t know about so please leave a comment if I leave something out or let me know what works best for you!
Detox Baths (or Ion Foot Cleanses): THIS is one of my number one favorite ways to detox! It is easy and most anyone can do it. Plus it is relaxing. Detox baths are done using epsom salts and any other additives you want. My favorite combo is 2 cups epsom salts + 1 cup baking soda + 1-2 tablespoons ground ginger. Put all of this into a warm-hot bath and sweat it out for 15-20 minutes. I light candles and put on some good music to help de-stress. Epsom salts are well-known for their many benefits and are used in baths to help pull toxins out of your body, alleviate joint and muscle pain, and improve oxygen use (these are only a few of the many benefits). Baking soda (or Apple Cider Vinegar) helps pull out toxins, as well, but it also balances pH by making your system more alkaline (Lymies can tend to be out of wack). ACV has anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial effects, as well (Hippocrates was the one who preached about its antibiotic effects!). Ground ginger helps increase the heat in your body allowing you to sweat more and thus pull out more toxins. Your largest detoxing organ in your body is your skin! So the more you can sweat out through your skin, the better! You can always add in some essential oils to your bath or other things like maca, special bath bombs or salts, etc, to make things even more interesting.
Far-Infrared Sauna: This is on a similar level as a detox bath. The big idea here again is to SWEAT! But you want to use a FIR sauna. Far-infrared heat is different… far-infrared rays are able to penetrate the tissues heating up the whole body and both possibly killing buggers (which don’t survive at high temps) and making you sweat out toxins. Far-infrared heat is also able to stimulate your lymphatic system, which has no pumps, to help flush out toxins. I have a portable FIR sauna I got off Amazon for a very good price. Dr. Klinghardt has shown that you only need to sweat for 10 minutes to receive benefits. I usually hop in and once I start sweating stay in for about 15 minutes (that is about as long as I can stand!). So my total sauna time ends up being 25-30 minutes. I think this bad boy has been key in helping me- I’m so full of toxins and I sweat like MAD in my sauna. Feels so good sweating out all the bad stuff! Especially since I can’t work out right now and sweat that way.
Biomat (or Migun Mat): The biomat is, well I would say, famous in the Lyme community. It is like a giant heating pad you lay on and it emits far-infrared heat like the FIR sauna. It also emits negative ions. According to the Biomat website “If there are enough negative ions inside and outside the cell, the cell is able to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste product more effectively. Flooding the body with negative ions enriches it at the cellular level and encourages the elimination of toxins and oxidants…Negative ions activate the body’s entire cellular communication system by opening cell channels and allowing nutrients to enter more easily and wastes to be eliminated, purifying the body at the cellular level.” (http://www.biomat.com/faq/the-basics/). Biomats are a similar idea to the FIR sauna but you don’t tend to sweat as much and you can lay on them for as long as you want. I have used one a couple times and love it! FIR heat is also shown to decrease inflammation (for example, I know a lady who showed signs of pre-breast cancer and after using her biomat everyday completely decreased all inflammation in her breast!) and if you have Lyme or any type of pain you know you have inflammation! Most people do!
Dry Brushing: This is where you take a brush like you would use in the shower- so a stiff bristled dry brush- and dry brush your skin. No water! Dry brushing stimulates circulation and the lymphatic system. Like I mentioned above, your lymphatic system has no pumps so in order to keep things moving and detox you must stimulate it. Your lymph system is part of your circulatory system and basically “clears” toxins from around your body, recycling old blood back to your heart. It’s stimulated by movement and breathing, so exercise and deep meditation (with lots of breathing) can help support your lymphatic system. But being sick means it needs extra help and also means you probably can’t exercise as much! I dry brush daily right before I go through my detox regimen (so before a sauna, bath, or hot shower is best). To dry brush you want to go in sweeping strokes toward your heart. Start from your feet, sweeping up your legs and then down your arms. Remember, all toward your heart as that is the direction of the lymph system flow and you are trying to help it out.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage: Since we are talking about the lymphatic system! This type of massage is very different from a typical massage and you have to seek out someone who offers them and specifically knows what they are doing. They use a special technique to stimulate the lymphatic system. I have never had one of these but you can YouTube videos of it that will even show you some basic moves you can do on yourself at home! I know people who have had these and feel amazing afterwards (which makes perfect sense because you are increasing the effectiveness of your detoxing system). Here is a video of an at home technique you can use!
Yoga: I just mentioned the importance of movement for lymphatic drainage and yoga is a great, low energy way to do that. Yoga can stimulate your lymphatic system without too much overload on your body. Yoga can also help with general detox. Poses that help the best are twists so if you are doing yoga for detox I would tell you to chose a series with a lot of twists. The idea here is the same as that of wringing out a towel. Twists wring out your organs of toxins the way you wring out all the water in a towel. Twists also help stimulate organs and systems in your body. There are lots of other poses that help with detoxing and health but I am not a yoga expert. You can google this or YouTube videos. I generally just YouTube a yoga video to do that day and here is one of my favorite ones for detox and digestion!
Castor Oil Packs: One of the major detoxing organs in your body is your liver. But it can get REALLY clogged up from toxins, antibiotics, and parasites (they love to live in there and in your gallbladder). Castor oil draws toxins out of your body through your skin, helping alleviate the load on your liver. I get terrible spleen/pancreas and liver pain and these bad boys have helped decrease that tremendously! These packs also help stimulate your lymphatic system and help boost your immune system. How perfect? Get on this now. What you do is buy some organic wool or cotton and some castor oil. This is a bit messy so be prepared. You want to pour the castor oil over the fabric (do this in a bowl or the sink!) so that it is saturated but not dripping. Then lie down on a towel and lay the pack over top of your abdomen. I cover my whole abdomen because all of it always hurts but many people just use a piece of fabric big enough to cover their liver (the upper right quadrant of your abdomen by the base of your ribs). Then lay another towel or some plastic wrap over the pack and top it all off with a heating pad. Lay and relax, nap, or read for 45 minutes to two hours. You want to go 3-4 days on then 3-4 days off.
Juicing: Man oh man, the benefits of juicing are endless! I’m not going to spend time talking about ALL the health benefits of juicing, I will just focus on the detoxing part of it all. Green juices help with general detoxification and also serve as a gentle heavy metal detoxer. You all have heard of the importance of eating your green leafy veggies but juiced they can help pull out toxins even better! This is because the nutrients from veggies in a juice form are very quickly and easily absorbed into your system and your digestive system doesn’t have to do any work to break down the fiber. They also assist the liver in detoxification. Cilantro and Parsley are two herbs that are EXCELLENT at detoxing and releasing heavy metals (but make sure you take a binder to bind the released metals and excrete them from your body). Dandelion greens help decrease inflammation and assist the liver and kidneys in detoxification. They are a diuretic, helping you pee out those nasty toxins in your body. They may also help boost the immune system. Turmeric root is also a great thing to juice. Turmeric contains the compound curcumin which is a natural anti-inflammatory. Juicing turmeric root gets that curcumin right into your system! Ginger is one of my favorite things in the world to juice! It is an aquired taste and you may need to start small and increase the dose slowly. I aim for 1/2-1 inch piece of ginger in all my juices. Ginger helps decrease inflammation and stimulates circulation to improve the natural detox systems in your body.
Colonics/Colon Hydrotherapy: Yes, we are going to go there. Your colon gets mad clogged up with toxins that just sit in there and old food that ferments. Gross, I know. And even if you think you are regular, you’re probably not and have some toxin build up in your intestines. Many of those with Lyme have digestive issues and a lot of are constipated due to antibiotics or Candida (while some are the complete opposite). So basically what happens is they shoot water up your… um.. butt… and cleanse out your colon… then everything comes back out. They usually last 45 min.-1 hour (sometimes longer) depending on who you see and how toxic you are. Bile is “recycled” in your body but colonics helps clean some of that bile out which can hold toxins in it. They may also help clean out parasites due to helping get bile out and other things that have been stuck in your colon. I have tried colonics and I have to say I wasn’t the biggest fan probably because my digestive system is cray. BUT I believe in their benefits and I know many people who have found them to be amazing and include them as a regular part of treatment (or at least every few months to help you feel cleaned out and less toxic).
Coffee Enemas: Alright, on a similar note as colonics, we have coffee enemas. These are done at home rather then at a colonics place. You basically shoot coffee up your ass and wait for the magic to happen :p (sorry for that graphic image… but I know I got you to smile). So like colonics, they clean you out but coffee has some compounds that serve as awesome detoxifiers in your body. Coffee is absorbed right into the blood stream when you do a coffee enema and compounds in coffee can help detox your liver and help your body produce more Glutathione. AND LET ME TELL YOU, GLUTATHIONE IS ONE OF THE BEST DETOXIFIERS! You produce it naturally but many with Lyme don’t produce enough or need an extra boost to help detoxify. Many doctors will give it via IV or a supplement form to help alleviate a herx or symptoms in general. Dr. Horowitz raves about it in his book. Coffee enemas can also help with heavy metal detoxification. You basically buy a coffee enema kit (can get them cheap online) then boil some good, organic coffee and spend some quality time with your bathroom. I have not tried these yet but I plan to start this summer once I am out of school and have more time. Everyone I have talked to who has tried them loves them and really benefits.
Lemon Water: Squeezing lemon into your water can help detoxify your body, balance pH, and boost your immune system. Lemon is one of those all natural, easily accessible super foods in a way! Lemon helps stimulate liver function and is considered an antiseptic. It has also been shown to help in the treatment of malaria (read: help with Babesia!). I try and drink lemon water daily (mixed with Thieves essential oil) and add it to homemade dressings, sauces, or squeeze it on all my food.
Supplements: There are many supplements that you can get at your local health food store that bind toxins or help detoxify your body in some way. Some of these include a probiotic, milk thistle, chlorella, and activated charcoal. Chlorella and activated charcoal are great at binding toxins and pulling them out, especially heavy metals. They are low level though so that is important to keep in mind. I would not advise using activated charcoal daily unless your doctor as recommended that as it pulls EVERYTHING out (even the minerals in food and whatnot) plus can cause constipation. I use activated charcoal if I know I have eaten something bad or I am having terrible symptoms or herxing. Chlorella can be taken daily and is a mild detoxifier that is great for the body. Chlorella is a binder, as well, so it can bind heavy metals if you have released them with juicing or cilantro. Milk thistle is another mild yet wonderful liver detoxifier. Probiotics are important for anyone with Lyme disease but they can help detox the digestive tract slightly, as well. I’m sure there are other supplements out there but these are the main ones I know of and use or have used. They all can be purchased at your local health food store or Vitamin Cottage.
Byron White Formulas: First of all, these can only be purchased through a doctor. Many LLMD’s and alternative medicine docs will know of these or use them. Byron White makes a few amazing detox formulas including BT-detox, NT-detox, and Detox-2. I have used all three and I am currently taking BT-detox which has really helped with my brain fog.
Herbs and other detox formulas: There are many herbs out there that help with detoxification. If you have heard of the Cowden Protocol, he includes several detox drops in his regimen (including Burbur, Parsley, Pinella, and more!). I am on the Cowden protocol but have to say I don’t find his detox drops to be strong enough for me. They work but I need extra doses plus all the other stuff I have just discussed! There are also many essential oils that help with detoxing. Essential oils are not my speciality and I am just starting to get into them (very excited, by the way!). I know of someone (cough cough KAYLA cough cough) who knows a lot about them and I’m sure she would be willing to provide insight if any of you had questions (I hope she doesn’t mind me mentioning her here… and I also feel like she wouldn’t mind if I said that I could put any of you in touch with her if you have more questions about essential oils and the MANY benefits of them)! There are many other detox formulas out there that health food stores sell or your doctor may know of. I have mentioned the main ones I am aware of but wanted to include this bullet so you all were aware of the fact that there are more out there!
ALRIGHTY, so this post took me a few days to write and I’m sure as soon as I publish it I will think of a couple more things I forgot to mention. I’ll probably do a second post if that happens OR if you all comment about a bunch of methods (then I can share them with everyone!). But please do comment with your favorite detoxing methods and any methods I have not mentioned. I feel like a cheerleader for detoxing so I always want to learn about new detoxing treatments :).