It used to be believed that Lyme disease always resolved after a few weeks of antibiotics. But more and more reports are coming out of people who remain sick or even get worse after antibiotic treatment. For this reason, many physicians
treating Lyme disease have also begun using natural methods like nutrition, herbs, and supplements.
"I believe it's important to address all aspects of a person,"
Kristin Reihman, MD, family medicine doctor and author of , tells Bustle. The treatments she recommends to her patients include "supplementation, taking out allergens and inflammatory foods in the diet, making sure work and play environments are not toxic, remediating any mold and other issues that might be there that could undermine an otherwise healthy immune system, and looking at toxic relationships." Life After Lyme
chronic Lyme disease may feel hopeless when there's no straightforward treatment that works for everyone. But that doesn't mean there isn't any treatment for you at all. To the contrary, there are lots of alternative options out there. Doing some research can help you find the one that suits your needs.
Here are some natural remedies for Lyme disease that may help
patients who haven't had success with the standard antibiotic treatment or who want to try something additional, according to experts. 1 Acupuncture Mladen Zivkovic/Shutterstock
Acupuncture has been shown to help with symptoms like pain, insomnia, and anxiety that are often associated with Lyme, Dr. Reihman says. It may even help get rid of the Lyme altogether, since there's
some research suggesting that acupuncture can strengthen the immune system. 2 An Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Many Lyme symptoms
stem from inflammation, so the fewer inflammatory foods you eat, the more you can keep your symptoms at bay. Dr. Reihman recommends that people with Lyme avoid sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, and dairy to the best of their abilities.
"Sugar and alcohol can both undermine an immune response, making it less robust, which is the last thing anybody wants when they're trying to fight a Lyme infection," she explains. "Dairy creates mucus in everybody, and because mucus is a common place for microbes to hide in the body, I recommend they stay off dairy." Dr. Reihman also recommends staying away from gluten because of the effects it can have on your gut lining.
Dr. Reihman suggests going on an
elimination diet to figure out what your trigger foods are. This can help people "heal the gut and experientially gain awareness of what feels good in their body," she explains. 3 Supplements
Lyme patients can benefit from trace minerals, vitamin D, probiotics (especially if you're
taking antibiotics), and omega-6 and omega-3 fats, Dr. Reihman says.
However, she recommends using as few supplements as possible. "The gut can only handle so much before becoming overwhelmed," she explains. Instead of taking a lot of supplements, it's better to eat six cups of leafy greens or brightly colored vegetables per day.
4 Chlorella Rocketclips, Inc./Shutterstock Chlorella, a type of algae, has been touted as a superfood because of its antioxidant and detoxifying properties. Dr. Reihman recommends it for Lyme patients because it binds to toxins and helps you eliminate them.
This can help you avoid a Herxheimer reaction, where Lyme gets released into the bloodstream and causes inflammation in the process of being killed.
5 Exercise Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock
Exercise is good for pretty much everyone, but it has extra benefits for Lyme patients. "Lyme hates heat and it hates oxygen, and exercise can bring both of those things to all parts of the body," Dr. Reihman says. "I encourage people to do as much as they can tolerate every day."
6 Herbs Yulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock
Some herbal regimens, like the
Buhner protocol, are designed specifically to kill off Lyme. Dr. Reihman likes to prescribe Beyond Balance formulas, which contain different mixes of herbs for various Lyme symptoms and coinfections, as well as the standalone herb Teasel Root. 7 Stevia PR Image Factory/Shutterstock
There's some research showing that stevia, a natural sugar-free sweetener,
can kill , a bacteria species that causes Lyme. It's not entirely certain if this would kill Lyme in the body, as the study was done on isolated bacteria, but some people swear by it. Borrelia burgdorferi Naturopath Julia Greenspan, ND recommends stevia because she considers it a biofilm disruptor.
Lyme bacteria "produce something called biofilm, which is a protein matrix creating treatment resistance, so it is important to incorporate biofilm-busting herbals," she tells Bustle. "The more varied the herbal treatments, the more success one will have resolving symptoms."
8 Banderol And Cat’s Claw Tiko Aramyan/Shutterstock
"These two herbs are commonly dosed together because they work synergistically with clinically proven action against
Borrelia species," Greenspan says. "The goals with any treatment with Lyme disease spirochetes, whether chronic or acute, is to have a combination of herbs to be effective with the shape-shifting behavior of this microbe." 9 A Good Support System
Healing Lyme, like any illness, is also about emotional health. This means having supportive people around you and setting boundaries with those who trivialize your illness or
claim it's in your head.
"When people are surrounded by people who don't believe them, that can create undo stress," Dr. Reihman says. "Feelings of lack of efficacy can be harmful to someone's long-term healing project. I encourage people to have conversations with people in their lives who may not know how to be as helpful as they can be."
Healing from Lyme disease is a journey, but it's one you need never give up on. When one method fails, that's just a chance to try another one.