Lyme Disease And Babesia – Steps To Take To Help Beat Them
Babesia is a blood parasite that lives in red blood cells. For the vast majority of people, it resolves itself and never becomes a problem – most people will never even know they’ve had it.
But for some, particularly if you get it as a co-infection with a tick-borne illness like Lyme Disease, it can become a major issue. Since Babesia is quite difficult to detect in standard blood tests – the parasite only invades a few of the blood cells and repeated tests may be needed before picking up on the disease – you may be left to ‘guess’ whether you’ve acquired it or not, and left to treat it by yourself.
Most people will never get infected by Babesia, but if you’ve been diagnosed with any tick-borne infection – or you strongly suspect that you have one (the tests for Lyme Disease are also woefully inadequate) – Babesia could be adding to your problems. If your tick-borne illness began with particularly severe symptoms, you should definitely suspect Babesia.
You should suspect Babesia if:
- You have – or strongly suspect you have – Lyme Disease.
- The onset of your Lyme symptoms was severe.
- You have low iron or ferritin levels: Babesia ‘feeds’ on iron and can deplete your store. (but low iron or ferritin by itself does NOT indicate infection – only use this as an indication if you also have a tick-borne illness).
- If you have a tick-borne illness and one of your symptoms is breathing difficulties. This is a complex symptom, because Lyme Disease itself can cause breathing difficulties, and also low iron levels from any cause can cause ‘air hunger’ – the feeling that you cannot take a deep enough breath.
So What Can You Do About Lyme and Babesia?
With so much complexity around the issue, and with the additional problem that standard medical treatments and tests for Babesia and Lyme can be quite ‘hit and miss’, what you need are non-toxic and gentle ways to get rid of the parasite, and that goes double for Lyme. You don’t want to swap one set of symptoms for a dozen others that could be twice as bad! If you can find a good doctor who is knowledgeable about your illness, you may be lucky enough to get the right long-term treatment you need, and none of the following are substitutes for antibiotics and other prescription medicines that are the best line of defence against these illnesses. But the following points are auxiliary – indeed for some of them, such as regular exercise, many experts believe that without such lifestyle changes, even the best conventional medicine will not work to clear the disease, and Dr Burrascano has indicated that he believes that with regular and incremental exercise many people may be able to fully recover.
If you have Lyme, you’ll already know that it is a long hard road that seems to be ‘one step forward, two steps back’ sometimes. These are some of the things that have worked, to some extent at least, for me in the last 12 years since I noticed the tell-tale red ‘bullseye’ rash (though it was another two years before I knew this rash was connected to my sudden bouts of muscle weakness, semi-blindness, dizziness and myriad other symptoms). I hope some of them might work for you too.
The infection needs to be treated long-term, even very long term, and perhaps for life. Lyme and all its co-infections can hang around for many years, so you need things that you can incorporate into your life, and which will improve it.
With all this in mind, the following list is of things that would make anyone – sick or not - feel better, but for those with Lyme Disease and Babesia, they may well improve your health beyond measure.
8 Things That Can Help To Reduce or Clear Symptoms of Lyme and Babesia
- Green Tea. Scientific research showed that in animal models, one of the compounds in green (and white) tea cleared the Babesia infection in a matter of weeks. High quality loose-leaf green tea contains the highest amount of this substance (ECGC), and drinking 4 cups of hot, freshly-brewed green tea every day will give you a comparable amount, taking body-weight into consideration, to the amount used on the test subjects. The experiment has NOT been tested in humans, but green and white teas are safe for most people (though see 'note' below in bold) and they are also delicious and have so many other health benefits that it could well be worth your while to try adding a few cups a day to your life. It can take many weeks for the benefits to start to become apparent, so give it time and stick with it. Note that if you are taking Warfarin, or any anti-psychotic medication, you should consult your doctor first, because green tea can be dangerous with certain medicines. On a personal note, after about a month of drinking around 6 cups a day of high quality loose-leaf green tea, my own breathing difficulties and 'air hunger' started to subside a little, and after 4 months they had gone completely. What works for me may not work for you, but it may be worth trying. If you're interested in finding out more about green and white tea in general, I've also written a newbie's guide to green and white tea.
- Diet. Find a happy medium with meat – reduce red meat intake and go for chicken instead. Cut out saturated fat as much as you can, and go for olive oil instead – dipping bread in olive oil is much healthier than lashing on the solid spreads. Eat MASSES of fresh fruit and vegetables (note that some people with Lyme like to avoid sweet fruits because of the fructose (fruit sugar) content, but others thrive on all fruit). Avoid refined sugar – cut out soft drinks, stop putting sugar in your tea and coffee, have fruit instead of cakes for dessert. Doing all these things will boost your immune system and help you fight off infections, including Babesia and Lyme.
- DON’T DRINK ALCOHOL! Most, if not all, people with Lyme find that one of the first symptoms they noticed was a massive reduction in how much alcohol they could drink, and a massive increase in hangover severity the next day. One of the leading pioneers in Lyme treatment, Dr Burrascano, said that alcohol makes the Lyme spirochete much more toxic. Alcohol disturbs your sleep, reduces your immune system, and depletes the vitamins in your body. I know how unfair it seems that with all the stresses of being ill, you can’t even relax with a nightcap, but quitting alcohol could be the single most important thing you do when fighting any infection associated with a tick-borne illness and co-infections.
- Exercise. If you have acute symptoms, this might have to go on the back-burner for a bit, but as soon as you can, start some gentle exercise. Walk as much as you can, and start doing a few minutes of GENTLE yoga or callanetics every day. Aerobics and other very strenuous exercise can make things much worse, and if you have a tick-borne illness your muscles, tendons and joints can be weakened and more prone to injury, so take it easy and don’t push yourself too hard, but do try to get some exercise every day, and don’t let yourself off the hook – do build up your exercise a little as your strength improves. Moderate exercise strengthens your immune system and keeps your circulation flowing – and both are essential to fight off infection and to eliminate any toxins, dead parasites and bacteria.
- Change your mind! Get into the habit of nudging your thoughts towards positive things rather than dwelling on negative ones. Negative thoughts encourage stress and depression, which can severely distress your immune system.
- Think twice before taking another pill or potion: EXCEPT the ones prescribed by your doctor – and even then, discuss them thoroughly with him or her. Most alternative medicines, vitamin pills, and magic snake oils are almost completely untested. Try one thing at a time so that you can judge whether it’s helping or making things worse, and read what other people have to say about it on forums and in email groups. Don’t be a guinea pig or make someone rich out of your suffering. Some things do help. Some things are just common sense re-packaged and re-branded. Some others are just toxic and dangerous.
- Sleep. When you have acute symptoms, you won’t be able to do anything else, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. If you want or need to sleep, then sleep. And when your symptoms subside, try to get your sleep into a routine, and stick to it.
- Make up your mind to settle for ‘good enough’ for the time being. Sometimes we can all be perfectionists. But you need to give yourself space to recover, so don’t try to be superwoman or superman. Stress and fatigue can make symptoms much worse, and then you won’t be able to do anything at all, so take a step back and ask yourself what is absolutely essential.
I know how unfair it is that your life has been ripped apart. And I know that sometimes you will feel like giving up and eating those cakes, having that bottle of wine, eating that box of chocolates, and weeping into your pillow like a lost child. But the more you stick to your guns and do all the things on this list, the more you will get better, and the more you will get your life back. You do not have to ‘fight’ constantly: change your attitudes, habits, lifestyle and thought-patterns incrementally, gently and sensibly, and you, your life and your health will improve enormously.