Lyme Detoxification 101
No More Confusion on this Subject
The word “detox” is often thrown around in the Lyme community, but tends to leave people confused on the subject. This leads to people wasting money on claimed-to-be “detox” products, missing out on the detox products they do need, and taking detox products they probably don’t need, potentially worsening their situation.
What is true is that detoxification is an important component in healing from chronic Lyme. However, since every person who has chronic Lyme (i.e., MSIDS) has different reasons for why they remain ill, not every detox supplement is going to be appropriate for them.
To create order and understanding in detoxification with chronic Lyme, we broke it down into 3 simple categories that are easy to remember and really just make sense. Remember, it’s up to you and your treating physician to determine what’s best for you to take.
Category #1: Basic Detoxification
You may or may not know this, but your body has some of the greatest built in detoxification tools known to man. From the liver, to the kidneys, to the lymphatic system, to the skin, the body comes equipped to remove harmful substances and does so completely on its own without any special “detox” products.
However, in order to do this, the body needs the appropriate nutrition, energy (i.e., calories), water intake, foods, exercise, and sleep to do this. It’s essentially the recipe your body has been using since its inception in order to help maintain homeostasis.
It’s a basic detoxification protocol and it’s one that every person with chronic Lyme should get right first before spending money on so called “detox support systems”. By getting the basic right first and supporting the body’s inherent detox channels everyday, you may find that when it comes to detoxification, it was all you really needed.
Eat wholesome, nutrient and calorie-dense foods. People with chronic Lyme need the extra energy and nutrition due to their body’s workload. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to add in a basic nutrient supplement such as Thorne’s 2/day to cover any deficiencies. Eat organic as much as possible to limit the undesirables you’re putting back in your body. Fibrous foods such as oat bran will help bind to undesirables and encourage daily, healthy bowel movements.
Make sure you’re drinking enough water to flush out what your body doesn’t need. Dr. Marty Ross, M.D. says aim to drink roughly half of your body weight in ounces in water a day. So a 150 pound person should aim to drink 75 ounces of water per day.
Exercise is a touchy matter for people with chronic Lyme, but it’s very important in helping the body recondition. No one is saying to run a marathon, but a simple short walk, if you’re able to, can really help in moving lymph fluid along. Only exercise to your ability and never push yourself beyond what you’re capable of.
How it’s taken: Basic detoxification methods are taken everyday in order to support the body's daily, inherent effort to remove harmful substances from itself. If your diet is pretty nutrient dense as is, consider taking a multivitamin every other day as opposed to every day.
Category #2: Custom Detoxification
When basic detoxification isn’t enough, you may need to implement custom detoxification methods for your body’s specific needs.
For example, for those dealing with excess sulfur, they may need to consider taking molybdenum to break down excess sulfites in the body. For those with a biotoxin illness, they should consider taking modified citrus pectin or cholestyramine to remove biotoxins from the body produced by Lyme, mold, Candida, etc.
Sometimes a gene mutation could come into play in limiting a person’s detoxification abilities, such as an MTHFR gene mutation. In this case, a custom detoxification method would be the activated form of folate.
These are just some examples of custom detoxification methods that are appropriate and needed by the body due to its unique requirements based on a person’s condition. They further facilitate the body’s basic detoxification.
How it’s taken: Custom detoxification methods are taken for the duration required to offset a detoxification shortcoming. For example, molybdenum is usually taken for 6 to 8 weeks to clear excess sulfur, but the activated form of folate for an MTHFR gene mutation may need to be taken throughout a chronic Lyme treatment.
Category #3: Herxheimer Detoxification
Lastly, there are detoxification methods that are used for reducing a herxheimer reaction within a short period of time. Some of the best detoxification methods for reducing a herxheimer reaction include lemon water, Alka-Seltzer Gold, liposomal glutathione, Nutramedix Burbur and Pinella, and an epsom salt bath.
It’s important to make sure that your basic and custom detoxification needs are covered first before skipping straight to herxheimer detoxification methods. By covering your body’s basic and custom detoxification needs first, you further open up your body’s detox pathways and further reduce the chance of possibly even needing a herxheimer detoxification method.
If you’re using herxheimer detoxification methods, but not feeling better afterwards, it’s possible you’re either using the wrong herxheimer detoxification method/dosage, you’re not experiencing a herxheimer reaction, you're overloading your body's ability to detox, or the herxheimer detoxification method is working, but because your basic or custom detoxification isn’t setup correctly, the herxheimer reaction kind of falls flat.
How it’s taken: Herxheimer detoxification methods are usually taken on an as-needed basis, though some detoxification methods, such as Nutramedix’s Burbur and Pinella, are taken every day as part of the Cowden Protocol.
Don’t Set Yourself Backward by Trying to Move Yourself Forward
As we clarified, detoxification for those with chronic Lyme is very crucial for recovering from the condition. However, just because something is a detox supplement, or is seen as only being able to do good, doesn’t mean it can’t hurt your treatment progress.
For example, liposomal glutathione is a great supplement for reducing a herxheimer reaction, but because it’s sulfur based, it could cause issues for people with mercury toxicity and sulfur sensitivities.
Another example is that molybdenum would be a great detox supplement for removing excess sulfur from the body, but because molybdenum depletes copper levels, it wouldn’t be appropriate to take it if you’re deficient in this nutrient. Molybdenum also seems to cause an issue with people who have lead toxicity.
This is why it’s absolutely critical that you listen to your body whenever you take anything. Before taking a detox supplement, research the benefits and side effects of it as much as you can and run it by your treating physician to see if it would be an appropriate fit for you.
When Detoxification Isn’t Enough
And lastly, when you’re certain your detoxification is setup correctly according to your body’s need, but you just can’t get yourself back on track to feel relatively better, you may need to reduce or stop your Lyme treatment protocol; maybe even your detoxification protocol as well.
It’s important to remember that the human body has a certain rate at which it removes harmful substances from the body. You may have your detox pathways as open as they can be, but if you’re killing off too many pathogens at a rate faster than your body can process them, you’re going to block that pathway and not feel good.
The best thing you can do is reduce the dosage of the item you feel is making you feel bad, and if need be, completely come off of it for a few days or until you’re feeling better. If you’re under the care of a treating physician, check with your treatment physician first before altering any treatment protocol.
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