Summer has arrived and so have those hikes in the woods and fields, along lakes and streams. Unfortunately the tick population has increased and continues to travel further into northern climes as well as multiply and mutate all over the world. Not only are the ticks a problem because of the lyme disease they carry, but they are also carriers of at least 6 other microbacterial forms, any one of which or multiples of combinations, can also infect the unsuspecting victim at the same time.
As scary as that might seem, there are many things that we can do to avoid being infected. Lyme and its coinfections are just another issue to be educated for so that we can take the necessary precautions and enjoy every bit as much of the outdoors as we always have. An ounce of prevention - a pound of cure.
Quite often you will see notes about wearing your pants tucked into your socks and long sleeve shirts. That may be fine for some, but personally, wearing all that clothing on a hot, steamy day, doesn't give me the freedom of movement and enjoyment that draws me to the fields and forests in the first place. As an herbalist, I now have developed my "Tick Kit" that I carry with me in my pack whenever I go out and I have one at home also. The "Tick Kit" contains:
. A 2 oz bottle of Kloss's linament - a well known herbal topical antibiotic containing goldenseal, myrrh and echinacea that can infiltrate the skin and begin to wipe out any infectious bacteria that may have been released.
. A 2 oz spray bottle with an herb called andrographis diluted with water that can be sprayed on skin and clothes as a repellent. Ticks do not like this herb. There are other tick repellent sprays but the good thing about this one is that you can use it topically on a tick bite site if you don't have Kloss's with you. This is also an antibiotic type herb that will help kill bacteria through the skin.
. A 2 oz bottle of concentrated andrographis that can be used topically and can also be taken orally if there has been a bite to begin the internal antibiotic process. Be ready, it's extremely bitter!!
. A tick removal spoon - which has a V groove in it that slides under the tick body, catches them by the throat and removes the tick without squeezing them with your fingers. This technique helps to keep the tick from regurgitating bacteria into your body from squeezing.
Remember, ticks burrow into the skin until they find a blood vessel to feed on. Until that happens, little if any bacteria will be released. The sooner you find the tick and remove them the better off you will be. It takes at least 12 - 24 hours generally for the tick to burrow in that far.
Make sure you have a "tick buddy". Someone whom you hike with or who is available after your times in the outdoors who can take a look at you as you remove clothing and check backs and under arm creases and even groin areas and behind the knees. Ticks like to find the warm, hidden creases of your body to burrow in and hide. Then take your clothing off and place them in the dryer for 30 minutes to kill any that might be on your clothes. Wearing white or light colored shirts and shorts/pants is a good idea so that ticks can be easily seen.
If you do find a tick imbedded, don't panic!! Determine how long it might have been there. If it occurred during that day's walk, just remove it and keep your eye on the site for the next week. Apply some Kloss's or andrographis topically and perhaps take a dose of andrographis internally.
Watch for the typical target rash but know that those don't always appear. If there has been an infection you could see the area become red and angry looking, perhaps hot and rashy. You could also feel like you have the flu or have a fever. Any of these symptoms and you should contact your medical practitioner. At this point, no matter how much you don't want to take antibiotics, taking them will deter a potentially debilitating long-term problem. These bacteria are nothing to mess with and even before receiving any kind of test results back, you should ask for antibiotics - doxycycline is the accepted antibiotic for this scenario unless you are allergic because of it's strength against lyme.
For more reliable and expert information on the long term problems of Lyme disease, you could purchase a book Healing Lyme by Steve Buhner, an herbalist who has treated thousands of folks with lyme and has developed a protocol for working with long term lyme issues. There is also a website at http://www.tiredoflyme.com/the-buhner-protocol-for-lyme-disease.html. There is also a site www.drjaydavidson.com who is a functional medicine practitioner who also has extensive experience with lyme because of his wife having been infected when she was pregnant a number of years ago.
Best cure - prevention - take precautions and stay healthy and enjoy creation!!