Sorry to have missed blogging in the month of May & June. It has been unseasonably cold here in the northeast and getting cleaned up and prepared to plant for spring has been exceptionally difficult. Not to mention that many of you have had to deal with flooding.
My husband and I took our usual spring break to camp and hike in the Adirondacks of New York. It is a lovely, wild place that has it's challenges, like the black fly season. Despite their itching and swelling, black flies carry no diseases that complicate their existence; but the intentional application of herbal repellent reminds me that tick season will soon be upon us. That, is a bug of a different color.
Lyme disease has increased multi-dimensionally over the last few years. Lyme disease, itself, can be difficult to treat if attention is not taken immediately after being bitten. The problem is complicated by the fact that ticks can carry any of six other bacterial infections as well; and a tick bite can mean any combination of lyme and one or more of those co-infections.
Wisdom and care is important; but I absolutely refuse to be so fear driven that I will no longer walk the woods and fields of God's creation and ignore the abundance of food, medicine and spiritual awareness that comes with that activity.
We, at Healing Leaves Center, have now developed a Tick Kit that can be carried with you, along with your insect repellent, so that you can be prepared for the unexpected and not have to fear walking the woods. The "kit" contains the items for immediate treatment of a suspected tick bite, whether in the woods or at home after your walk. Whether you decide to purchase our tick kit or not, here are some specific ways to keep ticks off your body and out of your home.
Have a good insect repellent that you use whenever you go into fields and woods whether it is bug season or not. A good herbal, non-deet repellent, made with herbs and aromatherapy oils can work well and smell reasonably good. Re applications may be required as aromatherapy oils evaporate, but they are not toxic and re-applications are not dangerous. We use the herb Andrographis as a tick repellent and it can be added to whatever insect repellent you might purchase. Some insect repellents advertise that they are good for ticks also; but we know that Andrographis is the most repulsive to the ticks and can also be taken orally if an imbedded tick is found. We, therefore, always have a tincture of this herb in our "kit" at all times. Spraying your repellants on any areas of bare skin and even on clothes or hats and brims works well.
If you find an unembedded tick on yourself or those you are with, remove it and destroy it by burning or slicing with a knife or sharp instrument. In the event you cannot dispose of this way, put into a zip lock bag and destroy when you get home. DO NOT just toss them aside. Destroying them is one more way to keep them from proliferating. Care should be taken after every outdoor activity to find a "buddy" who can observe bare skin for you (in areas that you cannot see, like your back) to check for ticks. Best practice: After walking in the woods and fields, shake off your clothes outside and then throw them into the laundry. Ticks can hide in folds of clothing and end up on furniture and other household furnishings and surprise you later. You want to keep them out of your house.
If you find a tick embedded in your skin, DO NOT SQUEEZE IT. Remove it with a tick removal tool that has a notch cut into it. These can be purchased online or in pet stores. Spray the tick with repellent or soapy water and gently slide the notch under the tick so that the forked portion contacts the head area. Pry it out. Then dispose of it. Treat the area with an antibacterial. We like to use Kloss's Linament. This kills any bacteria or Lyme micro-organisms. In addition, a dropper full of Andrographis tincture orally is recommended. This has a very bitter taste and you may want to dilute it with water or chase it with something immediately afterward. These items are contained in our "kits".
If you develop redness, rash, swelling or fever within 24 hours to a week of removal, see your health care provider immediately. A bullseye rash does not always develop. Lyme disease is not usually contracted if the tick is removed within 24 hours (this would be the average time that it takes the tick to burrow deep enough to reach blood vessels) If there is any question that you might be infected, you should see your health care provider as soon as possible. Other symptoms would be flu like symptoms, lethargy, fatigue, joint pain. The sooner you receive care, the less risk of contracting long-term Lyme or any of the multiple bacterial affections associated with it. Often a prescription of Doxycycline is prescribed for 21 days as the antibiotic of choice.
There is incidence of people being bitten and the tick not being found. Again, the same protocol as above would be advised. If it lies dormant and appears a number of months later, you may have contracted lyme and need more intense treatment. Be sure to find a practitioner with experience treating lyme. It often has to be diagnosed by ruling out other autoimmune problems. The most common symptom of lyme is joint pain that comes and goes and occurs sometimes in one joint and other times in another one. For more information and protocol recommendations for treatment see www.buhnerhealinglyme.com Dr. Steve Buhner has treated hundreds of lyme patients as a naturopathic physician, has done extensive research on lyme disease, and written a number of books on the subject.