Last year, I had a major setback in my healing, after an exposure to mold that left me bedridden for months with MS-like symptoms. This was after having attained a decent level of health through a variety of integrative approaches to Lyme disease treatment! Yet, in over a decade of battling Lyme disease, I had never been as ill as I was last year. The mold triggered a massive inflammatory reaction, especially in my brain and spinal cord, that left me with coordination problems, disequilibrium, weak legs, extreme fatigue, depression, brain fog and trouble breathing — to name a few symptoms.
My doctor prescribed me an antihistamine called ketotifen, which reduced the severity of the symptoms by about 50%. In addition, since January, I have been taking prescription antifungal drugs such as Nystatin and Sporonox, in addition to nasal sprays and mold toxin binders such as bentonite clay and activated charcoal, to reduce my body’s mold and mycotoxin burden. While the mold treatments haven’t yet helped me to feel much better, my hope is that in time, they will.
In the meantime, in recent months, I’ve incorporated three additional strategies into my healing regimen, and these actually have made a tremendous difference in my wellbeing. Because of them, I’m now taking regular walks again for the first time in over a year; I’m able to work from home again 4-8 hours per day, and I can drive on the highway; something that I also haven’t been able to do much of due to disequilibrium, leg weakness and brain fog. I still have a ways to go to get back to where I was before, but life has become tolerable again. Here are the things that are helping me get back on track:
3 Ways to Manage a Lyme Disease Setback
The first tool I’ve used is a hands-on healing method called TKM, or The King Method,which restores the flow of energy throughout the body’s energy pathways via touch. TKM involves having a practitioner or partner place his or her hands on strategic locations on your body, in sequences that align the energy in a particular system of your body. Glen King, PhD, TKM’s founder, contends that he was given the sequences in part by divine inspiration of God, and has seen people completely healed of Lyme disease and many other maladies largely through TKM. It is simple, but powerful. If you or a loved one is willing to learn the sequences, TKM can be an effective healing aid, although for best results I recommend working with a TKM practitioner at least twice a week for several months, before doing it on your own.
The second thing that I’ve been doing to restore functionality to my body is meditating on and speaking healing Scriptures from the Bible over myself multiple times daily. I believe that positive affirmations have the power to heal our bodies, as studies show that the frequencies embedded in life-giving words positively affect our cells. I believe words that are divinely inspired, such as those from the Bible, are even more powerful.
3. The Plant Paradox
Third — and it is this topic that I mostly want to share about today — I have been following a diet developed by Steven Gundry, MD, called The Plant Paradox. Dr. Gundry is a world-renowned cardiac surgeon and former National Institute of Health researcher who created The Plant Paradox diet after he discovered that certain foods in the right amounts and combinations effectively healed many of his patients from a variety of diseases, including autoimmune illness.
Since I have started the diet, the inflammation in my brain and spinal cord have been dramatically reduced, and most days, I have virtually no disequilibrium, dizziness, lack of coordination, leg weakness or brain fog. I also have more energy and have noticed an uptick in my mood. Granted, I still take an anti-histamine medication for inflammation, but the diet has helped to reduce my symptoms even further.
The main premise of The Plant Paradox diet is that lectin-containing foods damage the gastrointestinal tract, and with that, the immune system and rest of the body. For this reason, they should be avoided. Lectins are found in most processed foods, grains and legumes, as well as in animal protein from animals that are fed corn, soy, legumes, grains and other lectin-containing foods. Surprisingly, certain vegetables with seeds also contain lectins, including tomatoes, squash and cucumbers.
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Lectins cause leaky gut syndrome, a condition in which undigested food particles pass through the gut wall into the blood stream, where they cause inflammation and red blood cell clumping. Lectins also disrupt cellular communications, nutrient absorption, hormone signaling, and other biochemical processes.
Dr. Gundry’s diet therefore consists of nutrient-foods that also rebuild the gut and microbiome. According to neurologist and medical doctor Natasha Campbell Mc-Bride, MD, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome, beneficial bacteria in the gut play a crucial role in immune function, vitamin and mineral synthesis, and toxin inactivation, among other things. They don’t just destroy pathogens and aid in food digestion, although those things are important, too.
As part of creating a healthy gut, Dr. Gundry advocates consuming ample amounts of resistant starch-containing foods, which beneficial bacteria in the gut thrive on. These include things like unripe (or green) bananas, green mangoes and papayas, and sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, and yucca.
In addition, Dr. Gundry encourages certain probiotic-rich foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut, as well as vegetables without seeds, especially non-starchy leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, baby greens and kale; small amounts of organic dairy products and in-season fruit, and ample amounts of healthy fats from coconut, olive, and other healthy oils. Certain nuts, such as macadamias, walnuts, and pecans, are also allowed on the diet.
The Plant Paradox diet also includes low to moderate amounts of animal protein, especially wild fish and eggs from pasture-raised chickens. Smaller amounts of poultry and red meat are acceptable, as long as they come from pastured chickens (not free-range) and 100% grass-fed beef. For the diet to work optimally, Dr. Gundry discourages protein from animals that have been fed lectin-containing GMO corn, soy, legumes and grains. Dr. Gundry, in his book, The Plant Paradox contends that “you aren’t just what you eat, but what the thing that you ate, ate.”
Lest this seem extreme, consider that farmers feed chickens and cattle a non-native diet of corn and soy in order to fatten them up quickly. These same foods get into our bodies and fatten us up, as well! Not only that, but the lectins in the foods that the animals ate, damage our guts, and with that, our immune system. It makes me wonder whether our adulterated and contaminated food supply is a major reason why pathogenic infections such as Lyme can even flourish in the body in the first place.
Dr. Gundry also permits only small amounts of animal protein on the diet because the meat of cattle, pigs and sheep contains a lectin-binding sugar called Neu5Ac, which our immune system recognizes as foreign. Our body responds to it by creating antibodies to the lining of its own blood vessels, which then causes systemic inflammation and an exacerbation of symptoms.
In summary, The Plant Paradox diet is highly anti-inflammatory, and may be an ideal diet for some people battling Lyme disease because it:
- Restores the gut and with that, the immune system and healthy levels of beneficial bacteria in the GI tract, which have often been destroyed by antibiotic therapy. A healthy gut better protects the body against Lyme-related pathogens.
- Reduces inflammation and improves nutrient utilization, as well as hormonal balance and cellular communications.
- Promotes mitochondrial health, especially the ketogenic version of the diet (more on this in the next paragraph). Mitochondrial dysfunction is common in Lyme disease, so by supporting your body’s mitochondria, you’ll have more energy to heal and simply “do” life.
There are several versions of The Plant Paradox diet, one of which is ketogenic. This means that the foods cause the body to burn fat for energy, rather than glucose, via a diet that is high in healthy fats like olive oil, coconut and butter, and low in animal protein and carbohydrates. Ketogenic diets have been found in studies to be highly anti-inflammatory and to enhance mitochondrial health. The Plant Paradox diet takes the ketogenic diet a step further by removing lectin-containing GMO vegetables, legumes, grains, dairy and animal products from the diet, and Dr. Gundry recommends this version of the diet for those with autoimmune-like diseases.
Personally, I have found ketogenic diets to be difficult for some people with severe adrenal fatigue and hormone dysfunction, including myself, so I follow a less restrictive form of the diet, with a bit more animal protein than what’s recommended. By itself, I don’t believe that this diet will put most people with Lyme disease into remission, but may be a powerful tool in the healing arsenal that gets some of us better, faster, and feeling better in the meantime.
This article was first published on ProHealth.com on October 7, 2017 and was updated on October 26, 2020.
Connie Strasheim is the author of multiple wellness books, including three on Lyme disease. She is also a medical copywriter, editor and healing prayer minister. Her passion is to help people with complex chronic illnesses find freedom from disease and soul-spirit sickness using whole body medicine and prayer, and she collaborates with some of the world’s best integrative doctors to do this. In addition to Lyme disease, Connie’s books focus on cancer, nutrition, detoxification and spiritual healing. You can learn more about her work at: ConnieStrasheim.