“Lyme Rage” and irritability is an all-consuming, misunderstood state of rage that can rip one’s life apart, most notably one’s close relationships. What I mean by misunderstood is that loved ones who often take the brunt of the rage do not understand that it is the illness causing the rage, rather than the individual themselves and is thus not personal –and perhaps even more trickier is the fact that there are multiple possible causes for such rage and extreme irritability. While “Lyme rage” is the term often used to describe this Lyme disease symptom of unexplained irritability, the Lyme disease bacteria itself is not always the culprit, which is also misleading.
For example, causes of explosive rage and extreme irritability may also result from liver congestion, coinfections like Bartonella, systemic inflammation or inflammation in certain parts of the brain, PANS/PANDAS and more. As a result, finding remedies to alleviate rage and irritability can prove tricky, and often require trial and error since the root cause of the rage is frequently unknown.
The following are my go-to natural therapies and remedies for alleviating rage and irritability due to Lyme disease and related complications. While there are many more ways to relieve rage and irritability, these are the ones that I have found to be most tried and true for myself, and they may offer relief to you as well.
In my experience, pharmaceutical intervention for the rage and irritability that occurs as a result of Lyme disease and coinfections almost always makes things worse in the long run and should be a last resort for treatment — unless the individual’s psychological state is in such extreme peril that they are a direct threat to themselves and those around them. (However, this is my personal opinion based on my experience, and therefore should not be taken as medical advice or override your doctor’s or health care practitioner’s advice.)
Natural Therapies to Combat Lyme Rage and Irritability
1. Castor Oil Packs: According to Chinese medicine, anger is stored in the liver. So, when I am feeling extra irritable and angry for no reason, and find myself lashing out at those around me for the tiniest things, I almost always take this as a clue that my liver is congested, and I need to do a castor oil pack to help flush toxins out of it. Most people find it odd that my first thought when my anger and irritability are out of control is that my liver is congested, and I need a castor oil pack, but 9 times out of 10 I am correct when this happens, and a castor oil pack does indeed make a tremendous difference.
As with anything, when it comes to Lyme disease treatment and Lyme disease coinfections, the trick is to start out slowly so that you do not worsen the situation by pushing toxins out of your liver too quickly and cause a healing crisis, which is a temporary worsening of symptoms that results when toxins are released at a rate faster than the body can adequately handle. In the case of castor oil packs, this means doing them for a shorter amount of time in the beginning and working your way up to the standard recommended time of an hour to an hour and a half. Personally, I started out doing them for just 20 minutes, but you may choose to go even slower. Multiple sites online list instructions on how to do castor oil packs, but I will briefly detail them below:
- Gather supplies: A piece of flannel or wool (large enough to cover the entire liver region when folded into three layers), castor oil, saran wrap, a hot water bottle or heating pad, and a towel.
- Fold the wool or flannel in three layers (it should be large enough to cover the entire region of your liver once folded), and soak it in castor oil.
- Lay flat on your back with a pillow or two under your feet so they are slightly elevated.
- Place the castor oil soaked flannel or wool over the region of your liver.
- Cover the flannel or wool with saran wrap or plastics to ensure the oil does not get on anything, as it stains easily.
- Place a hot water bottle (not scalding hot, but noticeably warm. You want to be able to feel a good amount of heat, as it enables the oil to penetrate through the skin) or heating pad on top of the plastic.
- If using a water bottle, cover it with towel to trap the heat to avoid having to reheat the water. However, if it cools to the point where you can barely feel any more heat, do not hesitate to reheat the water.
- Leave on for up to an hour
2. Tryptophan: Studies have linked low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, to an increase in anger, aggression, and other psychiatric challenges such as depression. People with Lyme disease and Lyme disease coinfections often have depleted levels of serotonin, making serotonin deficiency a possible cause of excessive rage, aggression, or irritability, especially when severe depression is present as well. Supplementing with tryptophan, an amino acid that serves as a building block for serotonin, may be beneficial in such cases. However, it is important to consult with a health practitioner who can test your neurotransmitter levels before increasing serotonin. Taking a supplement to increase levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin when they are not actually depleted can cause further neurotransmitter imbalance and a dangerous build-up of serotonin.
3. Chinese Skullcap: In herbal therapy, Chinese skullcap has been shown in studies to protect the hippocampus and mitochondria, strongly reduce neuroinflammation, and prevent oxidative damage and neuroinflammation — all of which can be linked to increased levels of rage, irritability, and depression. Many of the positive benefits derived from Chinese Skullcap are believed to be derived from the high levels of bio-available melatonin present in the plant that bind to melatonin-binding sites in the human brain. Melatonin normalizes the sleep cycle and it is a well-known fact, that Lyme disease and Lyme disease coinfections frequently cause insomnia, which may be directly linked to increased anger and irritably. During inflammatory infections in the brain, oxidative stress commonly causes severe depletion of melatonin and disrupts sleep cycles.
Furthermore, CNS disruption is extremely common symptom of Lyme disease, and when the CNS is irritated, it almost always results in anger and irritability. Also, brain malfunction and damage to the hippocampus is often a culprit of explosive rage in Lyme and related infections. Chinese Skullcap may be helpful in these cases, as it is strongly protective of the brain and CNS.
As always, do not give up if these natural therapies do not help. There is still hope, as there are many more methods and remedies that you can experiment with. Also, as always, I advise you to consult with your healthcare professional before adding any additional remedies or healing techniques to your protocol.
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This article was first published on ProHealth.com on August 14, 2017 and was updated on August 10, 2019.
Shelley M. White is trained in herbalism and nutrition, and is the author of Cannabis for Lyme Disease and Related Conditions: Scientific Basis and Anecdotal Evidence for Medicinal Use. She has writes, or has written, articles for various publications, including Collective Evolution, The Mighty, SKUNK Magazine, Mind Body Green, Natural News, The Mind Unleashed, The Townsend Letter, Public Health Alert and the Examiner.
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