Friday, December 21, 2018

Nonfiction Review: The Lyme Solution

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that Lyme disease is an important subject for my family and that I've had a rough few months lately, with my own Lyme recurring and triggering my immune disorder to go crazy. My oldest son has the same immune disorder, plus Lyme disease and two other common tick infections as well. So, I took advantage of my recent infirmity to read a book I bought back in September: The Lyme Solution: A 5-Part Plan to Fight the Inflammatory Auto-Immune Response and Beat Lyme Disease by Darin Ingels, ND, FAAEM. Although I thought I knew a lot about treating tick infections, after 10 years of battling them in our family, I learned even more reading this book, and it led us to try a new treatment approach.

While Lyme disease itself is a bacterial infection (not all tick infections are bacterial) that is often treated solely with antibiotics, the situation is far more complex than that. If you only have Lyme and no other tick infections (there are at least a dozen common ones, some more common than Lyme in certain regions) and you were lucky enough to catch it and get diagnosed very early, then a month or two of antibiotics might be enough to eradicate the infection. However, that is rarely the case. So-called co-infections are often present, and many people have difficulty getting an accurate diagnosis. Cases like ours are not uncommon, where people battle tick infections for years, decades, or even a lifetime, and these infections can be devastating and very debilitating, even leading to permanent neurological damage if left untreated. Ingels explains all of this in his introductory chapters, including the challenges of diagnosis, the limits of antibiotic therapy, and the complex effects that these infections have on our bodies, including our immune systems.

The bulk of the book details Ingel's 5-part plan:
  1. The Gut Protocol That Restores Your Immune System
  2. The Lyme Solution Immune-Boosting Diet
  3. Prevent and Target Active Infection
  4. Hidden Toxins in Your Surroundings
  5. More Sleep, More Exercise, Less Stress
 As you can see, much of it deals with supportive therapies that help to improve the immune system and reduce inflammation, so your own body can better fight off these complicated infections. In the treatment chapter, Ingels recommends various herbal protocols (which is what we now use after too many years on antibiotics). Finally, he addresses chronic Lyme (a category we certainly fit into!) and advanced protocols and also includes plenty of recipes and other guidance for his immune-boosting diet.

I was impressed that Ingels' introductory information on tick infections was mostly accurate; believe it or not, this is a rarity with these complex diseases. He does a good job of explaining why Lyme disease is so hard to get rid of, the ways that it affects all parts of the body, the role of both antibiotic and herbal remedies, and why it is so difficult to get an accurate diagnosis. I would have liked more attention paid to co-infections since these are almost always a factor and quite often the reason why someone being treated just for Lyme disease isn't getting well. He does mention the other common tick infections briefly in a few sections but does not address their specific symptoms and treatments in detail.

We were already addressing gastrointestinal issues, diet, and inflammation, though his information added to my body of knowledge. What was most valuable to me in this book, though, was his review of various herbal protocols. I learned that the one my son has been on for almost five years is considered too potent for many people and often causes a severe negative reaction (known as a Herx reaction) - this was a lightbulb moment for me since that has been exactly my son's experience! In addition, my own treatment with this same protocol has clearly not been 100% effective, since my Lyme goes into remission but then keeps recurring every few years, as it did this fall. So, based on what I read in this book, we checked with our Lyme specialist (LLMD) and then switched both of us to a different protocol that is supposed to be gentler and cause less of a reaction. After 3-4 weeks, we are both still reacting moderately to it and so are taking it much, much slower than what Ingels recommends in this book, but I am hopeful that this new approach will help my son to improve further to a new level of functioning and help me to finally get rid of my own Lyme for good. My copy of the book is filled with Post-It notes and tabs, and I learned a lot from it. The Lyme Solution is an excellent starting point if you or someone you love has tick infections (or if there is an undiagnosed condition that might possibly be related to tick infections, as so many are misdiagnosed at first), whether you are new to this topic or, like us, have plenty of hard-won experience.

359 pages, Avery (an imprint of Penguin Random House)

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Listen to a sample of the audio book.

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  1. Battling Lyme is so exhausting, I have a couple friends who have it. It sounds like you got some good advice from this book so I will suggest it to them, thank you!

    1. Sorry to hear about your friends, Helen - you are right - the battle is exhausting, as well as the illness! I hope they find some useful information here, too. I have to admit I didn't expect to learn much after all these years, so I was pleasantly surprised. It's not a perfect book, but there are definitely some useful nuggets in it!

  2. I am passing this review onto a relative who is battling with chronic Lyme disease. Thank you.

    1. Oh, Anne - I didn't realize you had a family member with chronic Lyme, too! Sorry to hear that - I hope this book provides some answers. In addition to my immune disorder, I also write on my chronic illness blog about Lyme and other tick infections, so please feel free to give your family member my e-mail if they have any questions - we have learned a lot in the past 10+ years!


  3. I'm so sorry to hear you're dealing with chronic Lyme disease. It sounds tough! I'm glad this book was helpful and accurate though. I hope your new approach is still going well for you and your son.