Monday, October 4, 2010

Lyme Success Story with Homeopathy

My Experience with Homeopathy as an Alternative to Antibiotics for Chronic Lyme Disease
by Genia Pauli Haddon PhD

By the time the bull's-eye rash appeared in 1993, I had already been dealing with mysterious symptoms for many months: unexplainable fatigue, aches, bouts of acute iritis. Iritis is an inflammation of the muscle surrounding the pupil of the eye. The affected eye becomes red, bloodshot, painful, supersensitive to light. The iris muscle over-contracts, squeezing the pupil to a pinpoint. It's like having a charley-horse cramp in the eyeball. To lessen the pain, I wore double sunglasses and stayed inside with the lights off and the windows shrouded, unable to engage in activities requiring any but very dim light.

My first experience with iritis was in the winter of 1992-93. I did what most anyone would: went to the eye doctor. She made the diagnosis, explained that the condition is unusual and of unknown cause, and prescribed ophthamalic Prednisone ointment to damp down the inflammation during the month or so until the attack passed. Not thrilled to be using a hormonal medication known to have troubling side-effects with long-term use, I nevertheless did as she prescribed, and gradually the inflammation subsided.

When iritis struck again just a couple of months later, I was unwilling to subject myself to another course of Prednisone therapy. Instead, I decided to consult an MD who specializes in homeopathy, since I had heard that homeopathics have no side-effects. That I was willing to try a type of therapy my college training as a science major predisposed me to consider mere "snake oil" is a measure of how disturbed I was at the prospect of long-term use of prednisone.

This was my first experience with homeopathic remedies, and my husband and I were astonished at how each dose of those little sugar B-Bs produced almost instantaneous relief of both pain and redness, lasting for several hours. Far better than the Prednisone ointment, and without side-effects! This dramatically effective introduction to homeopathy convinced me that, regardless of whether anyone understands how homeopathy works, the fact is that it does. I no longer care whether or not it fits my scientific preconceptions about what is impossible.

In retrospect, I believe these pre-rash symptoms were actually the early stages of Lyme disease, even though a rash typically is one of the earliest symptoms. For me, the rash appeared for the first time some eight months later, and reappeared at intervals over the course of many months. Sometimes it took the classic bull's-eye form, ranging from 3" to 18" circumference, centered on my upper leg.

During one period, smaller patches of similar appearance erupted on my arms, neck, face. That first distinctive bull's-eye on my leg was like a target drawing together all the varied symptoms I'd been having, so that for the first time I could put a name to my illness: Lyme disease. I immediately engaged my research skills to learn all I could about LD (not an easy task in those pre-Web days), and discovered a troubling picture. I telephoned the lab in my state where most blood tests for the disease are done, and persevered until I was able to get some specific answers from the doctor in charge there. She enthused that the best of these tests were now accurate up to 80% of the time. I translated that to mean that I stood at least a 20% chance of getting false results.

Since I already had a symptom pattern adding up to a clinical diagnosis, how would it help me to have blood tests so likely to yield false results? Common sense told me that such blood tests are virtually worthless in a case like mine, even though the medical profession highly recommends them. In fact, this disparity made me appropriately skeptical of whatever else the medical profession might recommend concerning Lyme disease.

I learned that the treatment of choice was massive doses of antibiotics, often given intravenously, and for weeks or even months at a time. According to the medical profession, this course of treatment cures LD. But I learned, also, that many people did not stay "cured." They believed they were relapsing repeatedly; their doctors said they must have been rebitten by infected ticks each time. All of them? Again and again? Really?

It was dawning on me that there was no "expert" out there whose advice I could trust about the best course of action for me. My attention now shifted from outward research to inward reflection. I sought guidance from my inner wisdom, and was surprised to have several clear impressions. First, that antibiotics are not a good choice for me. The very name "anti-bio" means "against life." So any cure they might produce would be at a cost to my basic life force - this diminishment being perhaps the ultimate side-effect, and too big a price to pay. Second, that homeopathy functions by liberating the life force to do its own healing work, so that as a disease is being cured, there is a simultaneous enhancement of underlying health and vitality. My inner wisdom told me that any treatment that claims to cure while eroding the foundational vital force is a sham. Third, that no matter what anybody else said or thought, I had to trust my inner guidance about this.

Homeopathics had worked well for acute iritis; would they work also for chronic Lyme, caused by a known bacteria-like organism? For the past five years, I have consulted with both Jim Byron, N.D., a naturopathic physician, and Bill Shevin, MD., a medical doctor whose entire practice is homeopathically oriented.[1] Am I cured yet? Probably not, given the sneaky tendency of Borrelia burgdorferi to hide out for months and then resurge as soon as there is stress. But without recourse to antibiotics I am now mostly well, most of the time. I am deeply grateful to both Jim and Bill, and for the homeopathic manner of treatment.

To communicate the amount of healing that has taken place, I need to review the scope and severity of the effects of Lyme disease on my life since 1992. Between 1993 and early 1997, I was very ill much of the time. In addition to the iritis:

I was confined to a wheelchair for several periods ranging from a few weeks to five months at a time, due to severe tissue damage in both knees. It was as if the cartilage had liquefied.

Many times I resorted to wearing a sling on one arm or the other. Sometimes the pain in my shoulder or back has been so bad that I have been able neither to lie in bed nor to move, existing for days at a time in a recliner chair. At various times, I have had joint inflammation in my shoulders, elbows, wrists, spine, hips, ankles, and fingers.

Often my energy was so depleted that simple things, like taking a shower or washing a few dishes or making a bed or even eating a meal, were like climbing a mountain, leaving me limp and exhausted for hours after. I had periods of significant mental impairment. Some days my ability to focus was so poor that by the time I finished viewing once cycle of the TV Preview screen, I had forgotten the names of shows I might want to see, and had to watch the entire preview over again...and again ...and again. Conversation was difficult, because I sometimes couldn't think of any words at all to say what I intended (aphasia), or sometimes used a wrong word (for example, substituting "pad" for "magazine" or "refrigerator" for "computer hard-drive.") Talking on the phone was especially exhausting, even to dear friends.

Periodically, I've had heart palpitations, shortness of breath, exhaustion to the point of wondering where to summon enough strength to draw my next breath. Neurological symptoms, including numbness, tingling, and areas of excruciatingly sensitive skin.

At times I was unable to fixate my eyes upon anything long enough to hold the room steady, and had to lie still in bed with my eyes closed for a day or two. I became unable to continue my work as psychotherapist, writer, yoga teacher, and lecturer. So I retired at the early age of 53.

I experienced red rage and gray grieving and black depression at all these losses, and wondered if I were going insane. I feared I might be dying; and sometimes wished I could.

Using homeopathy as my primary means of treatment over the past five years, I have seen the severity of my symptoms gradually lessen. Do I still relapse? Yes, but each relapse seems shorter and less severe. Periods of relatively good health now predominate, during which I often have vibrant energy again! Surely, a miracle. I'm entirely pain-free most of the time. I'm able to walk as far as five miles, have a minimal limp, and can even navigate stairs fairly well. Most of my mental function has been restored. My vision has returned to normal.

A miracle? Yes. Easy? No. Progress was slow at first. Relapses were discouraging. Again and again, I had to remake my decision to stay away from antibiotics and stay with homeopathy. I also resorted to acupuncture several times for pain, with good short-term results. I chose to eat a healthful, mostly vegetarian diet. I streamlined much of the external stress out of my life. Learning that disturbances in the sleep cycle can cause not only fatigue but muscle and joint pains, I used Hemi-Sync tapes to reestablish normal sleep patterns.[2] Gradually, this regime of life-supporting practices paid off.

When I first made the decision to forego antibiotics and pin my hopes on homeopathy, I quickly discovered that I needed to keep my choice a secret. People were aghast and afraid for me. Energy I needed for healing was siphoned off when I had to exert willpower to insulate myself from their fears about the serious consequences of this disease, and to ignore their well-meant advice that homeopathy is quackery and I simply must be treated with antibiotics. Also, although having a name for my illness had been helpful at one point, eventually I found that the name Lyme disease carried with it certain prognoses and assumptions, which were not helpful to me. So, since 1994, I've simply refused to name my illness, to others or even to myself. Instead of getting tangled up in scenarios of likely complications, I simply concentrated on living each day. Writing this article breaks my silence. I do it because someone might be helped by learning what has helped me. Having discovered the Lyme Alliance and its newsletter just three months ago, I have found the first-person stories of others therapeutic, whether they have moved me to indignation, inspired me, or simply given me a sense of kinship with others whose symptoms mirror my own.

Well, am I at last about to reveal to you the name of the homeopathic remedy that works for Lyme disease? I could tell you the names of the several remedies that have helped me. However, they are unlikely to be the right remedies for you. This is because homeopathy treats the person, rather than the disease. For example, if my husband gets a cold and I come down with it a few days later, we probably will need different remedies even though the very same virus may be the causative agent.

His symptoms might include stopped up nose, annoying cough, itchy eyes. I might have runny nose, sneezing, and sore throat. The right remedy must be chosen to fit our unique ways of having this cold.

With deep-seated, chronic conditions like Lyme, the picture is even more complex. Here, besides considering your specific symptoms of illness, the homeopathic doctor pays attention also to your constitutional makeup. By offering a remedy that will bring your deep constitution into better balance, the hope is that your own system can begin to cope more effectively with the illness. The result of using the right remedy is a deep-level rebalancing and strengthening of the underlying constitution. In contrast, usual prescription drugs increase stress on the constitution, even if they do wipe out the bug causing an acute illness. This results in a more fragile balance at the constitutional level, and greater susceptibility to the next illness - or relapse. This is why antibiotics are "against life," not merely against the germs.

Because constitutional remedies for a chronic condition must be chosen by an experienced homeopath, and because you are likely to need a completely different series of constitutional-level remedies than I (since you and I have very different makeups) it's important to find a homeopath with whom you feel comfortable.[1] Because the homeopathic approach to health is so different from the conventional medical model, it can help to read a couple of introductions to homeopathy.[3] My personal way of picturing how constitutional remedies work is to imagine that my constitution is like a radio dial, preset to bring in a certain range of frequencies. Sometimes I get stuck between stations. A remedy that fits my needs is able to move my dial from fuzzy, static-laden noise to clear functioning at one of the particular stations which my organism by its nature is already trying to bring in. If your constitutional stations are in a different zone of the dial than mine, you will need a different remedy than I to tune you in to your own state of health.

As I enjoy my current plateau of relatively good health, looking back over the past six years my big regret is that I didn't invest much sooner in equipment to support my body during periods of disability. I think now that I put off purchasing special "handicapped" equipment in order to avoid accepting the severity of my illness. For too long I got along with an ill-fitting institutional-style wheelchair, which inflicted terrible stresses to my entire skeletomuscular system, exacerbating my joint problems and retarding my recovery. Eventually, we did build handicapped ramping on our home, buy a wheelchair customized to fit my 5'2" frame, and a really good inflated cushion. (All big-ticket items; but in many states there is funding available to help with the cost of such necessary equipment if prescribed by a physician.) As I became ready to learn to walk again, I needed first a geriatric walker, then a geriatric cane, and eventually a regular walking stick. Although these days I need none of the above, having bought them for temporary use was not a mistake; in fact, the conditions for which I needed them became more temporary precisely because I did get them. We finally installed a stool and grab-bars in the shower, got me a mechanical grabber-tool to extend my reach, and a foam rubber bed-wedge and special Hemi-Sync tapes to assist sleeping. Once I acknowledged my own needs, I discovered that there are many ingenious gadgets, resources, and appliances to assist with every aspect of daily living.[4] How I wish I had availed myself of these much sooner.

As with any of life's tragedies and tribulations, Lyme disease has left some blessings in its wake:

I have learned to hear and heed my inner guidance, to a degree never before. I have discovered homeopathy, which has become the keystone of healthcare in our family, for everything from bumps and bruises, to colds and pneumonia, to Lyme disease.

I have come to appreciate the sheer wonder of being able to walk across a room again!

The joy of being able to converse with friends again! The blessings of sound sleep and normal energy! The thrill of feeling well again! Most important, at the very time when I was most ill I made a surprising discovery: There is deep within me a Center of Wellness, which is not touched even in times of grave illness. Having experienced that this Center abides even when I am so very ill, I now know that this deep Wellness need not be destroyed even by death. Discovering this is even more thrilling than being cured.

Genia Pauli Haddon, D.Min., Ph.D., is the creator of the video series Yoga for Round Bodies 1 & 2 and author of numerous articles and books, including Uniting Sex, Self & Spirit She may be contacted via her website, url


1.To learn the names of some homeopaths in your area, contact the National Center for Homeopathy, 801 North Fairfax Street, Suite 306, Alexandria, VA 22314; phone 703-548-7790. Ask for a copy of their Directory of homeopaths and groups. The National Center for Homeopathy is a nonprofit organization promoting homeopathy through education, publication, and research.

2.For an excellent article about the relationship between disturbed delta-sleep and certain symptoms common to chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and Lyme disease, contact The Monroe Institute, requesting a reprint of the article "Hemi-Sync Intervention for Insomnia and Immune Dysfunction" in Hemi-Syric Journal (Fall 1998). The Monroe Institute is an internationally known educational and research organization dedicated to exploring the nature and functioning of human consciousness. More than twenty years ago, the Institute originated Hemi-Sync technology, a scientific sound-based method for adjusting states of consciousness. Their Hemi-Sync tapes for home use really work! To rebalance your sleep cycle, I personally recommend playing the Hemi-Sync tape Super Sleep softly all night long on an auto-reverse player. Use it for a week or so whenever you enter a period when you aren't feeling rested upon awakening in the morning. I also recommend Pain Control when discomfort makes it hard to sleep.

3.Some books with Introductions that I have found helpful for beginning to appreciate the homeopathic worldview: Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines, by Stephen Cummings, MD. and Dana Ullman, M.P.H. (Tarcher), Homeopathic Medicine at Home, by Maesimund B. Panos, MD. and Jane Heimlich (Tarcher), Bach Flower Therapy: Theory and Practice, by Mechthild Scheffer (Healing Arts Press). Or check for other titles at your local library. Also, the National Center for Homeopathy Directory, listed above, gives contact information for homeopathic study groups in your geographic area, where you can learn a lot from other people who have chosen homeopathy as a key to health.

4.For a great catalog of such resources, contact Sammons Preston, P.O. Box 5071, Bolingbrook, IL 60440-5071; phone 800-323-5547.

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