If you have followed me for a while then you know, I had chronic lyme disease that went undiagnosed for 15 years (now healed of course) and it was one the main reasons why Roots & Leaves was born. May is Lyme disease awareness month so it's the perfect time to write this blog post. May also happens to be prime time in the Carolina's for ticks to hatch and latch. Last week we went hiking and found several ticks crawling on us. Luckily none attached and we were prepared if they did. Honestly, even after having chronic lyme disease for over 15 years I refuse to live in fear and I go out and enjoy nature all the time.
First and foremost, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so we try to prevent them from wanting to attach to us in the first place.
Here are the six things we do to prevent ticks latching onto us:
1. I developed my Bug Spray specifically to repel ticks. Sure it's great at repeling mosquitos, no see ums and other annoying pests but my main goal was to make ticks HATE us (and you too if you snag some HERE). The essential oil Rose Geranium (Pelargonium capitatum x radens) is well known for its ability to repel ticks. It is important, however, to know that there are two varieties of Rose Geranium oil. Our bug spray uses the type of Rose Geranium that works. I do my research and take ticks very seriously. There are also lots of ingredients in the bug spray that help to repel ticks and mosquitos. The key is to apply frequently, every 2-3 hours or more frequently after sweating or swimming. Remember – essential oils are effective because of their scent. If you can’t smell it, chances are a tick can’t smell it either and won’t be repelled appropriately.
2. When we are hiking in deep carolina woods or very thick brush we spray our clothes ahead of time (and let them completely dry for three hours) with permethrin spray. Depending on what brand you end up with, treating clothes yourself means that the permethrin will last anywhere from four to six washings. Even if you don’t wash your treated shoes, I recommend re-treating them about once a month. The great thing about permethrin is that since it is on your clothes and not on your skin it is not toxic to humans once fully dried. The ticks crawl on the treated shoes/clothes and die before they can attach to you. It’s pretty genius. If you don’t want to treat your own clothes you can buy pre-treated clothes that last for 70 washes. We then also spray our skin and clothes with our Bug away the natural way. Here is an article on permethrin
3. Wear long pants and long sleeves when walking in tick-infested areas
4. Keep to the center of hiking trails, and avoiding walking through wooded, grassy, or brushy areas.
5. Using a hand-held or full-length mirror to check the body for ticks after coming indoors
6. Shower immediately after coming indoors
Next up, to be prepared I always have my Tick Kit with me. Below is a picture of my tick kit:
In the plastic bag kit: tweezers, antibacterial tincture (andrographis is a good option), cotton balls/pads, medical tape, bentonite clay (i put about 3 tbsp inside another zip lock bag and put it in the kit.
TICK BITE PROTOCOL
- Remove tick with tweezers, grabbing as close to the head as possible. NEVER squeeze its body, coat in oil, burn or other traumatic strategies that can cause the tick to “throw up” more bacteria when agitated or alarmed.
- Save the tick in plastic bag to send for testing if desired (testing options listed below)
- Apply andrographis tincture to the bite site immediately after removing the tick to kill bacteria. Potentially soak a bit of coton in the tincture and tape over the bite for 10 minutes (can do this with mosquito bites as well).
- Mix bentonite clay with the andrographis and apply liberally to draw out bacteria and then cover with thin cotton
- Use homeopathic ledum, 5 pellets 3 X daily for 3 days after tick bite
- If rash develops begin homeopathic Apis 30C 3 X daily for 3 days and begin core buhner protocol
You can get the products that we use (minus the bag and the tweezers of course) in the above tick kit for 15% off at my fullscript link HERE.
If you do get bitten and the tick has latched, you might want to consider sending it off for testing.
How to get the Tick Tested:
The first thing I recommend doing immediately is to send the tick to a lab to determine whether or not it even carries Lyme or other tickborne infections. Some labs will only identify whether the tick is a blacklegged deer tick, and only if it is, will they test to see if it carries Borrelia burgdorferi. While knowing what kind of tick it is may be useful, it is more important to know whether the tick actually carries any infections. I do recommend checking for co-infections, and not just for Borrelia alone. Ticks can carry and transmit more than one infection, and knowing what symptoms to watch for can be very helpful in early diagnosis.
The labs that I recommend using are Ticknology, TickReport, or TickCheck. The turnaround time for these labs is 2-5 days from receipt of the tick. But in the meantime, while you’re waiting for results, you’re still stuck with the question of whether or not to take antibiotics in case you might have contracted lyme or other co-infections.
I wrote a separate blog post called "My Journey with Chronic Lyme disease and what I would do if I got bit again" that goes into great detail about lyme disease, my symptoms, rashes and the fact that I never got a bullseye, conventional and herbal treatment. Check it out for some in depth tips.