What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness affecting over 30,000 Americans each year. The typical symptoms of infection are a bullseye rash around the bite site, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms including fever and chills. If you ever experience these symptoms with or without a tick bite, you should seek medical care. (source)
According to the New England Journal of Medicine approximately 10% to 20% of people treated for Lyme disease develop a chronic form of the disease. Symptoms of chronic Lyme can include fatigue, joint and muscle pain, and even cognitive problems. The symptoms can last for months to years and often get progressively worse if not treated. (source)
No one knows what causes Lyme to develop into a chronic issue. One theory is that the infection permanently damages tissues or alters the immune system function in a negative way. Some pain experts believe it’s the immune system’s reaction to the Lyme infection that causes increased pain sensation and the chronic pain symptoms.This in turn may cause poor sleep and increased fatigue.
Lyme Treatment Requires Detoxification
In order to recover from Lyme disease it is important to get on an effective treatment protocol from a physician knowledgeable about Lyme. Equally important to an effective treatment plan is an effective detoxification plan. Remember this rule: If you're going to intentionally help your body KILL a foreign invader, you should intentionally help your body REMOVE those dead foreign invaders and their byproducts.
As your treatment helps your immune system to succeed against the Lyme spirochetes and they begin dying off, a herxheimer (herx) reaction can occur. This occurs when the endotoxins left behind by the dying pathogens accumulate in your tissues. A herx reaction is defined as an adverse response to the accumulation of toxins released by bacteria and fungus when they are killed by antibiotics and antifungal medicines. These reactions can come on suddenly and make you feel very ill. The herx reaction may not occur immediately if your body can keep up with the removal of the accumulating toxins. It’s when your detoxification pathways become overburdened that herx reactions become likely. In the case of Lyme treatment herx reactions are very common and detoxification help is definitely needed. (source)
Infrared Saunas to the Rescue!
When the main detoxification organs, the liver and kidneys, become overwhelmed, especially during the pathogen die-off reactions, you can give them a break by eliminating some of the extra toxins through your skin instead. Sweating in the sauna is an excellent way to do this. With regular sauna bathing you can reduce the amount of toxins that your liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract have to filter, process and eliminate. This can help mitigate Lyme disease herx reaction symptoms because the toxins do not build up. Infrared saunas assist the rest of your detoxification systems by helping to bring the overall toxin load down in an incredibly efficient manner.
High-quality infrared saunas seem to be more effective for chronic Lyme disease and also may be more comfortable than traditional saunas. Because they induce ample sweating at a lower temperature, many find them more tolerable and pleasant to use. Also, since infrared light penetrates deeper into your tissues, it is believed to remove toxins at a deeper cellular level.
In addition to detoxifying the body, infrared sauna therapy can support healthy inflammation levels and lower inflammation helps to reduce all sorts of chronic pain. It also increases circulation and lymphatic flow, which helps the body to remove toxins and assimilate nutrients more efficiently. Good lymphatic flow is an important part of the body’s detoxification systems. Finally, regular infrared sauna users generally have better sleep and less stress which can benefit you on your path to recovery.
As great as sauna therapy is, it may not be beneficial for everyone with Lyme or at every stage of the healing process. Because saunas can mobilize toxins from deep within the tissues, if your body is already overburdened, pulling more toxins out of the cells may further overwhelm the detox organs. If your adrenal function is low, sauna therapy can sometimes exacerbate exhaustion. It may also be contraindicated in a few other conditions, so you’ll want to consult with your doctor or healthcare practitioner before diving in.
Ready to try? Take It Slow!
Many Lyme sufferers find sauna bathing provides immediate pain relief and relaxation benefits and that can be reason enough to give it a try. When you first start using an infrared sauna, it’s best to take it slow and adjust your sauna sessions according to how you’re feeling. A good starting rate for a person with Lyme Disease would be 1 to 2 times per week at about 10 to 15 minutes per session. But this could vary considerably. It’s key to prevent the mobilization of too many toxins too quickly, so that you don’t make yourself feel worse. This includes the toxins that have accumulated in the body even before contracting Lyme Disease (heavy metals, pesticides, etc). If too many toxins are mobilized at once, you can end up feeling worse than before you started your sauna session. This feeling could last a few days depending on how intense the session is for you.
You'll also want to take it slow at first to avoid irritation of the actual Lyme infection(s). Some common Lyme co-infections have an extreme dislike of hot environments. In these cases the heat can cause symptoms to flare up and may even cause excess die-off. If you suddenly feel much worse after using the sauna you should take a few days off until you feel better. You can then restart your sauna habit for less frequent, shorter sessions and work your way up as it feels comfortable.
Good luck on your journey to vivid health!
Check out our selection of high quality infrared saunas in our sauna shop or call to talk with one of our sauna specialists at 877.865.8035. You can also request more information about our infrared saunas here.