Five Ways Pilates Can Help You Heal From Lyme Disease

Please Note: this article first appeared on ProHealth on March 22, 2016

It’s no secret to those who know me that I love Pilates. In fact, I’ve written about it a few times in the past (and probably will again) Pilates is a unique system of exercises, created by Joseph Pilates, designed to enhance strength, flexibility, posture, balance and to foster a connection between the mind and the body. 

In this article, I share with you some of my journey toward wellness, and ways in which Pilates is a useful, therapeutic tool to help you on your road to recovery.

The word “challenging” does not even begin to describe the starting point of my health struggles. For years, I battled an ever-growing list of strange symptoms until a doctor diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 2010. Despite doing everything right; all that my doctor told me to do, I became more frail by the day, as weight inexplicably dropped from my 5-foot 6-inch frame.

Soon after my diagnosis, a series of soul-crushing events occurred; I lost my job, my car, most of my friends, my ability to sleep, financial stability, and my physical strength. During the next three years, I spent 18 months bedridden, only able to get up for a few minutes each day.

Sadly, I began to believe that my chances for a better quality of life were quickly slipping away. In a last ditch effort to find some help, I saw yet another doctor. He carefully combed through my medical history as my spent form draped over the chair across from him. When he lifted his head from his desk, he calmly said, “I think you have Lyme disease.”

Though armed with a new diagnosis and a heap of information, an entire year passed before my weak body was able to tolerate any treatment. In October 2013, a nurse practitioner created a gentle protocol for me that paved the way for healing to finally begin. I had an enormous uphill battle in front of me, but I was ultimately glad to be moving forward.

Along with my medical treatment, I promised myself that I would faithfully integrate Pilates into my protocol. Initially, it was a monumental task due to the level of physical decline I experienced from years of being homebound and incapacitated. However, I persevered, and stuck to my decision to make movement-based, exercise therapy a priority. Pilates has been a crucial part of my rehabilitation as it has safely allowed me to explore my current relationship with my body, my strength, and limitations, as I progress toward restoring my health.

I believe that nearly everyone–yes, both males and females–battling Lyme disease can benefit from incorporating the Pilates method into their treatment regime. Here are five ways Pilates can help you heal from Lyme disease.

1. Pilates reconnects your mind and your body.

Chronic Lyme disease can make you feel as though your body has betrayed you, and that you have no control over what’s happening to you. In contrast, a consistent Pilates practice reinforces the connection between the mind and the body and allows you to see that although many things may not be in your control, you still have the power to make specific changes to movements in a manner that feels best to you. When you focus your attention on the muscle groups working order soma overnight delivery during an exercise, you become acutely aware of the slight adjustments each muscle is making to rebuild your body.

Understanding that your mind and body work together to develop a stronger you is a very encouraging thought.

2. Pilates balances your body.

If you’ve experienced prolonged periods of inactivity or bed rest, you’ve probably noticed an increase in muscle weakness, tightness, and perhaps, even an increase in pain. These are the results of a body that has become imbalanced and deconditioned. With an emphasis on strength, flexibility, stability and mobility, Pilates provides a balanced workout for you. With each session, you will slowly notice an increase in muscle tone and joint range of motion.

3. Pilates reduces restrictions and poor movement patterns.

As I mentioned earlier, stress, pain and lack of movement take their toll on you. Your body adapts in the best way it knows how—by overcompensating in some areas and under compensating in others. These types of maladaptive patterns lead to muscle misalignment. Fortunately, Pilates allows you a chance to release restrictions throughout your tissues, adjust poor movement patterns, and improve your postural alignment. As renowned Pilates instructor Alycea Ungaro explains:

“As you exercise, you must always be aware of your alignment. Your workout is an opportunity to self-correct your misalignments. By learning to strengthen your weaknesses and correct your poor habits, you can restore optimal alignment to your body.”

As you engage the right muscles needed for each exercise, you will discover you can let go of excess tension and effort. Soon, you will see the advantages of new, more efficient movement in your body.

4. Pilates develops a strong core.

The core (AKA the “powerhouse”) is made up of the muscles in your abdomen, low back, hips, and gluteal area. Your core is always on duty; in fact, it’s constantly working to provide support and stability to your spine. When you’re sedentary for an extended length of time, your core begins to weaken, which decreases your ability to move efficiently.

The source of energy and the starting point for all exercises in the Pilates repertoire is your core group of muscles. As you strengthen this area, your balance will improve, and your movements will require less energy. You will sit and stand with better posture and more comfort.

5. Pilates adapts to your current level of fitness.

When traditional exercise programs often deplete you of energy, Pilates can be customized to suit your current fitness level. In my early days of recovery, I dealt with severe orthostatic intolerance problems and relentless fatigue that only allowed me to practice Pilates in a supine position. Thankfully, there are hundreds of exercises and variations that can be done lying down, so I never lacked options.

Similarly, you too may deal with severe fatigue, pain, or other concerns making most forms of exercise impossible to do. In such circumstances, Pilates can be used as a restorative tool to gently rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit.

If you are considering incorporating Pilates into your pursuit of wellness, I suggest that you invest in at least a few sessions to learn the foundational principles of the method before undertaking a personal practice. With a solid list of benefits, Pilates truly is a fitness solution for those of us with chronic Lyme disease.

References:

Ungaro, A. (2011). Pilates Practical Companion. New York, NY: DK Publishing.

Q & A Sunday

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Q: How are you doing after Brucella treatment?

A: Recently, I’ve gotten a few emails asking me this question. I treated Brucella in August of 2014. I took a combination of 600mg of Rifampin and 200mg of Doxycycline for six weeks. This protocol is one in which Dr. Horowitz recommends for his Brucella patients.

To be perfectly honest with you, I am not sure if it did anything. Brucella has not popped up on any other tests and treating it didn’t seem to yield much improvement. Additionally, I wasn’t able to tell which of my symptoms were linked specifically to Brucella. I am still battling many of the same symptoms since I was first diagnosed in 2013 can i order soma online (fatigue, insomnia, burning sensations in my brain and spinal cord, jaw pain, and so on). However, I am battling some of these symptoms to a lesser degree now. All in all, I can’t say that I made any significant progress in treating Brucella.

At the present time, I am treating Borrelia (still) and Babesia. This new protocol remains challenging, and although I don’t yet feel any drastic changes, I believe there maybe some subtle shifts happening inside. I just try to take things one co-infection at a time, hoping that with persistence, I can beat Lyme, get my energy back, and go on with my life.

I am so ready for that to happen!

7 Reasons to Give Spirulina a Try

Please note: This article was originally posted on ProHealth on February 20, 2016.

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I bet the idea of consuming blue-green algae doesn’t sound too appealing to you, does it? I know what you’re thinking: It looks like pond scum. For a long time, it didn’t tempt my taste buds either. In my defense, however, I have one, tiny, inelegant problem with all foods from the sea. They make me retch.

My reaction is instantaneous. A small piece of fishy, seaweed-infused food enters my mouth, and a full-body, guttural heave follows. I lose all control of my gag reflex; it’s most embarrassing when it happens in public. I had all but sworn off seafood and sea vegetables forever from my life. That is until I started hearing the social media buzz surrounding a certain superfood called spirulina.  Always on a mission to support my body with healthy foods as I recover from Lyme Disease and co-infections, my curiosity was piqued.   

 My friends insisted a smoothie easily concealed the pungent flavor. Skeptical, I took to the kitchen with one of my favorite smoothie recipes–only this time, I added one teaspoon of spirulina powder to the recipe. Right before my eyes, my yummy chocolate, strawberry smoothie turned a funny shade of green-brown.

“It’s ruined!” I thought as I prepared my stomach for the inevitable gag. I placed the glass to my lips and much to my pleasant surprise, the taste was quite enjoyable. Phew! Gag averted. Once I knew the flavor could be sufficiently masked beneath a bounty of other ingredients, I too hopped on the bandwagon of this nutrient-dense food.

What is it?

Technically a one-celled, vegetable bacteria (cyanobacteria), the use of Spirulina can be traced back to ancient times. Historical documents indicate the Aztecs used spirulina as food as early as the 16th century. Additionally, its name is derived from Latin and means, “small spiral,” because it looks like a coil or spring. It most prevalently grows along the shores of South Asia, Mexico, and Africa.

With an abundance of health benefits, spirulina provides some serious nutritional backup for your healing body. Here are 7 reasons to give it a try:

1. It’s high in protein and contains all 8 essential amino acids.

Experts say spirulina is between 60%-75% protein; the protein varies depending on the conditions in which it’s grown. Surprisingly, it contains an average of six times more protein than eggs, and three times more protein than beef.

In addition, spirulina contains all eight essential amino acids and ten non-essential amino acids in an easy to digest form. Spirulina truly is a protein powerhouse to help restore the body from Lyme disease.

2. It contains gamma linolenic acid (GLA).

As you treat your infections, you will probably search for ways to lower chronic inflammation. GLA is an essential fatty acid most known for its inflammation-fighting properties, and a mighty weapon in your quest to protect your body from further harm. Typically, the body must create GLA from another fat called linoleic acid. However, spirulina is one of the few foods where GLA occurs naturally. This extraordinary, anti-inflammatory agent helps lessen PMS, decrease arthritis pain, and reduce skin conditions like eczema.

3. It’s an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.

This impressive, blue-green algae is comprised of a full spectrum of B vitamins including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), nicotinamide (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), inositol (B8), folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B12).

Spirulina also contains a high concentration of bioavailable iron. Fortunately for our GI tracts, it’s not known to cause constipation. The added iron may be helpful for people who follow a vegetarian diet, or for those who suffer buy soma muscle relaxers online from anemia.

As if those weren’t enough, spirulina consists of vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin E. Likewise, it’s a wellspring of minerals like iodine, potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium, and zinc. Phew! That’s a mouthful of vitamins and minerals to nurture you as you work to improve your health.

4. It’s great for your bones and teeth.

Spirulina leaves milk in the dust! One serving of this green superfood contains up to 26 times more calcium than milk. For those of us following a dairy free diet, this wholesome plant provides an alternative way to get our calcium intake.

5. It’s a potent antioxidant. 

Spirulina contains a blend of vitamin E, carotenoids, selenium, and phenolic acids, making it an impressive force to neutralize free radicals and defend your body against cellular damage. With an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) rating that’s four times higher than blueberries, it’s one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet.

6. It supports liver function and detoxification.

Many people with Lyme disease have compromised mechanisms of detoxification. Luckily, spirulina is filled with chlorophyll–the substance that gives it a noticeable green hue. Chlorophyll aids in the removal of toxins from the blood and boosts the immune system. Furthermore, studies have shown spirulina can chelate heavy metals like aluminum, cadmium, arsenic, and lead, and help your body eliminate these harmful substances more effectively.

7. It’s great for your eyes.

We’ve all been told to eat our carrots to improve our eye health. However, spirulina is extremely rich in the eye-protecting antioxidant known as beta carotene. In fact, it has 25 times more of this nutrient than carrots. That’s some serious food for your eyes!

With an excellent mix of vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats, spirulina demonstrates substantial healing and rejuvenating properties to nourish your body on the road to recovery. Still think you can’t stomach this plant/bacteria/algae from the waters? Give the following recipe a try. I can almost guarantee you won’t be able to taste it. When purchasing spirulina, make sure it’s organic and from a reputable source to avoid contamination of toxic substances and additives.

Rise And Shine Cacao + Strawberry + Spirulina Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups dairy-free milk of your choice (I prefer cashew milk)

1 teaspoon spirulina powder

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

1 cup of strawberries washed and with the tops removed

¼ of an avocado

½ teaspoon raw, organic honey

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

Toss all ingredients into a blender. Blend and enjoy this nutrient-dense smoothie!

There are a few scenarios where ingesting spirulina is contraindicated:

  • Don’t take spirulina if you are allergic to iodine or seafood.
  • Some people with autoimmune diseases will not tolerate spirulina. If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc., please ask your doctor before supplementing with this blue-green algae.
  • Before adding spirulina to your diet, consult your doctor if you are nursing or pregnant.
  • The high iodine levels in spirulina may impact those with hyperthyroidism. Please check with your healthcare provider before taking it.
  • Those with PKU should avoid spirulina because it contains that amino acid phenylalanine.
  • As is the case with all vitamins and supplements, please discuss with your doctor before taking spirulina if you are on any anticoagulation medication.

References:

Spirulina-Benefits-Health.com. (2009). Spirulina: The Magic Food. Retrieved fromhttp://www.spirulina-benefits-health.com/index.html

University of Maryland Medical Center. (2013, July 7). Spirulina. Retrieved fromhttp://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/spirulina

University of Maryland Medical Center. (2015, June 22). Gamma-linolenic acid. Retrieved fromhttp://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/gammalinolenic-acid

Landsman, J. (2015, May 18). Spirulina–Superfood nutrition with a lifetime of health benefits. Natural Health 365. Retrieved fromhttp://www.naturalhealth365.com/antioxidants-food-supply-health-benefits-1426.html      

WeWoman. (2014, April 3). The Most Nutritious Superfood On Earth? 12 Amazing Health Benefits of Spirulina. Retrieved fromhttp://www.wewomen.com/wellbeing/the-most-nutritious-superfood-on-earth-12-amazing-health-benefits-of-spirulina-s365511.html

IIMSAM Spirulina Pledge. (n.d). Spirulina. Retrieved fromhttp://www.iimsamspirulinapledge.org/isp/spirulina.aspx