Podcast 124: A Holistic Herbal Tick Bite Protocol
Finding a tick embedded in your skin is distressing, even without the spectre of Lyme disease and other tick-borne pathogens. But if you find one after your next hike in the woods, don’t panic! A simple herbal tick bite protocol like the one we outline in this episode can put your mind at ease and give your body the best fighting chance.
If you want to learn more about our methods of working with Lyme (and other tick-borne illnesses), check out Katja’s course A Holistic Approach to Lyme Disease. It outlines strategies for all stages of the illness, from prevention through post-Lyme syndrome / chronic Lyme presentations, based on building resilience and adaptability in the body.
As always, please subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen, so others can find it more easily. Thank you!!
Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.
Hi, I’m Katja.
And I’m Ryn.
And we’re here at the Commonwealth Center for Holisitic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.
And on the internet everywhere, thanks to power of the podcast. Alright, so this week we’re going to share with you our holistic herbal tick bite protocol. No, for real. This is what we do when we find a tick upon ourselves. And we’re going to give you some very direct, like this is the action step that you need to take. And it’ll make you feel good inside and outside.
Yes. Except it’ll be the action step that you can take. Because you don’t need to take it. You just can take it.
It’ll be the one you choose to take it.
It’ll be the one. Yeah, yeah.
And we’re also going to give you some different ways to think about the tick and the tick bite and the Lyme disease and all of the other things that are probably running through your head as the little legs run across your arm.
Do you have like a sound file from a zombie movie where people are screaming and running away from the zombies that you can play in the background after we finish recording this?
When we talk about the tick bugs?
Like yes, because Aaaugh! A tick bite. And then do you have the zombie-screaming noise?
I’m sure we can find that, Yeah.
Yeah. Okay. That’s good. Excellent. All right, well before we get started we want to tell you that we are not doctors. We are herbalists and holistic health educators.
That’s right. The ideas discussed in our podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses herbalists in the United States. So these discussions are for educational purposes only. Everyone’s body is different. So the things that we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you, but they will give you some new ideas to think about and some things to research further.
We want to remind you that your good health is your own personal responsibility and the final decision when you are Oh, he just moved it and I say this every week. The final decision when you’re considering any course of therapy, whether it’s discussed on the internet or prescribed by your physician, is always yours.
I should be able to say that right off the top of my head.
I know, I’m like, shouldn’t I have memorized all of this by now?
Here’s the thing, I just had taken a sip of this tea that I made this morning and it’s not very delicious. And I took a sip and I was like, wow, that’s not very delicious. I’m going to drink it anyway. But it’s got great stuff in it. But so if you ever make tea and you’re like, Hmm, that’s not actually super delicious. I thought it was going to be tasty, but I missed.
I don’t know.
No problem. No problem. Okay. So I mean, look, it’s unpleasant to find a tick embedded in your skin.
It’s unpleasant to find a tick in your bed.
It’s not fun, right? You don’t want that. And even if you didn’t have to think or worry about Lyme or ehrlichiosis or any of the other, you know, tick borne illnesses.
Ticks are Gross
Ticks are just gross.
Or honestly here’s one that actually scares me a little bit is the thing where the lone star ticks can give you the alpha-gal allergy and now suddenly you’re allergic to red meat. Okay. That actually freaks me out a bit. So, you know, whatever your personal fears may be, whatever shape they may take, that’s totally normal and we want to just let that be there.
It’s normal to be grossed out by bugs actually. And honestly that there’s an evolutionary purpose to being grossed out by bugs, because this is not the first time ever that bugs have carried diseases. Books have always carried diseases and being a little grossed out by bugs is a way that we are cautious. And so it’s okay to be a little grossed out. Just that we want to keep it in control and not let ourselves be so grossed out that we can’t go outside.
Yeah. That would be a real loss, you know? So, you know, if you get bit by a tick, okay, that’s gross. It’s not pleasant, but it’s also not a cause for panic. Right. You’re not doomed. You’re not stuck forever.
Actually before you continue on that train of thought, I think we might need to back up just one little smidge. Because just that statement, “you’re not doomed forever” is actually kind of radical. And so I do want to back up just a tiny bit and say that we have two approaches here. One approach is a very holistic, don’t panic, resilience building, strength building kind of approach. And that sort of approach can be hard to embrace because our society has taught us to be afraid of things. And especially to be afraid of things that present a challenge, a health challenge or health risk. And so, the fear is like the normal state. And so to hear like, “Oh, don’t panic.” That can come across to somebody like a completely unreasonable place to stand.
Sure. I’ll just decide to not panic anymore, Ryn. I guess I’m done. Thanks. I’ll be closing your podcast now and going about my business.
Right, exactly. Exactly. So what we want to share, we want to break this down into two tracks. And one track is the don’t panic track. And the other track is the Hey, panicking is kind of normal. And so here’s…
Here’s how to redirect your panic into useful activities.
Right, right, right. And here are some very specific steps you can take and some very specific herbs you can work with to sort of mold that panic into something more actionable. And, you know, don’t feel bad if you’re like, by the time you get to the end of this podcast, if you’re like, that sounds great, Katja, but I’m still freaked out by ticks. Yeah. Like that’s part of being a human.
Even Bitten, You are Not Doomed
Right, right. So, okay, well, let’s start with the part where we try to convince you that you don’t need to be afraid. Right? So our philosophy on this the first line of the way to explain this is that wild animals who are relatively healthy don’t get symptoms when they’re carrying the Lyme disease inside of their bodies. Whether that’s a wild deer or wild dog. If they’re not starving, if they’re not, you know, injured, they’re not having other things going on, then they can get bit by a tick. They can have Lyme inside their body, it can do its thing, but it doesn’t limit their ability to move. It doesn’t seem to be causing them ongoing pain or giving them headaches or taking away all their brain power, making it hard for them to get their reports turned in on time. You know, they’re still socializing with all of their friends at the happy hour and everything.
At the, like, dog treat hour.
Yeah. So we took that as an indicator that just the presence of the microbe in your body doesn’t mean that you’re doomed. Okay. Now I know somebody is out there being like, well Ryn, those are different species. And yes, I noticed. But we’ve found this in people as well, right. We have a whole pile of students and clients and friends and other kinds of individuals in our lives who have had Lyme disease to varying degrees of severity in terms of symptom expression, and have been able to turn it around. And a large part of that has been making them into more wild humans.
Mmm. Another way to think about this is not everyone who gets bit by a tick gets debilitating Lyme disease. And so how can I make my body less likely to get debilitating Lyme disease? And that sentence stops right there. It does not continue on to… and if you get debilitating Lyme disease, it’s your own fault because you didn’t make your body strong enough to not do it. It does not include that sentence. And if your brain is starting to go in that place just grab right ahold of it and do not go there. Because a lot of times when we talk about building resilience and building strength, immediately we can go to this kind of a guilt place and say like, well, if I get sick, it’s because I just didn’t work hard enough. And that’s actually not new. That goes back eons, to like illness as a punishment from God and you know, all of this stuff where the gods are angry and so you’re sick or whatever. Like that is I think another normal human tendency. But the reality is that the body that you have was not always under your control. You developed inside of another body and the health of the body that you developed inside of impacted your own health. And honestly many, that’s true for many generations. And so now you were born and you had many years of non autonomy, right? Many years of eating what you were fed and you didn’t have control over that. And so even though parents try to do the best for their kids you know, maybe you had an undiagnosed food allergy, maybe a million things. And so now you are wherever you are and it’s just don’t do that to yourself. Don’t put those guilt feelings on yourself of, well, my body isn’t as strong as some other body. And so therefore I must be doing something wrong. We only want to be looking at this in terms of this is the body I have right now. What can I do to strengthen this body? What positive things can I do to make this body stronger and stay right in that realm.
Right. Yeah. So, you know, part of the reason that this is difficult to just adopt wholesale as a, as a new perspective on the world. And now I’ve heard this from this podcast and now I’m ready to take a hike into the forest. I don’t care if they crawl all over me. No problem. Right? So it’s difficult to do that all in one go because it’s not just one piece of your thoughts or one piece of your conception of what the outdoors is that needs to change here, right? It’s a whole paradigm around what human health is and how it’s maintained and how it’s supported. So when we say that just because you got bit by a tick, that doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to have debilitating Lyme disease. It means several things kind of simultaneously. Right? So on the one hand, we’re thinking of the known fact that just because you get exposed to any kind of a germ, that doesn’t mean you catch that illness, right? It’s true that if somebody sneezes in an elevator, then you might get a flu from that or you might not. And the same way here. If you get bit by a tick, even if the tick is carrying the Lyme disease, even if it spits the Lyme spirochete into your bloodstream, that still doesn’t mean that you’re doomed either to have the Lyme disease in your body forever. Although that’s fairly likely. It doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to have debilitating symptoms immediately or for the rest of your life.
Or ever. Yeah.
Because you may fight it off right at the moment of contact, right? Your body may say, Hey, something is coming in. Hey, that’s a threat. All right, let’s fight it off. Let’s attack it. And that might take care of it. Or it may be that Lyme gets in and it sets up a little home for itself, but your immune system is doing daily diligence and surveillance work and it says, yeah, there’s some Lyme over there and we haven’t been able to quite dig it out of its little hidey hole, but we’re keeping it contained. And so it’s not spreading and you know expanding and taking over territory.
Yeah. It’s on a stay at home order.
Right. Yeah. And so, you know that may just happen. That may have happened to you in your life already. Right? That’s totally possible. If you’re a person who goes outdoors that you had a tick bite and there was Lyme and it never affected your life even a little bit. So having that information first I think is important. Because not everyone has heard that before. Many of us have the idea, whether it’s an analyzed idea or not, whether it’s one that we spent time like turning over and poking at it and seeing if it stands up. Whether we’ve done that work or not, we have the idea of if I get bit by a tick, I catch Lyme.
I mean that about any pathogen, right? Like if I stand next to somebody with the flu, I will have the flu. Like diseases are caused by germs, but the presence of a germ is not a 100% guarantee of a disease. Right? There’s more at play than just presence of a pathogen.
So, you know, that is one of the many pieces of the whole story that would go into, you know, changing your mental paradigm around this. And we’re not going to do the whole story in this podcast today, right? Because that would take a long time. But one way that, that you can change your mind in this manner is to learn and to listen to a wonderful, intelligent convincing lady, give you 10 hours of her thoughts about Lyme and how to deal with it.
Well, I don’t want to be convincing. I just want to be motivating.
There we go.
I want a person to listen to my thoughts about working with lime and my experience about working with Lyme and all of the case studies that I present and all those other things. And I want them to say that’s an interesting idea. I wonder if that would work for me. I will try it. And if it works for me then I will be convinced. Don’t be convinced just because I said it only be convinced if it actually works for you.
There we go. So we do have a course like that. It’s called a holistic approach to Lyme disease and you can find it at online at
There you go. Yeah. But really all of the courses that we offer are about teaching this paradigm, teaching this way to look at your body, to look at your health. That’s what we call holistic herbalism, to try to squish it all into two words. But you know, it gets into lots of different areas.
A Resilience Paradigm
Yeah. And of course, like there are specifics. Our method of thinking about building resilience and how that specifically relates to Lyme or how that specifically relates to heartburn or how that specifically relates to depression or whatever. But the foundation is still the same that we’re looking to present. We’re looking to hold for ourselves and also to present a resilience paradigm as opposed to a cure paradigm.
Yeah. And that bears a little explanation.
Yeah. So the idea behind a cure paradigm is that there is there is an illness that I have acquired. And there is a specific medicine that will remove that illness from me. Dare I say, cleanse that illness from me. Oh my. Not to make parallels there too much to…right. Well, if there are parallels that you see there, then that’s OK. And so the cure paradigm seeks that specific medicine for a specific illness. Whereas a resilience paradigm is saying, how can I make my body strong enough to deal with the normal everyday things that I encounter? And this part is the key because we’re not saying, okay, really listen here. We’re not saying, Oh, don’t worry about Lyme. Don’t worry about ticks. Just go out and frolic in the woods and roll around in the dirt. And don’t even do a tick tick check and everything will be fine because you won’t get sick. That is not what we’re saying. What we are saying is we want to prepare. We want to teach our body and train our body to be strong enough to deal with the things that we encounter every day. Now there will always be things in this world that are new or that are very strong and that for whatever reason we can’t fight off. You know, coronavirus can be one of those for some people. And there are so many factors in the mix of how that happens. But, so we’re not saying like, wasn’t there a movie about some guy who died in Alaska because he was like, I can totally survive in the wilderness. And he like didn’t even take any food with him or something.
Yeah. He probably starved to death.
Right? Cause he didn’t educate himself about how to eat wild foods and he had no preparation at all. Okay. That’s not what we’re talking about.
No. And I mean, and look, we’re also not saying if you eat right and sleep enough and meditate every day, then you’ll be invincible and nothing can ever get to you. You know, we were talking before and one of the metaphors we came up with was this is like learning how to jump off of a tall thing and to not break your legs, right? And so the way you do that is you prepare and you practice and you scale up over some time, right?
And you start off jumping off of a small thing.
Right. Yeah. But even having done that none of that is to say that now you can jump off of anything and you’ll never get hurt, right? You could jump off of a normal height thing for you, whatever that is, and still twist your ankle, right? Because sometimes you just land wrong.
Sometimes it just happens.
And so there’s things that we know will influence that. Like if you are well slept and feeling mentally focused and present. But it’s not like you can guarantee that you’re never going to get hurt again, even if you’ve trained and practiced and done all the 27 steps of building up your ankle strength. Like, you know, you can still run into problems in that way. And it’s the same with this kind of stuff here too.
Okay, good. There’s probably more, we could say. There’s probably 70,000 more analogies we could make there and I really feel like some days I’m just an analogy generator stuffed into a body. I got to know. But let’s maybe jump into some of the specifics here.
Well, yeah, I mean, if you’ve been listening to our pod for any amount of time or taking any of our classes, you’ve heard us talk about the four pillars of good health, about food movement, sleep and stress or stress management. And how those are the big areas of health that we can look at, we can make changes to our habits, we can support with herbs. And these are the areas where if we do the work, then we will make our bodies stronger in all of its many ways. Better able to resist disease, better able to, you know carry heavy things and save people in emergencies, better able to relate freely to those around us. And there’s a lot that comes with this kind of work.
You know, you just said better able to save people in emergencies. Like in our culture, we’re not really, Hmm, we’re not there with this right now. But you can’t just say, Oh, I want to be able to save somebody in emergency and then think that when an emergency happens, you’re going to be able to save somebody. That is not how it works. You have to train to be able to save somebody in an emergency. Whatever it is you want to do, you have to train. You might have to train for a very long time. It’s not enough necessarily to just Google it. You might have to study and study and work out and work out and do all the different stuff. And so it doesn’t mean that like, well, I had broccoli at dinner, I’m fine. You know, like you need a lot of broccoli over a lot of days. And so we’re going to train our bodies to be able to save us when we are in an emergency, just the same as we would train ourselves to save somebody else. Right. I mean, just think about all the training that fire people… I was going to say fireman because whatever, but it’s not, it’s fire…all the different people who fight fires and and like paramedics and all the different first responders. They train all of the time. And that’s what we want to do with our bodies to make us ready for whatever comes. That doesn’t mean you can never eat a cookie. Trust me. You can eat a cookie. It just means that we want to every day be taking some sort of an action to make sure that we have cared for the function of our body. Yeah. And this portion of today’s episode could take a very long time. So now that we’ve sort of said that to get into the very specifics of what these actions are, this like foundational training of your body to make yourself stronger. To get into those specifics, I want to direct you to a free video course that we have on our website. If you go to Commonwealthherbs.com there’s a green button right at the top. And if you just click it, you can take this free course. You don’t even have to put in a credit card or anything like that. And it goes through all of these four pillars of how do you make those changes? How do you say, well, how does the food I eat affect my susceptibility to disease right now? And what changes can I make to improve my, not susceptibility to disease, to improve my resilience? And how does the way that I sleep and the amount of sleep that I get affect my susceptibility to disease and what can I do to improve that and all those things. So otherwise if we go into all of that in detail right now, this podcast episode will be five hours long. So just go grab that video course for each of those steps.
Yeah. Right on. Cool. Okay. So things that we’re going to be doing in the meantime while we’re learning to not be afraid in this way while we’re building resilience in the body
And also like just a little bit about what that looks like. So we do all those things that we talk about in that video course. And when we go out into the woods, we’re still grossed out if a tick is on us. We’re still like, Oh, ewww, you know, and then we just pick it off and we move on. If we’re camping, then at night we comb Elsie and we make sure that she doesn’t have ticks on her and she usually does. And then we pick them off and we say, Ooh, and then we just go on with our day. You know, we don’t really think about it anymore in terms of fear. We say gross and then we just move on.
And Regular Tick Checks
Yeah. And some of it really is just a matter of habit like that. Right? So you’re like, okay, well we’re going to be outside today. So we’ll do a tick check every couple of hours. Just like stop and like, all right, look at the ankles and look over here and can you look at my neck line and around there. And just do that right a few times during the course of the day. And then when we come home or if we’re camping out like before we bed down for the night. Like, all right, everything off. Looking at all the weird little places like what’s going on over here, you know, just be very thorough about it. And it can also help to remember that the ticks don’t bite you and immediately start spitting Lyme into your body. They need to be on you for a while before they bite.
Yeah. Like they need to find a happy spot.
And then they need to be bitten in for a while before they start. As they draw your blood., and some of their stuff goes into you and all of that mixing is happening. So it takes time. People often say that it can take 24 hours between the time they bite you and the time that you’re at risk of getting Lyme into your system. Some people can test that and argue it might be as little as, you know, four hours. There’s different numbers you’ll see in this debate here. But most folks agree that you’ve got at least a window of a few hours time between it actually biting you and you being at risk for getting Lyme into your body. So that can be something that helps too, to be like, all right, I got a tick. Actually, that one’s not even bitten in yet. He’s just crawling on. You don’t have to worry about that really at all.
Right. Yeah. And then the other thing is that that we don’t, we don’t use bug spray. We don’t use stuff. There’s nothing wrong if you like to do that. We don’t. And your definition of how do I live in a world with Lyme without panicking, does not have to look exactly like our definition. But part of our definition of that is if we were to contract Lyme, we also know what to do. And that’s in that Lyme course. And again, like if we were to do that, it would take 10 hours. But we know the steps that we would take if that were to happen. And we know that we have already taken a lot of steps that make it very much less likely, not impossible, but very much less likely. And so those things combined with frequently checking to just make sure nobody’s dug into us, is pretty much what it looks like for us to live in a Lymey world without panicking.
But let’s say, you know, you haven’t really been doing all of that yet,
Or this is the first time you’ve heard of it and you’re like, wow, that sounds great. I think I’ll try it. It’s going to take me awhile to get that stuff going.
But you know, you came back from a walk and you were taking your shoes off and you found a tick on your ankle and it had bit you, and now you’re feeling a little worried about it. So what to do.
So this is the equivalent of like jumping off of the very first short thing. It’s the first step in learning how to jump off of a very tall thing. And so learning these things can really help you to feel more confident as you go out in the world, as you start to deconstruct the fear that you have, and can just make you feel a little bit more resilient. So you’re going to do all that four pillar stuff. You’re going to put that in motion, get that started. And that’s all the stuff that’s in that free course that you can grab.
This is the time to do it like you mean it.
Yeah. Ryn likes to talk about the best time to plant a tree is…
10 years ago
10 years ago, and the second best time is now. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah. You know, with all the things, well not all, but many of the things we’re about to say here these are things that it’s best to do starting before your tick season. Or today, whichever is more now-er.
The most now-ly.
So I’ve Been Bitten, Now What?
Yeah. Right. So, when we say the four pillar stuff, that’s like, you’re going to be analyzing your diet, you’re going to be looking for allergens, you’re going to be making sure it’s nutrient dense, you’re going to be trying to cut out as much sugar as you can. And these things, they can all make a big difference when they’re habits, when there’s something that you have a longstanding pattern of doing. But they can also even help in the moment when you’re like, okay, I got bit, I pulled the tick out. I’m worried that maybe there was some Lyme in there. How can I give my body the best fighting chance over the next few days while we have these first skirmishes? And if you cut sugar out of your system, if you cut allergens out of your diet…
If you make sure that you give your body way extra sleep because immune function happens better when you’re sleeping. Yeah.
Then those are going to support the activity of the immune system in that skirmish and make it likely that we can just take care of it right there. Right. So again, this is all about giving yourself the best fighting chance,
Right? It’s like maybe your everyday preparedness level was fine at 80% or even 75%. But in the moment that you got bit by a tick, then you’re like, okay, 100% effort on not eating sugar and 100% effort on getting extra sleep and all that kind of stuff for a week, for a little bit of time after the tick bite.
Yeah. Right on. Cool.
So then I want to talk about three herbs. These are three herbs that you will hear a lot in relation to Lyme. And I actually like all three of them, but I don’t necessarily think about them in the same way that you will see people writing about them.
Or copy-pasting about them.
Or copy pasting about them. Oh my goodness. So, what that means is that there is a broad spectrum of ways to think about this. It doesn’t mean that the way that other people talk about it is wrong or bad. It doesn’t mean that the way that I think about it is the right way. It’s that this is a whole spectrum. So I want to address both sides of that spectrum for each of these herbs. The one that’s most important to me is cat’s claw. Actually, the reason that that one is most important is because that is an herb that reduces systemic inflammation. So if you Google cat’s claw Lyme disease, what you will find is that it’s a very important herbs for fighting Lyme disease because it increases CD 57 which is a very specific immune response cell type that they have decided is very active in fighting specific Lymes. So you see where this is going in that very specific medicine direction. And looking for the one herbs that will stimulate the one immune responder cell that will kill the Lyme. Wrong. They’ve done lots of research on that, but that’s not how I am thinking about working with cat’s claw in relation to Lyme. What I’m thinking about is if we can reduce overall inflammation in the body. If we can reduce as much inflammation as possible, we free up immune resources. I think that this type of a perspective is important because what if there are more immune responders cells than just CD 57 that are helping with Lyme?
What if. There absolutely are. Come on.
What if. Yes. And so I don’t want to limit myself to thinking only about CD 57. I want to be thinking about my body as a whole complex coordinated organism. And so I want to think about the full immune response. And I can best enable a full like concert of immune response by removing work that my immune system would normally have to do every time I eat sugar, that’s work that my immune system has to do. It causes inflammation, it does things. Every time I don’t get enough sleep, whatever. And the reality is that nobody is perfect. Inflammation is a part of life. So if I’m working with an herb that can reduce inflammation overall, that can clear out the to do list of my immune system. That means that when something comes my way, whether it is Lyme or whether it’s coronavirus or whether it is the flu or whether it is a splinter that had some bacteria on it, my immune system is better able to do its job because it’s focused on the problem and not distracted by a bunch of inflammation that didn’t need to be there, that could have been removed.
Yeah. So, you know, cats call, it’s a bark. And it’s one that you can work with in a decoction format. You can also work with tinctures of that herb too. So there’s different ways to get it.
I put it in my not-coffee every morning. I really like it.
Just get it that way. But you know, when we talk about herbs to reduce systemic inflammation, don’t think that that’s a small list.
That’s one of the biggest possible lists of herbs that you could find. Right. And it’s going to include things like ginger and chamomile and garlic.
I mean, we could name most of the herbs on our shelves here and it wouldn’t be inaccurate in any way. So when we say things like with this too, you want to start before tick season or you want to start today, whenever, whichever is the most immediate, recognize that you hopefully already have some herbs in your life that are contributing to this effect, right? If you, again, if you spice your food heavily, like you really mean it, that’s going to contribute substantially to keeping systemic inflammation in check. If you drink some herbal infusions every day, that’s helping, right? That’s doing that work for you.
Even if it turns out that they weren’t as delicious as you thought they were going to be.
I think this is a good one actually.
I think there’s too much jiaogulan in it. It has that weird bubble-gummy taste.
That always bugs you. Yeah. So I mean, yeah, there may be plenty of herbs that you’re already working with and you may not have thought about them as like herbs for Lyme prevention. But you could make a case.
Yeah. Cool. All right. So similarly to keeping systemic inflammation down, we are looking to, I don’t know if stimulate immunity is the right word here, but to support healthy immune function and immune responsiveness. That’s going to be a goal of ours here. And again, to pick out an herb that is pretty famous in the context of Lyme we can talk about astragalus.
Yeah, yeah. If you Google astragalus and Lyme, you’ll get all this information about how astragalus specifically supports the functions of the immune system that are directly related to Lyme. And those are not necessarily wrong, but again, I don’t want to be thinking about things in a specific way.
Right. Because we keep talking about Lyme, but it’s not, right? And even the folks who are really into anti Lyme herbs or whatever are also talking a lot more in the last few years around co-infections. Right. And so, you know, in that context, it’s like, okay, maybe astragalus or cat’s claw have these specific Lyme fighting powers or whatever. But what if this time your tick spit had some of those other things going on in there. Does that mean the astragalus is no help or the cat’s claw is useless? No, not even a little bit. Not even a little bit. Yeah, because herbs operate on a systemic level, not on a single receptor site or a single cell type.
Right. Just because they can operate on a single receptor site doesn’t mean that it’s the only way that they operate.
Yeah. So astragalus, for me, the way that I think about astragalus in the immune system is in terms of nourishment. Or I often talk about it like a savings account. Like, let’s say you’re planning a vacation. Like a year from now you want to go to Scotland and you want to do the things and see the places and all this stuff. And so you start saving money, you start saving money, saving money, saving money. That’s astragalus. Astragalus is building up your resources so that when you need them, they are ready for you. Then when you go on vacation, you use all that money that you spent. You’re not trying to put money in the savings account in that moment. In that moment, you’re trying to use those funds because it is now time to do that. So when you get sick, typically we stop astragalus during the acute phase of an illness, because at that point we’re not trying to build up immune resources. We’re trying to shift into the great, I have resources. It is now time to employ them. And that’s not like a black and white line because of course there’s a lot we are trying to do to backfill the resources that we’re using in the moment of an immune response. And I think all of the things that go into chicken soup are in that category.
The garlic for sure.
Well, yeah, garlic has a lot of active fighting power too, but I’m thinking specifically about that backfill, like that nourishment. A lot of people will say, Oh well, chicken soup when you’re sick is just a placebo. But it’s not. Nourishment is not a placebo. Nourishment is required. It’s replacing the resources that you’re using. So we need that.
Anyway, astragalus. I think of it in a nourishing way.
All right, so cat’s claw, astragalus, and then oregano was the third one you had in mind.
That’s the third one. So, alright, so if you Google about oregano… Oh well let me first talk about how we do this. You got bit by a tick, maybe you missed it and by the time that you found him or her or it or whatever, by the time that you found the tick, it was like all fat and had like sucked a bunch of your blood. And his head and the teeth were like really in there and gross. And all that stuff and you’re like, Oh man, this thing’s been on me for 10 hours. I don’t even know. I probably have Lyme. You’re starting to panic. You’re starting to feel that like hot, awful feeling of panic. In that moment, I like to take one drop of oregano essential oil and put it directly on the bite site.
After we’ve taken the tick off.
Right. Do that first. Get rid of the tick first. And you might be thinking, wow, I never in my life thought that I would hear Katja say to put essential oil directly on your skin. One drop, and we’re only doing it once,
Right. This application is for if you have like one tick or maybe two, but not if you have 400 of them on you.
Yeah, no, no, no. This is just in that one moment of that one tick who is really freaking you out. And we don’t do this if he was just crawling on you. Only if he’s really in there. So yes, it will sting. Yes. It may cause a little irritation around the bite site. If you Google this, what you will see is people talking about how the anti-inflammatory or the anti-infective effects of a regular oil– and frankly you could do this with Thyme oil also, if that was what you had — will kill, like actually kill any spirochetes in the direct area. So it’s not going to kill spirochetes that are like, you know, a whole body away. Not in your liver, right?
They like floated along and did their thing.
Yeah, no, no, it’s just going to kill the ones that are in the immediate area. But the idea is that they haven’t gotten all through your system yet and so we want to just kill them right where they are. That’s what you’ll read about it. And I think that holds water for me actually. I think that that feels like a reasonable statement. The volatile constituents in oregano, in thyme, they are super anti-microbial. And putting a drop of it that way directly on the bite so that it is actually getting in pretty fast. It is going to kill stuff all around, as far as it gets. It is going to kill stuff. So I think that that’s valid.
But again, you’re going to do that once, right? You’ve removed the tick, one drop. Okay, you’re done. If you have one or two of them on your body, okay, you can do that. But if you have a lot of these going on. If you had, you know, 10, 20 of these that had just gotten onto you somehow and you didn’t address them, whatever. Then in that case, this is not the way we’re going to go with it. Maybe you take a bath, like make a gallon of like a strong infusion of some aromatic herbs. Could be oregano, thyme, sage, monarda, you know, whatever you have. But pour that into a bath. Soak in that for awhile as a way to get something similar going on. But you know, and again, we’re also not going to be like, okay, every 10 minutes I’m going to put another drop on there. No. One time, you’re done. You’ll feel it sting. That will help you believe that it’s working. And I don’t say that in a mocking way. I mean that seriously. That matters a lot.
Oh, maybe instead of believe we can say, remember. You know, like because so now we get to my feelings about this is that I do think that there is some merit to the argument that it kills a bunch of stuff in the local area. And I think that’s good. But I think even better is that it kills your panic because you can feel the strength of the action you have taken and it can allow you to calm down. Panic in itself reduces immune function, right? So we don’t want to do that. We want to be able to move on into the next phase of, all right, I got bit. That means I go 100% on all of my protocols for the next week or so. I’m not going to eat any sugar. I am going to sleep nine or 10 hours every night. I’m going to do this. I’m going to skip that party I was going to go to. I’m going to take some short term actions to make sure that I give my body the best fighting chance possible. But if you’re stuck in that panic place, you can’t move on to step two of I’ve done the immediate thing I can do. That is what I can do. And now I will do the longer term things that I can do. Yeah.
I feel the need to also put in one more caveat here, which is like if the area in question is close to some mucous membranes or some sensitive skin areas on your body, then again, this is not the preparation we would apply there. And similarly, if it’s somebody whose skin is very fragile or tears or bleeds easily, then again, this is not something that we’d want to put on there just because it is a fairly caustic substance. Thyme and oregano are not the most dangerous of the essential oils. But again, as we’ve said several times already, I just feel the need to repeat, be careful where you apply this. Be careful who you put it on and don’t do it more than the one time. Because that would be excessive.
You said if it’s 400 ticks don’t do this, or even if it’s 10 or 20 ticks, don’t do this. I want to make a little note there because if you are a person who gets ticks a lot, that is information that you can use, right? I rarely get a tick. Maybe once a year I will get a tick that actually bites me. I might go through the whole year with no ticks that bite me. I might have a tick on me.
Yeah. They’ll crawl on you.
But never many. Elsie always has more than I do.
She rolls in the undergrowth a little bit more than you do.
She does. She does. But I mean, when we’re out on the land, I crawl around, you know, like whatever. And I’m just thinking of like gardening or even just like going to try to harvest something or just sitting around the fire. Even like our school land in Royalston is tick central and whatever. And so that’s not a coincidence actually. That it’s really important that if you make your body a place that is not a friendly host, ticks are not as attracted to you. This is very much like if you eat a lot of sugar, you’ll be the person who gets all the mosquito bites. If you have a super low sugar, high garlic diet, you just don’t get bugged by bugs as much. So that is if you are the person who always gets all of the bites, that’s information for you. That’s news you can use. And realize that that means some stuff about your body.
Propolis Tincture or Pine Resin
Let me offer an alternative for if there were many, many bites on you or many embedded ticks on you all at once. Or, again, if it was a sensitive area or on fragile skin, then propolis tincture could be a great option here. And especially, what’s the brand on that one? I always forget
Y. S. Eco Bee Farms. It’s my favorite. Yeah.
They make a great propolis tincture, which we like, because the way they prepare it, it actually gets very thick. It’s not liquid runny like it’s just alcohol. It’s like a gummy substance.
Very, yeah. It’s very thick.
Watch your aim. So yeah. So that stuff is fantastic for this kind of situation because you can apply a drop onto the area. Give it a little time to kind of dry, but it will form like a protective layer and cover it over.
And it’s super anti-infective.
Yeah. Propolis is powerful stuff. So that’s really nice to deliver some antimicrobial agents that are going to be persistent. Right? You put it there and it continues to stay and to do its work for decent time. And it doesn’t tend to irritate the underlying skin. I mean, if it’s an actual exposed mucus membrane or something, then yeah, okay.
Yeah, that might be.
But you can get to some relatively sensitive areas with this and it may sting a little bit when you first put it on, but after that it shouldn’t cause any more discomfort.
And it’s something that you can do multiple times.
Yeah. It’s not caustic. It’s not going to damage the tissue.
One other thing we can add to this category, especially if you are just out in the woods and maybe you didn’t have a little packet of first aid stuff with you. Then pine resin is another thing that you can do and literally just, you know, get some of it from the tree. It will be sticky and gooey and gross. Smear it onto the bite. And that will absorb in. Pine has a lot of the same, not the exact same, constituent profile that oregano and thyme have. But there are some overlapping things and a lot of the important things overlap. And there are also a lot of the same functions, even if it isn’t done by the same organic chemical, same constituent.
Right, like pinene instead of tihymol.
Right. Exactly. But they act very similarly in the body. So that is something that if you are out and about in a place that has pine trees, which if you have ticks on you, you probably are, then that is like a very immediate thing that you can do.
Nice. Cool. Another thing just to mention real quick here is a lot of people want to take immune stimulants after they’ve had a tick bite situation. And with all of the usual caveats around immune stimulants, like if you have an auto immune disorder, then you should experiment with some immune stimulants so that you know which ones are safe for you, and if any of them cause a flare up. That doesn’t always happen. Even with echinacea not everybody with auto-immunity gets flare ups when they take echinacea, but it does happen for some folks. So that’d be something to find out about your own body. But beyond that I think that it’s fine to take some echinacea or some cat’s claw or some poke root or other immune stimulating herbs for a few days after you’ve had an embedded tick. Partly because it’s going to make you feel like you’re taking action. And again, I don’t say that in a mocking way. I mean it, that that matters. That counts for a lot here. But you know, again, we’re not picking out herbs and saying this one is going to stimulate the CD 57 cells and those are the ones that are going to fight my Lyme and for all the reasons we said before, but I think it’s fine to work with an immune stimulating, immune activating herb for a few days at a time. After you’ve had an encounter like that. Lend you some peace of mind and may very well help your body with the initial skirmish.
I would say to add to that, that any time that you feel the need to take an immune stimulant. Basically anytime that you are holding echinacea in your hand, you need to guarantee that you will get nine to 10 hours of sleep that night. You absolutely must guarantee that you will not consume any sugar that day or refined carbohydrates or caffeine. And those are three things that are really in your control. The sleep part could be challenging, especially if you have small children. But it is actually in your control or in the control of the people around you who might be able to provide you with help.
It is control-ish.
It’s more in your control than many other things. But don’t go to thinking that like, well, echinacea will solve my problems. It’s just the herbal amoxicillin or whatever. Like it is not that. If you are stimulating an immune response, you have to have all the factors to create an immune response and sleep is one of them. And good food is one of them.
Take Action Against the Fear
Right? Yeah. And also don’t think, well, instead of sleeping nine hours for the next week, I’m going to take echinacea nine times a day for this week. It’s not going to work. You need both of them together. Yeah. Alright, cool. So then the last thing — and this isn’t really the last thing, but it’s the last one we’re going to talk about for our podcast today — that you should do when you find a tick with its head stuck into your arm or wherever is cope with fear. We need to cope with the fear, right. Because again, it would be a great loss if having some tick bites turned you away from ever going outside again.
Lyme has been around for longer than humans. Which means that we as humans have lived our entire existence on this planet, in the presence of Lyme. Lots of people.
Lyme was here first.
Lyme was here first. Lots of people have Lyme spirochetes in them. And that alone, just meditating on that made a big shift for me to say like, Oh, wait a minute. This is not an abnormal situation for humans. You know, the first diagnosis of Lyme disease that looks like modern Lyme disease and was described that way in medical literature. So that doesn’t mean it was the first time it ever happened, but just the first time that we wrote it up in medical literature, was in Scotland in 1724. But it might have been 1624. At any rate, it was a long time ago and there were many other ones since then, even before the whole Lyme outbreak in Connecticut. Like it wasn’t called Lyme back then because Connecticut been invented yet, but like whatever. And I mean the land that would later be made into Connecticut was here.
Sure. Connecticut’s an idea, right?
Yeah. Whatever. And so hold on. If it was 17,24 then actually there may have been colonizers in Connecticut at that time. Okay. Well, whatever. My point here is, it wasn’t called Lyme yet. But I think that that’s really important to recognize because we can get on this kick of thinking that Lyme is new, and some kind of new threat that changes the reality for humans and it is not.
Right. Well, I mean, even thinking about corona lately, you know lots of people were really reluctant to go outside, and very much like just close me in my house and keep me safe. And now I’m seeing more and more like, no, it’s good to be outside. It’s good to get sunlight. It’s good to get fresh air. It’s actually better for your immune system. It makes you more resilient to the thing if you do encounter it. And it’s very similar with this, right? Like going outside is good for you. Going out into the woods is good for your health even if a tick bites you that day. Right? And so if you get scared away from being outside because of the tick presence, then there’s a loss there, right? It’s not like, okay, well it didn’t really matter. There is something that’s lost in that way. So, yeah. So how do we not be afraid though?
Wait, wait, wait. There’s more I wanted to say there. I just really want to spit this part out also. So when we start to see something happen on an epidemiological level like Lyme, like all of a sudden, holy cow, there’s, this whole outbreak in this town. What is going on? Or it’s an outbreak going on in many more places than just that town. But that town got a lot of credit for it. Whatever. When we start to see a sort of systemic shift in the way that humans and the pathogenic environment are interacting, then I do like to say what has changed. And in the case of Lyme, like I just said, Lyme is not the thing that changed. Lyme has been with us all of this time. But you want to know one thing that changed? People? People, our behavior has changed. If we look at behavior throughout human history, humans slept more, they moved more, they ate more natural foods and fewer Oreos because we hadn’t invented Oreos yet. And no life was not perfect and it wasn’t hugs and puppies and humans weren’t like stress free all of the time and lots of stuff was really terrible. But we were existing in an environment that was closer to what our bodies expected than we are now, where we are sedentary most of the time, indoors most of the time, sugar filled most of the time, sleep indebted most of the time. Like that state, that sort of systemic, across the board, throughout society, state, that’s the part that’s new. And so if we remove that state or if we take as many steps as possible to roll that state back, it still does not mean that no one ever will have problems in the presence of Lyme, because we know that there were cases back through history. But the presentation may be different. The percentage of people who have significant problems will be very much lower. Those are the things that we’re looking to affect.
So, but again, how do we not be afraid? Right? So you don’t just do that by Fiat. You don’t just decide, okay, well I’m done being afraid now.
Poof. You’re not afraid anymore.
Yeah. so what helps is to take some steps and to take some herbs actually, right. So if you eat a lot of garlic before you go out into the forest, then that’s protective. That can help you to feel less fear.
Plus fewer mosquito bites, which is always a nice thing.
Indeed. Indeed. Yeah. If you’ve got garlic breath, then you are exuding sulfurous garlic aromatic constituents and isn’t that lovely? And doesn’t everyone want to be near you? Yes, I do. They do. Because you will drive the bugs away.
The bugs do not want to be near you.
Yeah. They’re not into it. No way. You can spray yourself with things. You know, you can spray yourself with like a cedar oil bug spray. It works pretty well for ticks.
You know, be careful. Some of those on the market have a lot of Cedar oil in them.
Yeah, like 10-20%.
17%. Yeah. was one that I saw and that’s a lot.
I mean spraying it on like your socks and shoes. That’s fine.
Yeah. That’s not so much of a problem. But if you’re going to spray it on your face, just like be careful about where you apply it when, when you’re working with those Cedar sprays, Because they can be super effective, but they’re super, super strong. And so if you get it in your eyes, it’s going to really be unpleasant and it’s really for on clothing.
Yeah. So those cedar based ones can be pretty potent. Or some of them may, may describe themselves as thuja based instead. It’s the same plant. It’s Thuja occidentalis, you know, but we call it cedar.
It’s a tree actually, but we often just call trees plants.
They are plants, trees are plants.
If you’re new to the pod, you might not realize that we do that a lot.
Trees are absolutely plants and they’re herbs as well sometimes. Okay. So, yeah, so a spray like that. That can help. Understand that a lot of the like organic or natural ingredient bug sprays do you require much more frequent application than DEET or Off or whatever you grew up with. But that’s fine.
And that doesn’t mean that they don’t work. It just means that the like mechanism of action is different or the rules for use is different. Right. It’s not like less good just because you have to apply it more often.
Yeah. And I mean it doesn’t make the tick checks any less important. You still want to stop every couple of hours, and definitely before you go to sleep or whatever, to do a thorough check and be like, okay just to make sure. You know, sometimes the benefit of a spray like this for you or there are some that are safe for dogs, you know, sometimes the benefit is that it prevents the ticks from biting rather than preventing them from going on you at all. You know, like a tick that gets onto Elsie. If she had some of that on her, it’s more likely to be like crawling around and trying to find a safe space.
Yeah. It’s like, Oh, there’s no place here I want to attach. And also I’m stuck in all this fur and I can’t get out. Yeah.
Yeah. So you know, sprays like that can help you to reduce your fear level. And then there’s a place here for nervine herbs as well. Right? So if you’re like I want to go outside, it’s a beautiful day, but I’m a little worried. Well, what herbs help you when you feel worried about other things? You know, is it chamomile? Is it betony? Is it vervain? And you may be like, I don’t know, random new to herbalism.
Well, if you’re new, you know what, I recommend vervain. Because that fear is fear of not being in control. If you are afraid of going outside because a tick might get you, that is, I need to know that I am not taking a risk. I am very risk averse. I don’t want to take any risks that aren’t necessary. And that’s a control thing and that’s fine. Lots of people have that, those kinds of feelings, but vervain really helps to relax that specific set of emotions. it really helps to let you let go of things a little bit more, allow things to be unknown and uncertain, and again, to be super clear, nothing that we’re saying is a guarantee that you won’t get a tick bite. Nothing that we’re saying is a guarantee that you won’t get Lyme. I might get that some day. You might get that some day. It is a reality of life in the woods. That’s okay. We’re not trying to replace, I’m afraid to go outside, with I don’t have to be afraid because I have controlled every fabricator.
Right, right. We’re not trying to control every single factor. We’re trying to say, I’ve built myself up as much as I can. Here I go into the world. Should something unpleasant happen to me, I know what to do. I have taken some first aid skills. If I cut myself, I know what to do. I have prepared myself for ticks. If I get a tick, I know what I’m going to do. I have gotten lifeguard training. So if I fall in a lake, I know what to do, you know, like whatever. You can be a lifeguard. It doesn’t mean that nobody’s going to fall into a lake around you. You know what I mean? What it means is that you have the best chance to respond. Anyway, so vervain. Blue vervain. I recommend that if you don’t already have a favorite herb that helps you feel comfortable in the face of uncertainty, then I recommend blue vervain as your first experiment.
It’s bitter, but that’s good.
It is good for you. Cool. So hopefully now you’re feeling better prepared. Or maybe not even, but maybe like ready to prepare. You’re like, okay, now I’ve got a list of things that I want to investigate, learn more about. Again, check out that Lyme course. Check out that free four keys to holistic herbalism course.
It is going to take a while too. Like you don’t get over this stuff overnight, so be kind to yourself and allow yourself transition time. And that transition time might be a couple of years. And so how do we get comfortable? We review our emergency plans, right? We frequently say, these are the actions I have taken to prepare myself. Here is my supply of food in case of a hurricane. Here’s my supply of water in case of a hurricane, here are my candles in case I lose the power. We feel comfortable doing those things. That is exactly the same thing we’re doing here. Ah, yes. Here’s my cat’s claw to address unnecessary inflammation. Here is my astragalus to nourish my immune system. Here’s my low sugar alternative to things I really love so that I am not putting a load on my body of inflammation. And Oh, here’s my plan to sleep a little bit more. It’s exactly the same process. And just review it as often as you need to until you come to a place that is comfortable for you, which does not have to be the same place that is comfortable for us.
Yeah. All right, cool. Well, that’s that. So go outside. Enjoy the forests and don’t panic. You’re going to be okay.
Don’t panic. Yeah.
Great. All right, well, thank you for listening. We’ll be back next week with some more Holistic Herbalism podcast for you. Until then, take care of yourselves. Take care of each other.
Drink some tea.
And, I don’t know, what’s the last one today?
Don’t panic. There you go
See you later.
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